Thursday, February 15, 2018

10 days

One phone call on that one Friday and life changed.
"Our offer has been accepted." Those words. I can't even describe how that felt. I can't even begin to put into words all we had been through the last two years. Two years we looked, worked and prayed.
All the time spent looking. All the pressure of finding a farm. Moving. Having to move. Wanting to move.
Was over.
10 days.
That was all it took for us to see decide, offer and have that offer accepted. The house was off the market. We were the only ones to get a showing. That's how fast it all happened. We knew it was right, and we moved fast to get it off the market.
We had our closing date. 
We closed in July. We wanted to close at the farm. Such a fine idea. The man we bought it from was really great. We still chat with him from time to time too. He lives in Florida.
But we didn't move in the day we closed. Why your wondering?
Well, there was no water in the barn. Part of the reason the cement was in such good shape.

The night we closed we had a big family BBQ! We invited all Matthew's family and mine. Bring something for the grill and something to share! It was such a huge celebration for us!! We were home. We had our dream farm. We were not moving to the county!

 We felt so blessed!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Rachel was fine.
 Life seemed to be moving forward again. We decided not to plant a garden. Our neighbor asked how the farm hunting was going. We told him we found a place and were waiting to here from the owners.

Then life got real interesting for my husband one afternoon. He received 2 text messages, and 2 phone calls. A friend. A brother. A neighbor. His father.
 There was a new farm for sale. In the town we live in. 3.9 miles from where we were currently living. Just on the market that day. His dad saw the sign go up on the lawn.
Matthew called me. He asked if I wanted to go look at it. I knew right where it was. Such a beautiful place. I said yes. Whenever. He called me back about 10 minutes later. We were going to see it that Friday. OK. I thought. I decided not to look at it online. I told myself it wasn't going to happen. The barn would make it a no. Don't get excited. It's not going to happen. Besides we were still interested in the county property, maybe a little. But not really so much. Things were on hold with that property, due to some estimates on building a dairy barn. And we really didn't feel like that was were we were supposed to be. Non of us wanted to go.
Friday morning came. We went to see it. We pull in the long driveway. It's a yellow house. Just so happens to be my favorite color.  It's a colonial style house. My favorite. We walk in the barn first. I didn't want to see the house. My jaw almost hits the ground. The barn is clean. It still has the stanchions in it, and water bowls that are rusted. The cement work is great. A few cracks in it, but the best I had seen in all the barns we'd looked at. 1959 in marbles by the milk room. That was the year the barn was built. Matthew knows the boy, now grown man, who put them there, and he lives down the road from the farm.There was nothing but an old saw in the milk room. My eyes looked all over. Dare I hope? My interest increased, and I looked to Matthew. He looked as surprised as I did.We didn't speak to one another.
We walk into the house. Oh the house is a beautifully restored country farm house. We open the door and enter a mud room. Oh a mud room! It's heated too. Barn boots outside I think. I step into the house. A huge kitchen. A long counter top with granite. The cupboards are the ugliest shade of yellow I've ever seen. A big table. A big stove with 6 burners! Whoa! I could cook a lot on that bad boy! Then I see the pantry. It's as big as my kitchen back home. The living room is a beautiful shade of pale butter yellow. I love it. The office is a deep blue with wood trim. The stairs are open and we walk up. The house gets better and better. The master bed room is pale yellow with a tinted blue curved ceiling. We kept looking. Four bedrooms and two baths. I felt like I should pinch myself. Don't get too excited. Don't bond with it. you ladies know. We like to bond with things! :)The house turned out to be better then we thought possible. And the dairy barn.
We walk up to the horse stable and look that all over. A big, beautiful riding arena! Big beautiful stalls, nice big tack room, grain room, a kitchenette. Oh man. This was right up my ally. Horses. Dare I even think I'm not dreaming?
After we look the whole place over we chat with the Realtor. He said go home, pray, think, talk and let me know what you think.  We leave.
We talk. Pray.
It's everything and way more then we ever dared hope for. And the timing. The timing was all God.
 We go see the farm again the following Monday. We decide to make an offer. We did so on Wednesday night.
They had until Friday to answer.
Matthew called me Friday afternoon and said our offer was accepted. I immediately burst into tears. Happy tears.  The stress and pressures of looking were over. We were finally buying a farm. A dream farm. No more searching. No more wondering where we were going. We were staying close to family, friends and church. Moving 3.9 miles from where we were. The relief flooded my whole being. Two years of looking washed away and it felt so good.

