The idea was mine, whether the other three want to give me credit or not. Long before Erika and Christian were married, I day-dreamed with her about how her dad and I would buy a building to house her veterinary office (she wanted to be a veterinarian back then) and we'd live in two separate apartments upstairs and Glenn and I would take care of her babies while she took care of people's pets. I pictured this building it downtown Whitefish, Montana. Glenn's and my apartment was on the north side of the building with the best mountain views (since we were fronting the down payment!) Hers was on the south. There was a courtyard in the center. I offered to be her office manager until babies came along for me to babysit (she declined) and I suggested her dad could handle the building maintenance (she accepted.)
Then Christian came along and looked like he was here to stay. The veterinary practice had turned into a chiropractic practice and I added a ground-floor restaurant to our plans because Christian had been day-dreaming about owning one. (One of our friends, Dale Wilson, suggested the name "Snacks and Cracks" for this enterprise which prompted Erika to remind us, again, "We don't crack backs, we adjust them.")
Over the next few years, I continued to day-dream. At some point along the way after Erika and Christian moved to Virginia and probably because of the inspiration of Soulemama's semi-homesteading blog, my day-dream morphed from a mixed-use building in downtown Whitefish, Montana to a piece of property in Virginia big enough for two houses where the four of us could garden and raise animals for (clean) food and wool for spinning and Glenn and I could live out our lives near our only child and her family.
I shared this new twist on my day-dream with Erika who took a liking to it and soon Christian was firmly on board. (Poor Glenn still isn't firmly on board and probably never will be but he is humoring me as I have humored him and his self-employed self for the last 31 years. He has, however, laid down one definite rule for the future: he will have nothing to do with caring for pigs or cleaning up any kind of poop. I have a feeling that includes the kind that comes from a grandchild.)
I day-dream but Erika is a woman of action. Earlier this year she started searching real estate listings and viewed several properties,none of which was quite right. Then she found this one outside Remington, VA and declared it was IT! She said the first time she stood in the house, she knew it was right and it was the house where she wanted to spend the rest of her life. Fortunately, Christian really liked it, too!
Glenn and I took a hurried-up trip to Virginia to check it out and after seeing it for the first time, I have to admit I wasn't sold. Then, that evening when we got back to Erika's and Christian's house and found TICKS on all three of us who had visited the farm (Christian had to work) I was even more skeptical! I mean -- a 100+ year old house, old septic system and well, wonky floors, overgrown property and TICKS! (And, at that point I knew nothing about the black rat snakes and the tree -- a freakin' tree! -- where they live.)
As the week went on and we drove around the countryside (and back and forth in front of the house like stalkers) the place started growing on me. The four of us had several heart-felt, serious discussions about what "throwing in our lot together" meant and there were even some tears. But then, the day before Glenn and I headed back to the west coast, for better or worse (or something!) the four of us signed an offer.
And, just like that, my day-dream had become a reality -- almost!
The tumultuous weeks of offers, counter-offers and final offers followed.
And, now all that is behind us and the property is ours! Erika and Christian have been living there for three months and, so far, have absolutely no regrets.
I'll never remember the exact genesis of my day-dream of living very close to Erika and her someday-family but I'm sure looking forward to living the rest of the story!
I was lucky enough to spend a week with Erika and Christian in August. Here are some photos from my visit.
|Many Virginians have told us how lucky Erika and Christian are to have black snakes living in the tree in their front yard. They do an excellent job of keeping rodents under control.|
|I read that the big ones -- 8 footers are very common -- are easily tamed and make decent pets.|
|They live in tree hollows (among other places) and drape their shed skins from the branches. Creepy, huh?|
|Bonnie and Bailey are enjoying their new digs. Baily looks like he's flying, doesn't he?|
|The property isn't zoned for a restaurant, but Christian has some other things to occupy his time. (Along with the deer stand Erika showed in the last post.)|
|The fence is made of cement. Erika will share the story she heard from the daughter-in-law of the woman who had it installed.|
|We did a lot of front porch sitting.|
|Christian gave Erika and me a ride in the bucket of his tractor. I was scared. The neighbors probably thought "Crazy Californians!"|
|A boy and his toy.|
|Erika is standing on Glenn's and my side of the property, Christian on theirs.|
|We need some pigs or goats to clear out the woods a bit.|
|One of the pastures Christian and his tractor have cleared.|
|The view from the front porch changes all the time.|
|Erika's dear friend, Linda, was there when we picked up the chicks from the post office.|
|Bonnie learning to be gentle with the chicks.|
|The "bonus" chick in Erika's order turned out to be a Transylvanian Naked Neck. He (or she) is supposed to be this ugly and naked. At first, Erika and I thought it was diseased. It is even uglier now that it's growing up and the cute has gone away.|
|There isn't a lot my girl can't do.|
|More front porch sitting, this time sitting and spinning.|
|A HUGE oak tree fell in one of the pastures shortly before we closed on the property. Erika and Christian contracted with Ferguson Portable Sawmill from Fredericksburg, VA to slowly but surely reduce the tree to usable lumber.|
|30 inches around!|
|The sawmill set up and working.|
|The result of a long day of work.|