|Us, at home, Here. Apologies for the repeat photos. It is a veritable white-out on the farm right now. The photos would be blurred and snowy outside, and inside, the living room is covered with laundry-to-be-folded.|
Perhaps it is the 22 week baby (boy!) growing in my belly or maybe its the prospect of pasture and garden management for 2013 on a land that isn't ours or better yet it could just be runofthemill narcissism and greed, but I want my own land. We want our own land.
We haven't been in Vermont for even a year but, and I think I can speak for us both, we feel profoundly settled here. Nick and I have moved a grand total of eight times since we met each other back in the Mission district of San Francisco five years ago. They have each carried with them the bare-knuckled stress and naive fantasia that a moves seem to have. We loved living in France just as much as we loved the warm early springs of Carolina, which we loved as much as Golden Gate park. Yet we always felt a twinge of impermanence. There it was with each move. After these 5 past years we find ourselves in a state, in a county, in a particular tiny town in Vermont where we feel that we are emphatically home. We both grew up in Massachusetts, I on Martha's Vineyard and Nick in the heart of Boston. It isn't a shock that the home we find is so close to our families.
We fell in love with and felt settled in Vermont within months of being here, perhaps it was just weeks. It isn't hard to fall for the green rolling hills and long dirt roads and old wood houses and fertile soil and good protein rich grass. We were a bit wary of what winter would bring, and despite All Of My Complaining (and a 3 week getaway to the South) we are finding ourselves on the up side of winter headed to spring without feeling too worse for it all. With that said, it is purely miserable outside today. The snow was quite literally blowing sideways when we woke up for the walk down to chores. Curse it all.
Winter is perhaps one of the worst times however to look at land for sale. Everything is covered in the obvious white blanket. You can't take soil samples. All of the empty houses feel very very very cold. The trees are bare and the general starkness can make the entire endeavor feel rather bleak, rather hopeless. We don't have the labor capacity to spend days at a time looking at land in the summer, the farm demands too much for day-dreaming trips around a couple fallow fields. BUT as I've taken to say, if you can fall in love with a place in winter, you will love it all the more in summer. And fall in love we have. With land after land. It is one of the more emotional of roller coasters I have ridden. And it isn't just because my body is teeming with extra hormones. Nick feels it too. We come home from looking at a place Sky High. Mentally we both move in to a place, to a pasture, to a stand of pines or a sugar bush as soon as we see it. We start to worry over ridiculous details like where would our pet pigs winter? Or, where would I plant my moonflowers? Would the yurt go up on the high pasture behind the house? Nick has a seemingly endless fascination and patience for working the numbers over for each place we love. How many head of beef we need to be raising in year 1? In year 5? With what money will we pay our taxes? Is there a good option for fuel (wood) on the property? How many years could that stoke our fires without depleting the forest?
Two farms this winter really roped us in. The first was a gorgeous lot of 300 + acres with decent pasture, and majestic woods. We walked it over several days, early in my pregnancy, when I was easily tired and out of breath after several minutes of rolling hilled paths. We found the perfect spot where we would build our home, our barn, put up the yurt for any visitors. We loved it so and they asked us to make an offer. We did and we were elated at the possibility. By the end of the week we were told that our offer had (happily for them) urged an older potential buyer to finally make their offer which was accepted over ours.
Several weeks later we fell for our second farm. An endlessly sprawling old wooden house (in need of much repair) and several hundred acres of pasture and forest creating a half bowl of hilled land that hugged around the house and barn. Again we fell. Again we (mentally) moved into the upstairs bedroom and put our favorite tea mugs on the kitchen's one shelf and opened our herd of cows to the lower pasture. And again we made an offer and again we were told that somebody of more importance had swooped in and made a better one. Again we lost a home when we thought we had moved in.
I am cognizant of how dramatic I am making this all seem. It has been so for us. I know in the grand scheme of Life this doesn't deserve its own pity party post.
Where we are renting the land is beautiful and the house is (small) tight and warm. Our landlords and our neighbors love us and we them. I will be so fortunate and happy if I am able to swim in the pond across our field until my last days of pregnancy and then birth our son in our wooden bedroom. We could and would stay here forever, if it weren't for the narcissistic --but perhaps human?-- desire to call something our own.
I felt compelled to write about this, to capture our desire for our own home, because some day we will find it, or rather the land will find us. Some day, be it in 2 months, 2 years, or 10 we will move into a home we can call our own. We will pay land taxes and not rent. We will carefully measure and document the height of our son by months and then by years on the doorjamb by the kitchen. We will slowly rehabilitate the aging sugar bush. We will drag black locust out of the forest to build fence that will last a lifetime. We will move cattle, and sheep, and chickens, and maybe one day goats, gently, and methodically across the land. And in winter we will hunker inside and serve out the hay we collected from the summer and try to keep every animal warm and dry. We will carefully tend for a bit of earth that will produce food and life for our children and their children and their children's children.
That is what we want. That is our vision for our farm and for our son.