A few eves ago, S and I sat down to discuss the next year’s events. We had our calendars out so we could see how things lined up. Long story, short, we set a moving date!! He will move the kids and I to Red Gate Farm in mid-May. It is such a bitter-sweet feeling. After almost 8 years of planning and dreaming and working our tails off to prep the farm, the time is almost here! That is a thrillingly sweet feeling. At the same time, S will not be officially retiring until later, and therefore will not be moving with us, visiting as often as he can. That is the bitter part.
My brain is just in a frenzy now, and my soul a roller coaster of emotions. Happiness, dread, excitement, fear, anxiety, nervousness, joy, elation, sadness, etc. Many of those emotions come with any move–sadness over leaving friends behind, nervousness at establishing your family in a new place, excitement at what the future might hold, and so on. It’s just intensified with this move.
At the same time, I can’t for a moment deny how blessed we are. For starters, we have established relationships with many of our neighbors there, and even with a church we attend each time we visit. There are people I could call on for any need, which is such an incredible relief! I’ve even had offers of babysitting from folks at the church should I need it on occasion. The entire neighborhood is awesome at watching out for each other, and each neighbor knows every other neighbor by name.
On the other hand, I’m trying to not even think about the tarantula-like wolf spiders that lurk there. Perhaps I can bribe the children to kill them for me? Nah, who am I kidding?!…those things are terrifying!
So, you might be asking why we would move before S actually retires? Well, here’s the deal…There are many reasons. First, health is an issue. Little N doesn’t have nose bleeds, and his asthma may improve back in the humidity. A needs a good medical team that can follow him, without concern of PCS’ing (moving military) doctors. The farm is becoming quite a burden on our care takers (S’s mom and brother) and is beginning to have some “neglect” issues. We can grow more of our own healthy and affordable food, which benefits all of us, but especially N, A, and me with my diabetes. Furthermore, the selling of our CO house was a big deal. We don’t want to wait until retirement, and then be stuck with an empty house here to deal with. We also need to free up the cash sunk into this house, so we can further improve Red Gate, not to mention buy the truck and trailer we need to move our critters back east. We have set up a website, if you know anyone who is interested in moving to CO. Selling now by owner, and leasing back until next year would be our ideal. If not, though, we will list on the MLS with our realtor in March, in order to take advantage of the real estate market, the incoming military moving season, and increase the chances of selling in a timely manner. We considered waiting until the house actually sold to move, but there were several problems with that. If we wound up with a closing date in summer, my high-desert-conditioned animals would really struggle and be stressed with a move to high heat-and humidity in the worst time of year. Here, the summer temps seldom hit 90*, the humidity rarely goes over 10%, the animals never fully lose their winter coats, and they have never seen a lush pasture! It is likely the honey bees would die en-route, and the goats milk supply would decrease significantly, if not dry up completely, due to the stress involved. If we had a closing in fall, S can’t take enough time off work for helping move, so I would be stuck moving all the kids, all the animals, and the furnishings on my own. If we waited until winter, we’re stuck paying CO hay prices AGAIN (currently around $14/per 60 pound bale of hay). We also can’t move sooner, as S will not be able to get his official retirement moving orders until at least April or early May (the military pays for the move if we wait until we have orders). There was one other issue, which I’d rather not mention in cyberspace, but suffice it to say, God recently blessed us tremendously with a perfect answer! We decided it was easier to set a date and go for it.
Now, with a date set, we have started preps. We bought enough hay to get us through the winter and up to our move date, with a just enough left over to help wean the animals over once we arrive. We are rationing our meat supplies so we can try to avoid having to purchase any meat. I have started the search for someone to take over my organic food co-op that I host. We are preparing for the first of probably 2 yard sales, through which we hope to cut waaaaay down on furnishings and clutter (I hope to get rid of all baby stuff, and all “temporary-and-don’t-care-if-it-gets-damaged-during-a-PCS” type stuff purchased over the years). JR has started deciding which rabbits he wants to move (we have limited him to 3-4 for breeding), and is selling the rest. S has scheduled a time this winter where he will travel back to the farm to cut more lumber and start building animal structures. I will travel back in the spring to do some more last minute projects. Then, before we know it, May will be here. WOW!
So now, I have to figure out the answer to 2 silly questions I just can’t decide on. Perhaps you readers and experienced farmers can offer some advice or suggestions. Both will affect what and how we build our structures…
First, do I take a few laying hens with me? I am still debating whether to sell all our laying hens and just start over when we get there (which would leave us without eggs for about 6 months), or take a few hens with us to get us through until a new batch is ready (but would the stress cause them to quit laying and/or molt?)
Secondly, where do I put the milk stand? That may seem a silly question, and it is pretty trivial, but I am curious what you think. You see, here in CO, we seldom have rain, and I think I have only milked in my shed during a thunderstorm, once in 2 milking seasons. Shoot, this summer, I think we’ve only had what could be considered “rain” twice since April! So, since we are going to be using an intensive, rotational grazing system back at the farm, do we build a portable milk-shed to move along with the goats, in which case, I would likely wind up trudging out to it, and sitting in it during mid-west thunderstorms (I assume the goats would prefer this option, as it would mean less walking in the rain), or do I set up the milk room in the barn, which means I would have to trudge out through several acres of pasture, and back, at least twice (to get the goats and then to take them back out) during a thunderstorm? I can’t decide which would be less risky and/or more comfortable?
Guess that’s it for now! We’ll see if all works out as planned, as every military family knows that NOTHING is guaranteed!