Tag Archives: farm fantasy

New Beginnings

New Beginnings

My middlest child graduates high school this year.  My youngest graduates next year and then goes on to the local community college.  When they graduate from there, my time here in this house is over, for good or for ill.  So in three years, I’ll be starting my next great adventure.

I’ve started doing exercises to try to get into the headspace of what that will be like.  The plan is to move to a farm, or at least a farm-in-the-making.  I’ve been imagining this place since I was a kid.  We had friends who were farmers when I was growing up, and their places were always magical to me.  Especially the hay barns.  Hay barns are cathedrals to me, with the same power of scent and the same transfusion of light.  So I want to move to a place I can live in until they carry me feet first out the window.  I’ve drawn pictures and maps of what my farm is going to look like, created business plans, collected infrastructure ideas.  If visioning is creating, this place already exists in the world, just waiting for me to be ready.

I was in the grocery store the other day, buying 3 gallons of milk that will last 4 days and cost more than gas, and it hit me.  In a couple of years, a half gallon will probably go bad in my fridge, as I won’t have a bunch of teenagers drinking it all.  That was followed by the realization that my food budget will plummet when my kids move out.  That’s kind of overwhelming to think about.  I’ll be spending more to feed my animals than to feed people.  Weird.

The latest thought experiment has been, “What will I take with me when I move?”  The answer is, surprisingly, not much.  Considering the fact that I live in a 3 bedroom, 3 story house, I think I can fit everything I want to take into one large Uhaul.  I’m taking the freezer, the china cabinet, and one arm chair, but that’s pretty much it for the furniture and large appliances.  I’ll take all my small appliances and cooking tools, but none of my dishes.  Some special glassware pieces that I inherited from my parents, but none of my wedding china.  The TV and games, but none of the Ikea shelving or the leather couch.  I salvaged that in the first place, I’m sure I can salvage a replacement.  None of the beds, except my old spindle bed which has been in storage for years.  One dresser I inherited from my father.  Probably not my fiber wardrobe, as the new house will have a whole room dedicated to my crafting.  The camping gear.  Maybe the books?  I’ve purged my collection pretty hard, but most of those books I haven’t touched in years.  My garden tools and bike.  The pie safe that has been stored in the shed for 20 years.

Really, for the course of a life, the longest I’ve ever lived in one place, it’s not much stuff.  But somehow, thinking about letting all that go, starting clean with only what I identify as MINE, is incredibly liberating.

I’m really ready for a new beginning.

If Wishes Were Horses

If Wishes Were Horses

I spent a lot of time on my fantasy farm today.

Actually, I was in the office, working as hard as the lingering remains of my cold medicine would allow.  But a part of my brain was at the farm.


While we were in Woodstock, Nikki and I agreed that we could be very happy living in the Catskills.  Which, as it usually does, led me to look at real estate.  We have a very small budget and very big dreams, but I did find two properties that I really love.  They’re further west than I would like, but they’re both within half an hour of three college towns, which to me means library, culture and food.  The rest is up to us.

So I’ve been thinking about orchard placement, pasture layouts, greenhouse construction, shop colors, all the big and small things that might go into the place.  Being so close to so many schools, we might be able to barter room and board for manual labor, or offer studio or boarding space in exchange for design or animal help.  I even looked up internet providers for both places.

I’m finding that my criteria for the perfect place are expanding over time.  Originally, I wanted a place near the mountains, woods and ocean (which is why we were looking at Maine), at least 5 acres but preferably more, an older house with at least one fireplace, and at least one cool barn.  I have now had to add to that that it has to be int he coverage area of an NPR station and within half an hour’s drive of a UU church, preferably one with some pagan presence, or at least open to it.  As the kids get older, I’m having to worry less and less about schools.  My job, assuming I can keep it, is one I can do from home, and there are people elsewhere in the department who live far away and only telecommute, so there is precedent for it, which means I have to worry about being in a location with job opportunities.  And working from home would work well with the needs of farm maintenance!  People keep warning me about winters in the places I’m looking at.  Dude, that’s WHY I’m looking at those places!  I need decent winters!

