Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The seedy underbelly of inheritance.

There is something that I have been thinking about blogging about for a long time now; and I have been hesitant because, well, frankly I’m ashamed and I feel almost that I shouldn’t because it could be considered ungrateful or speaking ill of the dead. However, I was talking to a good friend of mine a few weeks ago about this subject and her comments and commiseration really helped me, and I’m hoping that maybe if anyone else is going through this it will help them too.

My grandfather passed away a few years ago. I have been extraordinarily fortunate in that I have inherited his farm. Purchasing land is very expensive and is the greatest barrier to entry for people my age to get into farming; so my grandpa’s generous legacy has given me, and CA, one hell of a leg up in being able to make our own custom fed cattle farm a reality. I am frequently overwhelmed with gratitude as I’m trying to lay out fences, or while CA and I are seeding out future pastures and hay fields like we did last weekend, but I am also frequently overwhelmed because like many people of his generation I think my grandpa’s thrift bordered on hoarding.

That is gonna be some gorgeous grass! Happy cows!

No, I shouldn’t mince words, keeping what I believe to be every newspaper printed since the 1990’s doesn’t boarder on hoarding – it is hoarding.

So, bonfire you guys?

I am pretty much the only one who can sift through it all and sort the trash from the treasure. Well, I suppose my parents could too; but it isn’t their burden to bear so much as it is mine. So I have been spending a lot of my free time sorting through things and playing a very fun game I like to call: “WTF, Grandpa?!?” The game consists of me finding either a giant quantity of something or something random placed in a location where you would never think to find it; such as finding two large black garbage bags worth of those free return address labels, or the box of quilts stored in a leaky and pretty much open greenhouse so that they have turned to sludge and muttering “WTF, Grandpa?” to myself as I shovel loads of junk and what were potentially precious heirlooms into garbage bags because there is no saving them anymore.

I think that sorting personal possessions is the seedy underbelly of inheritance. You can truly take nothing for granted. I’ve learned so much of my family history in just a few months since I have started this undertaking. That one pen in the box of non-working pens? That is the last remaining giveaway from your great-grandpa’s company. Don’t throw it away! That tiny piece of rusted wire that looks like junk? That is the Lone Ranger’s lasso and goes to your dad’s childhood toy. Better sift through that pile of wet and molding newspaper because in it is what was once a box of family photos. You can’t save many, but you can cry because, of course, they are the one damned box of photos where someone had actually labelled them. Unlike ALL the other photos you have found… Thank you great aunt Della. Those 14 photos I was able to save are precious.

I have taken loads upon loads out of the greenhouse and house. Looking at it you would never guess that I have touched it.

On a good note, I shall never need to buy planters again.

I haven’t even started in on the sheds yet. Oh, the sheds. Oi.

In his later years my grandpa didn’t devote much time to upkeep on the buildings that my great-grandpa built out of already salvaged materials (that giant stringer with the sweet curves came out of a bridge that was being replaced) in the 1980’s. Many of them are hazardous, and if they aren’t they’re just plain leaky. It sucks, but one of my sheds does have a sun roof now, so, that’s a fun design feature? Just kidding. You can’t really walk on the floor in that one anymore. It is pretty shady. And by pretty shady I mean abandon hope all ye who enter here...

The light streaming from above makes it look so heavenly.
"Ahhhh, ahh, ahhh." <-angelic noise

As you can guess there will be a lot of repair by replacement going on in the next few years. Which, frankly, is overwhelming AF; despite how excited I am about fence lines and my sunroof shed becoming a loafing shed for the cows with a permanent working pen next to it so I won’t be slipping and sliding around when sorting calves or worrying that they will get smart and dive under the panels and wiggle to freedom. It does give CA and I a fantastic opportunity to build something the way we truly need it and in a way that it can last the next 30, 50, or 100 years.

After all I don’t leave my grandkids playing an exciting round of, “WTF, Grandma?”

Just kidding. I should totally start stocking up on return address labels now. ;)

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