April 14, 2010

How we got here

I've been thinking about our move to the farm. It's strange how people's lives change. Some people grow together while some grow appart. And it's hard to know which you'll be.

Jeremy and I met in college. I was 19 and he was 20 - seems so very young! Both of us fitting the "starving college student" persona well; living off of fast food, top ramen and mac-n-cheese. It was a rare occassion when my roommates and I would make a home cooked meal. Jeremy and I never talked about farming or food or where we wanted to live - we were just in love and lovin it.

After college Jeremy got a job and I was accepted to graduate school in Portland, OR. My choice of appartment was solely on availablity and afforability. I moved to Northwest, which is very urban, to a tiny studio appartment. No need for a car. I could walk everywhere and where I couldn't walk to I took the bus. There were at least 10 bars within 10 block of my appartment. It was great fun. In fact, I could easily go back to living the completely urban lifestyle. But when we decided we were ready to get married and have kids, we got sucked into the American dream - house, 2-car garage, yard, etc. That meant moving to the suburbs. Battle Ground, Jeremy's home town, was close to Portland, had affoardable houses and it had a future grandparent (Jeremy's mom).

We lived in a rental, then bought our first house in suburbia. Both had large yards where I could garden. But we found that every weekend we really, really wanted to "get out of town". Camping, hiking, skiing, etc. We starting talking about buying some recreational property in the woods or at the beach - some place we could get away too. I didn't realize it at the time, but I hated living in suburbia. I had to drive everywhere, even just a few blocks to the grocery store. There were lots of neighbors. I didn't know any of them well, but I could hear them and see them. It wasn't relaxing being at home. I couldn't hang in my yard.

The other thing that was happening then was that Jeremy and I were becoming more intersted in food and where our food came from. We started buying beef from Jeremy's Grandpa Ed. Jeremy was always a hunter - deer and elk. We purchase a large freezer. I gardened more, started making jams. We started frequenting the farmer's market.

So we started considering two options: 1) buy 10 acres out in the woods for camping, hiking and hunting; or 2) buy property in the country to live on. We looked at both options. Both of us rely on our gut for these kind of things - probably not the most certain and safe approach but it has worked so far.

(This is where our lives could have easily either grown appart or together. We got lucky and we grew together.)

The third place we looked at was a dump. As we drove up the driveway, the land was a muddy mess with five horse trodding about. The garage was open with kids' toys, tools, lawn mower, etc. pouring out. The yard was cluttered with garden knick knacks. The real estate agent had to take us in through the down stairs door. Immediately dogs started barking and we were hit with the strong smell of dog pee. The dogs, five of them, were in cages by the back door. Two of the rooms downstairs had vissible mold on the walls. We walked up stairs. Clutter, laundry, toys, everywhere. The dishwasher was full, dirty and open. There were cobweds on the walls. A strong smell of artificial vanilla was trying to mask the dog pee, unsucessfully. A few of the rooms were so jammed with stuff we couldn't even enter. At this point, Jeremy and I were thinking - no way! Then we walked out onto the back deck.

It was cluttered too. But it provided a view of nearly all the property. The trees were amazing. It was quiet - country quiet where you hear animals and birds and a creek - it was peaceful. We both took a deep breath, releasing. Jeremy said, let's take another look. This time we walked through the house thinking - Is this cosmetic or structural? Can we fix it? The answer was, yes we can fix all of it. The price was really good too, which helped. We made an offer and moved in a few months later.

We had to rent a dumpster to dispose of all the crap they left behind. It took two years for the pasture to become somewhat healthy, although it is an ongoing process. Five years later the mold is gone (full gutting and redoing downstairs), carpet replaced to eliminate the dog pee smell, painting, etc. There are still many things to do but it is getting there. And every night, rain or sun, we spend a few minutes on the back deck taking deep breaths, releasing. And you know what, I rarely have a desire to "get out of town" because I live "out of town."


violagirlhh said...

Hi, I've really been enjoying your blog. You've given me lots of ideas for our own small farm.

Mindy said...

Thanks! We've been having a lot of fun writing the blog.