Unfortunately, it’s not happening any time soon.  I need to get the kids through school first.  So three more years minimum.  Unless I win the lottery.  If that happens, I’m not waiting.  Well, yeah I am, but I’ll use the three years to do the renovations on the new place so it’s ready when we are.

Of course, I have to buy tickets…


Back to Reality

Back to Reality

Okay, yes, I missed a day.  But to be fair, it was a long drive back from New York, and then I had to dive straight back into mom mode to get the kids to church for youth group at 6.  And the allergy attack I’d been suffering turned out to probably not be allergies after all.  Am now suffering what feels like a moderately obnoxious cold.  My sinuses are stuffed enough to make my teeth hurt.

Had to get up early this morning to take the kids to school, and figured since I was up anyway, I might as well get the grocery shopping out of the way.  Wise choice, as the store was pretty much empty and I was able to get cold medicine and throat drops as well.  Came home, unpacked everything, and then felt perfectly justified in crawling back into bed for the rest of the day to sleep and haunt realty websites looking for my farm-to-be.


Anyone got $150,000 they’d like to invest?

In a tiny house

In a tiny house

I love small houses.  Probably because of the weird history I have with them.  Weird, because for most of my life, my primary residences have been huge, many bedroomed Victorians, which I also love.  But the place of my heart is a three room “camp” on Cape Cod, maybe 400 square feet, with a basic kitchen, cold water sink, an indoor toilet but no shower, a wood stove, and the best sleeping porch ever.  Maybe it’s because I was a kid, but I never felt crowded in that house.  Cozy, yes.  There were two beds in the main room where my brother and I would sleep, and I can still remember curling up at night, watching the light play off the stud walls and listening to my parents, grandparents and any visiting relatives playing cards.  I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to join them, but of course time marched on as I got older, and by the time I was old enough, my parents had split up, my grandmother had died, and my grandfather had gotten too old and had to sell the place.  A part of me never got to grow up, because I never got promoted to the Bolivia games.  I miss that house.

When I moved to Philly, I lived in the dorms and student housing for a couple of years before I left school.  A friend of the ex’s and I got a “shotgun” house down in South Philly.  This was another wonderful little house.

Sears door   Sears kitchen

This house was TINY.  That first picture?  Yeah, that’s the whole width of the house.  Two rooms, front and back on each floor.  The first floor had an 8x10ish living room in the front, and a kitchen just a little bigger on the back.  The best thing about the kitchen was the fireplace in it (you can just see the hearth in that picture).  The second floor had a narrow bathroom on the front and the bedroom in the back, with sliding doors out to the porch, and then the third floor had a bedroom in the front and this odd, narrow, tiled room on the back, again with a deck off it. This neighborhood had been where the shipping and dock workers lived around the time it was built, and I always imagined some Irish or Italian woman raising 6 kids in this microscopic space.  This was a great house, and after about six months was the first place I lived in by myself for any length of time.  I never did get to do much to optimize it, and about a year later the ex moved in, and then Morgan was born, and three months later we were living in another massive Victorian.  But I still have fond memories of that tiny little house and everything it represented.

I’m spending a lot of time right now being house proud, or at least trying to make a house I can be proud of.  But always in the back of my head, there’s the thought of what comes next, what will be my next (and hopefully last) house.  Part of me still wants an old fashioned Victorian farmhouse with barns and the whole nine yards (I’ll tell the story of farms in my history another time.  Needless to say, they made an impression).  But now that I’ve been a home owner for more than fifteen years, there’s a lot tempting in the thought of a small house, 600-800 square feet, without a lot of room for clutter, no need for high ladders or sump pumps, just a cozy little, tightly controlled space.  I have a couple of tiny house blogs on my Tumblr feed, and I’ve been collecting free plans from The Small House Catalog.  I could never go the tiny house route.  I need a real bed and a little guest/office/storage space.  But yeah, 850 sf?  Looks just about perfect to me.