This is perhaps a little late for a New Year’s reflection but both Sheila & I have been down with a nasty bout of the ‘flu the past few days so we are behind on most things. We had a good Christmas with both sons and their families but after several days the majority of us got hit, one by one, by this powerful bug. It has been particularly discouraging for Sheila because she just got over a serious cough days before Christmas and now is coughing badly again. The rest of us are now better or at least improving.
There has been time, however, to reflect on the huge changes that we went through in 2015. At this time last year, we had announced our plans to leave the family home in Abbotsford and move to the farm that we had purchased with our family in Prince Edward County, Ontario. It is one thing to plan and announce a big move but it is another thing altogether to go through with it and experience all the changes; both the expected and the unexpected.
Thank you for following with us on the adventure thus far. Please indulge us as we go through some of the biggest changes, along with some of our thoughts and feelings:
- Selling the house in Abbotsford.
This was probably the biggest worry on our minds as we entered 2015. On the one hand, there were the emotions – it had been in Sheila’s family for 48 years; and on the other hand there was the reality – it was our biggest asset and the proceeds of its sale would fund the house building and farm development in Ontario. At Sheila’s suggestion, instead of worrying only about the price and timing of the sale, we tried to focus on praying for the new owners, that the house would be a good fit for them. In the end, it sold very quickly, without our even advertising it, and we were delighted that the new owners, Rudy & Tricia, were wanting to learn how to care for the yard and to send us the occasional picture. We have been pleased to receive a number of pictures and other items from Tricia. Thank you!
2. The move across the country
Lacking the tens of thousands of dollars needed to have movers come and empty our house and take everything to Ontario, it took quite a while to figure out how to make the move. In the end, the U-Box system worked quite well for us. Not only was it more reasonably priced but it allowed us to gradually empty the house in Abbotsford and keep things in storage until the move and then, on the Ontario end, keep some things in storage until our house was ready.
The actual drive across Canada went remarkably well. Having our son, Andrew, and long-time friend, Ted, help with driving the pick-up truck and car was a big part of making that part of the move a success and quite an enjoyable experience.
3. Building the house
We discovered that most things people say about building a house is at least partially true; it costs more than you think and takes longer than planned. But, to be fair, the extra costs were largely because of our choices and we did actually move in on schedule. Work continued around us until Christmas, however, and more needs to be done and we still have a great deal more to do ourselves such as painting window trim.
I am finding it important to make often the deliberate choice to enjoy what we have in the house and not think of the work still to be done on it nor to wish that this particular detail or that detail was different. People often say “contentment depends as much on choice as it does on circumstances” and that is certainly true when it comes to building a house!
Over Christmas, with Jonathan and family staying with us for five days and Andrew and family spending the daytimes with us, the house was full and well tested and we were pleased that it did rather well. The guest bedrooms were deemed to be comfortable and the size of the kitchen, in particular, was appreciated because often 3 or 4 people were working at once preparing meals or doing clean up. We also enjoyed having the big, unfinished basement to give the grandchildren a place to play. Much of the basement is being used for storage but we were able to create a fairly large childrens’ play area with a rug on the floor. They spent a lot of time playing down there, allowing for some more peaceful adult visiting and working upstairs.
4. The farm.
The house was priority in 2015 but, at the same time, we did make progress in creating some infrastructure for the farm. Much of the property is now accessible through a system of trails (see Beyond the pretty pictures and Pine trail), we have water for future livestock (see Farm Water and Farm water overflowing!) and we purchased a walk-behind tractor and attachments (more on that in a later post). The number of seedling fruit and nut trees in the orchard increased considerably in 2015 and it was wonderful to see how much the seedlings planted in 2014 grew this year (see Good growth season).
Now that we are in the house, we hope that 2016 will be a year of major farm development. We hope to have our first livestock sometime in the early Spring and Andrew & Colleen plan to move here permanently in May and begin acquiring and raising bees almost immediately.
I must confess that the amount of work to be done on the farm in 2016 sometimes seems to be rather daunting, especially now when the weather is raw and colder and I am still feeling somewhat weak from the bout of ‘flu. But it is encouraging to reflect on how much was accomplished in 2015. The saying “Step by step” often encouraged us this past year and I am sure that it will also in 2016.
We left behind good community in Abbotsford in the form of neighbours, family, friends and church and we knew that community would take time to replace in our new setting.
We had already met some of our neighbours here on trips to the property and found them to be friendly but were aware that it would take time to build strong relationships. Since arriving, we have continued to meet neighbours, both in the area of cottages at the north area of the farm around Andrew & Colleen’s house and on Morrison Point Road, near our new house. Even though it is early days and we have been very busy, we are encouraged by the warm and helpful reception that we have received from some of the neighbours.
We have also been encouraged to find a church, Emmanuel Baptist, that is beginning to feel like home. We appreciate that it is not narrowly denominational but instead contains people from a broad range of backgrounds. We enjoy the good preaching and worship and the fact that it is very involved in the community. It is more than a 20 minute drive by car but it has been good to learn that about half a dozen families which attend it live relatively close by in our area. We were also pleased to be welcomed by a group of families in the church, some younger and some a bit closer to our age, that have moved back to the land to start farming or would like to do so. We have not been able to be as involved in the church as we would like yet but are getting to know people and plan to join a Bible study group this month.
6. Big surprises so far?
- moving is hard work! Not only the actual physical move but changing licenses, insurance, bank accounts, doctors, dentists etc. has been a really big process.
- country living is not simple; at least when you have a well, cistern, septic system, sump pump, wood stove, tractor etc. to learn about and keep up and when you need to be looking into generators, hoop house etc.
- 15 minutes from town often seems like a long ways out. We don’t just zip out to the store very easily because it involves a 25 km round trip drive. Perhaps we will get used to the distance but for now we plan our trips carefully.
- Blogging has been fun! I never thought that I would be blogging. I just ain’t the techie type! But we have enjoyed recording our experiences for family and friends and your interest and comments have been encouraging and contributed to us wanting to continue. When we started, with Karen’s encouragement and technical support, we couldn’t have dreamt that we would have 40 subscribers and over 5,000 page views by the New Year!
Thank you for your interest and encouragement. Blessings to you in 2016!