So, a LOT has changed since last time I wrote a blog post! The short of it is, we scratched the lingering itch of moving to the country and buying a house with some land. We took a leap of faith, a plunge, a COVID escape, whatever you want to call it we went for it! We have been at our new home for about a month now and are loving it!!
How on earth did this happen?? Well, about once or twice a year Justin and I sit down and have the “country vs city” talk. However, it usually ends with some kind of conclusion like, “we just can’t give up the perks of the city right now.” These perks included biking to do errands, walking to a grocery store and other errands, fun events for the kids, wonderful neighbors and the convenience of having so many resources at our fingertips. Those are great things that are hard to find! The downsides to city life were being in such close proximity to others as far as noise level of the girls, having our Airbnb basically in our laps decreased our privacy and set a lot of rules for the girls as far as their play, no place for the girls to run around in our backyard and such little garden space.
Now, all these things being said, our home in Portland was a gem of a place. We were and still are very thankful to be able to have our Airbnb in the city to generate income and had phenomenal neighbors overall. However, in recent years we weren’t taking as much advantage of the “city things” due to the girls’ young ages. There were many events we had to skip because they were too late in the evening or too crowded. One example of this is Zoo Lights. Every year we went to Zoo Lights and had a lot of fun! It was pushing bedtime constraints but we felt like it was worth it because it was so magical. Well, one year we went to go to it and it turned out it was a 3+ hour wait to be shuttled on a bus down the hill from an overflow parking lot to the zoo at which time you would wait in a line there to probably be sardined into long lines. That was the year we stopped going. This scenario seemed to be playing its course in many events we wanted to go to. Portland is a great place! And, others were catching on and crowding the city out.
And, let’s be honest, living in the city during a pandemic is taxing! To leave your 10’x10′ back yard to go for a walk you pass dozens of other people on the sidewalk or road trying to do the same thing. It was anxiety provoking and challenging to say the least with two little girls in tow. There were definitely some good perks of the pandemic in a city. Grocery delivery/pick-up was a nice to have even if it wasn’t always exactly what you wanted. This service enabled us to stay out of the stores and stay a bit more safe.
So, would we have moved if it weren’t for the pandemic? The short answer is “no.” However, we would have inevitably moved within the next couple years even without the pandemic. Of course I can’t be sure of it but that’s my gut. The girls (5 & 7) are at the perfect age to enjoy living in the country on a farm and I had always wanted to raise my girls where they have the freedom of being creative, active and learn skills of “doing it yourself.” I treasure the memories I have of living on a farm growing up in my early years and wanted them to have that experience as well.
Once the pandemic was underway here in the US Justin showed me a house listing on a realty website. I had about the same reaction to him as I had when he proposed we rent out our Portland home and go on the road for 6 months. I was frustrated, hurt and annoyed for him to mention such a thing, naturally. 😛 I’m pretty sure he got the silent treatment and I went to bed.
I got thinking about it more and more. This IS what I said I always wanted for our girls, wide open spaces. But we LOVE Portland and our neighbors and all our memories there! Within the next couple days I started really considering it. I knew that the change would be huge for all of us but it would be especially hard on our oldest who thrives from routine, things she can rely on and feeling rooted. The road trips had been challenging for her for sure and this was an even bigger more permanent change!
When I was weighing my decision about a potential move I tried to think of all the possible big things I wanted to do as a family. I came up with: Live in the country, travel abroad in a camper, live in a city and travel the US in a camper. We had already checked off two of those boxes by living in Portland for 10 years and traveling the US for a bit via camper and it felt like traveling abroad in a camper was either meant for when the girls were quite a bit older or for Justin and I once the girls were out of the house. This seemed like the perfect window to explore the country with our girls!
When I came back to Justin with my conclusions he was floored. “I hadn’t actually been serious about the house listing I showed you!” What?! In my book, looking at house listings means you are semi serious about making a change. Apparently, Justin and I disagree on this. Per Justin, he thought the cabin was cute and cozy but he didn’t mean we would actually LIVE there. Well, it’s hard to take back a thought so big! We talked about what it would mean to move; logistically, location, the emotional impact and so on. After lots of talking and a couple extra days to let things sit in we decided it wouldn’t hurt to go see the place we saw online. It was a really cute log cabin on a dead end street with a lovely orchard and plowed garden with room for the girls to run around and play.
