The ad read: For sale: 30-acre ranchette with two wells, year-round creek, round pen, loading chute, run-in shelter, paddocks, corrals, granary and poultry condo, a perfect place to watch people and critters grow and thrive in a Montana atmosphere! Poultry condo? That would clinch it for me!

When the housing market declines, real estate agents resort to more diverse enticements to lure prospective buyers. The most stubborn example I can recall is an ad that I saw running in comic books, Western magazines and pamphlets since my youth, called the Deming ranchettes, described in my memory as, “A beautiful 4-acre piece of heaven, in the shadow of rugged mountains with abundant wildlife and exotic flora.” These ranchettes were on the mesa and easily seen from the freeway and I have driven by them for more than 40 years now. It is a fairly barren piece of scrub mesquite and greasewood, but, ah, the lure of the West.

I remember falling prey to the offer to buy one square foot of national forest, and the ad to have a star named after one of my dogs. Now there’s a sun in some alien solar system out there named Hooter.

I’ve read the words, “Custom Home and Custom Features” in many real estate ads. Does that imply that when it breaks, you can’t find an easy replacement? Or bathroom fixtures made out of concrete? Or a unique bathtub that was once an old water heater cut lengthwise.

Another ad proclaims, “A duck pond in the front yard!” How close is that to the septic tank? I’d like to do an E. coli count first.


“Mountain backdrops!” What part of Kansas is this?

“Close to metropolitan amenities!” The old hardware store is now a tanning salon and video rental, and don’t forget the Lutefisk festival!

“Abundant open space!” How far is it from Ely?

“A diverse natural environment!” Below zero in winter, 100°F above in summer. Blizzards, floods, droughts and dust storms on a regular basis!

“A community dedicated to sharing its cultural values!” Yard sales every weekend during the summer.

“Eco-conscious construction!” AC/heat, big windows, electronic entertainment room, massive all-electric kitchen, can sleep 40, with theater, 4-car garage, large enough for RV and Hummer with automatic everything! But carbon offsets can be purchased from local ranchers who will ride their horse to work instead of drive!

Maybe a poultry condo isn’t such a bad selling point, after all. It could be sold as a timeshare to a quail or a pheasant. A place for them to chill out, drink lattes and hang out by the pool until hunting season’s over. PD