You know the nursery rhythm about the old woman who lived in a shoe…. She had so many kids she didn’t know what to do? Well if that nursery rhythm was modern-day it would be about poor interstate 75. I’m sure like the rest of the South East, North East, South West, or United States, everyone is either comforted by the constant talk about Hurricane Irma or they are sick and tired of hearing about it.
For us here, we had a very personal involvement in it. Since I was born and raised in the sunshine state, and we as a family have many we love and care about there we waited like many residents, along with locals here who also had loved ones in harm’s way. We opened our home up to those who felt they needed to get out of harms way, and the joke was depending on how many came, all porches, stalls, and floor space was going to be accounted for. As we all watched the destruction tear through islands we as a family have spent a lot of time on, made memories while visiting, and left tiny pieces of our hearts on. We couldn’t help but be nervous for our hometown, our people. What an event like this does is show many people true colors, we see many thinking of others, and unfortunately we also see those who capitalize on the vulnerability of others. Our hometown of Tarpon Springs was spared for the most part, even though many lost trees, had some flooding, or have been without power, for the most part they were spared. Our friends in the islands, and the Keys were not.
This was a no name storm that blew through Tarpon Springs and flooded our streets!
Sunset from our house in Tarpon Springs.
As family and friends came to the mountains to escape the storm, bringing the essentials, their pets, saying goodbye to their homes their solitude for what could have been the last time, reflection happens. What are your top 10, what are your top 5, if you were told to leave get to safety, what are the true priorities. All those who fled with their pets, BRAVO, to all those who accepted the displaced evacuated pets BRAVO to you too! It is often said what I love most about my home is who I share it with. As many who are left with nothing but those special people in their lives, they can rebuild.
So what can we take away from this, here on the farm, I always try to look for an application or a lesson. We were all created with an innate resiliency, both animals and humans, one where for the most part we can bounce back, or react, or readjust. Dogs, that are not used to other dogs, during times of high stress can somehow get along in a dwelling with other animals. A cat that hates the car, can often times be aloof or sometimes grumpy, can ride for 12+ in a car, only to arrive at a farm with dogs, cats, and a slew of other creatures and handle it, even when being introduced to dogs. Children can handle not sleeping in their beds or even their rooms, they willing share it with someone they feel needs the space more for the time being. A house of 4, during times of need can function as a house of 9 or 10. Stress, emotions, lack of sleep, differences of opinions, discomfort, all are normal during times of high tension, but when it’s all said and done, knowing in any way you can assist those who need help in one way or another, you are willing and insist on helping.
As the death toll numbers continue to grow, as people continue to suffer in one way or another, remember it isn’t what we say, or sometimes what we even do but it’s how we make others feel that they will remember when these life stress triggers zap! Everyone is fighting their own fight, sometimes the fights are big sometimes they are small, but love covers a multitude.
Now here’s the distraction, I know if many of you are like me, sometimes we need one, a good chuckle or feel good story. In this case I will provide you all with a visual. A couple of weeks ago, our vet came to do an ultra sound on our little chocolate mini donkey Shawnee. Shawnee took one look at the ultrasound and with a look of you are going to stick that where, she took off running, her little legs moving as fast as can be. We thought it would be a good idea to use a lead rope to secure her from running again, as I looped it around her neck, she took off, with me attached wearing flip-flops and slalom skiing right out of the barn right towards the gate where she planned her great escape. I was not about to give up, but the faster she ran, and the further and further I was pulled and whipped, the harder I laughed, thinking this is why one does not wear flip flops in the barn, this is also why one does not use a lead rope without a halter and this is also why my life is always interesting. So with everything that everyone is dealing with right now in this moment, remember a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.
Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end. For the most part a good majority of people hate or detest change; in fact many people will admit change results in anxiety. Compound that with BIG change, and it can result in big issues.
I have always been the type person that isn’t afraid to try new things, my husband says he doesn’t like change, but I wouldn’t say it causes him terrible anxiety, just takes him a little bit to get use to whatever has changed. In fact, our whole marriage has been full of change, redoing and trying new things.
