In the nearly two years since this blog began, the past month was the first to pass in which I did not publish a post. Suffice it to say, it was no ordinary month.
I alluded to the craziness in foresight, promising to fill you all in on the details in my December post, ⛄12 Posts of Christmas-Past🎄 on account that Christmas got . . . CANCELLED? But it’s been an even wilder ride than I’d anticipated.
Given the overwhelm and exhaustion of the past several weeks, you’d think this blog would have been the last thing on my mind, but I have missed posting to you all so much! Not a day has passed that I haven’t looked longingly toward my cozy corner chair and wished I was blogging rather than . . . slogging. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So, as promised, here is an update post on our family’s truly wild winter.
A Different Kind of “Christmas Tree”
It all started back in November with an out-of-the-blue call from our realtor. We’ve been renting our entire marriage of twelve years and finally closed on our dream property nearly a year ago.
All through those years of undergrad, post-grad, and residency, my hubby and I had a dream that kept us moving forward: to raise our kids on an old-fashioned family farm where they could learn to work hard, run far, and breathe deep.
After purchasing our wild and free “prairie property” last spring, we began fielding quotes and counting coins, longing for the day when we could finally break ground on our long-awaited homestead.
To say we encountered a number of setbacks since the spring, however, would be putting a Disney World level spin on things.
Want to drill a well? That will be twice as expensive as a year ago and by the way . . . we’re booked out six months.
Want to lay a foundation? Ok, how does next spring sound?
A good contractor you ask? HA! Let me know if you find one, will you?
After owning our dream property for less than six months we were already feeling disheartened. If anyone out there reading this is also trying to build a house at this time, then you understand. It’s a crazy, crazy world out there right now, and building a house during it all is really nothing short of insanity. So, my hubby and I did what we have learned to do when we hit a wall (of which we have many, many years’ expertise and none of installing one . . . a wall that is). We pushed the pause button.
It wasn’t easy to do.
It’s so hard to release that grip —especially when your heart is involved in the squeeze.
But we have often learned the hard way that when things just aren’t working out, the best thing to be done, at least for us, is just to let it go and hand the whole enchilada over to God. Those chips and salsa hold us over pretty good in the meantime anyhow.
And so, my hubby and I agreed late one night some months back —hunched over a stack of graph paper and a glowing ipad that seemed to be snickering at us— to just take a break from it all.
No more number crunching.
No more floor plans.
No more measuring.
No more models.
No more estimates.
We sat back, turned on Netflix and —Bob Wiley style— took a vacation from our problems!
A few months passed. During that time, we only visited our houseless, haybale dotted farm a handful of times and tried not to plan where to put the orchard, barn, or how to orient the gravel drive.
And then, one ordinary day this past November, the phone rang. Our realtor was calling “just to let you know” that someone randomly reached out and had made an offer on our property. This may not seem that out of the ordinary except for the fact that we had closed months prior, had not relisted our property (nor had any intention to), and had not been in contact with our realtor other than an occasional “hey, how’s it going” text since. Even more incredible, this random offer was of an amount to potentially enable us to purchase another property of similar size with a house already on it . . . perhaps even a finished one.
From our vantage point, this pin-in-it-turn-of-events seemed nothing short of ordained. We turned to our favorite house-hunt site and almost immediately saw what looked like the perfect property for our family and homestead; about the same size as our previous property but mostly mountainous and forested, same commute time, and with a house so startlingly similar to what we had planned on building that we couldn’t fathom how it could have been mere coincidence.
Oh, and FINISHED.
Two days later we were touring the house and property, and two days after that we were under contract —twice.
The craziest part of it all was that the buyers on our prairie property wanted a three-week escrow. And since my hubby and I are not gamblers by nature, we thought it best to make our purchase contingent on our property sale. In other words, if we were going to sell in three weeks’ time, we wanted to purchase our new place in three weeks’ time as well and make sure our cabooses had a place to park, if you know what I mean.
