Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Inheriting The Family Farm - The Pros and Cons

You'd think inheriting the family farm would be a good thing.  And it can be, believe me.  Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it can definitely go both ways.

The house we inherited belonged to my husband's grandparents.  They homesteaded in the 1940's.  My father-in-law lived in the house for one year his senior year in high school before going away to college.  Both sons still live on the original sixty acre homestead.

We found both pros and cons to moving into grandma and grandpas house.

Pro:  If might come without a mortgage.

Con:  It might come with a ton of work that needs to be done to update it.  Ours has cost at least a hundred thousand to get it up to snuff to fit our families needs.

Pro:  You can do anything you want with it.

Con:  Relatives might balk at you changing anything.  Especially those who grew up in the house.  When we took out the god-awful carpet, my uncle didn't understand why we couldn't just leave it.  He has since come a long way around, seeing how we are carrying on the legacy.

This needs a sledgehammer and a match.
Pro:  The property stays in the family.

Con:  Jealousy rears it's ugly head.  When we were handed the house, we were the only ones who, one, wanted the place, and two, could afford the upkeep.  Now that we have updated a majority of it, siblings are quick to bring up how we "got the house" (again, forgetting the money that came out of our pockets into the roof so it would not leak all over the woodstove).

Pro:  It comes with Stuff.  Useful stuff (antique tools).  Cool stuff (old milking equipment).

Con:  It comes with Stuff.  Sometimes Crap-Stuff.  The metal buckets of bent nails grandpa was going to someday straighten.  Yeah, still in the milkhouse taking up floor space because we just can't throw them away.

This is the side of the barn.  It all had to be ripped down because
it would have fallen down. Dozens of stanchions had to be moved,
removed and moved again.
Con:  Another Stuff-con, there's a wishy washy line about who gets the stuff.  The crap stuff is left for you to deal with.  The good stuff gets pilfered when you are not at home.  How do you argue with, "it's theft" when it's dad's moms tea kettle.

Con:  Another Stuff-con.  If the serving spoons are always in the drawer to the left of the stove, they will always be in the drawer to the left of the stove.  If you try to move them to a more logical spot, you will inevitably get moved back.  We have three junk drawers in the kitchen because grandma had three junk drawers in the kitchen.

Huge Pro:  You know the history of the property.  I know that the slider barn door came from an old meat locker in the neighboring town.  I know that there used to be a door in the barn that later got nailed shut (we put the door back).  We know the front porch was built by grandpa and the neighbor.  We also know they were in their cups because nothing is square!

Even Huger Pro:  I can remember family members in the house.  I can walk into the kitchen and "see" grandma standing at the counter making cookies.  I can "see" grandpa standing in the garden advising me how to straighten the corn row.


  1. So glad you shared your post on the HomeAcre Hop, hope to see you again tomorrow!
    On The Home Front

  2. So true! It's easy for family members (and anybody else for that matter) to forget the work that goes into things. Thanks for submitting it to the HomeAcre Blog Hop. Feel free to stop by again this week at www.PintSizeFarm.com or one of the other hosts and submit another :)

  3. I, in some way, understand this post. I will, Lord willing, eventually inherit my parents farm. I can't even imagine changing some things because they have been that way for ages! I guess I don't have to worry about it just yet (thankfully!). Thanks for sharing!

  4. It's funny. My uncle inherited Grandma and Grandpa's place, and whenever I see pictures, I think "NO! They took out the ..." fill in the blank however you wish. The old wood stove, the table where Grandma had it, etc. So I understand - from the other side. LOL I can just imagine if he dared to take down the barn, even though it hasn't been used in decades and is likely falling apart. He fought hard to get it (there were six children and my uncle was the youngest) and I wonder if he knew he'd deal with "oh, no, why did you change that?" forever.

    Nonetheless I'm sure you feel very glad to be there. And what wonderful memories for your children. :)

  5. Great read. I love how you can 'see' Grandma in the kitchen--that made me smile. The family farmhouse of my own personal history is currently being rented out, but I've wondered at times what it would be like to take it over and live there myself, start homesteading on the now-unused property. I've thought about most of these pros and cons in my head, especially since much of the family still lives on the same road as the farmhouse. So everything I'd do would be VERY visible!

  6. What a wonderful read. We don't have that kind of heritage in our families, but we have many pieces of furniture and odds and ends of our grandparents and great grandparents. I'm working with my mother in law to document who owned what and when, then my son (who is a jeweler) is engraving brass plates to put on the bottom or backs of said furniture so that the information doesn't get forgotten when she is no longer here. Thanks for sharing at Simple Lives Thursday; hope to see you again this week.