Eighty acres of rolling Iowa Farm land - a quarter mile wide and
a half mile long. It is divided by two ditches (gullies in PA,
seasonal creeks to realtors). The western half is rented for corn
and soy beans. The southeastern quarter is planted in 2,400 white
pine by Pheasants Forever and 120 other trees by me. (They used
a machine). East central is sorta wasted. Northeast is a pasture
that is not being used. And the manor house is located on the
There were eight structures on the land when we bought it. An earlier house was made available for volunteer fireman training. A box car formerly used as a farrowing house and a hen house that had blown off its foundations were burned. A barn was made available for salvage and the remainder burned. A machine shed was cannibalized to repair the largest barn. A corn crib is being used for shelter of a tractor. A new machine shed is used for general storage and a pickup.
The manor house was built from components in late winter. Eight and 16 foot floor and wall sections including windows and doors were lifted in place with a hoist. In two days the roof was started and in a week the nascent home was tight to the snows so that the various trades could work inside. An early, wet Spring found us staining siding and installing sundry wiring and insulation to meet a tax imposed deadline.
The Manorborn is located a half mile from the SW edge of Marshalltown. The town's ten-year plan will wrap around two sides. The nearest neighbors are on the southern edge,½ m away. There is no one on the east, the west are quiet folks in eternal rest and a ¼ m to the north is a home reserved for the owner's eventual retirement. In other words when the power goes out, there are no neighbors' lights to check for. Power is from a rural co-op - actually more reliable at ½ hr outage per year than the city, but rural power goes out for just a second with every stiff breeze and ice storm. Breezes in Iowa are considered stiff when they exceed 50 mph. Rural Water is provided by another co-op. Their lines ran through the property so we could connect up the Manorborn without running miles of pipe, which could have happened.
The Manor house is located at the crest of a slope. The view is open. So open that we have planted trees: 600 the first year, 300 the 2nd, 200 the 3rd, 150 the 4th, just shy of 100 last year, and 105 have been planted so far this year. We were raised around trees and wind breaks seem like an admirable idea.
Click to see Panarama Photos June 2004.