Sometimes a feel like a city astronaut who landed on the farm moon. Here I am, this rhinestone urban cowgirl at the Cat and Cactus “farm”… not sure what I’m doing, but I’m ready to learn. Aside from “growing” a “Catcus”… I’ll need a lot of instruction.
I am glad I had so much time here as a kid, but let’s face it… kids aren’t really paying attention to the nitty gritty details. I was much more intent on having fun back then. I didn’t know a thing about the actual farming going on… or the carpentry work… or the bills. Grandma told me before she died that one of the things she was looking forward to in heaven was having NO PAPERWORK to do. I thought that was silly back then. Now, it is high on my list of heaven’s pros also.
Grandpa was a house mover, so by trade, he had a really good working knowledge of construction. He took two buildings he moved off of someone’s property and magically put them together to create the house we are living in. I’ve got lots of dreams to make it into something we can functionally live in going forward… something that will be magically dreamy. For now, though, it is anything but dreamy.
My life isn’t really instagrammy or pinteresty right now… but I’m making do. We trip over boxes and purge a little of mom’s stuff every day. Yesterday I dumped two drawers out of my grandpa’s old dresser full of his undergarments. I kid you not. She threw NOTHING away. She loved her daddy. She also kept his suits and overalls in the front room closet. I did keep a few of his dress shirts for my son, and a couple pairs of overalls for my husband. Beyond that, none of the stuff will ever bring him back. I have memories of his laughter as he watched Johnny Carson on late night TV with a tub of vanilla Blue Bell ice cream in his lap. Those are much better things to keep. The stuff is just rusty old stuff… stuff that smells musty and gross. It is time to let go.
So each day I am doing my little spoonful of digging out… and I’m layering my own grief with my mama’s. She was depressed and broken because she loved so deeply and people were gone from her life that she loved dearly. I understand a lot more now of how she felt than I did before she was gone. After seeing her close herself up in this shrine of my grandparent’s farm house and fill it to the tippy top with THINGS, though, I know that hoarding the past is not the answer to your losses. My husband would say that I’m a bit of a pack rat myself… and I am sentimental. Mama thought I was going to come in here and burn all her stuff. She thought I would sell the land and never move here. She was wrong on both counts. Just because I can let go of lots of things doesn’t mean I don’t keep things that truly matter… and the other day as I was tearing up near the fire pit, my husband reassured me that Chickie knows now that things aren’t important – now that she’s crossed over to the land beyond the material world.
I was crying as I put that old rocker on the fire. It was beyond repair from sitting outside in the elements for twenty years or more. I can’t remember now if it belonged to my great grandma or not… but that was what I thought she had said at one point. I knew she loved it. But there was just no fixing it. Kevin saw me crying and reminded me again, “She knows, Heather. She knows. It’s OK.”
I’ve got more work to do here at the farm than I have money or time, I think. This tiny Texas farmhouse and little plot of ground is going to be a work in progress until I’m no longer here to work, apparently… either that, or until I get so sick of it that I beg for mercy and move Kevin and I back to the city. It all depends on how things go which scenario plays out. So far, we are starting with the basics: functional bathrooms. This weekend they come to get measurements and we go to Lowe’s to pick out some materials for the jobs. There are two bathrooms currently, both with leaks and pipe issues, possibly both with subfloor damage, and right now, only ONE of the sinks and ONE of the bathtubs are usable (not in the same restroom). They need complete restoration and renovation… which is our number one priority in this house… other than digging out of mom’s belongings.
The next priority is getting out of storage. Right now we are paying 400$ a month for storage. THREE storage units hold everything that was in our 2400 square foot garage, home, and attic. That’s just STUPID MONEY. So, the plan is to build a metal building that will be a barn and garage space and we can store all the STUFF in it until we know what in the ever-lovin’ world to do with it all.
Downsizing is harder than it looks, y’all.
In the middle of all of this, we have also had our big kids sprouting their wings and getting ready to move out. They can’t afford a commute between Austin and Podunk, TX with a young person’s salary. They have sparsely been available as viable farm help, moving help, or the like. My daughter finally got her driver’s license (after purchasing her vehicle), and she often works late hours and stays with friends in town. Pretty soon they will be off serious adulting somewhere near civilization. The jury is out on whether they get an apartment together or move in with roommates or what. Time will tell. Right now, we are loaded up with their belongings here also, and in storage, so when they do move, that will get rid of a small portion of the load we have to get to the bottom of. Every box counts… and yet while I’d love to see the boxes dwindle, my heart is aching at not seeing them every day when they go.
Want to hear about our home sale, move, and landing here at the farm?
Here’s a timeline of events:
Remember, we had tried to sell the house before in the early part of 2017, but our buyer fell through because of their financing and sales dropped off during the slump over the summer. We got valuable recommendations from realtors who came to see the property during that time, and we made some last minute changes that ate into our profit, but we feel they were the icing on the cake that got the house sold in the end.