All of this basically resulted in the *second* craziest month of our lives (the first I pray will always be remembered as that horrible month in Miami, but that story is for another day 😆 ). Thankfully, we have had a lot of experience in the crazy department, my hubby and I, so we decided to just go for it.
We put a pin in Christmas, said a slightly emotional farewell to our lovely but very bare prairie property, and I started boxing up and purging our stuff like a crazy lady on speed who has just binge-watched an entire season of hoarders.
The only way I can think to sum up the turn-around pack-it-out process is that I never want to see another cardboard box as long as I live. And if I ever come across one that reads “random crap,” I’m throwing it straight in the garbage.
Even so, the packing wasn’t the craziest part of our month by a mile. It’s about this point in the story where my hubby and I entirely lost our minds. Now, before I disclose our reckless life-choices to you, I want to first say that my husband and I are not normally impulsive people. In fact, generally speaking, we are almost annoyingly thought-out and researched.
I’m not sure if it was the exhaustion, the excitement, or both . . . but for whatever reason, about a week into December, we lost all grip on reality.
We were just a few days under contract when we realized that Bigelow —our dog of ten years and all of five pounds— would be more bait than brawn regarding the inevitable bears and mountain lions on our soon-to-be forest property come spring. Poor Bigelow. He was never intended for mountain-dog life or guarding a homestead. And so, mountain-bound with two young kids, we decided we would need a “real” dog before the thaw. Now, a rational adult would conclude to get a puppy and train him to be a mountain dog, you know, after moving to said mountains. Well, let’s just say we started our search too soon and puppy love took over. Right away we found the perfect breed, at the perfect location, at the perfect price. Only issue was the puppies were ready . . . immediately.
Well, why not? Might as well get it all done in one go, right? You know, Band-Aid style.
And so, we welcomed a baby polar bear in early December to a house running intensely high on activity and running dangerously low on patience.
Thankfully, other than a handful of inevitable “puppy days,” this little guy has truly been a dream dog thus far. He doesn’t seem to be affected by all the craziness in the slightest.
Meet YETI, a Great Pyrenees truly built for the snow, with a double coat and double dose of love.
We named him for the abominable snowman that he is —Yeti loves to eat, plow, and dive snout first into the snow any chance he gets. Besides his Lindsey-Vonn like passion for “pow”, Yeti is the most chill puppy I have ever seen. He rarely barks, sits to be fed, loved, or let out, loves to sleep in his crate, is already patrolling off-leash, and is truly amazing with the kids. Oh, and he is the plushest pillow of cuddles that ever was. Our only issue with Yeti so far is that he loves loves loves to chew, so we just keep him in constant dental sticks and raw hide.
Yeti came to us at six weeks and spent his next few weeks in our rental house before moving to the mountains with us in which he seems as native as the trees.
Yeti’s favorite thing to do since moving to the big woods is perch himself at the edge of our clearing and scan the forest for signs of wildlife. When he catches a scent, he barks in a low, gruff rumble that might actually be intimidating if it weren’t coming from a giant snowball. Another favorite of his puppy pastimes has been harvesting icicles that have fallen from the eaves and bringing them in as trophy treats to devour on the downstairs floor rug.
But adorable or not, Yeti certainly contributed to an already . . . hairy month.
Moving week was about as wild as it gets. To start, it was the coldest week of the winter thus far, with temperatures below zero, snow as thick as Yeti’s double coat, and ice as slick as a used car salesman.
To make things even more fun, our new property features a lovely, long, winding driveway up to our new house. It also happens to be fairly . . . steep. Which, if you know anything about trailers and ice, can get dicey. Thankfully, my hubby and dad moved all our stuff up without any . . . slip ups, but chains and plowing were required.
Then, when moving was almost complete, a few days before the New Year, we got plowed.
