Loving Farm

July sky at Loving Farm

We have almost had our new property for 4 months now and overall, it has been wonderful.  The pandemic sucks, the racial injustice in this country persists like the plague, but we are grateful to have the distraction of what we call for now, Loving Farm.  If you are not familiar, the Lovings were the couple who fought the state of Virginia to be allowed to marry in 1967.  They were a mixed race couple, and at the time, it was illegal for them to be together because of it.  When the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling passed this June, it was clear that we should name the place after them.  

Our current projects at Loving Farm:

Building the duck run

It seems that due to the pandemic, I may not be going back to work for a while, and we really want to be there more right now, so we are building the Fresh Eggs Daily  inspired poultry run so we can move the duckies out there.  All of the posts have been sunk into concrete and we have some welded wire on deck to start wrapping it up with.  We just need to keep these duckies alive here in the city so they get to hang out there when it is finished.  Although there are 4 acres of land there, we think it is best to make them a predator proof run to hang out in to keep them extra safe from all creatures who find them to be so delicious.  

New windows. 

We sold our souls a couple of weeks ago to have a house full of windows installed at the house.  Is it expensive?  Hell yes.  Will we be able to open every window so our friends and family can visit during pandemic time and have adequate airflow?  Hell yes.  Right now, without air conditioning, the house actually stays relatively comfortable with only being able to open two doors and turn on some ceiling fans.  We have not even tried to open any of the windows that are there.  They might fall out!  All of the frames are very rotten and yes, we know how to replace them, but this is one area that a professional can handle.  We could not even find the quality of the windows we are getting anyplace else, and lets be realistic about the time it will save us as well.  Having these new windows will be a real game changer.  

Propane, the clean burning fuel! 

We are all set up with a new full propane tank.  The guy who installed it even got us down from two tanks to only needing one!  The other company still needs to come get the old ones, but we are ready for winter (for the most part).  He even fired up the big furnace in the living room, which we honestly did not even know would still work. 

Brand new tank, full for the winter

Hot and cold running water.

  All of the plumbing in the house is replaced and we have a brand new hot water tank.  Saying we are mostly ready for winter, we still need a plan to make sure the tank stays warm in its spot underneath the house, where there is no direct heat.  

Ripped down a deck. 

Perriee took the back deck down while I planted some wildflower seeds that we bought from American Meadows and other plants that were gifted to us by a friend.  The deck was not safe, and we can’t wait to rebuild it! 

That pretty much sums up our progress over the last four months.  Toss in some mental anguish from the pandemic, working to keep the Black Lives Matter message alive, the regular 9-5, phone banking for Charles Booker, and taking care of the city house, and it really looks like we have been busy.  

Homework: Have one difficult conversation.  

Speaking up for what is right is not easy but this is not the time to let it wait.  In the last couple of months I forced myself to have a couple.  My goal is not to change someone’s mind about racial injustice, but to speak up about it.  I cannot take responsibility for someone else’s point of view, but i do have control over sharing my thoughts, especially with people I care about who I do not want to be left behind on the wrong side of history.  My goal was to ask for an ear to hear me and to do my best to listen to their words in return.  Think about it.  If you can get someone to hear you, no matter what, even if they openly disagree with you, they HEARD the words.   It is impossible to UNHEAR them.  They will think about it.  It could help.  However small the needle moves, we have to keep pushing it.  The Lovings did, and I would not be married to my soulmate today, were it not for them. 

Our pandemic best-ish, while working hard.

April Fools!

April 1st 2020 was one of the best April Fool’s Days I think we will ever have.  This was the day that we closed on our new farm in Ewing, Kentucky.  In the middle of a global pandemic, we bought a 4 acre property that sits in between a rushing creek and an old railroad track! 

At the time that we were notified that we were actually moving forward, it was soon after I injured my hamstring and we were freshly going into this new normal of “social distancing”.  I have to admit that, initially, I was not too excited for the news.  We had been in the process of buying the property since Christmas, and we had basically resigned to the fact that it was never going to happen.  There was so much back and forth about the value of the home versus the loan being approved and we did not even know if we would be given a loan.

