Welcome to the first part of “Our Journey to the Farm” series! Every Friday, for the next 10+ weeks I’m going to give you a behind-the-scenes view into our lives. You’ll learn why we returned to the land, how we ended up where we are today and all about our adventure of saving, buying land in the country, designing and building our very own home! Let’s do this, shall we?
I wish I could say our journey to the farm began with a burning desire to return to and care for the land. Or that our “country roots” tugged at us with such an irresistible force, we couldn’t resist. I wish we had a good story to tell, something that sounded whimsical and slightly romantic.
But we don’t. The single, non-nostalgic fact that got the ball rolling for us? Cold, hard money.
Yep, it was the mighty dollar (combined with a few other good reasons) that began our journey to the farm!
Where It All Began
It all started in a tiny house in northern BC. Just newly married, my man and I were living 15 minutes outside of an oilfield town. He’d worked as a carpenter for several years in that area and because the pay was good, we thought it’d be a great place to start life. Logical, right?
There was money to be made in this particular community and my man was keen on getting out of the house rental game. Even though I couldn’t work because of health issues, we thought we could manage on my man’s income alone. I would do my part by keeping the home, cooking from scratch and learning all I could about becoming a frugal homemaker.
Together, we began working out our plans.
An Unpleasant Reality
Due to the generosity of an extended family member, we had a good rental situation at the back of a farm. It seemed like a good fit for us. There was space for a garden, a barn for animals and I was happy to be situated in the country. My man tackled life outside, and I tackled life inside. By all appearances, we were ready to start moving toward our financial goals.
However, as time went on, a new chain of symptoms broke out for me. Slowly, my health deteriorated, until I could hardly get off the couch. And strangely enough, every time we went elsewhere for a few days, I felt better. This pattern led to some sleuthing and we discovered the home had more than it’s fair share of black mold!
Something had to change. And so, we tried to renovate in attempt to get rid of the mold. Between work, weekends and help, we managed to “clean out” most of it. Or so we thought. But the symptoms continued and bit more investigating made us realize it was time to look for another rental home.
Because we were in an oilfield town, the price of renting a well cared for home was sky-high. This, combined with the cost of groceries and healthy food, sobered us. We’d have to forget about saving. Forget about getting out of the rental game. Forget anything but living pay cheque to pay cheque!
We tried to think of a way to make things work. But we just couldn’t see our way out.
So you see, as much as I hate to admit it, that unworthy thing called money was the first thing that started our journey to the farm. We had to face the facts. Living in that area wasn’t doable for us.
Asking Ourselves Questions
It was a strange time for us. On one hand we were trying to settle into that busy community. And on the other, we were living in a state of uncertainty.
We began considering exactly what we wanted as a couple. Simplicity was what we craved. We wanted to live life at a slower pace, without feeling like misfits.
At that point, I’d been battling Lyme disease for several years. We knew home raised food made a difference in my health. And if we were ever going to start a family…we needed to make sure my health was in tip-top conditon!
A little farm was in our near future, if we had anything to say about it!
List Making and Praying
We sat down and wrote out a long list of our wants. Actually, we weren’t sitting. We were lying on our mattress in the living room. Because at that point, I couldn’t sleep in either of our bedrooms.
We took time to discus what was most important. We told God what we were thinking. In our current situation, moving made so much sense! But if it wasn’t a wise idea, would He please close the door?
We talked it over with several people we trusted. We prayed some more. And always, we felt that we were free to go where we would, to try out any area we’d like.
Maps and Searching
So we pulled out our road map and began looking at western Canada. We spent time online, browsing and researching the different areas that appealed to us.
Through it all, one kept rising up. One kept standing out. One kept drawing us in with subtle pull. It was a small southern community we’d visited on our honeymoon. I’d been smitten by it’s beautiful mountains, the rich soil and simple country charm.
We’d even attended a small country church Sunday morning and had loved it!
So we took that lead. We started making specific inquiries into the area: work, wages, churches, opportunities and the valley’s culture. I had a close friend in this town and we bombarded her with questions. We called the pastor of the church we’d visited and pestered him for information and his perspectives.
Our one reservation? It was a low-income community. Not only that, but it was (at least) an hour’s drive to the next town. We liked the isolation and yet? It would probably show in our finances with less available work.
After some serious thought and consideration, we decided to try it for one year. My friend gave us names of local contractors in the area and my man landed a job with one of them. We were set. He only needed to finish up his carpentry schooling, and then? We were going!
My friend found us a temporary living situation at a sort of community/family farm. A camperized school bus was available in the back yard, and we were welcome to it for a small fee. We could also have access to the community house for meals, laundry and showers.
This situation suited us well! We had planned to camp until we found a good rental home, so why not hunker down on someone’s farm where we could learn from the people of the valley?
We had a place to stay. Work was lined up. And we were excited to embrace something new, to start afresh with a healthier lifestyle.
After my man finished his schooling, we packed up. Half our things were stored in his parent’s garage, while the other half fit in our minivan. We didn’t have many belongings at that point in life!
And then, waving goodbye to friends and family, we set off to discover whether or not this tiny town, 800 miles south of where we had been living, was the right fit for us!