Thursday, November 13, 2014

In Due Time

Feeling a bit...something...lately.  Since purchasing this old homestead, we've experienced our share of ups and downs.  This is certainly not something that Music Man and I are unaccustomed to.  In fact, well, we've had a lot of both.  For whatever reason, we've had a lot of turbulence during our 16 years together.  I suppose to some extent, that's to be expected.  Hell, life is nothing if it isn't ever changing.
But, by the same token...well, when we got this house, I really felt it was meant to be.  We waited and worked for a very long time for our little homestead.  One we could call our own, and change and plant and grow our own food.  A place for our kids to stay for a long time, to feel they truly belonged.  A place to raise our chickens, and get the dog we've wanted since we met.  But, to get a dog when you don't own the house you live in is a big risk.  If you're forced to move, and you can't find another place that allows dogs, you have to give it up.  I would no more do that then give one of my kids away, if we give one a home, with us it will stay.  So, we waited until we had the right place. 
Waiting for the boys bus to come
A long series of events brought us to the place where we were able to scrape together the down payment for this home.  Just barely, and it took most of what we had just to do that.  The events were years in coming, one failed attempt to buy a place after another brought us to the crossroads.  Were we just not supposed to be here in this town?  Did we chose the wrong place?  Are we supposed to be in a location more affordable, New England is so expensive to live in?  Should we leave most of our family and the place our boys love to start over somewhere else, again?  We really were unsure of what to do.  Then the tragedy fell that changed so many lives.  My very healthy mother-in-law passed very unexpectedly and way too soon.  We were deep in the grief of losing her, and discovered she left us enough money to put the down payment on this home that had until then, been way out of our price range.  We debated with what to do, should we spend the money for a house?  Should we save it for retirement?  What's the best choice to make for our family?

The boys are ALMOST in from the bus!!

In the end, we thought about what we truly needed at that time in our lives.  A place to make our home.  Not just a house, but a home.  We had agreed from our meeting that Music Man and I both loved antique houses. Having been built in 1755, this place sure fit the bill.  We wanted a place for big vegetable gardens, a barn big enough not just for our farming endeavors, but for Music Man's lifelong dream of a space to gather people and share music.  We wanted room for our boys to roam, preferably with woods where they could explore and a small field to play baseball in.  And we wanted space for the dog they had been begging for since almost birth.  We also thought long and hard about whether this would be something that my mother-in-law would want done with her money.  And that was one of the biggest factors for us in making the decision to purchase.  We felt she would have loved this place, would have loved us in the place, and seeing her grandsons playing and thriving and belonging here.  Yes, it seemed like it was meant to be.

We've been here almost  year now, we're just a couple of days shy.  After two concussions and a broken shoulder caused medical bills from our lousy insurance to mount, we've used a lot of the money we had pegged for renovations.  The honeymoon has worn off a bit, we've discovered that, being an older house, it needs things we could never have imagined. Some of them more urgent then we would have assumed.  Repairs that, in the end, are costing more then we are able to bear when they are needed.  It's a stressful time for us. I'm job hunting again after three years away, Music Man's company issued a mandatory pay cut for it's employees.  Yes, stress is the name of the game now.  The barn needs siding, like yesterday...and beam repairs. We've discovered that its roof will need replacing sooner then we originally thought. These are not small ticket items.  We have almost no insulation in the house, which in small would not be so bad, but in whole is a bit overwhelming.  And the furnace that is 25 years old is sporting duct work that will eventually need to be replaced.  The kitchen is there, but really needs to be expanded to meet the needs of a modern family that homesteads and makes 90% of it's food from scratch.  The to-do list around here is larger then we can ever accomplish with just the two of us working at it with our limited expertise.

But...we've also come a long way.  The first year living in a house, especially an older one, we didn't want to rush into changes.  I've made some mistakes along the way, like you'll remember digging up the asparagus bed not knowing it WAS an asparagus bed.  We ended up with a nice crop despite my eagerness to make it something else.  We got a great crop of sweet potatoes, but the white and red potatoes fell victim to a vole infestation.  We went through a lot of wood last winter using a stove that was here and inadequate for the size of this house, so we've replaced it with a wonderful stove Music Man bartered for years ago and have been moving around ever since. It heats more evenly and being cast iron holds its heat much longer.  We raised our first meat chickens here, and made the mistakes of the first time, lessons we learned and won't repeat.  We made a garden out of a yard and grew enough food to keep our family in veggies for the summer months with enough to put by a bit for the winter.  Next year's garden will be larger, and more planned out.  We've hosted holidays, birthday parties and friends for dinners.

We're building the life we wanted, by hook or by crook.  We want to preserve this place for the next generation.  It's a solid piece of history that is beginning to show some wear and need for attention.  How many people can say they had the privilege of living in a museum of sorts?  These walls were here when pounds paid for the deed, we weren't even an official country and people fought Native Americans to keep the house standing.  Flu, smallpox and tuberculosis may have killed family members in it's walls.  It's been here for a very long time, and we're hoping to have the chance to help it survive and become better.

We've really tried to embrace our new place, and we're hoping that in the end, we'll figure out the way to keep it ours.  At least until the boys are done with high school and on to their own lives, and we're settling down for a bit of retirement.  Preferably in a little seaside town called Freeport.  Until then, we're debating things like a campaign to save the barn.  It's not just a barn for us, after all, but one for the country as it's living history right here and now.  Lots of things in the thought-track, just needing to decide what to act on to get everything moving in the right direction.

A moment that's real for you,

1 comment:

Jennifer and Steve said...

Always big decisions! We hope you all are well and enjoying the season. Happy garlic planting!