Sentimental, creative, passionate and determined are four adjectives that apply to Keith Burditt as he continues a project already three years in progress restoring a farmstead 12 miles southeast of Ness City.

The farm has special meaning to Keith. His grandfather Lem Burditt brought his new bride Pearle to the property in 1910 and in the years to follow the couple raised no less than eight children, including Keith’s father Earl who was born here in 1920.

Growing up in Ness City, Keith and his family were frequent visitors to his grandparent’s farm where he formed a lifelong connection to the property that never went away.

After a career building communications towers for more than a quarter of a century, he sold the business in 2000 and had no trouble finding something else to do.

Fate intervened in 2014 when he jumped at the opportunity to purchase the property and 160 acres surrounding the buildings.

The farm’s last residents left the property in 1980, and soon thereafter the house burned to the ground. In the 34 years to follow, Mother Nature took over with trees, tumbleweeds, and brush.

After signing the paperwork to finalize the purchase, Keith drove to the property to check things out and admits to being a little overwhelmed as the farm was in a state of total disrepair. Old rusted vehicles were piled in a trench silo along with, perhaps, a ton or two of scrap iron, a site not uncommon for abandoned farms all of which necessitated multiple trips to a local salvage yard.

As Keith says, “the place was nothing short of being a jungle with a wide assortment of rattlesnakes and rocks.”

He did pause to take a few pictures of what he was getting in to. “When I get discouraged, I stop and look at the old pictures to see how far we have come,” Keith says.

A huge barn with the hay loft intact is the oldest building on the property. Old barns are a vanishing landmark in rural America. Let’s just say there are more barns in a state of decay than there are those that are restored, but Keith chose the latter course of action for his new acquisition.

The 19th century construction crew that built the barn spared little in its construction which includes limestone seven feet high before it turns to wood walls. Keith has been told those hearty pioneers purchased the limestone at a quarry two miles to the east of the farm and hauled to rock across the fields in horse-drawn wagons. Carved in a piece of limestone on the interior walls is “1888” which may denote the year of its construction.

His grandfather’s hand-dug well and concrete windmill survived the years of abandonment, and with a little priming, he felt a sense of ecstasy when he saw water flowing again through the pipes.

Then, he moved to work on a large wooden granary. On each structure, he installed a shiny new metal roof which covers a multitude of blemishes.

In his family ‘archives, he located a photo of his grandparents standing in the yard admiring their new farm as they were starting life together as husband and wife. Soon, Keith will place that photo on a limestone pedestal near the spot where the original photo was taken.

And he added some new features to the property to complement all that is old. A fence built from stone posts greets visitors at the farm entrance. Then, Keith painstakingly planted 60 Australian pine trees and 200 Cedar trees.

At every step of the way, he has been assisted by his uncle Dewey Burditt, now 80 years of age. The farm has special meaning to Dewey too in that he grew up on the property.

Sitting inside a garage built in the 1940s, Keith seemed reflective on his ongoing project.

At an early age, he noted several special features to the property which remain this day. “This farm is quiet and peaceful where you can see the greatest sunrises and sunsets in the world,” Keith said.

There is no deadline to finish the project and if he ever does, one can assume he will, more than likely, find something else that could use a little more improvement.

As for their future plans, Keith says that he and his wife of 43 years, Anita, (who says she loves the place too), may move from their home in Ness City to live out their lives on the Burditt family farm.

In the meantime, Keith Burditt is living his version of the American dream every day that he spends on this farm. “I think this is what my father and grandfather would want me to do,” Keith says as a wide smile breaks out across his face.