It was Friday the 13th that we left our beloved little home in Oregon for the last time. Don drove ahead in the truck, packed to the rafters with shop tools. My parents drove separately, taking the girls with them (who were then five and seven years old). With our old yellow lab, Amber, I spent one last night in our Oregon home attending to last-minute details. Then I spent another night at a friend's house before embarking on the fifteen-hour drive to our new home on 20 acres -- a home each of us had seen only once.
It was a hard decision, leaving Oregon. We had many good friends. Our tiny old house on four acres was built in 1874 and we adored it.
|Our Oregon house when we first bought it|
|Our Oregon house when we sold it|
But it was tiny, and between a home business and homeschooling, we were bursting at the seams. With just four acres, we felt we couldn't be as food self-sufficient as we wanted. We needed more acreage for grazing cattle. Also, the area was getting more and more crowded, and we longed for a more remote home without traffic.
At first we confined our search for another piece of property to Oregon. We looked long and carefully, but couldn't find anything within our price range and bucket-list of requirements. We made an offer on one beautiful old farmhouse on 40 acres south of Eugene -- an offer that was more than we were comfortable making -- and were outbid by $40,000 within an hour. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. Time to look further afield.
Our employment was portable, so we could live anywhere. With the aid of the internet (still fairly new), we researched properties across Washington, Idaho, and Montana. But we also researched homeschooling laws, and quickly discovered Idaho was unique in not having a bunch of state bureaucrats poking their noses into private business when it came to teaching one's own kids. It would be no exaggeration to say the homeschooling laws are what tipped us into Idaho.
The next step was exploration, since neither of us had ever been to the panhandle before. Because the girls were so young (Younger Daughter was still four years old at the time), Don and I split up. I flew ahead in March 2003, rented a car, and made arrangements with realtors to look at about 30 different properties over a week's time. I narrowed it down to two. Then we swapped; I came home and stayed with the girls while Don came up and looked over both properties with a fine-toothed comb. We decided on this property and made an offer.
We didn't learn until later the sellers were going into bankruptcy and were offloading the house and acreage for an extraordinarily low price. All we knew is it looked like "caca" but had good bones, and it was a price we could afford on a woodcrafter's income.
We put our Oregon home on the market and it sold in three days. We packed/sold/gave away our worldly belongings. My parents came up to help us with the logistics of getting to Idaho, and off we went.
Don had arrived the day before, and my parents had taken the girls to a motel. When I crawled up the driveway, exhausted after 15 hours on the road, I walked into the house and burst into tears. I hated it. What had we done?
The first night we spent here (remember, June 15) was so cold we had to turn on this weird propane heater to keep from freezing our tails off. (This is nothing unusual. As I write this, it's 36F outside -- on June 15.) The next day was frantically busy as the movers arrived and started offloading our possessions, my parents and the girls arrived, and we tried to come to grips that this was our new home and there was no going back to the cozy, beautiful little place in Oregon.
But it grew on us. It grew and grew and grew on us until we've come to love this place with all our hearts. The rippling prairie grasses before us, the dark and rustling woods behind us, the canyon that surrounds us, the sunrises and especially the sunsets that bless us -- it's all beautiful beyond compare.
Gradually, as money permitted, we added many accouterments to turn this into the farm we've always wanted. We added a barn, coop, fencing, corral, feedlot, bull pen, garden, orchard, wheat field, and pond. We came to know and then love our neighbors. We found a church and rediscovered our faith. We raised and educated our daughters. The woodcraft business flourished and the freelance writing took off. The sunsets continue to dazzle, and the snow makes us realize working from home is very nice indeed.
Idaho has been good to us. We used to think of ourselves are "remote" but now we think we're just "rural." (Trust me, in Idaho there are places that are truly remote.) It's the longest Don or I have ever lived in one place. Now that they're grown and out of the house and near huge cities, our girls understand the uniqueness of their rural upbringing, and an element of wholesomeness and fresh air still clings to both young women.
So there you go. Fifteen years ago today we embarked on another chapter of our lives, and it turned into a long and happy chapter. We've had setbacks, of course -- who hasn't? -- but on the whole our progress has been satisfying and interesting. It's the journey, not the destination, and so far the journey has been exciting.