Green Acres, move over. This is the story of an urban horse lover and her husband who moved to a farm…on an island.
As the 50th anniversary of my birth neared I peered through my reading glasses at my life and realized my soul thirsted for fur. And feathers.
And hooves. Lots and lots of hooves–from compact, cloven hooves to feathered, weighty ones whose clop cop sound was as soothing to me as a mother’s heartbeat is for her baby.
“If not now, then when?” I asked myself, and not hearing a reasonable reply in return, I came home one day to our urban oasis and said to my husband, “I think we should sell the house and start looking for a farm.” Brave man that he is, he paused for only a beat and then agreed, as if I had merely said, “I think we should have pasta for dinner.”
Six months later our house was sold, we were living in a pet-friendly rental and had a contract to purchase an honest-to-goodness real farm on San Juan Island in Washington state.
Our rural slice of heaven is a former sheep farm with 23 acres, an adorable farmhouse and an assortment of outbuildings, including a large barn, all topped by red metal roofs. And that’s what we named it: Red Roof Acres.
We know nothing about sheep but we do know horses, as we own three: A gelding, a mare and her colt, all Friesian crosses. So our farm plan includes taking on a small number of horses for board, as well as bringing in livestock and chickens,which means we need to convert the farm to be suitable for horses and learn everything we can about livestock and chickens.
We’ve told our friends and our families and of course our three sons, the youngest of whom graduated high school this spring in Colorado, our former home. He’s intrigued by the farm, but thinks he might stay in Colorado for college, which will make us empty-nester farmers. So we have no children to tote with us, just three dogs, two cats, three horses and a boatload of optimism.
Are we nervous? Surprisingly, no. My husband, who’s 51, grew up on a farm in Iowa, and since he retired a year ago after 30 years of being a park ranger, he’s been looking for a second career.
As for me, I’m a writer, so my job can travel with me wherever my laptop can. And I’m armed with the steely resolve that comes after being tested by what life can throw at you, which for me meant being diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2012. I successfully underwent treatment, but since then decided to stop taking the medication my oncologist said would lessen my chance of a recurrence because it made me sick and tired. I figured what good is increasing the odds of extending my life if I’m not enjoying it?
I can’t think of a healthier lifestyle than one that requires daily mucking, feeding every morning and night and meditating on the sight of dogs scampering, chickens scratching and happy horses grazing peacefully in a field next to the house. I’ll be breeding our mare this spring for another foal who will be due in June 2015. It’s not lost on me that I’ll be celebrating my three-year anniversary of being diagnosted with cancer by welcoming that new life.
My husband Matt and I are increasingly filled with excitement for what the future will bring. We are also confident in the knowledge we are not alone.
While we undergo this adventure, I’ll be sharing our stories with you here.
Let’s all dare to dream.