a new direction

Joining Ginny and Nicole.

A few weeks ago we put an offer in for two acres of undeveloped land just outside of Austin. The owners accepted it and we expect to close sometime in the next week or so. Everything is so different from what I’m used to, topographically speaking. The trees are shorter and bushier, and the grass is higher. The ground is dry and packed tightly with crushed limestone that glitters in the sun. It’s so different from the soft, damp grass-covered earth in Washington. The plot is in a small subdivision that consists of small acreage plots. While I can see my neighbors in front of us, (not something I am used to) the homes behind us are hidden by trees and the plot next to us is undeveloped. Austin is only twenty or thirty minutes away depending on traffic. It’s a nice compromise between homesteading and city living. We also have a bit of a view of Lake Travis, although as you can see, it’s only visible between two houses that are located in front of our property. I’m hoping we can obtain a more unobstructed view once we build a house with a second story.

It’s exciting to have an answer to at least one of the many questions we’ve been facing over the past few months, specifically “Where are we going to live?” We secured a rental ten minutes away from the property so we’ll be able to monitor the building process, whenever that begins. I have to confess I am a little apprehensive about our temporary living arrangements. The house is lovely and spacious (it has closets!) but we will be living in a subdivision with homes that are what I would call one step away from being sardine-packed against one another. We anticipate the build taking anywhere from 12-18 months so it won’t be forever, but it feels odd moving into a neighborhood where I can see my neighbors, hear my neighbors and well, not be able to escape my neighbors. It makes me sound so unsocial and ungrateful just thinking that way. I generally enjoy people and have been called a social butterfly a time or two, but I have always appreciated the escape route living in an isolated area has provided. It’s nice knowing that you don’t have to see people if you’re not in the mood. Gabe did point out that living in close proximity to other people will also make it much easer to actually meet them, which might come in handy after moving to a city where we don’t know anyone, so I think I am going to focus on that aspect of our temporary neighborhood.

Eddie asked me for a new hat a few weeks ago, so I chose some leftover Misti Alpaca Chunky yarn and knit her up a beanie with a hole for her top bun. I made up the pattern as I went along and I think it turned out pretty well. She was very eager to pose for her photos, as you can see. Someone loves her accessories as much as her mama. Sam decided to make an appearance at the end of the photo shoot and it always gets me that he hates posing for photos when I ask him to but once I start photographing someone or something else, he’s suddenly unable to stay away from the camera.

Happy Wednesday, friends.

Sold

I took this photo two summers ago. It’s one of my favorites.

I haven’t written about this on the blog which is strange because moving is such an all consuming affair. The decision to move. The selling of the home. The move itself. For the past two months it’s consumed my thoughts. But I wasn’t ready to talk about it.

Four years ago we “bought the farm.” Today, we sold it. To say I have mixed feelings about this is an understatement. While I firmly believe we made the right decision for our family, I must admit I’m completely heart broken.

I’ve always wanted to live on a huge piece of land, no neighbors for miles and no lights to be seen except for the stars above my head. We certainly aren’t that isolated but we do have quite a bit of privacy. 15 acres has given us plenty of room to run around and pursue our hobbies of gardening, bee keeping, cider pressing, and the like. We’ve formulated some grand plans for this place: raising sheep for meat and wool. Perhaps one day opening our own Etsy shop and selling honey and dried lavender that we harvested ourselves. I want my children to grow up knowing where their meat and vegetables come from and how to grow it themselves. This seemed like the place to do it. But things change. And over the past year it started to become apparent that this was not the “forever home” that we thought it was going to be.

This property requires a lot of physical labor to maintain it and most of the time that work falls solely on Gabe. Perhaps if he hadn’t had his parachuting accident five years ago, he could do more, but as it stands, he has had all the surgeries he is going to have and he has healed as much as he is going to heal. He is strong and in great shape, but he has his good days and bad days. On good days he can stack a pile of wood that measures half the length of our barn, and eight feet high. He can mow and weedwhack 3 acres of lawn without any pain or discomfort.   On a bad day, his back will give out while leaning over to pick up a toy from the floor and he can’t get out of bed for sometimes up to three days. The children have to be kept away from him so that we don’t run the risk of them jumping on him and making it worse. His full time job providing anesthesia allows him to sit a lot, which is great if he is sore and needs to take it easy, but anesthesia is how he makes a living and missing work days because he threw out his back again while working on the property has hurt us financially. This is the part that makes selling this place the hardest. I feel guilty that I can’t share the physical responsibility more than I have in the past. With three small children, it’s hard for me to get outside. Sam and Eddie are just getting to the point where I can work in the garden and they can play outside without much interaction from me, but with Caleb in the picture, it’s practically impossible. He tolerates being toted around in a baby carrier but only if he’s front facing and for a limited amount of time. He prefers to be held and I can’t garden, stack wood, or cut kindling one-handed. If I sent Sam to public school, I could buy myself a few extra hours of free time during Eddie and Caleb’s nap but homeschooling is so important to us and I’m not willing to give that up. I’m not even sure it would make much of a difference if I did.

