I hear these news reports, or read articles about this phenomenon that farm kids don’t want to inherit their parents’ farm. They are leaving the fields and heading to the city for something better. Meanwhile, I’m farming my city lot as much as I can, dreaming daily of having land, of having trees, of having a bigger garden, an orchard, pigs! Can we just switch places then, you and I?
You see, it’s not so easy to get a decent farm or land. This has been our dream, the plan from the beginning. With land prices being what they are, and work in the city, we decided to buy our first home in Minneapolis and earn enough equity on it to then put toward the purchase of a farm or land. This seems to be working out right, but it has been a hard road to travel.
We found this big ‘ol, run-down duplex in an up-and-coming neighborhood on a short-sale to fit the bill. We didn’t even know how to use a drill when we bought the place, but with dreams of country living to spur us on, we were super driven to learn, and work hard at it. My pa is a one-of-a-kind handy guy to have as a teacher, and with a base knowledge, we could apply many a you-tube lesson. Our naturally anal and perfectionistic ways slowed us way down, but made for the work to be well done, I do think.
In our ignorance, we thought we’d be here five years. This June, as we worked super hard at landscaping (again), we hit the seven year mark. As I’ve been reflecting on this, I’m really ok with that. Actually, I’m sorta impressed. There were more projects needing to be done on this house than we realized initially.
There was that time when we learned that replacing the toilet didn’t fix the problem. That actually the leaking had been going on since before we bought the house, and it all needed to be taken down to repair the floor joist (yep, down past the asbestos flooring, thank you).
Or the time that we learned that the previous owner did not check that the attic was supported enough to be living space before he added hundreds of pounds of plywood and cement board to the floor. In order for us to not fall through our living room ceiling, we needed to tear open four living room walls and the ceiling to install massive support beams.
We’ve learned so much through it all; I’m certain we could build a house ourselves at this point. In fact, that sounds easier to do than fixing up an old house. At least things would be square in a new build!
But really, looking at that seven years, I’m mostly impressed because I did not anticipate the dark clouds that would swallow me up as I entered into parenthood. Being a mama was all I really wanted. No career appealed to me more than relishing in life’s beauty with my babes. But when my colicky-clingy-sleepless-spirited (to the max) little R joined us, it was hard to see much beauty. Of course I love her, but being her mama and caring for her super high needs 24/7 with no relief was one of the hardest things I have ever done. She could never be put down, and rarely could she be held by someone else without screaming, so I usually worked with her strapped to my back.
The other hardest thing I have ever done is hold our next baby in our arms for hours and helplessly watch him die because he was born just one week before the NICU can support preemies to survive. Oofda, we have not had an easy time starting out on this parent thing! With those struggles, and the trauma they brought to our family, as part of our story, seven years seems damn impressive for all that we’ve accomplished.
Well, it’s time. We’ve really reached the end of that project list. This house is a rockin’ awesome oasis in the city that I would never leave if those cows weren’t just constantly callin’ me out. Only, I’m terrified to put it on the market because developers and landlords are swooping into northeast like hawks. If they get this house, that extra lot featuring large gardens, perennial fruits and the greenhouse/chicken coop, is sure to be built on. To see seven years of richly amended soil dug out to accommodate a basement would be awful. To know that all those perennial fruits will be ripped out and trampled on to allow the big rigs in here would be terrible. This lot is the sort of lot that any person who likes to garden but lives in the city only dreams of. This place has got to end up in the hands of a gardener, maybe even a family whose kids will sit in the third story window, watching the garden and planning for their next bowlful of raspberries.
These are some of my thoughts as I face the reality of passing this place on soon. We have been looking for a farm or, occasionally, looking at empty land for this entire past year. I never thought this step in the process would be so difficult (and time consuming). It hadn’t occurred to me before that when the time came to make our big move, we wouldn’t find anything we want to move to!
Will you do me a favor? Let me know if you hear of some land or farm ready to pass to a young family, and pass the word on our home to any city-dwelling gardeners. Things are about to get changed up! To any friends reading this, we aren’t going far, and hope you will consider us your reprieve from the city when you feel like climbing a tree, sitting among plants, and digging your fingers in a sheep’s wooly coat.