One of my favorite movies as a child, and still even now is Mary Poppins, I can still sing the words to almost every song, and I always appreciated how Mary had a real way of making even the menial sometimes miserable chores seem fun and enjoyable. I also loved how she was stern when she needed to be yet she was respected and admired for it. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when they laughed so hard when visiting a friend that they ended up having tea on the ceiling. Who can watch that scene and not relate to all of the different laughs people can use, and it really shows how infectious laughter is.
Some people refer to laughter as medicine. Others say it’s contagious, however you refer to this outburst of joy, no one can deny how it is often necessary, sometimes spontaneous and really is chicken soup for the soul. I have found in life that when times are dark, when things get hard, the first thing that is usually missing is some type of joy, some kind of laughter. Laughing at stupidity, laughing at a joke, laughing at yourself, laughing alone, with family, or friends, is a blessing.
My family is laughers, we sometimes laugh loud, hardy, boisterous laughs that scare or catch others off guard, we have been known to get a case of the giggles at times when we shouldn’t and later when we think about it start all over again with tears running down our face.
Here on the farm we are surrounded by comedians, which perform stand up comedy routines, daily. Some are funny looking, some are funny acting, and some purposely do things to get a reaction from you. We are living many of the viral videos I see posted on social media, the videos of funny goats, crazy chickens, floppy clumsy puppies, or people who attempt something only to suffer great fails. Goats really do run and bounce off any and everything around them, puppies really do fall over their own feet, and people really do get drug in flip-flops attempting to hold still pregnant donkeys (okay maybe that video hasn’t gone viral yet). The term funny farm isn’t really a stretch.
I find myself in the barn, the pasture, the goat pasture, the coop smiling, not because the task is always enjoyable but because the creatures here at Firefly Acres are always ready to perform, ready to take something menial, or miserable and make it fun. The animals are Mary; they know with every job that must be done there is an element of fun. This is life isn’t for sissies, or for the faint of heart… it isn’t something where everyone can take the day off, or one person can handle it all. But when we don’t sweat the small stuff, when we work together as a team, when we find the humor, the chores become less of a chore, and the time we spend doing these chores go by faster. This is something that young or old can surely benefit from, laughter is an instant vacation, it can transport you to a place that on the outside appears normal, dismal, or nothing special, into a moment that is enjoyable, memorable, and treasured.
When my grandmother was in her final fight for her life, we were sitting around my parent’s house just existing together really. This particular evening she was up sitting in the living room with us, from an outsider looking in, this would be what many would define in the moment as an uneventful, maybe even a bad night. The details of what transpired I do not recall, other than my French Bull Dog comedian brother Harley got very excited about something and with that excitement came drool, and some how that drool found it’s way into my son Dylan’s mouth. What transpired after that was a sprint to the restroom with the dull sound of dry heaving in the background, we though couldn’t hear those sounds because we were laughing so hard, so loud, and with such gut wrenching force that Gigi almost fell off of the couch. We all needed that moment (Dylan will say he definitely did not need that moment) but that memory, her laugh, the look on her face, the uncontrollable tears that resulted are etched into my brain, and the brain of all those that were there on that night. I truly believe what is written there is a time to weep and a time to laugh.
When our friends and family come to the farm, we laugh, we enjoy one another’s company, we watch the comedians perform, we laugh at some who visits phobias, and we laugh till it hurts or until we can’t hold our bladders anymore. We create memories from time spent together. We take a break even if it’s just for a moment to laugh through our noses, because we love to laugh, loud and long and clear.
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.”
We have all heard the statement I’m a dog person, or no I’m more of a cat person. There is no denying that each have their own personalities, their own way of expressing themselves. Even within the cat or dog world each breed, or pet definitely has their own way of doing things. I always say I’m an equal opportunist when it comes to being a dog or cat person, according to recent studies I make up a small segment of the “pet loving” population.
Two years ago, we decided as a family, as I describe this cat, you will quickly realize this was not a North Carolina farm purchase, to get a certain breed of cat that was known for not being as aloof, one that was supposed to be affectionate and one that was going to be tolerant of being smothered by daily love from children, myself and dogs. We settled on a Doll face Persian or Teacup Persian. Yes I realize that isn’t the official breed and I’m okay with that. When we found old blue eyes, we quickly realized this little white kitten was not your normal cat. Sinatra was a dog-cat, would follow us around the house, would come when you called him, wherever we were he was, when company would come over he would come out and say hello and be at the door right next to the dogs to greet us. We also realized he was always watching us, almost supervising whatever we were doing. Old blue eyes quickly became the boss of the house, Sinatra the Supervisor. I will be honest until Sinatra all 6.5 lbs of him 4 lbs of which is all white fluffy hair came into our family I was a dog person, and even though he softened me, I didn’t really want more than one cat in the house, or in the car (yes Sinatra loved to go for rides in the car).
Fast forward to June 2016, our very first full week living in North Carolina. Our house was in full demo stage of renovation and we had just moved from Florida. Sleep was overrated at this point in our journey and the nerves were completely raw. For all of those that have moved you know what I am talking about, for all those who have moved out-of-state, it’s a different level, and those who have moved out of state with children and animals, yep different level of crazy. My children were trying to settle in and figure out their new place in their new state. My son Dylan was visiting at a new friends house, when an old VW Beetle was brought to his friend’s house to be restored, as the car pulled up and the hood was popped, out from underneath the hood ran one very small animal, laying inside was another small animal, beside two small dead animals. Now what was said, or not said I don’t think my husband and I will ever know, but what we do know is my son was “gifted” as a big ole welcome to the country this half dead small animal that they claimed was a cat. Now I was not for this, in fact knowing what we were dealing with moving, renovating, not sleeping, adjusting, why would I be for caring for a dying animal. But I’m an animal lover, plus the peer pressure, and the false promises of the children stating you guessed it, “Please Mom we will take care of it,” had me caved in pretty quickly.
I was told on the phone that this animal they were bringing home was a cat. This animal they brought home was no cat, this animal was an opossum cat. In fact I was so convinced that it was a baby opossum that I kept googling opossum babies and comparing the images I found to this thing Dylan brought home. People say baby anything’s are cute, the people who say that never saw this thing. But it was malnourished and very young and I couldn’t think of letting it go and die somewhere. So we goggled, (If you haven’t been able to tell Google has really given us valuable advise) “How to make formula for abandoned cats?”, and we immediately bought everything we needed to make her formula. We made an appointment with the vet who informed us this little calico kitten was a girl, that almost all calico cats are girls (this was new information to me that I have used and shared several times since) and that we saved her life, that she was probably only 24 hours away from death.
You know how you hear of people whose lives have been saved having a profound appreciation for those who saved it; well this little kitten had that. For an ugly, malnourished, wild kitten, she was expressive, happy, curious and so loving. It wasn’t long before Sammy Davis stole our hearts. Sinatra and her became fast friends, and we had the second member to The Rat Pack.
It wasn’t going to be long before the third member was going to find it’s way to the farm.
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…..