This last month I came close to owning a little bit of the prairie. There is an acre lot east of Sioux Falls with a beautiful view of the plains and the Big Sioux River, and for a month I ran through every fantasy of life in a semi-rural environment. For my wife there were related motivations, but for me it had to do with having my piece of the frontier. This was going to be my wild west.
Though only a mile outside of city limits, it’s amazing how a whole different set of questions arose than the issues normal civilized folk have to face when relocating in the urban setting. In the city you worry about crime rates, proximity to good schools, neighborhood property values, and whether the renters across the street will get drunk on their front porch each Saturday (yes, they will). On my new property I was asking wild west questions: Can I dig deep enough to install a septic tank? What does it take to hook up to rural water? Will the street be snow plowed – and by whom? How long will the surrounding area be zoned as agricultural? Is geothermal heating or propane the more reasonable expense? Can I shoot at pheasants just down the street?
As things turned out, the seller was unwilling to budge on his list price, even though the property had gone unsold for many months. For the time being it looks like our fantasy is evaporating, much like the West did for all those daring men of the 19th century. Like them, I have been imprisoned, banished to the center of the city.