Perriee and I have a great way of altering our long term plans, based on the current goings-on of life. We already had about 3 different ideas of what to do if we did NOT get the house and we were getting excited about it. We then we got the call, a week after working from home full-time due to a pandemic, that we were about to buy a second home.    Everything was so uncertain.  We both felt like our jobs were secure, but I just could not imagine a bank being willing to move forward with a loan for a second home.  But they were ready, so we leaned in.   

We both took the day off once we confirmed that we would not be doing the closing remotely.  I sent a quick email prior to the day, just to make sure that we would at least be doing the social distance thing.  Our mortgage lender was already on it.  The seller was scheduled to get there after us, in order to stagger our exposure to one another, which really made me feel better since he is in the “mature” stage of life.  When we got there, we called from the parking lot so we could be let into the bank.  The lobby had already been closed to foot traffic.   Our lender’s office had a folding table set up at the end of her desk to increase the space between us and her.  It was super creative!  We brought our own pens, but she had some throwaways ready for us.  We brought masks with us, but we ended up not wearing them.  It was April 1st and we did not want to be the weirdos, even though I wanted to wear it.  The last thing I wanted was for us to potentially be the ones to bring coronavirus to Flemingsburg, Kentucky.  

After signing our paperwork, Marcus, the seller, arrived and was set up in a totally different office than us to sign his paperwork for the sale.  I chatted with our realtor for a few minutes when she stopped in for some last minute signatures and it was hard to not hug her for sticking with us through the process!  When Marcus was done, he gave us a key to the house.  He told me that this day was hard for him- it was the day he sold his childhood home as a final chapter to his parents’ lives.  It was special to be the ones to be on the receiving end of that day, since Perriee and I have the best intentions to do that property justice in its rejuvenation.  We tried to communicate that to him on more than one occasion.  As we were leaving, he told us he wanted to show us something about the water over at the house that was just repaired, so he met us over there to give us the rest of the keys.  

Marcus was our first guest at the house.  He stopped over from his brother’s house (from across the tracks) when he saw us pull up the driveway, gave us the rest of the keys, and kindly showed us where the water meter was (which happens to be on the other side of the creek).  He did not need to do that, but he did.  He also shared that he was happy that we were the ones who bought the house, as opposed to another family from out of town.  That was super special to hear as our initial “welcome to the neighborhood”.  

The grass was freshly mowed, and we took a quick tour of the house, before heading back home.  We totally had a jumping up and down and hollering moment, then Marcus came back to ask about the electric bill (I had already set it up to be transferred).  I wonder if he heard us celebrating!  I hope if he did, he found it comforting.  

It has been a little more than a month since we closed and we are so excited to be sharing this next chapter of life with all of you.  Each time we go we love it more and more and have already interacted with such wonderful people.  The feelings we get there are already so warm a fuzzy.

Homework: Be Flexible

I have heard that our perceptions of difficult situations is really what allows us to be happy in life. We can’t wait for perfection because I am afraid it will never come. Lean in to whatever is happening at the moment and find the way to make it the best.  We love getting excited about things, and during this process we got excited about getting this house, then excited about not getting it, only to be stoked to be cleaning it up and getting ready for the first renovation projects after we got the keys. I know I am preaching to the choir, but nothing in life is predictable; go with the flow, and learn to love the free fall (credit to Karen Kilgariff’s therapist for a similar explanation of life).  

The Party Barn

Silver Linings, Lemonade, Cup Half Full…

I am not going to lie: the last several weeks have been super heavy.  Things have peaked with plumbing issues, keeping the ducks safe and healthy, waiting on the closing date of a property we may or may not accrue, along with trying to coordinate our move away from Indiana.  When someone talks about the walls closing in, I think I can finally relate. In the middle of it all, of the stress, anxiety, and worry, I keep finding rays of light to remind us of the good things in life.

We broke down the tipi last weekend and it is all ready to move home to the city.  We were hoping to be able to move it to a new place and get the canvas all aired out, but we are not there yet, and don’t even know if we will be there, so it is all coming home to the city. Initially, we were pretty disappointed because we had hoped to only have to move the tipi once, but the universe has other plans.  