The house is another issue. I love this house. It’s old, charming and cozy but with all the modern amenities we could ask for. But…we want another baby. And we are busting at the seams of this little farmhouse. I know the original builders lived here with their six kids at the turn of the century and while I admire the ability to live in such close proximity to one’s family members: I can’t do it. I need space. And despite all our land, it rains six months out of the year here and keeping three children age four and under inside for six months straight can start to drive you just a little bit crazy. And by crazy, I mean insane. We had planned on building a larger home on the property and using this house as a guest house but financially, it doesn’t seem like that’s going to be possible for at least another four or five years and frankly, I just cannot live here that much longer with these kids. Someone is gonna have to go, and since I don’t relish the idea of selling one of my children online or kicking Gabe out to clear up space, it has become apparent that the only option is to move out of this house and into a bigger one.

Gabe and I have been discussing our priorities, both as a family and as individuals and we came to a few conclusions: we love this land but it occupies a lot of Gabe’s time and takes a toll on his body. He would rather be spending his free time with the kids while they are young, instead of spending most of his free time working on the property. If we had children that were older, I don’t think this would be an issue. They could help with chores and our family time would be spent working on the farm. But we have three kids who are practically babies and we want another one. Something has to give. We need land that requires less maintenance. We need a bigger house.

And that brings me to my next piece of big news. In an effort to make more time for the family, Gabe accepted a job offer from a small anesthesia group. The salary is about the same more or less, but they offer more paid time off and better benefits. The schedule is much better than what he has now, so he will be home much more. But there’s the catch: It’s in Austin, Texas.

We’re moving to Austin. It’s just as scary to type it as it is to say it out loud.

Why Texas instead of staying here in Washington? We have lots of family in Texas. The cost of living is much lower in Texas than Washington state but what really sealed the deal for us was the amazing job offer and the active (and larger) Jewish community. I think there are currently five Jews in our little town…us. Plus, the benefits that Texas provides for disabled retired veterans such as Gabe were just too good to pass up. I’m also hoping the warmer weather will be better for his joints/ailments on a daily basis when he’s having a (physically) bad day. We shall see.

We have so many decisions to make, it’s overwhelming. Where will we live? Closer to town? Farther from town?  We know we need less land, but we don’t want to live in a typical residential neighborhood and be so close to our neighbors that we can see them eat breakfast in their dining room and hear their conversations in the backyard. So what do we look for…one acre? Two? Three? How much land is too much? Do we rent until we find the perfect piece of land and build? Or do we buy and fix up a home? What about our chickens and our bees? Will I have to start knitting with, gulp…cotton?

And finally, what does moving mean for this space of mine? It’s hard to be The Aspiring Farm Wife when you no longer live on a farm, isn’t it? I still have my knitting, which I love to share with my readers and is my primary topic on this blog, next to my family. But is that enough to continue? I honestly don’t know.

I love this farm but it’s time to move on. It’s time for a new family to love this place as their own. And while I’ve shared my concerns with you all, I should mention that I’m also excited. Excited for something new. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a military family and moved around so much, but despite the sadness of leaving friends, I’ve always viewed moving as something to look forward to…an adventure of some sorts. So, while I sob into my cup of tea for what seems like the millionth time this week, and morn the loss of a home and lifestyle that I truly loved, I am also looking forward to what is ahead. A new home. A new city. New friends. New experiences. Perhaps even a new yarn shop.

Happy Tuesday, my friends.

Snow days and sick days

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Joining Ginny and Nicole.

I have very little to write about regarding these past two weeks. These photos were taken two weeks ago after our first snowfall of the year. It was only a few inches, but it was more than enough for the occasional snowball fight and a few little snowmen. The next day, the plague hit our house. Everyone has been taken ill with some sort of chest cold, sinus cold, fever or cough. As soon as they recover, another cold hits two or three days later. My ears have been clogged for the last week, which I suppose one could argue is not necessarily a bad thing as it helps me drown out the crying, whining and sobbing of the three sick littles. As I sit here and write this, Caleb is asleep upstairs but I can hear him coughing, Sam is sniffing on the couch, and Eddie is laying her feverish head in my lap, only lifting it periodically to sip some orange juice and lick her tiny parched lips. We are a pathetic bunch.

I did finish my Hollows shawl. It’s too big to block here so I brought it over to my parents house to block it in my mother’s knitting studio. I hope to have one of those one day. As you can see from my kitchen table, my creative endeavors have added to the mess and chaos in our house.

I did receive a delightful package from Quince and Co! Phoebe in the colorway Mars for a pair of welted fingerless gloves for a girlfriend and Owl Tweet in the colorways Jay and Russet for a Roar hat for Sam. I’m almost done with the ribbing for Sam’s hat. I don’t know if I will have it done in time for the first night of Chanukah but I should have it done before the last.

I hope everyone is having a good pre-Christmas/Chanukah week.

Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukah. May your holiday be blessed with good health, family, friends, and lots of holiday cookies.

And maybe some new yarn.

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