When we met and got married we each had our own homes, we both sold our homes and bought a new one together. It was only a few miles from both of our other houses, so on the scale it was a small change. We started our marriage with the remodeling of this home we purchased together. We completely redid the house and brought Dylan home from the hospital to this home.
A year later, we had another change we opted sell this newly remodeled home, for a home that was about 30 minutes from all of our families in an area and county that neither him or I knew anything about. I know as I type this 30 minutes doesn’t seem like anything, but to someone who lived in three different homes within a 5 mile radius of my parents home, this house was a HUGE change for us. We thrived after sometime, and made Lutz, FL our home for 9 years. We remodeled that house…. This was the start of a pattern, buying and redoing. Kayton was brought home from the hospital to this home, and we enjoyed getting to know a whole new area.
After sometime, and some family health problems with my grandmother, we decided it was time to move back “home.” Home for me was Tarpon Springs, FL, I was raised my entire life in that area, graduated from school there, and knew the town and roads like the back of my hand. We fell in love with a home that was in a waterfront community, in a serene gorgeous location. Being able to see the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and smell the salt air everyday was just amazing really. This home we redid from top to bottom, and really were thrilled with the results. It felt really good to finally be home, and although we never had any regrets about our move to Lutz this move back felt very right. We settled in and were living closer to our families again, the kids adjusted very well to their new schools they made some new friends, we weren’t too far from their “home” so we felt like we were in a good place.
After three years of finally being home, the bug for change bit my parents. You see we had been caring for my grandmother who was in the final fight with her battle with Melanoma, and after we lost her, they did a little reflecting and thought it was time for them to experience a change.
They had been in the same house for 34 years, my childhood home. They were convinced that a little town they had visited on that years anniversary was the town we were all going to move to. I on the other hand thought they were well CRAZY really. To say they were direct with their hints is quite the understatement, they first convinced the children, my husband needed very little convincing and he was on board, I on the other hand, I will say it again, I thought they were CRAZY! Why on earth would I move to a little town in Georgia I had never heard of, that was 1 hour away from even a Lowes or Home Depot. I WAS NOT MOVING! January 2016, we lost my beloved grandmother, and decided as a family to take a little trip to the mountains of Franklin, NC. A small town I had been coming to since I was a little girl. A town we had visited as a family before. My husband had designed a home that the client agreed we could come to, in order to just breath and decompress after a very emotional few months. When we arrived to this home, it was for sale, which caught us all off guard. At the end of this visit, I felt I had the best idea EVER! We would buy this home with my parents, and they could get their fix, they could become snowbirds, come to North Carolina during the hot Florida summers, and spend the winters in Florida, when my father retired. They really seemed to also be in agreement with this FANTASTIC idea, and we ended up making that plan a reality. We bought that mountain home, and redid it, made it a place that we would love to come and visit and share with others.
Now here is when things took a drastic turn. With every trip we took to North Carolina, to buy furniture, to remodel, to paint, to do whatever needed to be done to make this place our 2nd home, we left a piece of ourselves in those mountains. We would plan on staying a week, and we would stay 2, from January-May we were in North Carolina almost as much as we were in Florida and we started having really serious conversations about how much we LOVE the mountain life. My parents, then decided that really they didn’t want to go back and forth when my father retired. They really loved it in North Carolina too, and why not just sell everything in Florida and move to North Carolina. Now the reality of that suggestion didn’t sit well with me, I was torn. All I had ever know was in that sunshine state, yes we had traveled all over the place, but Florida was always the place we went home to, how can we just leave that behind. Jody was all for this move, he said he could work anywhere, that he always wanted to live in North Carolina, and that maybe it should be something we really think and talk about as a family. When the kids became privy to this idea, they were all for it, they had fallen in LOVE with North Carolina, but were also not wanting to leave their friends.
