After we had spent two years searching for the right land to buy with nothing to show for our efforts I think most people decided we weren’t ever going to buy anything. After a couple more years of searching even Melissa and I were starting to think we were looking for a needle in a haystack and we were never going to find what we wanted. As you know we did finally purchase land and then we had many more “discussions” through the building process. Below is a list of some of the major checkpoints we had on our list when searching for land:
1. Access to services. Like any business we needed to have easy access to certain services. Veterinary care, farrier care and a good feed store are pretty vital to us on a daily basis. We also did not want to change vets or farriers so this limited the geographic range for our search.
2. Based on previous known history, how likely is a natural disaster and if we get one, what are the most likely events ? How do we prepare for them ?
Thunderstorms – In my opinion, a thunderstorm is basically a loud rain with a noisy light show. It’s not a natural disaster, although some folks disagree with me. While there exists some possibility of a horse/horses being struck by lightning the threat is no higher here than it is anywhere else and, realistically, what can you do about it ? Some folks feel better bringing their horses in during bad storms. Others feel better turning them out. Sometimes horses get hit in the field. Sometimes barns get hit and the horses in them also get hit. It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other.
Drought – Like most of the United States, Tennessee experiences drought conditions from time to time. The only real concern with drought in the Southeast is a lack of available forage. We built enough hay barns in order to keep adequate amounts of stored forage to allow us to get through winter AND periodic drought conditions.
Flood – This one is easy. If you don’t buy low lying land that is located in any sort of flood plain there is probably nothing to worry about. Our farm is not in any sort of flood plain. Not hundred year, not five hundred year and not thousand year. If our farm floods it would fall into what the insurance companies call an Act of God and it would be a one in a million event.
Ice Storm – The big danger here is that ice can knock down power lines and trees and can also damage fences. We don’t need power to do any sort of feeding or other normal chores on our farm. This would include felling trees and repairing fences.
You’ll note I didn’t list tornadoes on here. An F4 or F5 tornado is a completely devastating event and if you get hit by one it’s going to wipe you out. Just like most of the rest of the United States, Tennessee is not immune from the threat of tornadoes. But the likelihood of any one location being hit in a human lifetime, even in the heart of Oklahoma in the middle of Tornado alley, is so infinitesimally small that it’s just not worth worrying about, and since we aren’t in Tornado alley it is even lower here. While I would never say it couldn’t happen it falls in the same category as lightning strike. In other words, you can’t avoid them, prevent them, or even really prepare for them. The best you can do is hope like heck you never experience one directly.
3. How far away is the nearest nuclear reactor ? Are we likely to be under evacuation orders ?
We are more than fifty miles away from the nearest nuclear facility. This is forty miles beyond the area likely to be evacuated in the very unlikely event of a nuclear emergency.
4. How far away and where are the nearest large scale natural gas, oil, and gasoline pipelines ?
Although we never did worry about disaster striking, these things come with right of way/easement access issues and we weren’t keen on having to deal with those. I guess you can call us hard to get along with in some ways. This issue knocked one property that we really liked out of the running.
5. How far away are the nearest large electric transmission lines ?
What can I say but we had no desire to have major power lines running near or through the farm. This issue knocked a couple of otherwise suitable properties out of the running.
6. How would a lack of electric power affect our ability to care for the horses ?
Not at all. We’re on county water and we have a creek and a small pond. We don’t require electricity to feed hay or grain, and as long as the tractor has a few gallons of diesel we are good to go for several weeks.
The farther you are off the beaten path the more inconvenient it is to drive there with a horse trailer, especially with large commercial semi trailers. Anyone who has had to wander very narrow, winding back roads trying to find a farm with a horse trailer (all the while wondering if you are lost) knows why we wanted a reasonably accessible location.
I’m sure there are things I’ve forgotten since but in addition to land quality these were the main things we considered during our search.