Stephen Overbury’s typical mail time activity with “Alarm Clock” supervising.

 

Everybody and their grandmother is anxiously awaiting the results. Who gets this FREE FARM.

Me too.

Just what am I looking for?

I am trying to find the needle in a haystack, that one insane family who cares for animals as I do.

What’s it like here? Allow me to answer this way:

Roses are Red

Violets are Blue

I am schizophrenic

And so am I.

In other words, it helps to be at least just a little crazy. Hell, it helps a lot to be completely out of your mind, to change from an urban setting into a small rural one and fill your life big time with a Noah’s Ark of animals.

I am looking for that special psychotic thinker who wouldn’t hurt a flea, and certainly wouldn’t injure any living creature no matter what the scenario. Let me tell you something. Remember Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the well loved humanitarian who won the nobel peace prize in 1952? He had a distinct reverence for life, all life forms. When he was establishing a hospital in Africa for example, and it was discovered there was a nest of Pelikans, he would insist on building around the Pelikans. If dangerous marching ants were invading a board room at one of his established hospitals, he insisted on moving to another room to finish the meeting. I share his value system here on Free Farm and am looking for such a respectful person.

I am a far cry from a professional farmer who finds purpose in every action as it relates to productivity, in other words earning its keep or out it goes. Usually.

To make things even more challenging for would be applicants, I need to feel that the family who comes here has enough hands that the workload, earning a living to put food on the table, and looking after the vast animal kingdom I have, is not overworked. I would hate for some family to “buy the farm” as they say. I am looking for an appreciative and practical applicant for this venture. So, if you are a single mom with three young children this obviously is not the right fit for you or me.

Equally important, the applicant must demonstrate financial self reliance. I didn’t get it right when I took on board so many animals and kept going when I was totally alone, so I would not want another single person to take on that responsibility. If your plan is to open a peach orchard and sell fruit on the side of County Road 17 to sustain yourself, this won’t fly. It has to make sense. Your dream has to be realistic.

Allow me to peel the onion even further. A doctor, soon to retire and an accountant husband, applied. They had a nest egg property they planned to sell in a hot property marketplace and so while both were retiring, they had enough reserves to do just about anything they wanted. They wanted to continue a hobby farm with their animals and had high standards for those pets first and foremost. They also had a tractor and other equipment and years of experience in running a hobby farm. They loved this. They were both physically healthy and capable of hard work year round. To me, they seemed like a likely top ten candidate. Then I learned what really cranked their shelf. It came out slowly by informing me it would cost money to bring Free Farm up to snuff for THEIR animals and they needed some reassurance that they would garnish “a return on their investment.” Any creatures that were destroying the value of the property had to be dealt with severely, and quickly or they were not interested. Well, many would still find them attractive applicants. But I do not. My idea is to find someone where the animals are the key focus, not an investment opportunity. Petty you might say? That’s me, the way I see things. Go ahead, slap me in the face!

Allow me to share with you some of the more memorable encounters with some of the 15,000 email applicants and countless phone calls and letters and personal uninvited visits.
I was persuaded to invite this wonderfully engaging single attorney to see firsthand Free Farm. She was a work at home litigation attorney known as Pit Bull. I am glad she was around when another intruder stormed my barricade. He came out of nowhere, the sort of elite athlete you wanted to star as your running back in the final football game. He was huge and I mean humongous. He also had many tattoos and looked like a Hell’s Angel’s leader. Not the friendly type of Smith Falls resident. And he was marching in my direction, real fast.

“Are you Stephen Overbury?” came the thundering Wizard of Oz voice.

“I think that guy went back to Japan,” I replied quickly. It was a fight or flight response and guess which one I took?

“Are YOU Stephen Overbury?” he asked a second time.

This time I chocked. “Well, SIR, I think maybe, perhaps, oh my, I am he.”

“People have been lining up in my driveway asking me for your address. Make that go away. Now.”

“Oh, sir, I promise to do my duty to God and the Queen and especially you, and I guarantee this will never happen again, ever, please sir!”

“Better not,” he said and stormed off.

