when i was little i grew up around victorian antiques in the restored home of my grandma. she owned a restaurant called the domanihuis which means pastors house. she bought an old dutch parsonage on stilts, moved it to a field and her and my grandpa rebuilt the house themselves pre youtube and yelp. it was the coolest. the bottom floor of the home was a restaurant and then part of the experience was a tour of the house restored to the victorian era. i remember being a kid getting the punch and slices of white cheese while my grandparents and mom worked there. it was the best. then i got to be a little older and my parents moved out to “the country” while all my friends lived in georgetown forest (a subdivision) i felt like i was always missing the after school fun and backyard round ups of kids. grass is always greener isn’t it?
i remember declaring to my parents when i get grown up i’m moving to NYC and i’m having nothing old. my my has that come back to bite me. because here we are living in an even more rural area than what i grew up in with a love for everything…old. looking back i was so so lucky. i grew up going on sunday after church nature walks, roasting hot dogs in my back yard (with one time my dad setting the entire field on fire). we had a garden, wild blackberries and pigs. now as an adult i couldn’t wait to get back to living in the country. after 5 years of living in a subdivision i was ready to move and joe was finally willing to come with me. because lets face it… he has to come too he’s part of the deal.
we found our current home on a real estate app after trying to buy a different house you can read that story here and here. it was a journey for sure but the house was meant to be. our realtor got us a great deal and around labor day we were moving in.
it’s crazy to think we have lived here five years now. time has gone so fast but what we have learned is to take it slow, figure out how you use a room before you decide how to design it. we have currently renovated the house about half way. luckily the owners that have come before us had good solid design tastes so other than a bit of wall colors and flooring there isn’t much to change. the appliances are on their last leg so those are most likely going to be the next things to be replaced. which leads me to the topic of five things i didn’t prepare for with country living.
i don’t want this to sound like a complaint because any of these is greatly outweighed by the peace and calmness and freedom that living out in the sticks allows. room for animals and gardens.. it just can’t be beat but it does come at a price.
- critters. no matter how nice the old house. it’s still an old house and you are going to deal with critters usually from the devil that think this is their domain. when we first moved in we discovered a mice infestation which was easily resolved by pest control. what came next though was bats. or as i like to refer to them the devils cats. i will never forget our first bat when joe and i were laying in bed finally drifting off to sleep and a bat flapped it’s wings directly in front of the TV. it took us four hours and cost us a screen window but we got him out. the one that returned the next night was not so lucky. we tried to shoo him out but … we tried. we had about a year break and a new baby when they returned…in the fall again. that’s when we knew we had a problem. the span of a year we had 8 bats in the house. i’ll never forget putting baby otto in the empty tub and closing the bathroom door while joe and i took care of business. we finally called vamoose varmint control to take care of business and knock on wood…no bats since. that was about a $2000 expense to seal up the entire roof. but worth every penny. you can read the full story on our bat woahs here and here.
- bugs. yea gross bugs. like ticks. so basically ticks. most bugs are good (except harmless stink bugs) but ticks out in the country. they’re impossible to avoid. we have done a few things to avoid them but every now and then they still find their way to us which usually involves mandatory tick checks after chores and outside work. which personally i think joe enjoys it a bit too much but it’s not as cute as a brad paisley song. we have lined the garden with a 2 foot parameter of stone that has helped us keep them at bay over there. we also use off deep woods which is the only thing that keeps them off when we have to go out to the sheep. they’re nasty but you have to be smart. more tick stories here.
- old house – things are going to break. we currently just had geothermal installed in this house.. pros: we are going to have A/C this summer and we only now need propane for appliances. cons: we have yet to get it working properly. We have some rooms that are super warm and others that cannot retain heat. luckily the company we hired has been very helpful in continuing to come here until we get it right. but our estimate for geothermal is going to be about $20k. however we didn’t really have a choice. it was either going to be about $10k-$13k for a new boiler so for about $7k more because lets face it estimates always come in at the higher end we have air and hopefully a lower propane bill. i’ll do a full post on geothermal once we get a good grip on it. it’s not limited to just geothermal either. i remember the first weekend we moved in our house and we were taking down wallpaper in the dining room and our water just randomly stopped running. we had to wait until the next day to get a repair man out but it was just a clog. eventually we are going to have to have a new well dug but that is another day for another expense.
- animals die – i wrote about this before but sometimes animals will get sick. you’ll call the vet and you will do everything you can to save them but sometimes it just doesn’t work out. we’ve lost countless chickens to predators and each time we reinforce and make their home a bit safer which is all you can really do. we’ve lost two rams and three lambs. the rams we finally figured out were sexing themselves to death. yes you ready that right. they would have so much sex time that they would become super hungry, over eat and die. we now know that during breeding season we have to keep them separately rationed and fed during breeding season. but i mean really how are we supposed to know that was actually a thing? we have also lost two twin lambs that were born to an ewe with insufficient utters. (talk about something i’d never thought I’d type) we are no longer breeding her because this was the second year she had continual clogged ducts. we thought it was just a one time deal the first year and we bottle fed those boys who now live on liz’s farm. the second year they didn’t look clogged so we assumed the lambs were feeding. sadly they were not and we didn’t catch it in time. it’s a matter of hours and typically if they don’t get the colostrum they rarely survive. all these are lessons learned and you do your best to improve for the next round but it’s still super sad.
- things take time. it has taken me five years to get an established garden. i’ve learned so much along the way but i started with four garden beds and a ton of weeds. it takes time for plants to establish, trees to grow, and landscaping to evolve. i had expectations that we were going to whip this house in to martha stewart shape in a matter of months. this will be my 6th year in this garden and we are still adding, improving and making changes. things take time and it’s ok. no orchard grows overnight and if it does either you have magic soil or you’re sold some insane GMO trees. but lets not get in to that. country life takes time and patience but isn’t the slowness what it’s all about?
we’ve come a long way on this farm of ours. it’s taken a lot of time and learning. while it is wonderful it isn’t always all “pinterest and jojo” it takes work and sometimes some tears. but if you are lucky enough to get the opportunity to try, it’s worth it.