Monday, February 12, 2018

life tipped on its axis

Our youngest was sick.
 I had never seen her like this before. None of the other kids were sick. She would be OK, then spike a fever, turn white as sheet of paper, grab her stomach and burst into tears. This would last about 10 minutes. Then she would get color back, the pain would subside. The fever stayed. This would happen at different times in the day. She would sleep, a lot. This lasted a couple days when I called the Dr. Things were not changing and she was not getting better. My Mommy's heart was in my throat. I couldn't make her feel better.
We were sent to the hospital to get some blood work done on her. One of the tests that she needed done they could not do at the hospital we were at. We needed to go to Bangor. Off we went. The other kids were with Matthew's mom.
She was a trooper. She napped in the van on the ride up. She would chat with us. The pains she would get were not as strong, but still happened. Our minds were whirling with what ifs. Not a place you want to go, and yet somehow you find yourself there. I was glad I was driving. It helped to keep my mind occupied.
At the hospital she had the blood work done, and we went home.
Life moves at a turtle speed when you wait for doctors to call you. Somehow you continue getting things done. All the while keeping a watchful eye on you sick daughter.

The call comes. It was the Doctors office. Her blood work was not normal. We needed to go to the cancer center in Brewer to have some more extensive blood work done...
My world stopped. Nothing mattered anymore. I couldn't think, or breath. Cancer Center? Ran through my mind like a freight train.
Life moves at a turtle speed when you wait for doctors to call you. Somehow you continue getting things done. All the while keeping a watchful eye on you sick daughter.

The appointment was set up. We didn't tell the other kids or Rachel anything. Just that they needed to do more blood work.
The day came. It seemed like an eternity to me.
During all this there was much prayer. Much confusion, and still trying to function normally, and buy a farm. But that didn't matter. Life was on hold.
We get to the doctors. We get taken in. She gets her blood work done. We wait. Keeping cool, and not alarm Rachel. We read a story together on the couch. She eats a snack of chips. We get taken in to a room where we wait for the doctor. The doctor walks in. My palms are sweaty and my heart racing, and I'm fighting a silent scream in my brain. I look to Matthew. He's silent. He looks at the doctor. The doctors first words were:
"Let me get the hard part out of the way. There is nothing wrong with your daughter..."
Now those words penetrate my heart, mind, body and soul. They still do today. I still get teary eyed just thinking of it. Like now as I type. I'll never forget because it was Rachel's 10th birthday.
Relief. Thankfulness.
"Your daughter had a bad virus that took her body for a ride and that was her way of fighting it off was her off blood work."
I'm blinking rapidly to keep from crying. Rachel is looking at us with her big beautiful blue eyes and big smile. We chat for a little longer with the doctor and then we leave.
We bought Rachel McDonalds for lunch, per her request. And start the drive home.
 We were quiet for a while soaking it all in. Then I said:
"Matthew, what would we do if we were in the county? We have no one up there."
"I don't know." was his only response.

We had quite a nice birthday party that evening. We were all very thankful that this had turned out the way it had. She was fine, and healthy. We could breath. Life could continue.

Friday, February 9, 2018

aroostook county

Quite a drive. It was cold. There was still a lot of snow. It was the county.  It was winter. I kept all kinds of thoughts to myself. I really didn't want to be going. I kept saying to myself that "it will be worth it if this is where God wants us".
The further North we went the more snow there was. There was no traffic that we met on the highway. The temperatures got colder too.