The place was definitely a lot more rustic than the pictures on the listing made it out to be but most of the things were fixable and the place had charm. You could tell it used to be well loved by little kiddos by the various broken down wooden forts around the property. We toured the place at sunset when the swifts were making the place feel like a magical forest land. The short of it is, we made an offer and when our offer was ignored we figured out that the house was being “sold” in a divorce and the husband was actually just selling it to a friend but was forced to put it on the open market by the terms of the divorce. The listing was up for logistic purposes only. Uhh! So many emotions! This was a test run for the real thing.
Within the next couple weeks we looked at lots of different places, lots of locations, different lot sizes, house/outbuilding set ups and narrowed down some factors to limit our search. We had a laundry list of “must haves.” Some of these things included making sure we had land for the girls to run and play and a bigger garden area for me, the potential for a shop to be built for Justin’s projects, property on a quiet road, the potential to have farm animals, within 15 minutes to a grocery store and within a half hour of semi-major civilization which would potentially offer some homeschooling supplemental learning opportunities, and outdoor activities such as hiking trails relatively close. As you can imagine after generating that list, it narrowed down our search. We found that having some kind of land buffer was important to us and we found that properties less than 5 acres couldn’t really do that for us.
In our search we found a cute farm home near Eugene, OR that was so charming but at the top of our price bracket. The uniqueness of the property drew us in yet we found out quickly that the property had it’s quirks that were a bit scary for us. We had originally scheduled a tour of the place but our real-estate agent scared us away. At the last minute we canceled our tour. After talking with other real-estate agents we found that she wasn’t very knowledgable about country properties and we felt disappointed that we hadn’t seen the place as scheduled. We thought and thought and talked and talked to one another and decided to get a different real-estate agent for that area and schedule a tour again.
If you know our oldest daughter, who is 7 years old right now, you know that she thrives on routine, schedule and feeling grounded. Well, moving is the very opposite of all of this. Making this transition with our oldest has made me very thankful of my therapy background. The degree didn’t make me any real money but it sure helps in situations like these when raising kiddos. I remained very open and transparent throughout the entire move leaving lots of space for her to ask questions, express her emotions and weigh in on decisions whenever possible. All of this helped for sure and it opened up some really good conversations but the transition was very challenging.
During our 6 month road trips our oldest had a hard time being away from a steady home base but it was comforting to her to know that we would eventually be going back. A lot of the moving process is a state of not knowing which is particularly jarring for emotions and feeling stable. One thing that Justin and I did that was helpful throughout the process was waiting until the girls went to bed to do all our pros and cons weighing about potential houses. Before that, we had fallen into a pattern of discussing housing during meals. This was negligence on our part. When I saw that this was increasing anxiety and uncertainty we switched to family talk during meals, as it should be, and discussing big decisions after the girls went to bed.
So, we toured Crow Farm, the beautifully restored yellow 1905 farm house with lovely outbuildings to host friends and family. It was phenomenal!!! I was trying to contain my excitement because I didn’t want the girls getting too hopeful and messing with their emotions any more than posing the idea of moving already had. Crow Farm had the gardens, the flowers, the hills, the flat lands, beautiful out buildings, history and character. The farm was a manageable 8.4 acres which gave a good balance of a good chunk of land without being an overwhelming 20 plus acres which we had considered (granted a lot of that can be a land buffer) and had such a cozy feel to it. When we had seen properties in the past, most of them the girls wanted to leave right away and they would agree between themselves, “we’re not getting this place.” But this one was different. We spent an easy 2 hours looking at the property until our agent told us she needed to leave therefore so did we. 😛 After some whispering between the girls they announced in the van that they thought we were going to get the place. Now, at that time I was totally in love but there were A LOT of questions Justin and I still needed to discuss and get answers to before we even considered it so I tried to stay neutral as much as I could with the girls.
Over the next week or so we were back and forth with experts and on the computer researching all we could so we could make an informed decision about this possible life changing move. Justin had started up work again, contracting for his old company, since we thought it was the responsible thing to do during a pandemic when our Airbnb income had basically been put on hold. We had come to peace with our decision to have Justin go back to work but it made talking about a possible move challenging since all of our chatting time started at 8pm each night. There were many, many late nights! What were we thinking? Were we being too erratic in our choices? We love Portland but was it the right place to be at this point in our lives? This was a BIG decision!
