We're all in need of a feel good story these days! Meet the Ordoynes, a Louisiana family who made the move from city life to country life with a lot of planning, some hard knocks, and a sprinkle of divine intervention.
Here at RethinkRural we love to tell the stories of individuals and families who have made the switch from urban/suburban life to country life. The Ordoyne family from Louisiana, made this move just a few short months ago. Like many families we’ve featured, they were craving a new lifestyle that didn’t involve a ton of traffic, city noise, or cookie-cutter neighborhoods.
What makes their story exceptional is the way in which they found their dream property…or more specifically, what led them to their property.
If you love a good heart-warming story then break out the tissue box for this one!
Want the perfect Rural property? Don’t follow the crowd
Sarah and Joshua Ordoyne had been living in Lake Charles for many years when they decided to start looking for property outside city limits.
Says Sarah: “I had lived in Lake Charles for 15 years and my husband grew up here, so we knew we wanted to get out of the city for that very literal breath of fresh air.”
There are many popular suburban and rural places outside Lake Charles, but those locations come with traffic and more people; and as Sarah explained, the Ordoynes “don’t follow the crowd!” However, that made finding their perfect forever-property more challenging.
“We had been out looking for months and months and one day I was feeling frustrated and just typed “trees and Iowa” into Google and this 11-acre piece of land popped up! I was surprised, we were looking for something smaller, maybe 3-4 acres — not 11, but this land found us!”
Excited and hopeful the Ordoynes quickly made an appointment to view the properties.
They wanted 3-4 acres…they got 11 thanks to a butterfly
When they arrived, Sarah fell in love with the 11 acre “Lot 12”.
“I knew this was it and I had fallen in love with the aesthetics, but I honestly didn’t think we could afford it and I was bummed as we began driving away.”
However, fate in the form of a butterfly, had other plans. Sarah explains:
“My mother passed away less than half a year before we started looking for the property, so she was kind of on my heart and in a sense guiding me, helping me make the decisions on where and how I’m going to raise my family.
“When she passed she told me she would like to be reincarnated as a butterfly, and as we were pulling away from the property and got to the end of these hundreds of acres out here this butterfly shoots across the car in front of us.
“And I told my husband: “Babe, turn around and follow that butterfly!
“I kid you not, we slowly chased this butterfly back up the road and it flew right into Lot 12 and just kind of fluttered in the front, landed on the tree and sat there. I had a moment, and I said: “we’re going to make this work, we’re going to do this!”
Needless to say, they got the 11-acre property.
4 lessons learned while building a homestead from scratch
Finding the perfect rural place took patience, persistence and a little divine intervention but that was just the beginning of their journey to build this unique family home. Sarah shares her advice for anyone interested in building a homestead from scratch.
Lesson #1: Find a good architect
“We ended up finding an architect who was ready to listen to our out-of-the-box ideas for our house design and it fell into place. Everybody down the road built their typical southern-style home, but our architect was willing to listen and willing to step outside the typical design. We call it the space ship!”
Lesson #2: Don’t start building during rainy season
Once they had the house design in place, it was time to start prepping the land to build their dream home….but they hit a major roadblock: rainy season.
“By the time we found the property, closed on it, and got the houseplans squared away it was rainy season. We probably shouldn’t have started dirt work during rainy season and it definitely delayed things.”
Fortunately, the Ordoynes neighbor came to their rescue and helped shore up and complete the dirt work.
Lesson #3: Vet your subcontractors very well
We’ve all heard the nightmare stories of contractors who don’t live up to their word and the Ordoynes experienced that first-hand.
Says Sarah, “It’s so important to know who you’re hiring. Do your research but also get portfolio work and get with those people they’ve worked for because people’s quality of work isn’t always as it seems, I struggled with that."
Lesson #4: Embrace covenants, conditions and restrictions
Even rural communities may have covenants, conditions and restrictions in place on what you can and can’t build or operate on your rural property.
However, that is meant to be a good thing for homeowners. Sarah explains:
“Another reason this property was nice is it had enough restrictions to protect the home values in this area but not so many that we could still build what we wanted. Some places put so many restrictions that they force you into a certain style of home, but this was a nice mix to be able to do what you want while keeping out the riff raff.”
Lesson #5: Land size can be deceiving until you see it first-hand
As previously mentioned, the Ordoynes originally wanted only 3-4 acres because that’s what they thought they needed. Says Sarah:
“We knew on 3 or 4 acres we could have a little bit of privacy, but we didn’t even understand what 3-4 acres looks like, and until you actually get out there it’s hard to imagine. Now with 11 acres I’m just like, this isn’t really a lot, but it’s enough if people were to build on the side of you you’d still have privacy.”
future plans for their Louisiana homestead
The Ordoynes’ property is mostly wooded --- they like it that way and plan to do some hobby farming.
“We never intended to clear it all and have a huge farm,” said Sarah, “but we’ve thought about doing chickens, a goat to maintain grassy areas, we’d like to do some honeybees and things like that to provide us with different food sources.
“We bought this land for our boys honestly, and we’re both chefs by hobby so it will be nice to have our own products to work with in the kitchen and to teach the kids where their food comes from.”
Living the good life in rural Louisiana
It took the Ordoynes months of searching (with a little divine butterfly guidance) to find their perfect property then two years of planning, endless dirty work and building to create their dream home...but it was all worth it for the family of four.
“It’s funny because we really didn’t over plan anything when we moved out here...which sounds kind of irresponsible but we just knew it would all work out regardless.
“It’s like we’re in our own world out here and we just love it. Even the neighbors all seem to have the same vision for the land and trees and everybody respects the natural feel. We actually sold a property the other day! Somebody pulled up and we let them in our house...I probably shouldn’t have done that but I did, and they put an offer in. Come visit, and once you see it and feel it it’s sold.”