Monthly Archives: February 2015

house of dreams

I would like to talk about our future plans, though I am not sure I should.
I firmly believe that dreaming is just another form of doing; of manifesting.
And I have never been one to keep things quiet.
We have no idea when we will be moving to our new home.  
It could be a year or more.
It could be this Spring.
It’s all very much up in the air.
There are days I think we are crazy to think we will have the time and patience to homeschool and parent three kids, renovate an old house in need of a great deal of love, learn the art of farming by farming alongside my dad and step mom, while also figuring out how to make any sort of income with our own farm.   On top of that, Mike will continue to work at his current job and commute a crazy distance each day.  
“Potential” can be a dangerous word.
But, we’ve never been ones to shy away from a challenge or an adventure.
Life is more interesting when you colour outside the lines and take big leaps of faith.
Let me go back to the summer of 2005 for a moment.
That summer, Mike and I were living in Mississauga and a drive to the farm was a very long one, but we went out for a visit to celebrate Father’s Day and my birthday.  We worked all day planting raspberries and strawberries in bare feet with the hot sun upon our shoulders.  We cooled ourselves in buckets of icy water from the hand pump in the front yard and ate a late supper as we always did when I spent summers on the farm as a kid.  I wasn’t crazy about the farm when I was a kid, but something had shifted during this visit.  The next morning, we were invited to church which sits on a small parcel of land originally carved out of Dad and Janet’s farm.  Dad introduced us to a nice man with a round belly and a twinkle in his eye.  He shook our hands firmly and said “Welcome to The Ridge” .  I suppose it was then that our fates were sealed, even if we didn’t yet know it.
It was 8 years later, very nearly to the day, that we found ourselves walking the fence line of the potato field and across The Ridge Road into the mouth of an overgrown lane way lined with large maples.  We were there to see a man about a house.  An old house built in the late 1800’s with good bones, two walnut trees, three large fields, a meadow, a small apple orchard, a new plantation of red pine, and a beautiful view.
We think we might call it Sons & Daughters Farm.  Traditionally, farms are named to honour the family name and usually the sons.  For example: “March & Sons”, but we have hyphenated names and daughters too. “Ellenberger-March & Sons & Daughters”  is a bit of a clumsy mouthful and we both stubbornly refuse to take each other’s names.  Besides, we’re sons and daughters and we have a son and daughters. We’re working towards something sustainable for all the sons and daughters; our own and the ones yet to be.  We are also honouring the memory of the teachers and the farmers; the whiskey makers and the blacksmiths;  the artists and the entrepreneurs; the mothers and the fathers; the sons and the daughters who beat down this path before us.

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After the sale of this cabin/house and after paying our real estate agent, lawyer fees, the bare minimum down payment, and covering the cost of all the conditions and various moving costs, we won’t have much left.
 A typical kitchen reno costs anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000.
We plan to fix up the entire house with about 1/5 of that lower number.  
It sounds insane, but we believe we can save a lot by doing the work ourselves, using basic raw materials, hosting work bees with payment in food and beer, and getting really effing creative. 
We hope to be able to:
Lift some nasty old linoleum and then sand, stain, and varnish the original floors.
Build a makeshift kitchen with basic lower cupboards, open shelving and curtains instead of cupboard doors.
Replace the upstairs bathroom flooring, two toilets, a tub and one bathroom sink.
Figure something out for the walls which are layers of painted, bubbling, peeling, tobacco stained wallpaper.
Oh, and build a large kitchen island.
And two beds for the older kids.
Have I ever mentioned that I am as stubborn as they come?
Most people would enter this house and run for the hills.  
Or burn it to the ground.
To be honest, the thought crossed our minds.
But it was only a flicker.
We see the woodwork and storied floors.
We see the view which I am sure will save our weary bones more than once when we close the door on the reno chaos and take it all in.
We see it framed with perennials and picket fencing.
We hear the goats and sheep bleating and the chickens clucking.
We see our kids growing and learning the pleasure and pain of being a farm kid.
On Christmas Eve this year, dad put together a slideshow of old family photos which was a great reminder that I come from a long line of farmhouse rescuers and fierce dreamers.
There were pictures of a young Gramma and Grampa, both  fit and tan,  Gramma, with her hair tied up in a scarf, driving the tractor.  And another taken at an apple harvest that looked as though it belonged in a magazine.
Pictures of them as a young family, enjoying a picnic at the farm they were hoping to buy; the same home where many of my earliest and fondest childhood memories reside.  The smell of railroad ties and the taste of sun warmed raspberries still take me there.
A field full of healthy, multicoloured horses.
A picture of my lanky dad and the stallion he trained to do all sorts of neat tricks and his pride and joy horse Ruby Star who lived well into her 30’s.
We may not have a lot of money.
We may not have a pinterest worthy kitchen.
There will be days…oh my, yes.
There will be days.
We will have what so many green horn farmers would give just about anything to have.
The support of family just a kilometer down the road or an even quicker jaunt along the fence line.
Family who are farmers with lifelong experience, patience and infrastructure. 
When I think about how far ahead that factor alone puts us, I am amazed it took us this long to come to our decision.
It really is a no-brainer.
go gently +  be wonderful
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