The Cost of Farms: Wondering Why On A Cold, Rainy Day

| 6/16/2010 10:33:05 AM

Red Pine Mountain logoThis post is dedicated to all those who love their land and who fight to keep it in spite of evermounting challenges.

It's a typical Northeast Kingdom, Vermont, late spring day. Rain is falling, the temperature is hovering around 40, and the mountains are obscured by a low-lying mist. I welcome the chance to take a break and get some reading done. I grab a novel, head to Mountain Man's favorite chair and curl up by the wood stove. I am embraced by the warmth of the fire, the sound of rain pelting our metal roof and the snores of seven resting dogs.

My eyes are getting heavy, the book is dropping from my hand when Mountain Man enters. "Mail's here, and our tax bill came." It's a day we both dread for each year our property taxes spiral upward in an uncontrolled ascent. Mountain Man looks at the bill while I await the news. "Well, the barn assessment doubled since last year. That's an obvious mistake. I'll call and take care of it."  Mountain Man picks up the phone, says some words and is silent for a long time. "No, the bill is correct. Remember when we put the floor in the barn last year?" How could I forget the blue stain pine Mountain Man lovingly installed knowing it is my favorite wood. "Well, now we no longer have a barn. It's got a floor so it's been upgraded to a stable." I think of grooms leading glossy thoroughbreds to well attired women who have never chipped a nail mucking stalls. Stable seems so fancy a word for such a modest, much used barn. "And the property assessment went up too. Doesn't matter that land values are dropping." Mountain Man sits down with the calculator, divides the number of hours in a day into the bill and determines just how much money we need to make each day to pay the taxes. It's a staggering number.

And we ask ourselves, as we often do now that we are approaching retirement, why do we struggle so hard to hold on to this piece of earth? Why not take the easy way out, sell and leave. And as I do when I'm in need of answers, I decide to head into our woodland.

It's been a while since I've hiked deep into our woods. A black bear has been visiting us lately, and I'm not anxious to encouter him again.

"What if he's out there?"  I ask Mountain Man.

Mountain Woman
6/29/2010 8:42:43 AM

Thanks Cindy!

Cindy Murphy
6/27/2010 7:46:56 PM

Hope you're able to find some spare time to drop in now and again this summer, Mountain Woman. I've always enjoyed your blogs and comments. Have a great summer!

Mountain Woman
6/26/2010 5:22:48 AM

Hi Carmen, You're almost my neighbor in Maine. Exciting to find someone from New England. It's interesting to read about your family cemetery. The last grave in our cemetery dates back to the early 1900s but if I could, I'd love to be laid to rest there and be part of our farm forever. Thanks so much for dropping by and taking the time to leave me a comment.

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