I grew up on a farm in West Virginia as a kid. When my parents divorced, my mom, brother and myself ended up on my grandparents 40 acre farm outside of Pittsburgh.
It was heaven.
We lived for 2 years in a 2 bedroom apartment above the detached garage. Built into a hillside, you accessed the apartment by driving around the garage and attached shed, past the circa 1904 barn and outbuildings and up to the apartment. We were level with the roof shed, which provided ample play opportunities, including crawfish races that my friend Diane and I used to be delighted in partaking. We would catch the crawfish in the creek (crick) in the front and we would have to plunge our hands into the murky water filled bucket, risking getting pinched, and seeing who's crawfish would be the fastest down the roof.
The setup was tight, especially with a mother in a wheelchair, and I bunked with my mom, but I was never so happy as those two years. When our mom moved us to Florida, I was heartbroken and could not wait until suImmer vacation, when she would drive us north and leave us to our grandparents for the summer.
Grandpa had long gotten rid of the horses and sheep, but he had an arrangement with a local horse breeder who kept his broodmares in the pasture and the arrangement included Little Chief, a palomino gelding, for us to ride. Later, his crazy neighbor, Mr. Bridey, boarded a Shetland (Smokey) and a chestnut mare (Cricket) and we always had free access to ride anytime we wished.
From the day we moved to suburbia in Florida, a huge culture shock for me, I was dreaming of the day I could one day return to farm living. Pittsburgh, where I spent every school vacation until I graduated from high school, meant land to explore, shooting guns, riding, learning gardening from my grandfather, cousins and so much more. It defined who I was.
It took me 56 years...just a week shy of 57 years, to reach that dream.
I had bugged and nagged my husband nearly every week of our marriage. We did try. We listed our home 3 times over the years which resulted in no sale. In between, my husband was content to stay put. Our kids were in school, but eventually graduated. He had his business. He liked where we lived. I hated it. I hated the traffic, congestion, construction, you name it.
Last summer, our son was promoted with Siemens and that meant he and his newlywed bride would be moving to Phoenix. They would no longer be a mile from us, in Winter Park, Florida. Our daughters had already fled the state (smart girls!) and now there was really no reason to stay. In addition, the church behind our home had been sold and was going to be turned into a 4 story apartment complex. That was all the motivation my husband needed!
We planned on listing our home in the spring of 2020. We spent the fall sprucing and painting. I searched realtor.com weekly.
In the past, the most being 2 years ago when we had our home listed, we could not agree on an area to live. If I had my way, we would leave the state. But since that wasn't happening, I had ideas of where to go in Florida....preferably Ocala area. Being a self employed engineer, my husband had certain requirements, including high speed internet and access to a reprographics. I was adamant that we would not live anywhere that we had to worry about flooding and hurricanes.
We fought a lot that summer, as we could not agree on a location, all to no avail as our home didn't sell.
Suddenly things were different this time around. My husband agreed to look at areas that normally he would have dismissed....Altoona (home of Rocking Horse stables!!), Oklawaha, Weirsdale (Grand Oaks up the road from both areas!), Eustis and Deland!
By the time we were ready to list, the pandemic was getting under way and things were shutting down. We were either making a huge mistake or it would be a brilliant move.
It was brilliant.
We sold in one day, full asking and cash.
We bought a farm in De Leon Springs. Just north of my beloved town of Deland!
It is horse country with Spring Garden Training Center (standardbreds and a great place to get compost!) and Olympian Michael Poulin all up the road. Many lovely farms dot the landscape along the way. You are just as likely to see carriage horses as well as golf carts and tractors being driven on the road as you are cars. At Spring Garden Training Center, twice a month you can attend the farm swap and get mini pigs, poultry, goats and bunnies as well as compost, homemade jellies and plants.
We are truly in the country!
We settled on a gingerbread cottage (Literally!) and it was a big downsize for us (we went from 2600 s.f. to 1300 s.f.!) but we gained 3 acres and an incredible barn with 6 stalls.
We have been here for 9 weeks so far and it is amazing how much we have accomplished in the way of landscaping, fencing and pasture improvements and more. Secret came home 2 weeks after we moved in.....I will save that for the next blog entry.
Don't give up on your dreams.....they can come true!