So what do you think I did, I mean I couldn’t fight 5 people who were all for moving personally, I had to show them this idea was just unrealistic and not a good idea at all. How was I going to be able to do that? Easy! I was going to start looking at real estate, I needed to show everyone that what we were looking for did not exist. You see if I was going to change, it had to be DRAMATIC. Nothing could resemble home, I had the ocean, the space, the town, shopping, convenience, and familiarity. So if this big move was going to happen, it better be worth it. So I found a couple of houses and got in touch with this savvy real estate agent Evan Harrell who unfortunately knew his stuff, and knew his town. After looking at some houses and finding nothing I had succeeded, this was a BAD BAD BAD IDEA! Then the words no one who is proving people wrong want to hear…. Give me a list of what you are looking for and if it’s out there I will find it. As I roll my eyes, and try to think of things I need like an elephant shower house and a llama petting zoo (for Jody of course). I also was curious and thought, if I give him a list could he really find what we are looking for? Okay, just for the fun of it here is our list:
1. I want an old farmhouse
2. We want at least 10 acres
4. Creek or River on the property
5. A place to build my parents home
6. Needs to have a huge kitchen
7. Minimum of 4 bedrooms
8. A view
9. Flat area to ride our horses we didn’t have yet
10. Good cell service and internet because of work
I mean it wasn’t that hard right? As we departed from the car, he said he would look up some stuff and asked if we could meet the next day. Well the next day we were suppose to head back, but what is one more day. I had a case to build here and needed to see that this place didn’t exist. When we met the next day, we headed out to two houses, which were both big belly flops. The pressure was off, what we were looking for, didn’t exist and I could stay in my coastal town.
As we continued driving, along a beautiful river, and rounded bend after bend, with one gorgeous backdrop after the next, we pulled into a gravel driveway with an old white farmhouse, big black barn, and one of the prettiest pastures I had ever seen. Most people would say they could hear a pin drop, I heard the kids squeal, and a few choice words going off in my brain. WAIT …. WHAT? Where are we? How did he find this place, I had looked at every house on Zillow and realtor.com this place never ever came up. To say the place was the checklist match, would be an understatement. Now inside the bones, the vision I could see it. Many others must not have been able to but I saw it, I saw how amazing this house could be, it needed to be restored, reloved, and redid. And you know what, I was just the person to do it. Within 24 hours, and one more visit to that farm, we submitted an offer. After some countering, discussions, pleading via a letter to the then owner, that 140 year old Farmhouse became ours. It was the beginning of our Farm, the continuation of our Family, and the perfect place to view fireflies nightly.
We restored this old house, reloved old things that had been covered up, and redid every aspect of our home. Moving was not a walk in the park, it was difficult, it was emotional, but it has been a welcomed change. I know what Evan, heck I know what everyone was thinking when we said we wanted to move up and have a farm. It’s probably a cross between the movie City Slickers and the TV show The Beverly Hillbillies.
But we are sure learning a lot, we have made this place our home, we have brought a lot of life back to this farm, have survived and flourished our first year here and quickly realized, “If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.”
A year later and wow the place is barely recognizable. We left our urban salt life behind in Florida one year ago and started our adventure with the purchase of a 140 year old farmhouse. As we arrived in our small Western North Carolina town, two kids, two dogs, and well let’s pretend just two Haul’s later, we never would have dreamed in just one year we would have been able to redo, reconnect and recreate a new reality for ourselves.
We have been able to expand our barn, the farm, and our hearts. We have added more life to the rolling pastures, more braying, neighing, clucking, and singing. Why now would I share a look into our life here? Well because we figure there are more people out there just like us. People who think they want a change, a big change. People who leave behind everything they have ever known for something different, something really different. We left the salt life for the farm life. It hasn’t been easy, but I can guarantee it has been amusing to many, including ourselves, as we have struggled at times with this new life of ours. So if you are looking for some encouragement to try something new, some advice on what to do or not to do, or you just want a good laugh. Stay tuned…..