Farm Life, Uncategorized

Catching Up

View from the driveway

“Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the action stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.”

Anais Nin

10 years ago, in 2013, I began to dream. My dream was of a farm, and all the possibility and richness I thought that it might bring my family, as my children loved the outdoors and animals, and I wanted so much to bring this to them. To slow down. To have a simple life. To homeschool my daughter, or as she used to call it attend “Agriculture School.”

I held on to the hope of that dream for 10 years, and on April 1st of 2023, after many a winding and unpredictable road, I received the keys to a beautiful old farmhouse on a small acreage not too far from the city I grew up in, and my children were born.

That moment, that key, wasn’t the result of holding on to a dream alone. It was the result of continual forward progress. Of not giving up. Of not allowing circumstances, like divorce, being underpaid for the area we live in, or an insanely high rental and real estate market to determine the outcome. I did not give up on the dream.

Aaron and I have talked about “a farm” since we met. We talked about where “a farm” might be, would it be out east? Out west? Up north? Or…just outside the city where we live now? Theses chats were always about the farm he one day wanted, and the farm I one day wanted — not “our” farm, but “a” farm. How many acres? How many bedrooms? Would we rent or buy? What could we afford? It turns out, not a whole lot. The choices closed quickly once we were brought down to earth from our day dreams, and we decided to put the talk about farms away until “the future”. Really, who even knows what might happen.

This past summer after our trip to Alberta, that changed from “a farm” to “our farm” and we set out making a list of all of the things we would want on our property. Next, came an offer from my mom to buy property together, which would make it more doable. Once the mortgage approval came, she shared that she wasn’t as ready as she thought to sell her house and move outside the city. Back to the drawing board.

Then, January 3rd, at our monthly check in and chat – Aaron and I went back to the drawing board. I was frustrated. I felt like we just wasted months of time to be no further ahead. Out of this frustration we decided to get into action. What would it take to actually find a farm, and secure the rental, to move by Spring?

It turns out, with a mindset on manifesting my dreams, and daily conversations with people we know, checking rental boards, and making open house visits – not that long.

We visited a few farms in our price range, a very modest amount (truly unreasonable) in this market and neighbourhood, and found that nothing was close to suitable. We were looking at run down places with promises of repairs, next to no land unless we paid a premium on top of the rental rate for the house, and places a bit too small for our combined 3 – 4 teenagers (funny thing to say, but my son is going to be 19 next week and will have more of a guest space than a bedroom as he’s been living away from home).

Then, it happened. I saw a beautiful listing in my saved section of Kijiji. It turns out I had saved is a few months beforehand, and it was one that I loved the look of but wasn’t remotely in our price range. I would visit the listing and wonder, could we at least look at see if a farm in this price range would actually provide all of the things we were looking for? So we could then understand what we would have to earn in order to reach our goal?

Well, I reached out, and made an appointment. The owners were doing an open house showing, and many people came to visit the property one after the other on the same day. We were just one of many, but they took the time to walk us around the property and share the history. It was a farm that was in their family for many years, the owner and her sister grew up there, and their aunt before them. This property wasn’t like the others we had visited, owned by realtors hoping to flip the property as an investment. This property was something very special.

Next we went inside. We were in love with the spaces, but the house itself was worn down. Tiles missing in the bathroom, bricks missing around the wood stove, doors and floors scratched and chewed by the previous renters dogs. It would need a lot of work to convince teenagers that this place was their new home. But we could see the potential, it was as clear as the bay window in the kitchen that overlooks the paddocks and barn.

View from the kitchen window

We left thinking that this could be the place, “if only” it wasn’t about $2000 above our monthly budget. At least we had a better idea of what our budget couldn’t get us! My phone buzzed – it was the owner’s daughter who was handling the property applications sending the application along, and asking if we had any more questions. Well…I decided to take a chance and say “would you consider a lower offer?”

Never regret taking a chance, even if you fall on your face; It’s better to know you tried and failed than to wonder the great “what if?”.

Devin Frye

To my surprise, she replied “yes, please send a proposal.” And so, that’s just what I did! “Normal” people might just send along a few sentences, maybe a couple of options – but I ended up using my Canva skills to create a unique document that shared not only what I was willing and able to offer, but the WHY behind it. A bit about who I am, and my desire to create a new home for my family and my business of supporting other families.

Inside the barn

I hit “send” and let go. This is a practice that I have been doing whenever I had a desire to see something workout. I remind myself that no amount of control, or want will get me there if it is not meant to be. That I am guided by the universe, and so if it is meant to be mine, it will be.

The following day I received an email back, they were interested and wanted to meet! I could hardly believe it, but we set a date and time, and met to discuss more about what this plan could look like, and what we could offer in exchange for lower rent. I was asked to create a detailed plan, and send that in. Next step – develop “before and after” shot of the house (which needed quite a bit of work) and share those details.

The house

Finally – after a few days of not hearing anything back – we got the call – “we are ready to sign a contract, and want to meet one more time to review the offers.” As it turned out, they wanted to get contractors in to add a second bathroom, paint the whole house, re-do the floors, fix broken windows. Aaron, having his own business drafting renovations and additions, submitted the design and the washroom would be built. We would work with the landlords on weekends to do the other things like remove wallpaper, repair walls, source and shop for items we needed to get the job(s) done. It turned out way better than we had hoped! And with that, we signed our lease, and promised to work diligently on the outside of the property (which also needs a lot of work) during our stay, taking care of the property that was once their childhood home.

More to share (including before & after shots!) in a future post!

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