It is humorous and slightly embarrassing to report that we have not yet reached true minimalist status, as evidenced by the numerous full-to-the-brim van loads we moved to our new place two weeks ago. After each round we said, Shouldn’t be many more trips left, now! The good news is, the moment we brought in our final load of stuff and found ourselves having to squeeze around things to move through the house, we started yet another to-go pile, having realized that many items did not warrant storing and moving again. The paring-down process continued over our first week in the new house until the small quarters felt spacious.
The move to The Farm feels so right, so in alignment with where we want to be, despite some inconveniences, including a separate bathroom across the lawn. Yet even that feature has a certain appeal, reminiscent of retreat centers I’ve worked at with shared facilities, lending our daily ablutions a summer camp-like feel. We are getting very in touch with the amount of “waste” our bodies produce – only here it isn’t wasted at all; instead, mixed with sawdust and straw and allowed to sit for over a year, it provides nutrients as a rich, fertile compost to amend the soil around trees and shrubs. We have to think about what to do with it, rather than flushing it away and forgetting about it, and the completion of the nutrient cycle feels so right.
Another enlightening inconvenience of our new quarters is thinking about how our dogs affect our neighbors. Gone are the days of letting our energetic border collie out the door to roam the country on his own. It turns out, he can’t keep himself from chasing the neighboring chickens and ducks, so on the leash he must go. Which means we are responsible for taking him on two daily farm walks, as well as weekly trips to longer trails down the road. Our other “part time” dog goes occasionally ballistic on cars, small dogs, and cats, so she too is leash-bound and requires a lot of hands-on time to keep her happy (i.e. manageable).
And here’s where one of the joys of living on this unintentional farm community comes in: Though we’re only a five minute drive from town rather than the previous 20 from our old house, we now have 25 acres of fields, ponds, and shrub-enclosed paths to roam right outside our cabin door. Brilliant sunsets spread over the wide sky every evening. A blue heron frequents the pond down the hill. Birds singing in the apple trees that brush against the house wake me up in the morning. It’s an incredibly lush and beautiful piece of land.
And then there’s the communal aspect. Donovan’s sister, Rose, with whom we share our dog, Stella, lives right next door, and she can attend to the dogs when we’re not home and we can share food and goods and chores with little effort, being so near each other. While I tend the little garden in front of our house, I’m likely to chat with or at least say hi to a neighbor walking her dogs or grazing her horse or coming to the water spigot to rinse his pee-bucket. I no longer feel lonesome doing my yard work alone. And during our frequent walks, we encounter neighbors walking their own dogs or working in their gardens.
Though this is not our Forever Home, The Farm has many aspects of the kind of life we want to live, including community, nature, bio-diversity, beauty, and simplicity.
We see this lovely spot as a stepping-stone of sorts, a place to finish our shop and build our Tiny House (for which we will have to find another location once it’s built, per the county codes). Because of the temporary nature of our stay here, I have to remind myself to somewhat limit my investment. One of the reasons we left our last home was that, after so much investing in the house and surrounding gardens, we had to ask ourselves, Are we going to buy this place and stay here? Is this what we really want to invest in?
The answer to that question led us to the Tiny House Quest, and toward that reality we are determined to pour our energy. But keeping a check on my investment does not mean I won’t plant a garden, share plants and food, and cultivate connections with others I share this community with. I look forward to all of that, and more, while we spend our weekends designing and building our Tiny House dreams. With our interior and exterior space maintenance and our expenses greatly diminished, we have poised ourselves perfectly to get there.