The attorney and her comedian son, took all of this in as I escaped a public execution, realizing once and for all that privacy among country folk is for sure an important issue. This lawyer had the financial means it would appear to run the property from a home based business. Furthermore she told me of her endless involvement, a hands on approach to animal rescue facilities. The next day I told her she was a strong candidate. Somehow during that followup conversation it slipped out she had quiet a few cats. “How many?” I asked. “I’d rather not say over the telephone” came the reply. A big red flag. Then this. When I discussed the two to six weeks of hands on training she would need to take over things here, she told me she couldn’t’ leave her job that long. And then it slipped out she had more animals than I did! That was that. Next.

The nicely feminine hand written letter, in the style of Anne of Green Gables narrative, caught my attention. I wish it had not. Here was someone with incredible academic credentials who taught at a nearby facility and was an aspiring writer at that, an absolute animal nut she wrote. I called to say she really was not meant for this workload given that she was a single applicant. She would not take no for an answer. “What part of NO do you not understand?” I said to end the conversation. Then she got me. She was an expert at setting up web pages and blogs and would build me one for FREE, a word she informed me I would understand. So it was, in days I poured my soul into writing my rant about living this “dream” existence. She persuaded me to share my new blog address on my original kajiji ads and on various media interviews. Then the bomb dropped. Would I consider allowing her to become a full fledged partner, to develop my new web site and blog into a business, then proceeded to draft out numerous bills which I would need to front to proceed on a more serious level. I declined, offered to pay her for what amounted to 90 minutes of her time. I politely asked her to leave me alone and give me back my passwords and administrator status on wordpress. No answer was forthcoming. Numerous attempts to get her attention failed. Then my site was shut down. The freedom seeking iconic wordpress was off limits to me. I became a quiet voice. My words were out there but I could not share them. It gets worse. She called the police to say I was harassing her and that she had the right to do whatever she wanted to do with her registered site. I was merely registered as a guest. Incredible but it is the new reality of our internet world and for a few hours it made me untrusting of any single woman replying to the ad.

That is, until a certain lady offered me an apple pie. Now seriously, how could a single man refuse a home made pie. Put yourself in my shoes. That torturous episode with the Green Gables rouse left me completely when I bit into that pie. Talk about perfect. Oh my, the rewards of sifting through 15,000 plus applicants.

Speaking of which, there is nothing like a hug from a stranger. I just happen to be walking my dog down County Road 17 when feet away from me came this small car screeching to a halt, scaring me half to death. Out popped this lady who looked to be about 400 pounds, in her pajamas (around here it’s early to bed and early to rise) with something on her backside, oh yes, I remember now, her husband, she was dragging her husband like it or not, and she was lunging at me, hands over my neck strangling the life out of me.

“We’s seen ya on the news,
“ she began.
“No. I completely forgot about that interview” I whined.
“How did I look? Did I have that piece of meat with two eyes look to me?

“No, you’s looked great and here, we’s farmas but without land and we’s wants your farm, eh”

Gracious me. Here we was showin affectin and we wasn’t even related. That’s how friendly it is in Smith Falls.

I did not know if this couple were related to the hulking figure I talked about earlier so, realizing I could take the political route with this one or the Farm Rant pit bull shoot from the hip mouth off, I politely thanked her and took her number under consideration. Wouldn’t want that hulking angry guy coming back. Why, he might even intimidate the lady with the apple pie!

I have been receiving quite a few people who give me unfounded credit for being intelligent. A number of letters have actually begun with the admission that they needed this farm since they had been sexually abused since childhood! Some were facing eviction for little things like not paying rent. Others, well others had even more colorful admissions, at least their headlines of “Are you SINGLE” suggested. Then the endless Chinese applicants from mainline China which escaped my comprehension as I do not read Mandarin!

Small cryptic kajiji return ads, “You have found the final answer. It is I,” were being sent in droves. And nick-nacks of every conceivable type began arriving. And so it has become, the day is now upon me to switch the strength of my reading glasses, from 1.5 to 12!

Once you read enough of me you will know if you are the suitable answer for this little insane place of mine, and then you will write that captivating letter without offering me free blogging services, without the threat of a head locking hug, without offering me a perfect apple pie (well, just a small pie wouldn’t hurt would it?).