Farm life, Homesteading, Horses, donkey, chickens, ducks, geese, farm animals, bears

The Leap

We risked everything when we first bought our little farm. We sold whatever we could for 4.71 acres of mountain land that we bought from a meth addict. 3.71 acres of which was sight unseen. It was among the most crazy endeavors that we had ever tackled in our lives and I’m not the risk taking type. I’m the think-everything-through-from-all-angles type of woman. The ask-100-questions-before-you-ride-or-die sort of girl, while my husband is my polar opposite.

We couldn’t afford much but we had this little dream tucked away in our hearts of owning our own property and finding financial freedom. Throughout the years, my husband and I talked about our love of country living and our desire to be engulphed by mountains. Early on in our marriage we bought a house near an Army base in Tennessee. It was a stunning old farmhouse in suburbia with original hard wood floors on .25 acres of land. We loved that house. We wanted to raise our babies in that house. Unfortunately the year after purchasing was when the housing market came to a crashing halt. We paid far more for it than what it ended up being worth.

We tried to hold onto to our love of that old house for dear life. Meanwhile, my husband barely made it through five different layoffs at work. He needed a position with better healthcare and stronger job security. We tried to sell the house to get out from underneath it. We tried to rent it out, and we tried paying for two mortgages. In the end we were left living pay check to pay check and struggling to keep the piles of bills at bay. We spent many nights fighting between our fears of losing everything and our need for sleep. When we finally filed for bankruptcy and foreclosure, my husband took it as a deeply personal failure on his part, while I felt relieved of our biggest burden.

We moved around quite a bit with my husband’s new position in life-flight until we ended up in a little mountain town called Ellijay. It was one step closer to everything we had ever wanted and we had the privilege of renting a house with some amazing views. The “No pets allowed” policy however was a stab in my animal loving heart. I longed for something that was ours. My husband was convinced after our foreclosure that we wouldn’t be able to buy anything of our own for a very long time. Yet there it was… that little dream tugging on the strings of my heart. So I started browsing Facebook Marketplace for land. Who would have thought that a seller might be satisfied with owner financing something just to have money in their pockets and not have to pay the taxes on a property they don’t use anymore?

There were so many listings that found their way onto my feed. Most of them were far above our price range, some were in gated communities, and others were land parcels that were lacking in natural resources. I kept looking until I spotted an advertisement that read something like “Nearly five secluded acres in Georgia off of a private dirt road. Needs work, asking 28K. Has a well and a septic tank.” I gasped. There was no way it could be possible, but I wasn’t about to walk away without being sure. I knew that if it was true… it was more than likely going to get snatched up by someone who probably had enough cash in their pockets to throw at it than we did. Yet I wouldn’t forgive myself if we didn’t at least have a look.

My husband thought I was crazy at first. He was right, I was. Yet I knew that there had to be a better way to live rather than struggling from pay check to paycheck. I was done with worrying late into the night and watching my husband fight to keep a roof over our heads. I was tired of throwing rent money away while never seeing the end of the rat race. So I begged him to think about it, and then I drove to the property with Nikolai so we could have a look. The bumpy dirt road was a muddy disaster. My car nearly got stuck and the first driveway I came to made my heart sink because it was steep… but I kept going anyway.

When I finally found our destination, the property was a mess. The only building on it had burnt down and needed to be removed. The drug addicted mother to the man who was selling the parcel had left trash everywhere and hoarded old tires. Yet if you looked past what needed elbow work… stunning large pines loomed overhead. The smell of forest and earth lingered in the air, the creek babbled over rocks, and you couldn’t see a single neighbor because you were surrounded by nature everywhere you looked. It was dripping with potential in my eyes.

I talked the seller down in price due to the cleanup involved and the taxes they owed on it. We walked away having paid 21K, interest free for almost five acres of land. It was one of the most challenging things we had ever done because once we bought it, that’s when the real work began. We downsized our belongings, threw everything else into a storage unit and lived in hotels for 6 months. Nikolai wasn’t in school yet. Rob traveled for work anyway and his company paid to put him up in hotels, so we traveled with him. In between my husband’s work, we would drop by the farm to clean it up. Little by little we took it from where it was and polished it into what we knew it could become.

