We live on a 5 acre lot in a subdivision that is eight years old. The process we went through to buy our house was typical. We signed a purchase and sale agreement with the developer. We met with the builder and watched with excitement as he built what was to be our home.
We bought our land from the developer because he was the person who held title to the property. He had the piece of paper declaring him, his heirs, sucessors and assigns rightful title holders. We didn’t realize until after we moved in, to whom the land belonged. Ten years ago all of the land on which my pretty house and my neighbors’ pretty houses sit was pasture land belonging to the nonagenarian who lives in the rickety old house that sits on what is now lot number one of the subdivision. It’s a common part of the scenery as you drive through a countryside that once hosted dairy farm after dairy farm. Anachronistic, dilapidated old dwellings with their foundation walls obscured by thick overgrown patches of tiger lilies sitting on lots closest to the road; the neighboring lots host newly built capes, colonials and contemporaries with perfectly manicured lawns. Which houses are out of place?
The nonagenarian retired farmer came to visit us one day. His method of transportation surprised us a little. He walked out his back door, hopped on his four wheeler, drove across all of the perfectly manicured lawns in the neighborhood and pulled up to our front porch. This old dairy farmer paid absolutely no attention whatsoever to the carefully engineered lot lines that were meticulously surveyed, mapped and recorded in triplicate in the town land records! As we talked with this retired farmer, we came to appreciate that this was the man to whom the land belonged. He had farmed this land for all ninety some odd years of his life. He told us intimate details of every square foot of our five acres. He described every spring, every swale, how the water will drain during rain storms, how the snow melt will run, where the soil composition changes to sand and where it changes back to clay. There is nothing this man doesn’t know about our property.
We have kept our five acres as close to pasture land as possible. We mow walking paths through the field so the girls and the dog can go exploring. I have aspirations of planting little gardens among the walking paths and when someone decides that they have a spare four grand to give to us we are going to put in a gazebo.
Unfortunately the old dairy farmer is not the only person who likes to ride a four wheeler around our neighborhood. We have had to construct barricades to keep the four wheeling yahoos out. We made sure that the old dairy farmer could easily remove the barricades so HE can ride through. After all, the land does belong to him. Or is it that he belongs to the land?