As long-time readers of these oversharing episodes of navel-gazing know, one of my great frustrations is having a wonderful farm that I love with all my heart but not having a proper house to live in.
We came rather perilously close in 2019 to parting with the farm and buying a house that would suit us quite nicely. But at the end of the day we didn’t, and we both look back upon that time and think we dodged a bullet. Both Keith and I love our farm too much. So during the first year of the pandemic we went back and forth on what to do. We couldn’t afford a house with the farm, and if we sold the farm we could have a great house but no farm. Clearly you can’t have your cake and eat it too. All throughout 2020 we wrestled with this dilemma. Keith being home from work most of the year showed that we could with (relatively) few squabbles, coexist in a small space, but it was clear that that was not a viable long-term solution. As we pondered and pondered, we thought – well, maybe we can have half a cake and eat just half of that? Would that be do-able? Could we have a smaller farm AND a house? The more we thought about it, the more it made sense. I had already given up farming intensively. Letting someone else run most of the farm is only a few steps away from letting someone else have most of the farm, isn’t it? What if we strategically sold off land in a way that wouldn’t really change our views or sense of place on the farm?
So, we thought some more, and the more we thought, the more we realized we knew exactly who we’d want to have as neighbors on the farm. It was at this stage that we contacted some good friends that we knew were contemplating a country life. We first met, in fact, at a sheep meeting and quickly bonded over shepherding, good food, good wine, and the good life. If ever you wanted to have fun people living next door that you could call up and say ‘hey, come on over for dinner’ and expect to have a wonderful evening, these were those folks. I’ll protect their privacy and not mention any names this year, but we called them up, and instead of asking them over for dinner, we asked them if they’d like to be our neighbors. Luckily it turns out they would very like to be our neighbors and not only agreed to our terms and conditions, but had some brilliant ideas of their own that are going to make this farm even more of a pleasure and less of a burden that it has ever been.
Thus, in the middle of January Keith and I said good-bye to a large chunk of our beloved farm. (the view above is no longer ours). It was a bittersweet moment. Freed from a mortgage from the first time in 38 years, we waited exactly 2 days before signing up for an obscenely large construction loan that will not be paid off until I’m 91! I have to say I was more nervous than excited (and still am!) but for a very brief moment, it looked like the year might be on the right trajectory.