About this time last year, my husband and I started discussing the future. What did we want out of life? What did we want to do with our time? Do we want to live where we live now? Do we want to go somewhere else?
I wanted space to garden. My husband wanted enough space to warrant a tractor- maybe 7-10 acres. We live in farm country now and we wanted to be near farms wherever we went. We wanted good schools, local businesses, and that certain feel that you know only when you... well... feel it. Though wonderful, we weren't sure the town we are in is the town we want to stay in forever.
The more we discussed, the more we realized a change might be in order. And with my stepson graduating from high school next spring, and our toddler not yet in first grade, the time to make a change might be approaching quickly.
Throughout the spring and the summer we drove around. A lot. We looked at listings online during the week and spent our weekends driving by them, exploring different cities. We needed to stay in the vicinity of my husband's business, but that still opened up a lot of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania as options.
We searched north and south, near the river and away from it. We saw properties that were immediate nos, some maybes, some if-onlys. We said yes to one that was nearly perfect, but at 17 acres was a bit bigger than we planned on. Then we lost it because of a prior promise. We thought we'd never find anything that good again.
Then we found something better and significantly bigger in a slightly scary way at 50 acres. We said yes to that, only to have it whisked out from under us by a higher offer while we were awaiting the contract. We stopped looking for a few weeks thinking maybe it just wasn't meant to be. Surely we'd never find anything that good in our price range again.
Crazy thing... toward the end of the summer we found a better one in south Jersey. And we got it. It's ours.
It's taken me a while to share this on the blog. Part of the reason is I needed to wait until it was a for-sure, locked-in, couldn't-be-taken-away deal. Part of the reason is I wasn't sure how to tell this story. Sometimes the bigger the impact something has on us, the harder it is to explain to others. Still another part of the reason is that we still have so much to do there, so in a way, there's not much to tell yet.
We now own 76 acres (did you notice how those numbers keep getting higher?) of former tree nursery without a single building on it. We'll need barns, sheds, tractors, organic compost, clean fill dirt, a house... nothing major. Just EVERYTHING.
We are starting from scratch. We are building from nothing. We aren't just building structures, we are building a life. A whole new lifestyle.
On weekends we go visit our farm. Sometimes we bring tromping boots to explore (because with 76 acres, we still haven't seen every nook and cranny yet). Sometimes we bring a pop-up tent and picnic lunch. Sometimes we simply drive around on it with jaws dropped.
This land is so beautiful. A lot of it is open fields, some of it is wooded, but all of it is magical. It's tranquil.
From our current home an hour away, we get caught up in the stress of what we need to do to our home before we can sell it and planning our future home and worrying that the ground might freeze before we can get the foundation poured. There are decisions to be made, phone numbers to be called, questions to answer, permits, loans, an endless list of to do's... .
But when we get to the farm, I feel peace. Everything it will take to get there doesn't seem so bad when compared to the ultimate reward of being there.
There is a lot of big, hard work ahead of us. We will have to learn a lot. Luckily, so far all of the people we've met down there have been friendly and helpful. I feel supported in this new adventure already.
Who knows whether we will succeed or fail, (hopefully the former), or if we will be able to see even half our ideas to fruition. One thing is certain: We will be able to say we went for it.
P.S. That is not our tractor. While we work on building our house, we are renting the land to a local farmer.