Arrival at the farm with the white house. The driveway was bearly plowed, and we had to carefully climb up a rather large snow bank to get into the front door. The house was very nice. The kitchen was huge. As I said I do like to cook.  The kids picked out what bed room they would like to have. 2 bathrooms. The land was flat and open. Nice view.We chatted with the realtor and got the disclosures and all that fun stuff. More looking around and seeing how we could make the house work. Not really all that hard. A few things could be changed around and fixing up a room and it would be bigger. Totally doable.
On the very long ride home we weren't really talkative. So much over load and we were all tired.
Over the next few weeks we talked things over and decided to make an offer on the farm. We told OV about it and they said yes that it was a doable pickup. We made an offer.
We told the kids. They cried.
We told Matthew's mom, she cried.
We told my mom, she cried.
Why if this was it was everyone we loved crying? Doubt creeps in. We move forward with it.
 But things seemed to be falling into place. Maybe this was it. The decision was made to go. If this was the place then it would be a good thing for all of us. 
Moving to a place with no family, no friends, and no church family. Such a huge deal. For us anyways. This decision was not made lightly at all.
We got a counter offer.
We were working with the realtor and the farm owners were in Florida. So this all took some time to work out.
We had some more questions about the farm and got answers and then again counter offered. Had more paper work drawn up...

Our youngest daughter was going to be turning 10 soon. She was all excited about that. Then she came down with a cold of sorts...

the end of 2016 the start of 2017 2

Winter was coming to another end and we found another pressure on us to find a farm. Our neighbor wanted to sell his place, the land the cows were on, in the summer/fall of 2017. We knew something big was going to happen one way or the other.
We had no idea what was coming down the road next...

 Matthew told me one day that he was ready to look anywhere for a farm. And by anywhere he meant in the United States! Whoa. What? He said he was open to where ever God wanted us to go, and would be happy there. I was shocked, but glad. He asked me if I felt the same way. I said yes. Time was running out.
So that changed the whole look and perspective for me looking for farms. We actually looked at places down in the Virgina, Tennessee, Ohio area. Some things we did learn was that you have to live near an already Organic Valley Dairy farm in order to secure a pick up. Good to know. We also learned that the milk market was in the tank. Pardon the pun there. Another stress. Also we stopped any further looking in other states when we learned that we would for sure loose our spot on the OV truck if we moved down there. They had a different set up and with the market being bad, they wouldn't take us on. So it was Maine, or we sell everything and do something different with our lives...that was something else thrown into the mix...

We knew OV wasn't taking on any new members due to this fact, and we were wondering if we would make the cut. It had already been 2 years. But whatever came down the road we were ready for it. Praying we could still keep our spot on the OV truck that was waiting for us. And a business is not looking for dreams. They were looking for milk, and we didn't have any.
Let me rabbit trail for a minute...Yes our cows were at Simon's. Yes he is an OV producer. Yes he was milking our cows. So we sorta did have our cows on the truck, and were producers, and yet at the same time not. Because our cows were not at our farm that we didn't have yet! I know it's confusing and I'm trying to keep you straight. But how do you fit 2 years of your life into a few posts? It's hard. With that in mind we were on a high wire, and clinging to that fact every time OV called us. They continued to work with us.

We had looked at places, ruled certain areas out due to no other farms in that area. Then I looked into a farm that had been for sale for the whole time we had been looking. I had liked the price, the amount of land and the house. The one thing for me was the location. The County,(that is what Mainers call it up there) Yup. Now if you don't know what that is, it's way up north. Up near Canada. Called Aroostook County. Nothing wrong with it, but it's well over 3 hours from where we were. So begrudgingly, almost unwillingly I showed Matthew. We talked about it. As you may have guessed on our walks in the evening now that it was spring and could enjoy a walk. So many pros and about the same amount of cons. We prayed about it. We called our Realtor. She referred us to a different realtor in the county to show us. She wouldn't go up there! LOL. We called the realtor. We drove to see the place, with the kiddos, and Matthews parents...

Thursday, February 8, 2018

not what we expected

Life has a way of throwing you a curve ball now and then. Or maybe it's a roller coaster ride. The whole beautiful thing we call life. Not knowing, but planning what you want. Working for what you want.  Praying for what you want. Thinking your going one way, but suddenly life takes you down a different road. A longer road. And we had just had a huge curve ball thrown our way.
Thankfully Simon was fine with keeping our cows for a few more months while we were continuing our search for a farm. We worked out a deal with him for keeping the cows. For that we were  thankful. We hated the thought of having to sell them only a day or so after we bought them, thinking we would surely be buying a place soon...

