In the year of 1996 my husband and I began looking for a new place to live. We had been in living in a suburban neighborhood for 10 years. We promised ourselves that we would be out that community within 4 years.\
My husband is an only child and when his parents passed on, less than a year apart, he inherited $150,000.00.
We knew we wanted land. I can remember giving the Lord my wish list. It had to have a full basement, a front porch, a fireplace and most importantly, it had to be big enough for us to own a horse.
We looked at a couple of places and did a little dreaming about each one of them, but our heart was already set on 16 acres of land that we had lived on when we first moved to Ocean County, NJ back in 1983. It was a mostly forested piece of land with 3 houses on it. It was owned by close family friends who had rented us the largest of the three houses. We lived there for 3 years before we decided that it was time to buy our first house.
Ten years later, the sixteen acres went on the market. We didn’t think we could afford it. But it just kept nibbling at the back of our minds. So we went to see our financial advisor. He was also a trusted friend and we told us he thought we could make it happen we decided to go for it!
We were the second people to make a bid on the property. A local business had put in a bid of $205,000.00. We didn’t know it at the time that we put our bid down. We offered $200,000.00 with a downpayment of $150,000.00, then entire amount of my husband’s inheritance. And we got it!
It’s the most wonderful place in the whole world! Since most of the property is wooded, we set ourselves up with the NJ Forestry Stewardship Program, promising to keep our little forest clean by cutting only dead, downed, dying, damaged or dangerous trees. (AKA: the 5 Ds of forestry management. What we cut and sold could be used for farm tax assessment and we kept the woods in good condition for the natural habit that lives there.
To me, 16 acres doesn’t sound so big, but the amount and varied wildlife is the best part of owning this place! We’ve had everything from squirrels and rabbits to deer and foxes. We’ve had turkeys and bats and so many different kinds of birds that we lose track! We’ve even had coyotes and although we haven’t seen one yet, we expect to see a bear anyway now. A man took a photo of a fisher-cat on the property next door to us. We haven’t seen him but I bet we’ve heard him a time or two. We do hear the owls! We’ve seen and heard a barred owl and heard but not seen a screech owl and a great horned owl.
And we’ve had not “a” horse, but 5 horses! And 6 goats, a plethora of chickens and assorted inside animals.
There is not place we would ever want to live! And we truly see it as a gift from God.
We joke about the day we signed the contract. It was as if we could hear Jesus giggling. It had rained all the day but in the late afternoon the sun came out and we saw a rainbow. We knew we had made the right decision.
Now, after 25 years of working hard to keep this place, we have finally paid the mortgage off and it’s ours, all ours!
Very often we ride up the drive or look out a window or stand in the middle of one our fields and we can’t believe how blessed we are and how loved by God we feel.