Monday, March 12, 2012

The Farm Reprieve

My foot in a splint while we are waiting to see a temporary car for me.  I took this photo using the '70's' option on Instagram.  Neat!

Because of what you see in the above photo, the sale of our farm has been postponed.  A week ago Saturday, I was carrying a bin of hay (heavy!) out to the goats when two of our three dogs ran into me causing me to lose my balance.  I tried to recover while still holding on to the hay but my right foot slipped in the mud and somehow ended up underneath me, twisted upside down.  I felt a snap.  I screamed in pain.  I laid in the mud while the dogs tried to lick my face, crying.  I had worst-case scenarios running through my pain-addled brain..."I'll never run again!".  I was close to correct!

That morning, my husband was not home.  I didn't expect him back for about 4 hours, so I knew I had to figure out a way to at least get back in the house.  Turns out, I could move my toes and put some weight on my heel.  That was good enough for me...I finished my chores (the goats still needed water!) by limping my way around and got back inside.  Right then, my husband called asking me to pick him up because he had to leave the truck for work.  I didn't think I could drive (this was my right foot!) but when I tried, it was ok.  I picked him up, we ran some errands and by the time we were done, the truck was done and I drove the car home.  By mid-afternoon, the swelling and pain was too much to bear and we went to the ER.  X-rays ensued and they said I'd broken my 4th metatarsal.

When I saw the orthopedic surgeon the following Wednesday, he had more news for me.  Yes, 4th metatarsal was broken, but that wasn't the worst of my troubles.  I also damaged my Lisfranc joint and will need surgery.  They have to essentially put my joint back together and hope it heals properly.  If it doesn't arthritis will ensue and probably necessitate fusing the joint.  If that happens, I will never run again.  BUT, that's getting a little ahead of things.  For now, I have surgery scheduled for Thursday (3/15).  We'll just worry about that for now.

All my runs, triathlons, bike events and hiking trips for the summer have been cancelled.  The sale of our home will have to wait another year.  We have too much to do and there is no way only one person could do it...never mind the actual moving process itself.

The road to recovery will be long.  I will walk it (or crutch my way down it) as best I can.

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Potential Farewell

I've been putting off writing this post for a long while now.  It almost feels like failure...or, at the very least, admitting defeat.  Basically, we've decided to sell the farm.

Before I get into any other explanations, I feel that it's important to say that we both LOVE this lifestyle.  We love having and taking care of the animals.  We love learning and growing as we expanded what we were doing.  We love having fresh eggs, fresh raw milk and sweet, entertaining and happy animals just outside our back door.  We love planting new things.  We love harvesting (well, some of us do!).  We love that our food was grown with our own hands only 100 yards from our kitchen table.  We love the quiet of the country, the subtle buzz of the bees and even the dust of the neighboring farms on a hot summer day.  We love having prehistoric looking bison practically in our backyard on a foggy morning.

We don't love the long commute to anything.  Seriously, my work is 40 minutes away on a good day.  Everything else, including the grocery store, gas station and feed store is at least 20 minutes away, often further.  We don't love watching the miles rack up on our car.  We don't love that a quick dinner out costs us a minimum of 2 hours of our time.  We don't like (ok, I don't like) that we have to drive to go for a run.  I don't like that my pool is 45 minutes from me.  We don't like that our house is sucking us dry, financially.  We don't like that we live on a road that is MUCH busier than it should be considering it's location and that the intersection at the end of our driveway is a constant source of crashed cars into our yard (or the neighbors).  We don't like that the abandoned church/school next door is falling down, covered with 'no trespassing' signs and yet has 3-phase power supplied to it.  We don't like that we have a basement that is free of water only due to the constant work of two sump pumps.  One fails, and we will have an indoor swimming pool.  We don't like that the roof leaks, the septic system needs replacing, and that we have no idea what crazy expensive thing will need to be replaced next.

But ultimately, it came down to acknowledging that farming is a full time job.

Unfortunately, we both already have full-time jobs.  And as both of our responsibilities expand at these jobs and travel gets more frequent, we are realizing that we have less and less time to care for the farm.  It becomes even more obvious as we realize that we still haven't started (or ordered) any seeds yet for this year and it's already March!  Garlic didn't get planted last fall.  We lost most of the tomato harvest to a frost while we were out of town.  None of the fruit trees are pruned yet.  We've had the supplies to make soap and beeswax candles in our basement for almost 2 years now and haven't made either yet.  We just can't keep up with the things we already have going and there is ZERO time to add new things to our list.  Adding and learning new things was one of the biggest draws to this place.

The flip side is that we cannot yet afford to just quit our jobs and do this full time.  That would be ideal, but since both of us got our start in our careers kind of late, financially, it just isn't possible at this stage in our lives.

The plan is to list the house come May or June.  In the meantime, we have to replace the roof (ouch!), replace the shower in the master bath, replace the front door and replace the carpet in the main living room (or have it cleaned professionally).  If we cannot sell the property for enough money to pay off the loan and the Realtor fees, then we will stay, but I don't think that'll be the case.  And then we start looking for something closer to the city.  We will be looking for a good sized yard so that we can continue to keep chickens (it's kind of a requirement in Portland, right?!) and then we will focus on the things we never had time to do here.  On a personal note, we plan to see more of this amazing state of ours, get in better shape, race more triathlons (me, anyway!), bike commute, and spend more time fostering our relationships with our friends and family.  On a the sustainability side of things, we hope to finally get a good working herb garden in place, learn about and implement rainwater collection, grey-water systems, solar power and worm composting (again).  Oh, and we'll finally have time to make some soap!

The most important part of this change is that we will put together a real and functional long term savings plan so that we can afford to buy the small farm again when we are ready to retire.  And with this in mind, for the first time in my life, I find myself actually looking forward to retirement.