I love the quote by Steve Jobs “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards. You have to believe that the dots will connect and that will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path and that will make all the difference.”. We had absolutely no idea that somehow, our decision to unschool our kid, quitting the rat race, minimizing our lifestyle and retiring early will lead us to our dream of owning a farm. There are so many dots that eventually connected. But at the time when we were making those decisions which lead us off the well worn path, we had no idea that they will connect. After all the many twists and turns, we eventually found a farm that we loved and knew that it has our name written on it.

I have no idea where to start. It was way back in 2016 when we enrolled our daughter, then just 3 years old, into a near by pre-school. When I look back at the photos I keep wondering how could I have the heart to send such a small innocent kid to school to be all by herself. With in a few months of going to school, we had a feeling that school may not be the thing we like. There is homework even for a 3 year old. The learning was not fun, it was just class after class of learning with a few play classes sprinkled in between. The awards and certificates also seemed very superfluous. But more importantly, our kid was not having much fun. She was dreading school and wants to get over with it as soon as possible.

First day to school

So we did what any reasonable, err, I mean crazy parent would do. Decided to home school her. Which further led to unschooling. During this time we were finding other parents who were also doing home schooling or unschooling in Bangalore. We made lots of new connections and learned a lot of new things about unschooling and how children learn. This was also the time when we were turning towards minimalism and sustainability. Starting small organic garden etc. While I was planning to retire, it was not to happen until 2020 at least. Then things changed thanks to one statement from my daughter. She asked me innocently one morning as I was rushing to work “Dad, I am doing home schooling. Why don’t you do home work and stay at home all day?”.

That changed my plans for retirement and I tried to retire as soon as I could reasonably do it. Thanks to our reduced expenses both because we were unschooling and also because we were following minimalism. So I quit in 2018. Now, when we talked to all the unschooling parents, we found that most have something in common with us. Either they are minimalists themselves, and/or they want to retire early and/or already retired and/or they follow sustainability and/or they are atheists and/or are into fitness etc. Among these common attributes, we found some of them were interested in living in a farm so either they were looking to purchase a farm or already own one. One such unschooler told us about a farm that they purchased a few months ago from a real estate agent who was a childhood friend.

By the time we met these unschooling parents, we were already thinking about purchasing a farm, thanks to our discussion with another unschooling parent as I mentioned in a previous post. We got excited. So we asked the unschooling friend to introduce us to their friend who is not an unschooler but a real estate agent. Our hope was that since he will be a friend of our friend, we will get a person who we can trust. I don’t trust real estate agents at all. But this seemed like a good opportunity. As luck would have it, a few days later, this friend of theirs, lets call him Mr. J, was visiting Bangalore and was staying in their house during that trip.

It seems our unschooling friends already had a word with Mr. J that we were looking for a farm. We invited Mr. J and our friends for a quick evening chat so we can explain what kind of place we are looking for. They all arrived one Sunday evening. I took Mr. J to a beautiful place (not a farm, but looks more like a forest) right next to out layout and told him this is how we want our farm to look like in future. We explained that we prefer the place to be close enough to Bangalore so we can do day trips and would like a water body near by.

We told him that this farm was not for investment, so we don’t need anything next to highway or something that will appreciate fast. We want to keep the farm for a long long time, at least as long as we live. It has to be far from lots of people and close to wildlife. We are planning to follow Subhash Palekar method of organic farming without using any chemicals or pesticides. Then he pointed out that he too has a couple of farms and tries not to use chemicals etc. He mentioned that he even built a farm house in one of the farms and lives there. Asked us to visit too. We thought it is a good opportunity to checkout another farm as well. The meeting ended there with Mr. J telling us that he will let us know if he comes across any good farm that fits our description.

A few weeks later, we get a call from him. He tells us that there a couple of farms he’d like to show us and asked us to visit his place. He lives about 3 hours from Bangalore. So we started early morning to his place. His farm was beautiful and his farm house was even more beautiful. It had a nice huge lawn, and a large swimming pool. Of course given that we have now become minimalists, we don’t plan to ever build such a huge house.

Mr. J's farm house

They were growing a variety of trees, but the main crop is coconut. There is also a pond at the end of the farm, so kids can go swimming there too in the natural waters. That pond is used for rain water harvesting and also to pump farm from a nearby river. They were using sprinkler system to water their farm. Electricity and bore water were present too. It felt like something we would like to have in a few years time if we can buy a farm soon and develop it.

One of Mr. J's farm

Anyway, after checking out their house and farm, we proceeded to visiting a couple of farms. The first one he showed was on the side of a hill, next to a pond. The soil looked nice, there were electric lines passing by but the farm does not have electricity nor bore. Being on the side of a hill, the farm was sloping both in north-south direction and as well as east-west direction. We know there will be some erosion problem, but at the same time, the contours can help in rain fed farming as well as for collecting rain water at the bottom. There were huge windmills on the hills. The 500m or so of access road to the farm is not great, but the main road up to the access road is good.

Anyway since we did not buy for investment, that did not matter. Our only concern was whether our car can get in and out and it was able to do so. The farm was about 2 kms away from the nearest village so it is in a quiet and peaceful place and no one to bother us. There are no farm houses anywhere near where we could see, so that is good news too. Overall we liked this place.

Farm 1

Then we went back to Mr. J’s house, had lunch and next we checked out another farm. They were growing sugarcane and the soil looked really good. The place was very close to a lake. The village was also near by. Unfortunately the access road to this farm was poor. Our car would not be able to get in. Mr. J’s 4x4 jeep we went in was the right kind of vehicle for this terrain. So if we buy a place here, we need to have a house in the village and walk from there to the farm. It is a short walk, but we will not have the feeling of living in our farm. Not something that we liked. But in all other aspects it was good. Water, electricity, bore etc.

Farm 2

It was evening by the time we reached Mr. J’s home. From there we started to the long 3 hour drive to Bangalore. A few weeks later, we checkout another farm from another real estate agent that we found on the internet. That farm also was beautiful, but had some other problems. While the access road was not too bad, the main road leading up to the access road was not as good. The farm was close to a river. The view was beautiful. You could do boating in the running water and there were some people fishing in it. Unfortunately the soil was too soft (on account of it being too close to the river) and we cannot build a farm house there. Moreover when the river gets flooded it will cover up a part of the farm. They were growing mango tress.

Farm 3

We should be searching for more farms, but by this time we have already made up our mind to go with the first farm we looked at. It was about the right size, close to lake, far enough from a village with a possibility to build a farm house in it. But more importantly, it is from a real estate agent who we hopefully can trust because he is a very close friend of our friend. So there is some camaraderie. The place is not too far from Bangalore, although we wished it was closer. A 4 hour journey each way means we can barely spend 4 hours at the farm. The size is 2 acres and it was with in our budget. Because of all those reasons, we thought it would be the best farm for us and we decided to purchase it. The rest of the process including arranging money, registration, and the rest in upcoming posts.