We were tired and feeling a little down to be honest. Who wouldn't?  We were still looking in the same areas. Nothing was changing, except our frustration. My frustration. I was wanting to go anywhere. I started looking way out of the box we had put ourselves in. Matthew still wasn't there. Yet. He would look at them, but too far away.
Now don't think harshly of him. This town was his home for almost all his life. His family lives here. His grandfather helped start the fire department that he volunteered at. He helped start the rescue. Our kids were the 9th generation in this town. He is the Scout Master of the scout troop that our son is part of. I kept all that in my mind, but still looked all over. I don't have that connection that he does. I love my family, his family, my friends and church, I even came to love this little town. But I wanted a farm more then I wanted to stay in the same townish area.
I was restless. The kids were restless. Matthew was restless. Nothing seemed to be working out in the land of buying a farm.
 Matthew and I would go for walks down the quiet road in the evening. We tried so hard to talk of something besides buying a farm. But both our minds were consumed with it. Sometimes we would walk in silence for a long time.  I was feeling a huge tug on my heart about leaving the plot of land we had lived on for 18 years. Yup. 18 years we rented the same place. So many memories. The buildings are ours, but not the land. We tried to buy the land, but the owner didn't want to sell. But as always on our walks we would end up talking about moving. Going over and over the places for sale and counting each one out after talking about all the pros and cons.   If you know me at all or have followed my blog you know how much I love the sunset. I love to watch the sky change and turn into all shades of colors as God tucks the sun in the west behind the mountains and the color fades and changes and gets darker. It's probably my favorite time of day in the summer. The view was spectacular.  I would always tell Matthew that where ever we moved we had to have a sunset. He would always tell me "God has a place for us, and it will be more and better then anything we ever expected. It's just not for sale yet. But I know it's coming and it's going to happen just like that." And as he would say that last part he would snap his fingers, and then he would lace his fingers back into mine and we would walk.
With winter approaching and 12 head of cattle to house we were wondering where we would put 2 of them. We had no idea. The Matthew sold something on Craigslist and when the guy came to pick the item up they started chatting about farming. The man being a farmer also. When Matthew laughing said we had 2 cattle we weren't sure where we would house for the winter the man offered his cattle trailer for them. We gladly took him up on it and that is where 2 cows spent the winter, with daily access to the outside! Things have a way of working out.
After more months of looking and nothing looking like we were going to buy and another Oct 1 coming faster then we would have liked, and knowing another winter was coming...

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

a new start

 It's been a long time. Too long actually. But life has a way of happening at a fast rate of speed!
So here I sit with so much to say, so let me back up a small bit and fill you in. Grab a cup o joe and maybe some chocolate chip cookies. I'll wait. Maybe I'll get some myself....

Let me back up a little, and fill in some blanks I have left out over the years.
We have been building our farm since 2010 when we bought our first cow, Maggie.  Over the years we grew from that one cow to 12, (we raised some, bought some, and were given one).
We had wanted a place of our own for a while...and so begins the story of where we are now...

