Way back at the beginning of this blog I described The Dream. Yesterday one of my favourite bloggers, Jenna of Cold Antler Farm, (who is well on her way to fulfilling her dreams of being a farmer) asked us loyal readers about our own dreams. I figured it was time to revisit that post I made just over four years ago.
The Dream: 3 to 5 acres, under 30 minutes drive to a particular smallish town we have in mind (population ~ 35,000). A small house (< 2500 sq ft), preferably one-level, ranch style. A pasture for horses or perhaps other grazing animals. A barn with resident cats. A dog, or maybe two. A vegetable garden. Husband works at a job he enjoys, no more than 40 hours per week, and retires by age 55.
The smallish town we had in mind turned out to be a different town than the one we settled in, but we couldn’t be happier here in the Cowichan Valley (population 80,000 spread out over a region of ~ 3500 square km. or ~ 1300 sq miles). We are very close to all the things we need to do (10 minutes to “town”; population 5000) and yet out in a quiet rural area surrounded by forest and farmland. The house is hopefully on its way soon and it will be one level and less than 2500 sq ft. More recently added to the wish lists having it built with natural materials such as cob and/or straw bale with a timber frame skeleton.
We have a fenced pasture/paddock area for the pigs we raise each summer (about 1/2 an acre), and we’ll soon be adding a free-ranging area for this summer’s meat birds. We’re considering getting a couple of sheep to mow the lawn, provide fibre for my knitting hobby, and lambs to sell and eat. And if we can ever put a year round pond in here I’d love to have some ducks. We’ve ruled out goats because of their heavy fencing requirements and because I’m not interested in eating them nor milking them – the animals around here have to earn their keep (even if it’s just carting me around on their back, speaking of which….).
A future with horses is nearer than ever; I am riding again, which was always a part of the Dream even if I didn’t state it outright at the beginning, and what’s even better is Husband is learning to ride and loves it. If things continue as they are going I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up buying horses for ourselves within the next couple of years. Of course, as much as I love the idea of having horses at home, they do require a large amount of pasture space and at this point we are undecided as to whether it would be better to just board them nearby. I suspect my romantic side will win out on this one – I really, really want a barn! And we both have visions of saddling up and riding off our property onto any one of the network of forest trails that range for miles.
We did get a dog about a year before we moved here, and we got a cat shortly after. If not for our tiny mobile home and a lack of fencing we’d have more cats and probably another dog already. When there is a fully fenced property and a barn I think both those wishes will come true.
I have the vegetable garden, but it’s a rather half-hearted affair because I’m not entirely sure if the current location will work out after the house is built, so I’m afraid to do much more than grow tomatoes and whatever other veggies I end up tossing in as an afterthought in late spring/early summer. I have big plans for hugelkultur beds, a greenhouse, perennial polyculture gardens, etc. but the house needs to be put up first and then I’ll know where to plant fruit trees and invest in a couple years’ worth of soil building. I don’t mind waiting (the house is really a priority right now) but I would like to grow much more of our own produce in the future and build up a permaculture system here, of which the gardens are an integral part.
Husband got a job he enjoys; he founded a startup company with two partners and things are moving pretty rapidly there. The fact that he is so excited about what he’s doing is truly wonderful. Unfortunately, not only does it require a lot more than 40 hours a week, but it requires him to be living away from us during the work week. The reward for this sacrifice is that it could possibly mean a much earlier retirement than we’d originally hoped for (and building the house earlier than planned, too), so we are making the best of things in the hopes that it will all pay off in the near future. It’s honestly not that bad – one of the many unexpected benefits is missing my husband enough to be really excited when he comes home from work; not bad after 10 years of marriage!
So what are my dreams now? When Jenna asked that question I decided that really, I was already living my dream and the rest would just be gravy. I’m a full time stay home mum to my amazing kids, we are part of a wonderful homeschooling community, we have our own little piece of paradise nestled here at the end of our long country road surrounded by forest and visited by elk herds…sure the property needs work, it looks pretty unkempt most of the time, the mobile home is ugly and a bit too small for us all. But it’s ours and its affordable, and when I step outside in the morning and hear nothing but dozens of varieties of birdsong I feel that really, the Dream is already here.