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.