We wrote up a business plan that is 32 pages long and took 2 months to write, and got the finances in order. Then we went about getting a milk contract with Organic Valley. Getting a milk contract was easy.  We thought we could be milking by Oct. 1, of 2015, easy.
We had no idea how hard it was going to be finding a farm...
So the looking began, and as I would find some places I would email the them to my husband for him to look at. We wanted to stay in the area we were living in due to family, friends and church. If you've ever looked to move you know how time consuming it can be. Am I right or was it just me? Maybe it was due to the amount of land we needed to actually farm or the location, or the timing. Farm land is hard to come by where we live.
We kept our circle of towns rather small. The amount of land high and the price had to be right. I will say I looked at everything in every price range. There were some beautiful places that were for sale. I would giggle and show my husband a beautiful farm and say "Don't look at the price, just look at the front door." Do you know that commercial? It was a Zillow one. That was always fun. Until it wasn't fun anymore. I looked and looked. We drove by some places. We kept looking. Farm after farm. It was not to be. Every place we looked at was a hard no. Why?
Well mostly due to the barns, or lack of one. Barns roofs falling in, cement work is ruined due to the hard Maine winters,with no cows in them, settling of walls with no cement, the types of barns where the manure is under the cows in the "basement", which hasn't been allowed per Maine law since the 50's. Or the barn was so bad off and not what we needed was we would have to bulldoze it under and rebuild. Yikes! Our Realtor was great. She would send us some farms  and we would look them over and go see the ones we thought were something we could make work.
We wrote letters to some farms that were no longer being farmed and asked if they were interested in renting or selling us their farm with all our contact information. We got one letter back saying they were not interested at the time, but wished us well in our pursuit of looking. We thought that was nice.
Well, Oct 1, 2015 came and went. No farm. But we still had our contract. And Organic Valley would prove to be something really good to us and for us.
In the mean time we kept on living our daily lives, farming, home school, cooking, cleaning, working, you know the usual. Still looking. Still praying.
Then it hit us one day, why not send another email to the man who lived in the next town over. He had a beautiful farm, and he had said that he wasn't interested in selling, but he was getting older and tired. So why not? So we did. He emailed us back and wanted to meet us! Oh can you even?! We thought! This was late winter 2016.
We piled the kiddos in the van and went to meet him, and see the farm. We talked, and he showed us the barn and the land and the house. We got on well. Things were looking good. We met his nephew who he farmed with. He liked us too. We liked them all. He even said he'd be willing to make the house bigger and update it to better suit our family of 6! We never asked, or said anything about the size of the house. Living in small spaces is what we were used to. This was all happening so fast. We left later that day with our heads spinning and so joyful. He was going to work up a contract/lease agreement for 3 years with the  reassessment at the end of that time about the possibility of buying the farm. We had the potential of milking cows by the end of May!
Of course we had to call our families and tell them the good news!
Then to top it all off we got a call from a local farmer friend who had found some local certified organic cows that would be calving in late spring. All the certified cows we were looking for were way out towards Michigan. Things were falling into place.
Matthew went with Simon to see the cows the next day. The man who had them wanted them gone and was selling them the following day if we didn't buy them first. We bought 10. Not the beautiful Jerseys that we wanted (yes we love the Jersey breed), but Holstein/Jersey cross, and Belted Galloway Cross. But none the less certified organic and going to be milking! Simon told us we could keep the cows at his farm for a while if the organic papers were a little long in coming before we could get them to their new home. If you don't know organics here is a little FYI, you can't move a certified organic cow to land that is not certified or they loose their certification. The land was certifiable, but it takes a little while for all the paper work to go through the offices. Make sense?
We called Organic Valley and told them the good news, and were working on a start pick up date with them. They were waiting for the call.
Well the weekend came to sign the rental papers! We excitedly piled into the van again, and went with the papers we needed them to sign. This was it! We got to the house and the man had us sit at the kitchen table, and had the kids watching a movie in the next room, his nephew was there as well. He had no papers. We looked at him waiting. He sat down and looked at us and looked down at his hands that were clasped together on the table. I remember my heart was pounding in my ears, and my hands were clasped together in my lap as I was looking at him. I was sitting next to Matthew. I looked at his wife and his nephew, and at him again. He looked at us and said something like...
"I don't know how to tell you other then to just say it." He paused. "I'm sorry, but I just can't rent you the farm. There are family members who are not wanting to share this land, and who want to keep it. And I already promised my nephew that he has first rights to it, and he's not wanting to rent or sell."
My heart sank. I was shocked. Matthew was shocked. He cleared his throat and shook his hands and said something like
"OK. I understand, and can appreciate your honesty. Thank you." Somehow all walked out of the house and piled back into the van.
The kids had no idea what had happened as he told them. Some cried. I felt numb. And confused. And totally disappointed. Then Matthew and I looked at each other and he smiled at me and said
"Well there. Good. It's not where God wants us. I'm disappointed, but I'm ok with this. He has something better in mind."
My world felt so much better hearing him say that to me. I think the kids did too because soon they were chatting about something as we were driving down the road to tell Simon what happened because 10 of our cows were headed to his house.