No, not snowplowed . . . someone plowed their car into the side of our truck while my hubby was driving home from work. And then . . . ran. Thankfully, my hubby was not hurt in the slightest, but the other driver’s grill guard munched deep into the body of our truck leaving it totaled. Merry flippin’ Christmas. And so, our already slammed first two weeks of January were perked up with the oh-so-pleasant task of car hunting on top of unpacking all those boxes.
At least we didn’t get plowed the way this guy did . . .
In case you are wondering, no we are not responsible for the above image . . . besides documenting it, of course.
And the plowing didn’t end there!
Along with the territory of our new mountain lifestyle comes the inevitable need for snowplowing, and lots of it! Of course, our first week up at the new house would be the snowiest since we moved to this valley. But, hey! Maybe just diving in is the best recourse anyhow. And so, the past few weeks have also served up a crash-course in snow removal.
Everybody knows the old adage “when it rains it pours,” but anyone who has ever had to snowplow prefers the great northern version: “when it snows . . . it dumps.“
Our nightly fireside conversation now largely consists of really deep and meaningful dialogue regarding ice thickness, weather report analysis, sand or salt, and the ever-popular grate-versus-bucket debate. Morning alarms are now set half an hour early on “snow days” to allow time for proper plowing and chaining. And “plowing with Papa” is now a favorite evening activity of our little mountaineers.
Thus concludes my update on our month of madness, and here’s hoping the rest of the year is brilliantly boring! I can’t believe how all of this came to be in the way it did . . . and yet I can.
In recent years, I have become intensely aware of the unfathomable frequency at which it seems God shows His hand and just works it out for us —whatever *it* may be— in a fabric of circumstances that just cannot be explained without Him. And I wonder . . . is it really the frequency of God’s hand that has increased in our lives, or merely our perception of it?
A brief Q & A’ before I sign off:
The questions that all our friends and family have been asking:
1.) How do you like the house?
Without gushing (because that’s never pretty and I kind of already went there with Yeti), I will simply say that we love it. My personal favorite thing about it is that if I were to design a house specifically to match my hubby’s personality, this would be it. He has worked so hard and waited so long for this dream to come true, and I feel like this house is a reflection of him and his faithfulness to our family.
2.) Are you settling in?
If shoving all the totes and boxes into a storage room in the basement and making do with ten percent of our belongings counts as settling in . . . then yes.
3.) Is it weird living out in the boonies?
Yes. But it’s mostly a good weird. Already we’ve seen lots of deer, turkeys, and wild birds. But the real beauty is what we don’t see.
It is so peaceful and deeply quiet up here —until the wind blows through the trees and then it sounds like we live next to a flowing river. As for the snow, it is beautiful but intense, much like our daughter. But it’s the ice that is the real issue. My second-most complaint is that we do not have a garbage disposal as those are very hard on private septic systems. I think the forest is a good trade off, however, and now I will have the kick in the pants I’ve needed to really get serious about composting.
4.) Did you guys ever celebrate Christmas?
Yes. Twice in fact. Once at Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Christmas day, and our own little family’s very simple January Christmas in our new mountain home.
5.) Some of you may be wondering a far superior question: “so what have you been READING this month?”
You know me too well. Marking all our holidays and family milestones with a carefully chosen book is one of my favorite things to overly-orchestrate as a homeschool mom. So, assuming you’re asking, we have begun The Chronicles of Narnia, reading aloud as an entire family in front of the fireplace. I have read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” many times, and even directed a children’s production of “Narnia” some years ago, but I must say that reading it up here in our little piece of winter wonderland lends a whole new level of enchantment to the Pevensie’s adventures. Of course, the gorgeous hardcover boxed set (pictured above) that we gave our son for Christmas isn’t hurting the experience either. It’s truly beautiful.
As for my hubby and I, we are reading through our favorite homesteading book, The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It, with renewed gusto. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on our first homesteading projects!
6.) What about BIGELOW?
In case anyone is worried and wondering “what about Bigelow?” . . . rest assured that he is adapting to mountain dog life just fine. 😆
Thank you, dear friends for reading! As always, you make our day!
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~