As part of the settlement of my parents’ estate back in 2008, I inherited one of the farms they had owned — the so-called “home place” located in the state of Iowa (U.S.) where I’d grown up. With the buildings long since removed, there really wasn’t any sentimental value to the land, but I was nevertheless excited to be taking ownership of it.
Because I’d spent my working years in big cities, plopped down behind an IBM terminal, I was an admitted ignoramus when it came to the actual business of farming. From my childhood I could vaguely recall that it involved putting something into the ground, watching it grow for a few months, then chopping it up (?) and selling it. Fortunately, I was able to retain the tenants who had worked for my parents. They continued to do the planting and harvesting with everything split fifty—fifty between us. From my modest Bangkok abode, I only needed to mail a few checks to cover my share of the seed and fertilizer bills, then sell my portion of the grain in the fall or winter, all the while being barely able to distinguish the difference between a bean and kernel of corn.
After a few years of this, the novelty began to wear off. With farming being at the mercy of such things as Mother Nature and the international grain markets, the uncertainty was never-ending. The bills and property taxes became more of a nuisance and even the money at the end of the season (which varied considerably) lost its luster. Nor did I particularly relish having to be concerned about the capricious Midwest weather, especially when I had to deal with equally erratic Thai women.
The time had come to sell the home place. To my surprise, this turned out to be a fairly straightforward affair. During my annual visit to Iowa, I sat down with a realtor who explained the process (along with his fees). All I had to do was sign a form giving him permission to list the acreage then, after I’d returned to Bangkok, simply check my email for any offers he’d received.
It took five months to complete the sale, the first three of which were spent swatting away lowball offers designed to find out how desperate I was to sell. It really wasn’t much different than picking up a lady at one of the bars down the street: just be patient and wait for the right one to come along, the only difference being that with the farm I had to have an attorney iron out the details, after which I provided a notarized signature on an offer sheet — not a bad way, now that I think about it, for nego-tiating with a Thai bar girl who is herself already two sheets to the wind.
The closing date for the sale was February 18, at which time the proceeds were deposited into my savings account at Wells Fargo. While I knew what the amount was going to be, it was still a bit disorienting to see that much money suddenly appear. What in God’s name was I going to do with it?