Gettin’ Lucky In Kentucky
I will admit that before travelling to Kentucky to see first hand a property that stood out to us on the Internet, I was blissfully unaware of nearly everything about Kentucky. I knew, like North Carolina, Kentucky’s basketball team was good and wears blue. But that was the extent of my knowledge. Oh wait, I knew about Kentucky Fried Chicken. But other than being acquainted with the Colonel, that’s it.
Therefore, reluctantly, I agreed to go to Kentucky. The drive in was full of surprises. First, I learned that Abraham Lincoln was born in southeast Kentucky. Score one point for Kentucky. Then I remembered as we were driving that Kentucky is home to one of the pioneers of the slow food movement in America, poet and author Wendell Berry. One more point for Kentucky. We continued to drive along and I observed that Kentucky looks a lot like Tennessee, some mountains, some rolling hills, and some plains. The most unexpected roadside sight, though, was the multitude of what appeared to be brand new public schools dotting the countryside. We later came to learn that one way Kentucky has been spending the federal relief dollars is by building new schools.
We arrived in the town nearest to the property after dark, so we did not get to preview the property before our morning appointment. But, we did get to eat Chinese food. Something to know about me, I do not feel like I am in the middle of nowhere if I have access to fried rice. The town of Campbellsville, in addition to having a Chinese restaurant, also boasts a Holiday Inn Express, a Kroger, a Lowes, a Wal-mart, and a six screen movie theater. Situated only about fifteen minutes from our prospective property, these amenities provided a greater feeling of civilization than the towns surrounding the other prospective properties had.
After a restful night’s sleep in the Holiday Inn Express, we got up early the next morning and drove out to the property. I think now is a good time to mention my slightly irrational fear of coal ash. You might have seen the reports on shows like Dateline and 20/20 about how the Tennessee Valley Authority has been irresponsibly disposing of the byproducts of coal combustion. It’s not that I am a complete conspiracy theorist, but I definitely do not believe in the benevolence of big business. So in our rural house hunt, I’ve been kind of obsessed with the idea that our future property could be precariously positioned atop a mountain of previously undiscovered coal ash. I also fear that our future house will be haunted, but that is a story for another day. Back to the coal ash. As we drove to the farm I kept my eyes out for the tell tale signs of coal ash, and since I really have no idea what those signs are, I kept my imagination open to any suspicious visual stimuli. The coast looked clear, as far as I can tell, but I have my suspicions.
We went over hill and over dale on a crisp twenty degree December morning until we finally crossed the county line, spanned the Dry Creek Bridge, and arrived at Rancho XXX XXXXX. Even though I new in advance that it was going to have one of those picturesque white horse farm fences, I was not prepared for how appealing I would find that type of fence in person. It actually makes you say, “Ooooh” out loud. Of course I immediately suppressed my oooohs because I didn’t want Kentucky to get the wrong idea. I still didn’t trust her (or him, it is really hard to identify the gender of a state, well except for Florida, that one’s easy). My Sweet Husband (SH) was all smiles as we turned onto the private road.
The owner came out to meet us and gave us a very thorough tour. We saw Dry Creek, which is quite wet and in Texas would be called a river. We saw the 1920’s farmhouse that was recently remodeled on the inside to include a state of the art professional kitchen (ooooh). Nerd that I am, my favorite part of the house tour was going into the basement, which did not appear to be haunted, and looking at the subfloor—solid 2 by 6 beams milled from wood harvested on the property and laid at a diagonal across sturdy 4 by 6 cross beams. There are few things I love more than the sturdiness of antique craftsmanship and a solid infrastructure. Mmmmm, subfloors. After a guided tour of all of the buildings and structures on the property, the owner invited us to wander around at our leisure and explore. We took him up on his offer and SH had slipped on mud boots before I could even get my shoes untied.
SH gets as turned on by fields and fencing as I do by subfloors. He was happier than a pig in a poke (I thought I’d try on a farm metaphor there, what do ya think?) as he scanned the horizon, constructed imaginary fencing, and rotationally grazed bovines in his mind. The property was gorgeous, and much flatter than any of the other properties we’d seen. There was a hill, but you could walk and drive up it, and there was a fifteen-acre field on top, all very usable. SH smiled and romped, catching imaginary fish in the pond, setting up gravity fed irrigation systems with his mind. Now I know what he must feel like when he catches me swooning over pregnant ladies and naming my unborn children. We climbed up the hill and gazed down at the property—you could hear birds, running water, and a little bit a road noise from Highway 70, but that probably would not be as noticeable in the non-winter months. SH was sold. I was conflicted. Kentucky. Really. Kentucky. We climbed down the hill to the sound of SH describing the various ways we could plant berry bushes on this westward facing hillside, all of the imaginary people in his head were lined up with buckets in hand, and arrived at one of the larger pastures where I promptly started to cry. Evidently the idea of moving to Kentucky was more than my system could take and I had to let it out. I blubbered nonsense while all of the imaginary berry pickers in SH’s head were obliterated. Trooper that I am, I pulled a Kleenex from my back pocket and we marched on. For some reason, all of the best and most wonderful decisions in my life have begun with hysterical tears. When I finally decided where to go to college—waterfalls of tears. Our six month engagement—180 days of tears. And now, a farm in Kentucky—a Dry Creek full of sobs. It must be meant to be.
We checked back in with the owner to let him know that we were leaving and then hit the road once again.
Truthfully, it was not until over a week later that I fully understood and accepted the idea that Kentucky could be my home. I came home from school one day and said, “SH, I think we should move to Kentucky.” This statement was met not with an, “Are you sure?” But with a resounding, “Okay!” SH had been patiently waiting for me to arrive at the obvious decision that the most reasonably priced, well appointed, beautiful property we looked at should be our home. And, in time I did.
The best part of all has been that the more I research Kentucky, the more I find to like. So far the top selling point is that my favorite author, and one of our biggest inspirations for starting this project, Barbara Kingsolver, was born in Kentucky. If it’s good enough for her, then it is certainly good enough for me.