One of my two amazing brothers and my amazing sister came out to help us take her down.  It was so awesome to see the tipi in its bare state again with all of her bones exposed to the air.  Surprisingly, it was actually pretty easy. Four people and two hours was about all we needed to get it all broken down and prepped for the move.  We celebrated by having lunch at Jack’s Place on the way home. They make homemade carrot cake and peanut butter pie (which we snagged the last piece of).  

We weighed our options between driving a truck ourself versus paying movers and we ended up settling on Two Men and a Truck, ordered a 26 footer, and called it a day.  Let me tell you, it was worth it. Let’s look at a quick list of why:

  • Successfully pull up the steep, precarious driveway, without getting stuck in a ditch at the bottom, and get out without incident.  
  • Pick up and move the picnic table 
  • Move the cast iron wood stove
  • Successfully pull up our steep hill, park and unload said items above, and drive out of the neighborhood without hitting any cars.
  • Moving tipi poles alone, in order for us to get a smaller truck would have cost between 500-700 dollars.  

The poles look pretty cozy in their new spot, and the things we moved into the city don’t feel at all overwhelming in terms of volume.  The backyard shed is pretty full at the moment, and we have a very large pile of tipi canvass in our basement/family room, but it is ok. We have turned the page, officially.  The sick feeling that I have had in my stomach for the last year, everytime we went there, is gone. That feeling would start towards the end of the ride to get there, until we unloaded everything and were settled at our spot, by the tipi.   Whatever the origin of that feeling was, it does not matter. It was not serving a purpose to enrich our lives so it needed to end. And it feels so good.  

Homework:  Look at how full your glass is and enjoy it! 

Now that we officially do not have to go back to Indiana, and have everything we own all in one place again, we are going to lean into the moment and regroup.  Although we still have a lead on a house, we don’t know if we will be getting it. Instead of worrying about that unknown, we will focus on the home we have and enrich our life here as much as possible.  We already have a list of projects we want to tackle, we have seeds growing for the spring, and are loving the extra time with the pets.  

Here is a quick list of our Northern Kentucky projects:

  • Build privacy fence along one side of the backyard.
  • Redo kitchen sink and install a door between the bedroom and kitchen (contractor please!)
  • Pour a concrete pad for the basement bathtub. 
  • Redo the basement bathroom area.
  • Epoxy the basement floor
  • Redo basement lighting
  • Tiny-house-ify the shed in the backyard? 

Being back in one place feels right at the moment.  In light of the whole mission of our lives to simplify and spend more time together, I think we are actually on to something! Yes, we are still excited about the prospect of the new property and have a ton of ideas about how to fit that into our mission.  But this time in limbo has given us time to reset and refocus what we really want. The cabin was amazing, but once done with it, we would still be in the same place we are at now. We would not have an alternate source of income, except maybe Airbnb in the tipi, which never felt right anyhow in light of the situation with the other family living there.

That time spent was not a waste.  We needed it to learn the skills that we will use in this next phase of life.  We grew closer because of it all. Now we reset and keep pushing forward. We are counting our blessings.  Yes, we have had a bit of disappointment in the last year or so. The true source of the “let-downs” is not failure.  The only real reason we have had disappointment is because we took chances. If you never take any chances, you cannot fail and cannot be let down.  We tried. And we will try again! 

We are simplifying.  We are Making Time for Tipi.  Our glass is half full of lemonade and it tastes so good.  

Kentucky Home

After we decided to move on from our Indiana life, we began looking around to see if there was any land within our financial reach that we could handle on our own.  Having spotted a couple of places on the “interwebs” that looked promising, we inquired about the ones we found online. The realtor we were connected with was really awesome at explaining what may or may not work based on what we were looking for.  One of the spots had a little cabin on it which coincidentally, was in almost the stage of build that our a-frame was in! Laura, our rep kindly let us know that the place it was in may not always be passable in inclement weather, and it was such a large plot of land that it might not be the best place for us, who would only be there on weekends.  She said that it would be very likely that folks would wander through when we were gone. Thanks and no thanks! 

