Since I mentioned in February that we put our house on the market, inquiring minds have wanted to know why we’re moving. And y’all, I have been bursting with this news for months. Months! Now that it’s actually time to share it, I hardly know where to start.
Here’s the basic idea: we’re selling our house and leaving behind Daniel’s stable job and everything we know to move our five-person family into a 650 sq ft apartment on a farm halfway across the country. Daniel will be beginning a 13-month-long agricultural and livestock internship in September on a non-profit sustainable agriculture training farm in Texas and the rest of us will be relocating our writing, homeschooling, and general shenanigans with him there.
Since we’ll be living on the property, we’ll eat three meals a day together as a family (of farm fresh food, no less!) and Benjamin has already confirmed with the powers that be that he gets to be in charge of feeding the farm cats.
Why would anyone give up a stable office job with benefits and air conditioning to work for free in the cruel Texas sun? (And believe you me, that Texas sun is CRUEL.) Why would we move our three kids into a tiny apartment in the middle of nowhere almost a thousand miles from our extended families and free childcare?
It’s been a loooooong time coming, friends. About a year ago, we realized that while our life was full of things to be grateful for, it wasn’t the life we wanted to be living forever. An in-between season we had planned to be temporary began to drag out ahead of us with no expiration date in sight.For more than five years, Daniel has been working a full-time gig with good benefits as a software tester. But it hasn’t been his forever career.
We’re firm believers in doing work that you love. But we’re also firm believers in doing what you gotta do to provide for your family and we were grateful for being able to pay our bills.
Five years ago we planned for him to be there three years max. But the babies kept coming and the economy was lousy and it probably won’t surprise you that a guy with a degree in the humanities doesn’t see a lot of options on the horizon when he examines a still pretty rotten job market and has a family to support. And yet, each year he spent becoming more of an expert in software testing, was a year he wasn’t getting any closer to pursuing his passions–which are agriculture and writing.
To make things more complicated, in Tallahassee, the living expenses are high. We were barely scraping by, so there wasn’t any way to save for grad school or for a major career change.
We felt stuck and it didn’t seem like anything would change anytime soon. We were in no position to make progress on our dream of buying a farm, nor did we have the expertise needed to make farming a successful endeavor.
While on a long road trip to a friends wedding, we got to dreaming. “What would life look like if you could do a job you loved? What would be your ideal life?” I asked.
“I’d want my own farm. And I’d want to not be away from the kids all day, everyday. I would want us to eat all three meals together and be part of their education. I’d want the work I was doing to be valuable, not just because it was generating an income, but because it’s good in and of itself.”
We talked and we dreamed. We discussed various arrangements that would feel more balanced for our family. While we long ago rejected the idea of both working outside the home full-time (barring unforeseen financial difficulties–because you do what you gotta do) we also don’t believe it’s ideal for either of us to be away full-time.
Both of us want our lives to be centered around the home. And we both have passions beyond homeschooling and caring for the house and the children that we love to pursue. For us to share the domestic duties, homeschooling responsibilities, and paid work is the stuff our dreams are made of. I love staying home with our kids, but I also love to have a few hours a week dedicated to my writing and freelance work. As things stand, we feel off-balance.
But we didn’t know exactly how we would ever get to a situation that more closely mirrored our dream life. The first step would be getting farming experience and discovering whether owning a farm is even something we would love doing. But how do you DO that when you’re working full-time making ends meet? Our backyard chickens and rockin’ tomato crop doesn’t make us experts.
There was a non-profit farm where we used to volunteer when we were in college. For our wedding, we even requested that instead of gifts, our friends would donate to that organization. It’s always been special to us. They offered sustainable agriculture internships and we considered applying after graduation, but then baby Benjamin came along and life got a little more complicated.
But two baby girls later, I brought it up again. “What if you applied for that internship?” I asked. “The one at the farm.”
It was a little crazy, but we started to think it might be good timing. This is the last year of our 20s. Our kids are still young. Now seems like the perfect chance to switch gears and do something wild. Even if it’s a mistake. There’s no point in staying comfortable just because it’s safe. And worst case scenario, we finish out the year, decide we hate farming and do something else.
The glaring problem with our crazy plan was that we’d need some serious savings to cover the lost benefits/health insurance, car payment, the remnants of our student loans, and the various expenses that come with having three kids. It seemed more than a little insane, but the idea took hold anyway.
So we started to save. A part-time job at our parish opened up and Daniel tackled that in addition to his full-time position at his office–working overtime to save up hours. Paid writing opportunities began popping up and I spent early morning hours, naptime, and evenings working as hard as I could to put away some savings. And amazingly, things started falling into place. After a few months, we had saved enough to make a move a financial possibility.
Daniel applied and got the internship. We’re really doing this.
So our house is on the market. It’s the last piece of the puzzle (sell, house, sell!). We’re getting rid of most of our stuff so that we can fit into the tiny apartment at the farm. We’re getting ready for a new season of life. We’re going on an adventure.
But don’t worry. This blog isn’t going anywhere. I hope all my readers come along for our new journey. Plan on sweaty kids in the Texas sun, plenty of pictures of vegetables, and a healthy dose of goats in a blog post near you.
And what will we do after the year is up? No idea. I guess that’s what makes this such an adventure.
So there it is. THE BIG NEWS. Was it worth the wait?