Let's Buy an Orchard
"Hey, I think we should go check out this orchard. That orchard we always drive by is for sale!"
"An orchard, really? Why?"
"It just seems... like something we should consider. Then maybe you could be home more."
"OK, Erin, let's go look at a cherry orchard."
And, that simply, we set off on an adventure to purchase a 65 acre cherry orchard on the other side of our small, rural town. My dad recently retired from almost three decades as a pharmacist in an adjacent small town, and, not being one to sit idle well, went into real estate. We called him and flung him the idea of wanting to look at the orchard. It is nearly impossible to shock my father; in the very least, it is nearly impossible to get any kind of long pauses or gaps in conversation. My dad paused. The pause was quickly followed up with enthusiasm and an "OK!"
The next afternoon we were set to go look over the orchard and the house that sits on the property. We arrived at the scheduled time and headed up the driveway. Have you ever done something that feels so right that it is almost as though you have just always been doing it? That it's always been part of your life? That's what it was like pulling up to this house, in this orchard.
We met the owner, who offered to take us around the property and walk us through the house. Over the course of two hours, he told us his story- he retired out of the big city corporate bustle and purchased the orchard (more on this and the original owners later). After purchasing, he proceeded to spend the last ten years updating and upgrading the orchard into a truly incredible operation. Due to unrelenting hands of time, he decided he needed to sell before he was too old to be able to work the land and appreciate the property. We were sold.
After calling a few people- a lawyer, an accountant, and a credit entity- we had our ducks in a row. I drove back up to the house on a whim to talk to the owner about what terms he wanted. It had been suggested that this would be easiest to pull off if he was willing to do an owner carry while the still young trees started to prove themselves. I was really going out on a limb from the things he had said about wanting us to get this property- it was still pretty risky to go outside our realtors and talk one-on-one. I figured I'd ask my dad for forgiveness later. A friend in farming gave me a driveway pep talk and off I went. With tears in his eyes, the owner told me that multiple corporate producers were vying for the orchard and we would need to get our offer in soon. The idea of turning his decade of work over to a large producer wasn't his plan, or hope. Our family more fit the mold of where he wanted this orchard to land. He wanted me to know that he would watch for our offer, and he would accept it. I told him we would have it in by the next evening. As I left, he reiterated just how pleased he was that a family was going to try to grow the orchard and live out the same dream he had coming over to Cove.
We submitted the offer as promised. He accepted the offer. A long and tedious process was to follow. A bit due to COVID and a lot to do with that just being how these things seem to go.
"Shane, there is some irony here in all of this."
"Oh yeah? What is that?"
"You are allergic to cherries."