September 11, 2018 – Kevin Paints the Ceilings
September 15 – New Carpet Installed
September 24 – Flower Beds Redone
September 28 – List House on FB (no realtor)
October 1 – Winter Grass we planted begins to sprout
October 2 – Zillow Listing goes live (no realtor)
October 3 – begin showing house
October 6, 7, 21, 28 – Open House (no realtor)
October 18 – Offer on the House (they have a realtor)
October 19 – Counter Offer (no realtor)
October 29 – Home Inspection done by buyer
October 30 – Documents at Title Company (closing day moved up)
November 2 – Begin packing
November 5 – Buyer sends over A/C Guy to check unit
November 6 – Call and find home for piano / Call and find movers
November 7 – Hire mowers for the farm (overgrown)
November 8 – Call and notify utilities of cut-off
November 9 – Option period ends for buyer
November 10 – Continue packing
November 11 – Clean out garage and purge
November 12 – Friends come help / Take clothes to closets at farmhouse
November 13 – Give away furniture at house
November 14 – Friend helps me box part of the kitchen
November 15 – Box up all the books we aren’t using for this year’s school (y’all… I have too many books)
November 16 – Drop piano and red file cabinets off at friend’s house, load to farm house with 2 guys helping us move and a rental U-haul
November 17 – Box kitchen, Kevin off work and boxes up rest of garage and takes another 1/2 load of the U-haul to the farm, take 1/2 of my plants to the farm
November 18 – Mow the suburban yard the last time, big kids apartment hunting, continue frantic packing, take another couple car loads to the farm including the rest of the plants
November 19 – Box big kids’ rooms because they are apparently unaware that we are really moving, the buyer’s Kentucky home sale closes, rent another U-Haul, BIG MOVING DAY – 3 guys to help, moving truck gets stuck in the mud after we move at night, so we leave it near the farm gate and lock it up
November 20 – Cleaning company comes for buyer, sleep on cots in the house as we get our last belongings together to leave and check every cabinet and drawer, pack up pantry food, spend the day on the phone with U-Haul who towed the truck without us approving of it and we had thought it was stolen – what a nightmare
November 21 – Change address at post office, Last load of junk and cold food moved to farm, Closing on house
November 23 – Find out toilets and showers leaking at farm, Clean out bathrooms
November 24 – Buy used vehicle to commute to town with (husband still works in Austin)
November 27 – New toilet installed front bathroom, clean off mom’s desk to set up computer, use phone hotspot because there ain’t no high speed internet in the country
November 28 – Burn huge load of stuff, purge boxes of paperwork of mom’s, unpack some boxes of ours, do regular things like laundry and dishes, buy paper plates and bowls for now
November 29 – Have plumber out to give us estimates, upgrade phone plan so we have unlimited data, pay off debt and pay bills
November 30 – Find scorpion in the house, continue purging and huge burn pile again, boys help daddy create a fire pit with pile of leftover bricks under the car port, mow the front acre
December 1 – Make my way through junk in front room so I can begin cleaning out the closet in that room, take a huge load of clothes to Good Will and burn my old stained drill team jacket (she never threw anything away, people)
December 3 – Unpack and purge more, get estimate on barn building, look at floor plans for barn buildings (to know where to put plumbing lines if we lay a foundation)
December 4 – Empty drawers in Pawpaw’s old dresser
Every day there’s something to do; not just the regular things you might do such as laundry and dishes… cooking dinner…. watering the plants…. feeding your farm pets… All of those things still apply, but now you have this extra job and any free time you may have had prior to moving to the country is now just a daydream of the past. Poof. Gone.
The stress has given me a bit of insomnia, also. It is a little creepy on the farm at night. Cayotes howl. Critters come scampering up on the porch and some even crawl around in the attic. Don’t even get me thinking about that right now… a whole other renovation project for another day. Right now the attic is out of sight, out of mind. So are the scorpions. I’ve only found ONE inside the house so far, but I know that scorpions are a lot like roaches… if you find one of them…. there are MORE somewhere.
Last night I came home from town after riding in to Austin with my daughter so she could work at her Starbucks. Kevin picked me up on his way home from work and we ate at Chili’s. It was dark when we got home at 6PM and it had to have been before 7 that I went to bed to take a “quick little nap”. I tried to get back up at 8PM, but I couldn’t think straight, and went right back to bed. I didn’t get up until 8AM this morning when my eldest left for work. I slept better last night than I have all the nights we have been here at the farm. I feel human again for the first time since all this lack of sleep and worry began.
I pass by a lot of things on my way to Austin each week. There are huge farms with beautifully built farm houses that look like mansions… and there are trailer parks with varying degrees of rust and disrepair. People living in splendor and people living in squalor. None of that matters, really. What matters is the people.
So… if it takes me forever to get this house fixed, I will keep at it one day at a time. It is worth it to be free again. Debt is slavery. Pure and simple.
If I end up living in a metal barn because we find that the farm house is so beyond repair that it would be silly to sink any more money into fixing it up, then so be it. We will build the inside of our barn into a house one paycheck at a time.
In the mean time… we will learn, and live, and grow, and purge, and discover, and roam, and be free out here on the “prairie”. Maybe some day we will be “finished”, but that will be a long time from today. Don’t expect a lot of before and after photos up front. It will be tiny accomplishments and many not even worth a picture. I’m pretty sure no one wanted to see my grandpa’s underwear in the burn pile. Ha!
What a wild ride this life is. I know mama is getting the last laugh up there in heaven as she watches this unfold. I know grandma and grandpa would be proud that we are rising to the challenge. Scorpions or no. Bring it on. Jesus and I have got this.