We spent the first 5 years of our married lives living in urban settings. Two years ago we moved to Suburbia. I’ve planted a couple of small Square Foot Gardens, done my fair share of weeding around the property, but that’s really it. The landlords pay a gardening service to mow the lawn. Husband claims to have farm experience, but as I have yet to see him so much as pull up a weed in our yard, let alone hammer a nail into anything, I’m going to reserve my opinion on that for now.
The other day we went to view a 10 acre property, and I found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed by the size and scope of it all. I realized that there was probably a lot involved in maintaining such a place, and also realized I had no idea what that was. It’s one thing to dream of life on an acreage, it’s another to be a city girl who, while quite familiar with the routine of caring for horses, has no idea what goes into tending land.
So Husband and I came up with the idea of “the Starter Acreage”. A couple acres on which to practice. A smaller step on the way to Big Land (okay, those of you from true farm country will laugh at thinking 10 acres is big, but humor me please). In thinking about how to transition from suburban life to country life I was struck by a light bulb moment in which I realized that it was the same thing as trying to Simplify one’s life, to make greener choices, etc.
For some people the idea of having to rework the way they do things can be overwhelming. In blog after blog the authors (including myself) stress the importance of doing it one step at a time. Pick one thing, one small thing, like bringing cloth bags to the grocery store. Just do that until it becomes second nature, to the point where you don’t even think about it anymore. Then pick another step, for example replacing all paper towels and napkins with cloth, or switching to vinegar and baking soda for your household cleaning. If you pick one thing at a time you won’t get overwhelmed, and each step will feel “normal” before the next step, so that you don’t suddenly feel as if you’ve lost your way altogether.
It occurred to me this would be a great strategy for starting farm life. I’ve got the dog (and having grown up with dogs it wasn’t a huge change). I think the first thing I’m going to try are chickens. I’ll wait until I’m really comfortable with them and their place in my daily life, and then perhaps we’ll move on to something else. Ultimately I’d love to have a couple pigs to raise for our own meat, goats for milk and lawn-mowing, and one day horses for sure. Maybe even a couple of cows. Who knows? But if I try to think of it all at once I get a bit freaked out. So thinking about doing it in small steps makes sense to me and takes away the fear.
The reason this issue has come up is because we are considering moving our land search elsewhere. While throughout this blog The Dream of getting a small acreage has not changed, the specifics of where that acreage would be have. When we officially started looking for a place a couple of months ago we were going to stay around the perimeter of the Big City, about an hour’s drive from downtown. This limited us to a 2 acre property, as anything more would just be too expensive for us. However, we have recently started to consider leaving this region altogether and moving 200 km away. I’ll present more details if/when we make the final decision, but in this new area land is considerably cheaper and we could get 10 acres for the same price as 2 near the city.
However, we have decided to focus our search on 2 acre properties in this new region for three reasons. First, the cost (and therefore the risk) is minimal. We’d be paying the same or less for such a mortgage than we currently pay in rent. If the market tanked or we felt we just had to go back home, we’d not be losing “everything”. Second, it would give us a chance to really get to know the area and find just the right “big acreage”, one we feel we can be happy with for years and years to come. That’s not a decision to make in haste. And finally, it would be the perfect “starter acreage”. The dog would have room to roam (and I’ll likely get another dog), Daughter can finally have her barn cats, I can have my chickens and Husband can have his geese (he’s got a thing for geese). And it won’t be so much land that we are overwhelmed with how to care for it (I plan to learn how to mend fences!).
Husband and I have set a deadline of March for the move (we have to give notice here, so this is based on finding something by Feb 1, which may or may not happen but we’re going to try hard to make it so). I confess I am getting VERY impatient but I think I can hang in there for a few more weeks…So here’s to the Starter Acreage, and an exciting new dimension to our search!