Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Fever

I've got it bad; restlessness, the need to feel productive, to be making something, growing something, creating, but crafty projects just seem meaningless right now. Spring Fever. I have the urge to be outdoors in the sun, but when I get out there it isn't as warm as it looks, even with the bright sun. 

The winters are long here. Our homestead was poorly planned. We didn't plan. We were going to build a small house and then sell it. Then we built a hovel for my horse so she could live here - before our house was liveable by most people's standards. Then our son came along. Then the goats and chickens. The house needed to be bigger so we added on. This is the "Alaskan Way" and we are Alaskans. We are located on a steep hillside with tiny flat spots here and there. In the summer it is no big deal. This time of year our tiny slippery steep trail system is treacherous. We look back on the winter and realize how little we've accomplished. We survived. We stayed alive, warm and fed. We kept our animals fed. They kept us fed. We didn't get ahead.

We look at each other this time of year and think, "whew, we've got six months to be better prepared for next winter." And we wonder is this how we want to live? Will we be able to do this in ten years? Twenty, Thirty? It is spring fever speaking, or at least that is what I tell myself today. It will pass with the snow. Once I can see dirt, grass, brown and green I'll be cured. The summer will sooth and heal and rejuvenate me. I am strong. I was made for this lifestyle. I love my life. But it could be easier. It doesn't have to be this much work does it? 

I have pasture envy. Farm land envy. What is farm land? Land with good soil, good water, good sun exposure, possible clear pasture already, a stream, slough or pond. We can work with that. I know we won't be finding my old farmhouse and traditional old barn up here. My husband and I have been on the land hunt this past year. If it were up to him, he would be looking somewhere warmer. I insist that we just need level land. Land with water. Land that faces south or has better sun exposure. If we had good soil, water, and level or gradual sloping land, sun streaming in the window even on the darkest days... So at first we were looking for land that could be farmland. Level land with water. Then we started looking at small farms for sale. There isn't a lot of either available close to town. So our search has been taking us farther from town. 

Dreamer that he is, D started searching for farms for sale on the east coast this week. (Let it be noted that the east coast is like a foreign country to me) Farms with old farmhouses and barns, pastures and established orchards (he knows my weaknesses). I know the farms we are finding are crazy cheap for a reason, mainly depressed economy. While property and housing prices are still high here. While we are not really looking to buy a farm elsewhere, it did get us thinking that before we do invest everything we have in a farm here, maybe we should get away while we still can. We feel very committed and bound to our homestead and animals. We leave, at most for two weeks a year and it takes so much planning and multiple amazing house-sitters/farm helpers to accomplish that. This week I've realized that anything is possible. Traveling and exploring with our children is still possible. There are ways to take a break from this lifestyle. We could sell our animals and come back in a year and buy some of them back. Or we could lease them. There are options. I love our homestead, our animals, this unique life that we are giving our children. Yet, I feel that they would benefit from road trips, more vacations, seeing other states, countries, lifestyles. I know this is spring fever expressing itself. 

Acknowledging that I could make these dreams a reality, is exhilarating. Here is to spring fever dreaming and whatever craziness comes of it! Cheers!


Buttons said...

Oh my dear Emily I hear you loud and clear. I live on the East Coast Ontario and I understand struggling and hard work and dreaming of less work and more vacations. We are now 59 and still farming. We do not have the extreme cold winters that you have but we calve in the winter still making for lots of work (I ache everyday none stop) I know you can relate to problems) I always dreamed of better but I am so torn I love this land we have nurtured and struggled to hold on to.
I can in no way imagine what you are going through but you will make the best choice for your family and you should be happy. It may well be Spring fever after a long winter of hibernating or in my old thinking being trapped.
Good luck on whatever you decide Emily I know how you feel and you are young change is hard at any age.
You will both make the right decision for yourself and your children.
I just want to give you a hug and tell you those feelings will go away but it depends on the year.
Advice from an old tired farmer who loves her land and location.
I am off to Vancouver for two weeks with my daughter to enjoy some drier air and dreaming of no aching dampness. I do understand B

Ambra said...

Well, I'm from Iceland and I have lived in warmer climate and loved it. I would go for it. But I love adventure. You can always come back home later :)

Stevie said...

Funny that I just read this. My husband is longing for a farm 2 miles away that has just gone up for sale. It's pond doesn't have a leak (like ours) and there's pasture for the grazers (we have to hay everybody). But there's no house and we just finished an addition here. Plus, we often get overwhelmed with our 4 1/2 acres. I cannot imagine 15 acres to care for. But something in the spring winds makes us long for a fresh start, doesn't it????

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Oh dear, I know how you feel and we don't have bad weather at all really, I too have found myself dreaming of those old farms in upstate New York and other areas near there.

Everything here is too expensive, including taxes, but I know I need to stay put. Starting over would be too hard. But it's fun to look and dream a little...

Stories like this old dairy wrench my heart out.

Hopefully the spring fever will break soon for you :)

Anonymous said...

I've had this open for a couple of days trying to figure out what to post, not sure it helped but let me try.

I think the main problem you have is that you're just now starting to get over the steepest part of the learning curve. You jumped in and are now discovering the drawbacks of your initial plan. The good news is that you wouldn't have this awareness without having done it, so it's knowledge well earned.

As I see it your basic issue is that you don't have enough land (in your climate) and the wrong kind of land for what you want. You don't have enough to actually make a go of it as a farmer / herder but you have too much to do it as a hobby. The fact is that you will never be able to make enough off that land to be self supporting, which means that you're always going to need cash inputs to survive. That's not a problem if that's your desire, but it means that the goats are always going to basically be a hobby. The question is whether you're willing to go through that much work for something with relatively little return.

I've been where you're at, so I do appreciate the tremendous amount of blood, sweat and tears that have fallen on your land in the process of getting to where you're at. In my case, I had the opportunity to move across the country to a place I wanted to go and I knew that if I continued where I was the good times were coming to an end (and we had a lot of the best times of my life there). We ended up selling out first farm that had 8 years of work invested and a house we had built and moved 2000 miles to Oregon.

There have been a lot of trials and tribulations here, but I know it was a better place to raise my kids and make our lives and I know my wife was much happier here than she would have been at the old place. At this point I don't have any regrets about th move.

I'm getting older and not in too good of health, but just this Spring so far I've planted almost 20 new fruit trees. Ii don't know if I'll ever pick fruit off them, but some one will, they're an investment in the future. The reason I say that is you should think of the future. Put yourself forward 10 years and try to imagine the alternatives. You can be happy either way if that's what you want, but if you've just "sort of ended up" where you are then you need to make a decision to be where you want to be. You don' t have that many opportunities to start over, as you get older it gets harder and harder, so if you want to do it the time is now. Good luck.