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5.01.2010

We're moving.... TO A FARM!

The picture above? Part of my soon-to-be yard. Can you believe it? The thing is, I have been thinking about and wishing and hoping on this SO HARD that I kind of feel like I willed it to happen. And it doesn't really seem real yet.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of things I love about living in Southern California. I love the climate (except for in August... yuck). I love the diversity in the people, and the fact that there are so many diverse people here just about anyone can find a group they identify with. I love the fact that we can drive one hour in one direction and be in the mountains and drive one hour in the other direction and be at the beach. I love the fact that I can find an actual brick and mortar store for just about anything I want to buy (if I look hard enough). I love the plethora of sushi restaurants. I LOVE the fact that there is a nearby farmer's market every single day of the week. And, of course, I love all the friends I have made here and will miss them all terribly (as will my children).
But even all of that doesn't dampen my excitement much.
So here's how it happened.

Hubs came home from work one day and was like "how do you feel about Minnesota?" And I was like "no way!" because I knew instantly what he meant by that. So he gets a promotion and I get a farm. I mean, it's a win win for everyone! Actually, the farm thing kind of evolved. I was so excited at the prospect of moving (our house is FAR too small for us) that we instantly started looking at houses online. The first houses we looked at were, of course, in town. I wasn't even thinking clearly about what I wanted, we were just browsing. After looking at a lot of duds and a few with a little promise we came across one tiny little cracker box house, about the same size as what we live in now... BUT it was on 3 acres, and in our price range (cheap, actually). That was when it hit me. We could buy a little acreage! So I widened our search. That first night I found the most amazing house on 3 acres. It was exactly the house I have dreamed about my entire life- large, two story farm house, wood floors, high ceilings, crown molding... all the character of an old house. But, alas, it was too far from my husband's work. We didn't give up hope, though. About a week later our realtor sent us a link to another farm house. Smaller, with a little less character, but still and old farm house on just under 3 acres of land, but only 5 minutes from work. We made a trip to Minnesota that weekend and looked at it (along with a few other houses). The whole time we were looking at the house all I could think was "I love this house, but I'll bet hubby doesn't like it."

When we had parted ways with the realtor we looked at each other and both almost simultaneously said that we loved the same house. It kind of amazes me. Most people our age want a perfect, nice, and probably new house. Not that this house isn't nice- all the important parts are new and updated. But cosmetically the interior could use some work, and there are a few little improvements that will need to be done. And generally an older house requires more maintainence. But we both agreed that we don't like new houses. Most that we looked at were in developments and had a very cookie cutter look to them.

Plus we both loved the idea of having land. Not just to have it, of course, because that would be wasteful. Scott is excited at the prospect of having both a 2 car garage AND a shed:
(our garage now is a single car garage). And I will have the space for a huge garden. In the ground. Instead of:(that was the garden I started before I found out we were going to move). And animals. We are outside of town but still in a township, which has rules. And I'm okay with that, because the rules they have are there to preserve exactly what I am looking forward to- the integrity of the rural area. The rules favor farms and responsible farm practices (not overcrowding or overgrazing) and not urbanizing the township. From the sound of some of the rules I am guessing that developers were trying to buy up rural land to build on in the past. Because of this there are some little communities out in the rural area, and our house borders one. But that is okay also- I like the idea of having close neighbors while still having that farm feel. Anyway, back to the animals...

So the township rules are that properties with 3-5 acres are allowed 2 animal units. I was a little bummed when I first heard this because I heard it from our realtor and what she told me was 2 animals (there is a difference...). But then I looked up the township ordinances and read them myself. Animal units are different for each type of animal, so 2 animal units does not mean two animals. For example, a dairy cow equals 1.4 animal units. Horses are 1 animal unit, while goats are .4, chickens are .01, beef cows are 1, and turkeys are .o4.

See where I'm going with this? Once I started doing the math and figuring out the different combinations of animals we would eventually get I got REALLY excited. We could get 200 chickens (that would be crazy, but we could). Or we could get a horse, two goats, and 20 chickens. Or a dairy cow and 60 chickens. Two animal units is more than we could probably ever want. My tentative plan at the moment is to first get 2-4 chickens. Then I want to get 2 goats... possibly a doe that is in milk when we buy her along with a younger doe. I don't want to be milking two goats for the first year, goats "in milk" are probably more expensive, and I don't want to buy a wether, so a younger female seems to make sense. As we go I'll add more chickens with the goal of having 10-15 of them. I find it really difficult to imagine that we'll use more milk than 2 goats provide, what with having 2 dairy intolerant children. However, perhaps they won't react to goat milk. I do plan on making all my own dairy products (butter, yogurt, ice cream, and even cheese eventually). So maybe I'll need more.

Of course, if we have 3 goats then we can't get a horse:) Really, I need to get this whole horse idea out of my head. I love horses. I had a horse (and at times two) my entire childhood. But I was spoiled (being a girl and all, since my dad is still a little gender biased). I never had to catch or saddle my own horse. I've taken saddles off but never put one on. But I. Love. Horses. I love the way they smell (especially when they're sweaty). I love the way they feel. I love the feeling of them as they run. I love the way they use their lips to pick up whatever treats you have in your hand. Pretty much I love everything about them.

So, for the sake of talking myself out of getting a horse, here are my reasons not to get one:
  • horses don't earn their keep (well, they can, but it's not like I need a horse to round up my two goats or to check the fence line of my three acres).
  • horses eat A LOT.
  • I have two small children who aren't old enough to be left alone. Sneaking off to ride each day would be a challenge.
  • Horses aren't cheap unless they're totally green or about to die. Neither of which would be good.
So those are my reasons. By the time Izzy's old enough to start 4-H (6 or 7? I can't remember) I probably won't be able to restrain myself anymore. But until then I am going to try.

Lastly, this urban to rural relocation has inspired me in other ways.

The town we are moving to is AMAZING. It's cute and has a small town atmosphere, but is thriving and doesn't have that ghost town feeling that the town(s) I grew up in had. There are lots of quality locally owned businesses- restaurants, antique stores (and I have recently discovered that I LOVE antique stores), an organic co-op groccery (!!!!!!)... just to name a few. I am going to recommit myself to supporting local non-chain businesses. For the past few years I have, for various reasons, not really thrived in this area. My excuses usually involved fear of the unknown. But no-more. Even though choices may be limited in smaller communities I feel that local businesses in these communities are more accessible. Also because the market is more limited only the truly quality small businesses survive and prosper. And of course I want to support the community we live in. But also I feel that patronizing local businesses gives local people more opportunities to commune with each other. In my case, especially, it will give me the chance to meet and get to know people in the community.

Oh, and this gives my blog a new direction, which it was sorely in need of. Since I feel I've said most of what I want to say about the changes I have made (and that others can make) in their daily life to become more sustainable I am going to shift my focus, although I'm sure that topic will continue to resurface. Instead my focus will become our transition from an extremely urban to a rural setting and the challenges and experiences we encounter. I will still blog about cooking from scratch (as well as food issues in general) and other homemade endeavors of mine.

So tune in! It should be interesting:)

1 comment:

Meredith said...

I don't normally click on siggy links on DS but for some reason clicked on yours and want to say, welcome to Minnesota!

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