Well, let me tell you, there was lots of drama, back and forth our emotions went. My gut told me this was the right place even if the actual move would be an upheaval. I had hope that once we were settled at the farm we’d be able to give the girls a stable wonderful childhood where their imaginations and curiosity could fly! I hoped that the girls would learn even more about nature, and about homesteading (which I feel brings so much joy and appreciation in the midst of this busy world we all live in) and give them a place to RUN!!
We made an offer, the sweet sellers accepted, we did our research, talked to experts and friends and family and the pile of keys were handed over to us! We officially owned a farm outside of Eugene, OR!! This was absolutely crazy and exciting choice!
So, normally when people move they buy some pizza and beer and their wonderful friends and family come feast and work their buns off to help you move. Ha, at least that’s a fun way to do it. However, with COVID we couldn’t safely do that. As I was packing our stuff back up again it seemed kind of silly that just 4 months ago I was unpacking these boxes from being in basement storage when we got back from our 6 month trip.
We got the biggest moving truck U-Haul would give us thinking that would be more than enough space. We semi-casually loaded the truck fitting boxes in tight but not packing things to the ceiling. Until, that is, the truck was half way full and we still had A LOT of stuff! That’s when the bags of bedding went flying toward the back and we sent our children on top of the box piles to help shove things back. We ended up having to take a handful of loads back and forth from Portland to Eugene. The girls and I did the first trip down in the van and Justin took the moving truck.
The second trip back to Eugene we brought my niece Talia while Justin drove the van pulling a cargo trailer FULL of stuff (how can we have that much stuff??) and I drove the car with the girls. The last trip Justin did himself. It wasn’t until we had been at Crow Farm a month before Justin got to spend a full weekend with me and the girls. It was so lovely having my niece with us. It was the first time she had been quarantined long enough that we could hug and snuggle her!! It was like a dream come true for the girls!
A day after we got to Crow Farm our awesome friends helped us unload the last of the truck and unpack boxes. We celebrated our new house with the last bottle of our wedding wine! My sweet friend Rachel cooked us all meals throughout their stay as the kids played and Josh, Justin and I unloaded, unpacked boxes, arranged the house and put together furniture. Oh my goodness, it was just so lovely to have our friends help and to spend so much quality time with them! I must have cried each day for the first week or so that we moved. I was and still am SO happy!
We kept our home in Portland to rent and decided it might work out best if we rented it furnished. That’s what we had done in the past and we liked the crew it drew in. Usually folks who were in a life transition and using our place as a cozy holding place while they made their next life move such as buying a home. Renting a furnished place was much easier when we didn’t want to bring those same items with us to our new home. We ended up leaving some big things of ours such as our TV, couch, carpets and pieces of furniture that really fit the space well. Then we had to buy the rest of the furniture, linens, mattresses and kitchen supplies. Eek! It was an endeavor for sure! Justin was awesome about going to pick it all up off various Craigslist people and nearby stores.
The Craigslist search didn’t end there! Once we got to Crow Farm we had to furnish our buildings here too for our family as well as guests. Oh dear! It was a real whirl wind!! Lots of crazy late nights and little sleep. But, now we are set up to have family and friends, Airbnb guests and are pretty well set up in our main house.
At the farm we hunt moles, gophers and voles (though haven’t caught any ourselves yet with valiant efforts), catch snakes and frogs and drive the tractor. Our girls have gotten so they can catch live flies in their hands and then release them outside!
Justin’s new secret hobby is mowing the lawn. Anyone who has lived or visited Oregon in the fall knows that it is no longer mowing season and yet Justin finds excuses to mow! 😛 It’s like a big go cart that gives you the satisfaction of making neat paths. I get it.
We also have a landline which feels like a blast from the past. We wanted to be sure the girls had a place they could count on to have a phone in case of an emergency and we could have a reliable phone when the power is out. Grammy calls have been fun for the girls. 🙂 Walks to the covered bridge have been slow, in a good way. We have to pick our way down the road as we sample and collect black berries. So far we have done one bike ride as a family to go visit some horses down the road. We’ll have to have some apples ready for them next time. I can’t say they were thrilled about the grass on the other side of their luscious field.
I absolutely LOVE this place and we’re all getting to know the farm more and more each day.