What Does It Take to Reclaim an Acreage?

What Does it Take to Reclaim an Acreage?

My dad was a dreamer. And about 30 years ago, he made his biggest one come true. All he had ever wanted was to move to the country. So, after saving for several years, he and my mom finally found the perfect property. Over the next five years, he built our family home where they raised kids and then grandchildren. However, my dad was diagnosed with a terminal illness that brought his dream to a halt. His health slowly declined until he passed this last spring. Unfortunately, the acreage also fell into decline alongside him. Now, my family and I are attempting to reclaim an acreage and turn it back into a functioning farm. But, it’s proving to be a much larger task than any of us ever imagined.

Cleaning Up the Property Lines

Driving up to the property, it seemed like we were taking on the insurmountable. The yard was overgrown, the barn and garages overflowing with junk, and fallen tree limbs littered the woods. I didn’t even know where to begin.

So, we kept it simple and decided to start by re-establishing the boundary lines. Two property lines had once been marked by Scotch pines that my dad had planted. Unfortunately, they had all died from pine wilt long ago. Since he refused to hire out the work, there were nearly 20 trees that had been standing dead for the better part of a decade.

One neighbor grew so tired of looking at them that he took it upon himself to cut them down. Then, it took us nearly a day to clear the waste and drag it to the burn pile. Trying to get ahead of the problem, my brothers, husband, and I cut down 10 more trees. Yet, it looked like we had hardly made a dent.

It had taken six grown adults a full weekend to complete the work. Then we had to move them, apply for a permit from the local fire department, and wait for the right weather conditions to finish it up. All in all, it took about 100 man-hours just to clean up the property lines.

Reclaiming the Land from the Forest

Walking the treeline helped me realize that this was one job that was just too big for us to handle. The creek that runs along the southern property line is surrounded by dense woods that haven’t seen a chainsaw in 20 years. The recent thunderstorms and gale-force winds wreaked havoc. There were dozens of downed limbs and fallen trees throughout the woods. Furthermore, none of the vehicles were running, and all the equipment needed repairs.

So, we called in the professionals to get quotes to help us reclaim the land from the woods. As we evaluated how much needed to be done, I knew we had made the right call. After getting a few quotes, we contracted the work out to a local company. They brought an entire fleet to remove 15 more trees, those we dragged to the burn pile, and cut back nearly 30 more.

Three days and $11,000 later, we finished the job. And or the first time in my adult life, the property is beginning to look like it did when we first moved there.

Sorting Through Family History

Now that the outdoors had been attended to, we decided to focus on the indoor areas that were cluttered with junk. When organizing, I always begin by clearing out the storage spaces. We have a pole barn and three-car garage that should provide ample room for all the vehicles and equipment. However, both places are packed from floor to ceiling. The next phase to reclaim an acreage would require hours of sorting and a very large dumpster.

Assessing the Situation

My dad and I had sold some big-ticket items in recent years. But, it is still difficult to squeeze around all the piles of motorcycle and car parts, tractors, and other junk he has collected throughout his lifetime. He had tossed the smaller items into water-damaged boxes or buried them under layers of scrap materials. Given the state of things, the best thing was to clear out the trash to see what lie beneath.

Sorting Through the Mess

Not knowing what my dad had stored away put me at a disadvantage. Therefore, my uncle offered to help us get started with the initial sort. We hired the largest dumpster we could find for $325 for the week. He and my aunt pulled a heaping pile out of the barn which nearly filled the dumpster. Then, my older brother hauled over nearly 40 tires to the recycling center and hundreds of pounds of scrap metal. Luckily, this brought in about $750 in cash to compensate for some of the costs to reclaim an acreage.

Selling the Collectibles

Once we could see what was beneath the junk, we found quite the collection. My dad had held on to many valuable pieces because he knew their worth. Since I knew he wanted to sell off his collectibles one day, I began reaching out to local enthusiasts. I made several important contacts that led to many private sales.

However, the sheer volume of things to sell required more time than I could commit. So, we contacted a few companies that organized estate sales to assist. We are still receiving quotes, but we hope to have a sale by the end of the summer. Most companies take a commission between 20% and 40% of the final sales. But, we feel our time and peace of mind are worth the financial sacrifice.

What’s Next?

The amount of time and work we have already put in to reclaim an acreage was more than any of us expected. Fortunately, we all know are limitations and are willing to contract out the bigger jobs. However, it has already cost nearly $20,000 just to clean up the property.

Although we have gained a lot of ground, there is still a lot of work ahead of us. In addition to the outdoor areas, we have another $50,000 for necessary home maintenance and repairs. If we had known how much time and money it took to reclaim an acreage, we may have decided to cut bait and sell the property.

But, the pot at the end of the rainbow is the increased property value. When the time comes to sell, all these improvements will turn a humble homestead into a goldmine, especially if market conditions persist.

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