“You want to do what?”My husband stared at me like I was crazy after I patiently explained to him that it was time. Time to sell the house we spent the past five years building – literally from the ground up – to buy a farm.
To be fair we had been talking about farming for quite a few years. We had read, read and then read some more about everything from biodynamic farming and organic gardening to homesteading and permaculture. We even took world-renowned permaculture expert, Geoff Lawton’s, Permaculture Design Course. I was done with theory. I was finally ready to get my hands dirty.
Alas…even though we had already invested five years into building our house it was not completed. Okay, so there was another obstacle too. We had no idea where we would find a farm in our price range. If we wanted to get into the business of agriculture, we knew we would have to be completely debt/mortgage free, which meant significant downsizing from our current property.
Why debt free you ask? We have no experience in farming. Wait…that’s a lie. We did have a vegetable garden (I learned that I can kill a whole lot of different plants) and at one point we had 30 chickens. They were all murdered by a ferret. That’s right. That cute, fluffy, little creature bit their necks, sucked their blood and left them for us to find in the morning. Let us take a moment to remember those poor chickens….RIP
By the way, did you know that even rats can kill chickens? Fact – Most everyone loves chicken. Lesson learned.
So after these little incidents we realized farming was not going to be as easy as we anticipated despite the amount of reading we had done. It’s like trying to follow one of those parenting books that tell you how to peacefully put your children to bed except when you try it for the first time there is shouting and wrestling. Or how about reading about making your own yogurt from scratch and then waking up to find your yogurt is still milk. These are just theoretical examples, of course. Nothing to do with my real life.
Experience doesn’t come from a book and if there is one thing I have learned from our teeny tiny farming attempts, it is that agriculture is full of surprises – some good, some not so good.
So in preparation for such uncertainties and failures, which I’m told are just a part of farming life, we decided our finances would have to be whittled down to a lean mean saving machine. And when I say mean, I mean MEAN. Forget about shopping at second-hand stores…If it’s not essential, I’m not shopping. By the way, gardening supplies, plants, trees and seeds are essential expenditures.
Fortunately, I am an eternal optimist who is not easily discouraged. I spent months scouring the local real estate listings for something in our price range until I stumbled upon a too good to be true relisting of a farm literally footsteps from the edge of town. Being close to the city’s limits was one of our criteria, you see. We didn’t want to be too far from our imaginary customers, local farmer’s market or the kids’ school.
So I convinced my husband to book a viewing. I made up my mind about the house before we even reached the top of the driveway. I was in love. The century old farmstead with 12 acres of fertile pasture and a 200 foot barn was oozing charm and potential. I was sold.
Since we already had a mortgage to pay, we couldn’t buy the property outright. Instead we struck a rent to own deal for a year and a month later we packed up our stuff and moved in.
Over the next seven months I stuck it out at the farmhouse with the kids while my husband and several family members (we love you!!!) worked (literally) night and day on getting our house finished and ready to sell. And now it’s sold!
Before we built our house we had dreams of constructing a tiny off grid home in a picturesque setting away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Sounds good, right? Except we somehow ended up with a 2,000 square foot home, a 1,000 square foot 3 car garage and a nice little mortgage to go along with it.
And although my husband built a masonry fireplace that heated our home for free with wood from our property, we were still far from being a net zero consumer of electricity.
On top of all that, we ended up spending ridiculous amounts of time commuting to and from town – sometimes multiple times day.
So along with the desire to farm, we were ready for a complete lifestyle change. Enter Mr. Money Mustache – my new best friend. (Seriously, you have to check out his blog – http://www.mrmoneymustache.com. It’s inspiring, informative and sometimes laugh out loud funny.)
Mr. Money Mustache made me think really hard about all the things we had acquired and whether we were living the life we wanted. After some deep soul-searching we decided we’d rather give up our fancy mortgaged digs for a paid-off home that would give us the freedom to pursue our dreams.
Now you may be wondering what we traded it all in for. Well, let’s just say the farmhouse will require a little work. Pink carpet in the bathroom? Check!
Blue carpet in the dining room? Check! Wallpaper wallpaper everywhere you look? Check!
So in addition to farming, we’ll be renovating. And did I mention we have two kids under the age of seven? Think we’ve bit off more than we can chew? Of course we have! Cause that’s the way uh huh, uh huh we like it. Uh huh, uh huh. Remember we are the people who decided to build our own ROUND house. Only crazy people do things like that.
But crazy can be good sometimes, am I right? You may even feel like chucking it all to live the simple life too or maybe you just want to laugh at us as we try and build a homestead. Either way we hope you’ll stick around for what is sure to be a bumpy ride full of mud, manure, sweat, tears and (fingers crossed) some joy and laughter.