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

EverFine & Gasoline

Ever since New Year’s Day we’ve been putting out figurative farm fires about as well as tossing gasoline onto them. From water outages due to our well wiring shorting out, to injured animals, to Covid, and beyond… 2022 is the new 2020. After having Isabell farm sit for us while we took some time to spend the holidays together, we pulled into our driveway to massive amounts of flooding. The farm survived two tornado touchdowns nearby but there was a lot of work to be done to fix the damage.

Both of our main pastures were under water. The creek built up to the bank and then poured into our fields. Our ducks were having the best week ever but our poor cats, dogs, chickens, and equine were swimming in it. Our driveway was all but washed out, there was a waterfall being made out of the leftover hay pile and the cleanup involved wading in horse manure and old hay almost up to our knee caps.

Harlow was my first biggest concern and major worry. The big black and white paint suffered a slip and fall injury (most likely due to fireworks) that left him with a swollen hip on the back end. The flooding and mud gave him white line (a fungal infection in his front hooves) which made him pretty tender on his toes as well. To top it off he just wasn’t acting quite like himself. I was so stressed and concerned for his well-being that I had a panic attack on the way to tractor supply for vet wrap and liniment ointment.

A few days later, after a trip to the vet for pain reliever to help Harlow… my mom and my grandmother in Arizona called to tell me that they both contracted Covid. My grandmother who has severe asthma was struggling to breathe at night on her own and my mom was having a hard time staying awake during the day. Neither one of them was functional. I felt helpless. They were also struggling with water issues on their farm. Despite her high fevers from Covid, my mom was forced to haul water because their water tank kept freezing. I had to call them a couple times a day to check in to ease my concerns. I felt worried that things would take a turn and they may end up hospitalized.

My health was struggling again as well. My blood pressure spikes and heart palpitations made it difficult to keep up with treating Harlow as well as covering the usual farm chores. The cherry on top was that Isabell had also come down with Covid. We had to deep clean the house and social distance from her to keep the rest of us as healthy as possible.

We continued to have issues with our well. Rob spent most of his time at home trying to rewire everything or rig things to be at least more functional for the short term. Meanwhile he had a toothache and a Covid booster to tackle as well as being concerned over my rising blood pressure that was out of control. It was all too overwhelming for both of us. Some days we hid under the blankets in the early hours of the mornings. We whispered and joked that if we never got out of bed than we wouldn’t have to grapple with whatever came at us next.

We built up the courage, had our morning beverages, and pulled our mucking boots over our pant legs. It’s hard to go from losing a friend on Christmas day to all this hitting us at once on New Year’s. Yet when you have a farm there’s no hiding from the work that needs to get done no matter how you feel.   

                “We’re fine! Everything’s fine! Fine, fine, fine. Everpine… EverFine… We’re NOT fine!” Rob joked with me one morning during yet another car ride to the hardware store.

Good farm days are fabulous but bad farm days are horrific. This life is far from laid back or free of hustle. We work hard for everything we have. It’s a different kind of work than that of an office job and a rental property or regular mortgage. You have to make the most with what you have, rig things to work when you can’t make it perfect, and keep moving forward. There are no sick or mental health days when farm work needs to get done.

You know things are turning a corner when your biggest problem of the day is an escaped horse who stuffed his face in dog food. There was no misstep to Harlow’s gate once he was feeling more like himself again. He decided to ditch his pasture for greener grass as soon as he realized that his electric fence was down for the day. He simply pushed on it with his chest and stepped over it gleefully. We pulled into the driveway after picking up Nikolai from school and had to tag team as a family in order to catch him and rectify the hot wire.

We were so happy to see his spunk come back that we didn’t even mind the attitude from “Jerk Face” Harlow (I say that with love). We laughed, we shook our heads and we thanked God for a more normal day than the ones we’ve had. Caspian too was feeling his cheerios because a day or two later he nearly scared Rob to death while he was working on our well in the middle of the night. Caspian looked almost like a bear in the dark with all his ruffled hairy fur rather than the crazy donkey he truly is. Poor Rob spent an hour trying to catch Caspian by himself that time.

It took cornering Caspian and chasing him off into the stall in order for the little Ass to be caught. I’ll bet Caspian was sitting in that stall laughing at Rob for having outsmarted him quite a few times like he does to me. It just wouldn’t be OUR farm without the mischievous furry faces. Everpine… Everfine.               

And this happened on a good day!
Spontaneous doctor appointment for high BP