Once we narrowed down the list, we set up an appointment to go look at a few of them.  The first stop was to look at a house on a little more than acres of land. It was explained to us ahead of time that the place needed some work.   I was expecting the worst and totally did not want to get my hopes up since both the price and the location seemed perfect. Surely, it would not be what we wanted, but it seemed like a great starting spot.  

The Farmhouse

About a week later, on my birthday, we took the hour and a half ride down the AA highway in Kentucky to take a look. It was a drizzly morning, but pretty warm for mid-December.  It was apparent from the landscape that were in Kentucky. The hills and rushing streams escorted us the entire way there. Our first glimpse of the property included a short ride up the perfectly level gravel driveway- a far cry from the steep, choppy driveway that we had to navigate each time we went to the cabin..  It was a dream! The house was white with a green metal roof- probably the same roofing material that we used on the cabin. Was this a sign? Once inside the house, we could see the remnants of years of history. Wallpaper and paneling lined the walls, old encyclopedias were stashed in the corner of one of the rooms and an old farmhouse staircase led to the upstairs.  

Nestled on a touch over four acres, the property lines were defined by an old railroad track on one side and a rushing creek along an open field on the other.  There was a barn with electric and water in addition to a mobile home and a couple of other “out” buildings.  

We had the pleasure of meeting the son of the previous owners, who had passed away not too long ago, but who had lived into their nineties.  He shared stories about growing up there and how they used to farm tobacco in the open field. His dad raised pigs in the barn. The feelings and memories were warm.  

After the tour, our realtor took us to see some other properties in the area, based on what we were looking for.  We saw some beautiful acreage with some spectacular views and they all had the ability to add electric and water pretty easily.  One of the properties even had an old log cabin upon it, which had been discovered when the owner started demoing the house. The wood, by our realtor’s account isn’t even around anymore; it is extinct! There was even an old stone fireplace with arrowheads embedded in the facade.  

All of the properties had no restrictions, meaning that we would be free to build, say, another a-frame cabin or put an amish barn on them.  They all had a minimum purchase of about 10 acres and had a nice mix of woods and open field. We went home with a top three but the farmhouse was the one that spoke the loudest, and in fact is still on center stage right now.  We made an offer!

Homework: Keep Moving Forward

Be ready to turn the page. You need something to look forward to.  Life is to short to mull over the past. Learn from it, but then move on.  

After we got home from looking at all of the different properties, all we could talk about was all of the things we could do at the farmhouse.  We could plant flowers, grow vegetables, host events, and do Airbnb. We can bring the cats, like right away if we get it! There is plenty of room for or family to sleep there with us when they come to visit.  The list just goes on and on! Leaving the cabin was a hard choice to make, but having a plan for the future that we can visualize is what really gets me excited!   

Keep searching for those things that make you want to get up in the morning.  Those goals are the ones that get you through a hard day at work or help you face a difficult situation that you would otherwise avoid.  Currently in this holding pattern, it has been hard getting through some recent weekends when I am missing working on challenging projects. To help me along, I ordered some seeds that I will plant at the new place and we have been dreaming up a storm about the things we can do at our little farm, if we get it.  That, my friends, is what got me up this morning. Stay tuned!

The Gamblers

We spent a weekend in Las Vegas not too long ago and it was ah-ma-zing!  The hotel we stayed at was Mandalay Bay in a gorgeous room. For thirty bucks a piece we scored a day pass in their beautiful spa.  Call me sheltered, naive, or uncultured, but in my opinion, it was magical. You got a giant robe and sandals to wear while visiting, along with a locker and all of the towels you could want.  There were greek or roman looking fountains spilling into hot tubs and a cold tub at the center of the spa, all surrounded by lounge chairs. We spent our time going between the dry heat room and the eucalyptus steam room, then to the cold pool to bring it all together.  

We went once in the morning to have a coffee and a sweat, then again before they closed after a day on the strip. It was perfect.  

Spa lobby, no cameras allowed inside!

