We billed it to the kids as an adventure. We would merge our two growing farms into one. In the process, we would build a new house and do a bit of downsizing. Consolidating our farm operations made good business sense. Teaching our three kids that the 4000 square foot of stuff we had was excessive made good parenting sense. It seemed like a win-win.
TIME FOR CHANGE
When we decided to sell our smaller hobby farm to build on our much larger farm acreage, we thought we had plenty of time. The realtor said it would take a minimum of four months, but more likely six months to sell our unique farm property. That worked for us considering we were starting over from scratch. The farm had no utilities, no fences, no barns, and no house. We needed all the time we could get.
Fast forward 18 days…just 18 days…and we had three offers and a serious problem. Our family of five and 40+ head of livestock were about to be homeless.
Everything we owned went into storage, and we moved in to a 240 square foot camper. Two adults, one teenage daughter, twin 11-year-old boys, a 50lb dog and the family cat moved into a camper that would have fit inside our former family room.
WE CAN DO THIS
We only had room for the bare necessities. Work appropriate wear for my husband and I, farm appropriate wear for everyone, mud boots and gloves, a minimal amount of food, a TV and DVD player, some cleaning supplies, and the litter box went in. We lived totally off-the-grid, hooked to a generator with a 700-gallon water tank. It was primitive, to say the least.
Oh, and did I mention no water heater for the first four months? We took showers OUTSIDE with a solar-heated camp shower!
It was only supposed to be for a couple of months. Anyone could survive this situation for a couple months. In an effort to boost morale, we explained to our kids that life is about the journey. This stint in the camper would make a great story someday. Little did we know that eight months (that’s right folks, EIGHT MONTHS) later we would finally move in to our new house.
Everything that could have gone wrong in our build process went astoundingly wrong. From record-long delays and bureaucratic runaround to weather setbacks and utility company nightmares, we dealt with it. All from the inside of a camper filled to capacity with too many people, lots of drama, and plenty of its own utility issues!
I WILL SURVIVE
Through it all, our kids were resilient and learned lessons we had hoped to teach them through the experience. It is amazing how much more you appreciate things like your own personal space, heat and AC, and especially running water and working toilets! They also figured how little they really needed to be happy. (And I learned that I am never giving up my hair dryer again! Ever tried to dry your hair by space heater?!)
Everyday since we (FINALLY) moved into our new house, I have heard at least one member of our family say, “Man, it’s so nice to have a house again.” And while I wouldn’t recommend this process to anyone, ever, I know that the experience has been valuable for my family. We will never again take for granted the basic necessities of life.
And someday, our kids will have great stories to tell their kids about their adventures as (un)happy campers down on the farm.