We didn’t have time to build a house. We didn’t have the funds to build one either. Instead we bought a brand new two bedroom, one bathroom single wide mobile home. 782 sq. feet, just a little bit bigger than the largest tiny house. I didn’t think I would be the kind of woman who would fall in love with what most people call a trailer. It wasn’t my dream option as a little girl or as an adult. That all changed once I started pouring my heart and soul into it. Between my love of decorating and our stunning $300.00 a month mortgage payment… I lost all desire for having a big house with fat monthly bills no matter how pretty the house might be. Peace of mind was worth it’s weight in gold.

We had everything we needed and so much more. We paid off our land, both of our cars, and brought home some pretty amazing fuzzy faces to add to our little family. I learned how to compost and began creating the garden of my dreams. We spent evenings catching fire flies with our son and cutting walking paths into the woodlands. When we finally got around to seeing the rest of our property, we discovered incredible mountain views and explored the little creek that runs through the entire front end of our property. With hard work, dedication, and a shoe string budget, we created the kind of life that we had always dreamed of.

In the beginning stages of filing paperwork to close on our property and feeling the pressure to get the clean up sorted as quickly as possible, we had moments of doubt. Living out of a suitcase with a three year old made me want to loose my mind. It was challenging, frustrating, and at times we thought that perhaps we had made the biggest mistake of our lives. Yet, we stuck it out and we found that sweat equity more than doubled the value of what we had originally put into it. On the other hand, the memories we made while we were working together and the lessons that our hard work taught our son was priceless.

Four years into living the life we had always dreamed of and another unexpected opportunity ended up coming our way. The property directly across from our driveway went up for sale. 6.49 acres listed below fair market value and it was sitting directly within view out my bedroom and living room window. We talked to the land owner and created a plan to start saving. In December we applied for a bank loan to purchase the property but a week later we received a call from the loan manager who told us that we had been denied. Our bankruptcy and foreclosure date disqualified us from meeting the bank’s requirements by only one month. We waited 6 weeks, held our breath, and we applied again.

Those six weeks crept by at a snail’s pace but we kept in contact with the seller and saved money like crazy. Many weeks that rob could have spent with us at home were used up as he put in extra hours at work. When the day finally arrived to reapply, Rob sent in the paperwork and then we waited… again. Four days later we got a call from the bank telling us that our loan had officially been approved. The two weeks after that moment were a blur of filling out and faxing information over to our lawyer as we inched our way towards receiving a closing date. In the meantime, we went through one crisis after the next from December to March.

My nerves were raw, stress levels high, and my hopes needed to come back down to earth before I hurt myself. Still, I looked around at all we had built together over the whirlwind of this adventure and I was overflowing with wonderment and gratitude. We had been gifted the ability to more than double the size of the lot that we already had without having to move anywhere to do it. This is the moment that we had been blessed with. That crazy dream that we held in our hearts until we took one leap of faith after the next is what brought us to the point of owning 11.20 stunning acres.

I created this blog and website with the hope that our farm might grow and that we might be able to rebrand it. I decided to keep the website and the dream even after our first refusal from the bank. Sometimes that leap of faith turns out better than those carefully choreographed plans that we make. Sometimes doing what feels safe is actually the very thing that’s holding you back from living the life you’ve always wanted. No matter how things worked themselves out, I knew that we were exactly where we were meant to be.

Today we signed the closing documents with the bank and the seller of the property. Once again we find ourselves at the beginning of all the hard work that is to follow. It’s a beautiful place to be. Our goal of having a greenhouse, turning Harlow’s current pasture into rows of cut flowers and garden beds while eventually obtaining cows… is now a reachable one! Happy birthday to Everpine Forest and Farm.