We did not gamble that much, but threw a few dollars into some video poker, keno, and a Goonies movie themed slot machine, which at least gave you some extra steps to complete in between spins to extend your money a little bit.  

I ate some of the most delicious macaroni and cheese from the hotel room service menu and we left a half eaten plate of shoestring french fries because we could not finish them all!  What happens in Vegas… Our last stop of the night was to surprise some friends who got married that weekend at their hotel. We took the bus to Circus Circus, gave them a hug, then headed back to our hotel only to miss our stop and walk a mile back after getting to see the Welcome to Vegas sign.  

Perriee is the absolute best travel buddy I could ever dream to have.  We just have so much fun together everywhere we go. I know that anything that life deals out is automatically going to be easier and better if she is there to share it with.  

Saying that, I can now share that we are going to be leaving our spot where the a-frame cabin is standing.  Over the last year, it has become clear that although the exact spot where the cabin sits along with the tipi is absolutely magical, it is not the land that shines, but our energy when we are there together.  When we have thought about our future there and the things we want to do there, we have had some difficulty envisioning it in alignment with the what the other family might want to do in the future. 

We started poking around on the internet and have found that it might even be possible for us to find our own place.  I had not even considered that as a possibility since we started this journey over two years ago. Because of that, we are moving on.  We were at a point where we could invest a good amount of time and money into the cabin, but decided to first talk with the group about some things that have been weighing heavily on my mind for a long time now.  I have not mustered the courage to bring it up until now. Once the words were out it was clear what the best move should be, and it is, which is to leave. We are all adults and have found ourselves to be different in ways that just won’t mesh as a lifestyle and it is ok.  It is neither good nor bad. We are different and are all mature enough to recognize it. Things are a little raw at the moment, but I truly am looking forward to watching us all grow from this, even if it just through an Instagram post. I know Perriee and I feel a great sense of relief over it and I hope everyone else does too. 

We don’t have any regrets.  Our time there has brought us so much.  It has been one, very long, team building session for the two of us and we have emerged stronger from it all.  And it is not ending! We are still Making Time for Tipi.  That is not ending. In fact, it is very active as I sit here writing this post right now.  We can’t wait to take you on the next leg of the journey.    

Homework

Trust Your Gut:  Over the last couple of years I have found myself in some situations which were uncomfortable to me.  I am working on building up the courage to speak up for myself so eventually I was able to get out of them. The real practice is to have the ability to not get into those situations in the first place.  

As a child, I was constantly reminded to suck it up and deal with the situation at hand, no matter how uncomfortable it may have been.  My childhood was a bit of a roller coaster so I mastered the art of “grin and bear it” amidst some pretty heavy stuff. At the time, that was super useful.  I was a kid and had little control over decisions that were made on my behalf so a good survival technique was to make the most of a bad situation and keep pushing forward.  

In my new found forties (42 now, thank you very much), I am realizing that as an independent adult, I don’t have to just “go along” with things that I can literally feel eating away at my gut.  I need to recognize that feeling early on and learn to say, “no” with intent. For those situations that I miss the signs, it is imperative that I face the discomfort head on, and move away from it as soon as possible.  That is so hard for me!!

Life is too short to waste on negativity that is doomed to persist.  Whether it is a toxic person, relationship, environment, or whatever, we need to be able to see that some things will not change no matter what.  That takes courage to do and is super scary for people like me. Hopefully a lot of you don’t have this courage deficit that I have. If you do, just practice.  Put yourself first. Know that the feeling of the freedom from that toxicity in your life is so much better than the feeling of marinating in it. Save yourself!  

As 2019 comes to a close, I can say that I feel pretty good about how it ended.  Last year on New Year’s Eve I made a promise to myself to have more confidence. Good job me.  Leaving the partnership with our friends where our spot is, Camp Good Enough, was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done but it has already opened up a space for better things and I am proud of that.  

I don’t know what lies ahead, but I will make sure it is interesting.  Happy New Year everyone! Happy new decade!  

You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em 

Know when to walk away and know when to run

You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table

There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealing’s done

The Gambler, Kenny Rogers