A Ten Pound Bag
Chapter 28: Buying the Homestead, Episode One
Copyright© 2020 by Emmeran
Morning saw me up and about before dawn, Michelle muttered in the bed behind me as I quickly dressed and exited the tent taking Brin with me; Kordi merely looked up briefly and then went back to sleep.
First task was to start the campfire; it had been banked nicely the night before and didn’t take much encouragement. Then I put the coffee on to percolate. The basic morning chores were next and the sun was just coming up when I let the chickens out; Matilda had constructed a pretty nice temporary coop for them in the trailer. I quickly mucked out the coop and laid down new straw.
The crowing rooster brought the ladies out eventually and Brin and I had company; Michelle wore a sleepy “I told you so” smile on her face, and I felt better than I had in years. I reminded them that Oscar and his boys would be down for breakfast shortly and that we needed to get ourselves in gear. Matilda started a biscuit dough while I put the big skillet on the fire to heat up. I grabbed some sausage out of the fridge figuring that sausage gravy over biscuits with eggs and asparagus on the side would fit the bill perfectly. Hey – ya gotta have your veggies and nothing screams breakfast veg better than asparagus.
Michelle took over for me shortly and I went to work on trailer maintenance; I had learned long ago to check your fuel, water and septic levels daily; failing to do so could ruin an entire day’s plans. More importantly I had learned to top off or empty every tank before I left the modern world and entered the “off-grid”. On this day we were showing a bit of overuse on the fresh water but fuels were still full and septic was OK, so I decided it would be a good time to set up my freshwater pump and refill the fresh from the creek.
I was running the hose out to the creek bed when Oscar and his boys showed up. They jumped in and gave me a hand finishing the job and we were able to have it running within 10 minutes. The pump automatically shut off when the tank was full; it wasn’t designed for this, but it was designed to stop pumping if the output backed up. I got the same result in the end: once the tank was full, the output stopped and the pump shut down; sure saved me a lot of engineering and wiring. Checking the input filter would be a twice a day chore when I used it though.
Breakfast was amazing, Oscar and his boys expressed on the quality; Matilda was a master. Part of the secret was that we had turned the fire circle into a long fire oblong allowing us to use one end to cook the biscuits and the middle and other end to cook the rest.
While Matilda tidied up after breakfast while we chatted around the table. Michelle and I had agreed the night before that she would kick off the business discussion. She started by talking about her horse farm and the struggles of being a family operation in an increasingly corporate run world; naturally Oscar commiserated, and they swapped stories of financing nightmares.
The conversation picked up when Michelle mentioned that she had just signed a deal with an angel investor and went into a description of how it worked. Oscar was very interested in the set up and his sons were full of questions; all three of his kids had expressed a desire to get off the bottom of the corporate ladder and work the farm. Oscar went straight to the point and asked how she went about finding a deal like that.
Michelle simply smiled and pointed at me. Oscar went dead silent.
“Well now,” Oscar said eventually, “That seems to be a bit different as you two are a couple.”
“Not really,” I replied, “Michelle and I are good friends and business partners but I’m heading up to Wyoming...”
“and I’m not leaving my horse farm.” Michelle finished.
“So, don’t go planning any weddings.” I deadpanned.
That brought laughter from everyone and the mood swung back positive again, we started talking business.
Sonya brought out the letter of intent and the org charts showing how the deal would be structured; I explained valuation, salaries and profit sharing. Sonya gave a quick over-view of all the HR details like health insurance, vacation time and other issues.
Michelle was paying rapt attention as well; we hadn’t covered the deal in such detail during our previous conversations, or if we did it was spread out over time. This was a full-on presentation that Sonya and the team at Whittling had put together and it was a good one.
I got down to the good stuff.
“Oscar,” I said, “You would be President and CEO of the farm corporation, and therefore in charge of day-to-day operations and strategic planning. You can appoint your graduated children to any position you like, but Sonya will have some normal suggestions. Each of you would get a seat on the board of directors, as would Ruth. Each member of the family, including Ruth who will not be an employee, would receive 10% of the shares and my fund - which means me - would hold the remaining 50%.”
“In return the corporation, the name of which is up to the board, would outright purchase all of your equitable property including equipment, with the exception of your actual homestead. However, the corporation will hold a lease on the working buildings of your homestead and have rights of access to those buildings; you would be paid annually – upfront – for those leases.”
“In addition,” I continued, “you would receive a signing incentive payment equal to 20% the fair market value of those purchased properties. You would also receive a deal bonus of one hundred thousand dollars to facilitate a smooth transition from your current structure to the new structure. That payment is intended to fund you hiring a good lawyer to review all of the documents. You and your board members would receive their signing bonuses when the deal closes.”