Our new property!
Isn’t it stunning?!
My favorite kid!
The view on our 4.71 acres
Baby Tallulah in front of our girl Moose!
Took this image long before we bought the new property. Everything to the right of Nikolai all the way up the hill is ours now.
Our new farm logo
Welcome to our home ❤️ This is the living room where I often type up my blog posts
My favorite view and now all that land across the street is ours as well
Our horse Harlow that I write about often

51 thoughts on “The Leap”

  1. Sometimes that leap of faith turns out better than those carefully choreographed plans that we make. So true. I’m delighted to know how you came to be where you are. Your photos show a peaceful chunk of land, a pretty home, space to think and run. You’ve found your place, followed your dreams. Not many people can say that when you think about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ally!! I’m SO excited to have bigger cut flowers this year and be able to sell them 🥰 AND eventually put in my photography studio 😅. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment and share in our joy!

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  2. What a wonderful entry. My husband and I went through something similar at the beginning of our marriage. Being able to fulfill life dreams lays a peacefulness on your heart that can’t be described. The accompanying pictures are great!

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  3. I love stories of heart and perseverance that pay off. I tend to be the one who overthinks things, especially when it comes to big decisions. My wife is more of a risktaker, and somehow we balance each other out.

    So glad it’s all worked out for you. A leap of faith—I’ve been there. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, what a story!! I admire you s much for the leap(s) of faith with a young kid involved! How old is your son now, btw? Mine are just under 5, looks like your Nikolai is maybe i little bit older, but not much? Anyway, the photos are amazing and just … wow! Congratulations!

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    1. He’s 7 now 🥰 and thank you very much! He absolutely loves our farm and living here. It’s funny because whenever we go on vacation… he can’t wait to get back home because he misses home so much 🥰 and I get it because Rob and I feel the same way. It’s a beautiful way to live when you’re in a place where everyday is better than being on vacation ❤️

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  5. Beautiful and inspiring story! 😍 You are literally living my dream life right now and I aspire to find a property such as that one day. Sometimes keeping a positive mindset and having faith that it’ll all work out is all we need, even though it’s hard to have faith when you’re going through something hard like that. ❤ You did a great job fixing up your place, it looks incredible! And although no one dreams of buying a trailer when they are little, when you get older you realize that it's a place to live and trailers are honestly just bigger tiny homes!

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    1. That’s SO true! I absolutely love my little house now. Especially my fire place. I had that thing planned out long before we put furniture into my house. We bought the brick from off Facebook marketplace too, it came from thee different sources!! It’s my happy place, well actually the whole farm is my happy place 🤪

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  6. “Sometimes doing what feels safe is actually the very thing that’s holding you back from living the life you’ve always wanted.” Such true words! I should know … my husband and I tend to play it safe 😉 But we’re making the best of it, as you are too with your dream. I love it that you live in a trailer. I’ve had fantasies of living in an old farmhouse. I love the idea of many rooms, upstairs and downstairs. But I also know that it’s what is outside my house that is as important, possibly more important, than what’s inside. A trailer can be a castle when you live in a beautiful area, when you have acres to grow, literally and figuratively. Congratulations, LaShelle. You have a wonderful story here.

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  7. Lovely, lovely pics, and amazing bravery at taking the leap. We’re built to do safe, it’s just the easiest thing for us, but it also leaves our real dreams lying in the dust. Thanks so much for this inspiring post!

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  8. I am delighted to find you! I’ve gone through something similar and am less that a year from being bank cleared to get a loan. What you have, the home and acreage is exactly where I am headed. I am 61 so starting over is daunting but it’s all I can think about so I know it will happen. My foreclosure was in Vermont on nearly 200 acres with house and barns, a former dairy farm, that I loved and lived on for 15 years before my financial face plant. I should have bought a smaller less expensive property originally but that’s what I’m headed toward now so it’s going to be ok. Congratulations on coming through the fire with your family intact and I look forward to reading more. Your property is just beautiful.

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    1. Patricia, I’m SO glad you found me too! Going through financial hardship is some of the most stressful things a family can go through. There’s nothing like worrying over how you’re going to pay your bills and sometimes our love of nice things overshadows our ability to take stock of what’s MOST important. You WILL get there! It WILL happen for you! Just hold on tight, keep plugging away at your goal, and don’t you dare give up. I can’t wait for you to keep in touch and write me back when you’ve succeeded 💪🏻. I’m rooting for you!!

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  9. Nice story, but the part of buying the land from a meth addict could of been left out.. not funny or nice to say .. even if was true. Not everyone has a nice life as you do., addiction is a horrible monster.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Anna,
      I approved your comment on this post for many reasons, but I’ll first start with the biggest reason of all- my husband is a recovering alcoholic. I don’t go into a lot of detail on the subject yet but you can read about just a few of the things my husband and I have been through right here: https://everpineforestandfarm.com/2022/02/09/unconditional/
      I realize that the true reason why you posted this comment has actually very little to do with me and everything to do with you yourself either struggling with addiction or knowing someone close to you who’s struggling with addiction. I didn’t write this post to be funny. I didn’t write it to embarrass them but I do write about topics that happen to me and ones that are near and dear to my heart. That means that part of the story couldn’t be left out because it was vital to my point. That means that the “nice life” I have wasn’t achieved because it was easy. It was achieved because my husband and I worked for it and clawed our way out to find happiness. So yes, addiction is absolutely a horrible and terrible monster but it’s important ti give credit where credit is due. I understand your anger because I was once angry too. Please seek out an amazing group called Al-anon. They’re not just for addicts but are also for those touched by addiction. In the meantime… I’m going to keep writing ✍️ because I know that what I’ve been through can inspire others like you. God Bless!

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  10. LaShelle, first of all, you are an amazing writer! I just found your blog and am so very happy I did. Your son, property and home are beautiful. Such a great place to raise a child and even better, a child that knows the value of having hard working parents with that never-give-up attitude on reaching your dreams will create a responsible adult!! Beautiful “beginning” to a hard road getting there…thank you for sharing!

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    1. Karolyn, your comment made me cry! Oh my goodness you have no idea how appreciated your words are. I’m so thankful that you love the way I write and I appreciate all that you stated about showing my son the value of hard work. Thanks for brightening my day!

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  11. I’m so glad you got your beautiful mountain home. Your pictures are so pretty. My youngest daughter rides horses and would love the life you have in Elijay. My parents used to live in Ooltewah, so I’m familiar with area you call home. 🙂

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  12. Your story and that of your Family is truly an inspiration. To follow one’s dream is scary and never easy. But it’s also the most amazing, exciting and fulfilling experience. I hope to one day have a piece of land and a mobile house surrounded by mountains or close to a lake or sea, but importantly be financially free. I live in a apartment in the Silicon Valley where houses are million and above and last 300,000 and above. It’s crazy. So I’m just saving up money and enjoying California till the next great adventure. Congratulations to you and your Hubby, you both did something incredible many only dreamed of.

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    1. Wow what a compliment! Thank you so much for reaching out to me and taking the time to read about our crazy adventures. It really means a lot! I hope you’re able to join us with an adventure of your own and have everything you’ve ever dreamed as well ❤️ you deserve it!

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  13. LaShelle, what an inspiring story of determination and perseverance! You’re right, sometimes doing what’s safe is actually not doing what we fear.. I am so happy you chased your dreams and didn’t shy away from some elbow grease and hard work. Your final product is gorgeous! Love the pics! Happy birthday to Everpine Forest & Farm! 💓

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  14. Wow. I have so much to say.

    First of all, I lived in Warner Robins for two years (and taught at Georgia College), so I kinda know where you are.
    This story is super inspirational! I’m glad everything worked out for you, and this part, “Sometimes doing what feels safe is actually the very thing that’s holding you back from living the life you’ve always wanted” is exactly the point. We have to take leaps; otherwise, we become complacent and resentful of our complacency.
    I need to do a residency in your living room lol
    Thanks so much for sharing this ❤

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  15. What a journey! I love your hopefulness and positive tenacity. The farm and house are beautiful and your photographs are lovely. We have just done the reverse and moved from a five acre farm to a new town that we’ve been to one. A different kind of leap of faith. I am looking forward to reading more!

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    1. I can’t wait to share more with you! That’s really amazing that you guys did the opposite but I don’t blame you because having land is nothing but nonstop work lol!!

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  16. I enjoyed reading this! I am a risk taker which has let me meet my husband, and pave an interesting life. Sometimes the detours have been challenging but we are still going strong. Beautiful piece of poetry. We have family who lives in Chatsworth, GA and we enjoyed visiting.

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