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drummer hill

winter water

pictures taken by the homeowner this past winter

greenhouse

asparagus

pictures taken by the homeowner this past summer

We have been dreaming for so long of our home in the mountains. Of peace and quiet and untamed land. Of space for gardens and chickens and room to roam free. Of water nearby and of neighbors not so nearby. Of trees and flowers and birds and snakes and wood smoke and stars. Of growing some of our own food and of homeschooling. We have been dreaming of slowing down. Of a simpler life. Our dreams are finally manifesting and we are oh, so excited to really, fully live our life in line with our values. In the mountains. In the beautiful, rocky deep forest of the Appalachian Mountains of western Virginia near the Shenandoah River.

While surfing Craigslist a few weeks ago (as I often do when my mind drifts to our dreams of more peaceful living) I found six or seven properties that were worth seeking out more information. I sent off a few emails and then decided to take one last look at the current listings — I was feeling hopeful. I typed in one of my favorite key words, “acres” and a brand new listing popped up. The image above of a snow-covered home was the first thing I saw. Then I saw the creek that runs beyond the fence line, then the green house, then the raised beds (which I later learned are full of asparagus!). My heart skipped a bit. The rent was right and I was flooded with good vibes. Could this be it? I sent off my standard email, “We long for a house to make a home… We have four kids… We have a dog and two cats and a guinea pig and a mouse and a fish… We want to get our hands dirty growing our own food and exploring some wilderness…”  I am always very honest in my inquires, knowing that in order to make a sincere connection I need to be completely open.

Not half an hour later, I received a simple response with a phone number. I called it. Surprisingly, a real person answered! How often does that happen anymore? We had a great conversation about gardening and chickens (did I mention the home has a chicken coop?) and pets (he has six!) and family. We immediately hit it off and started a fast and furious exchange of emails — us asking about details that escaped my mind during our first excited conversation and him about updates on the work he is doing to make the home ready for its first tenants (he landed a once-in-a-lifetime job in Florida) and features of the home he forget to mention. Oh, yes, there are cat doors and a compost area and a strawberry patch and a nearby swimming lake! Would we be willing to adopt their nine-year-old grouchy Oscar fish because he’s too old to relocate? Of course we would be willing! (I can’t wait to show you this seriously cool fish!)

We met face to face last weekend and he and his wife are definitely our kind of people — family centered, humble and hard working. The two acres that surround the home have been lovingly tended to and cared for since they built the home in 2005. There are blackberry bushes and a vertical windmill and a garden already fenced in and ready for planting. The kitchen is a dream — upgraded to support his part-time catering business. (Can you see me doing a happy dance about that convection oven?) The best part of this whole arrangement is that he is as excited about us stewarding his property as we are to move in and get to work. They wanted to find a family that would get dirty, make noise, laugh, eat well and play. They wanted people who could appreciate their slower, more intentional way of living.

We so feel to blessed to be those people. Oh, life is so good.

We get the keys at the end of April and will take our time transitioning to our new home as the kids finish their school year. We have a spring drama performance to attend and a few Girl Scout activities already on the calendar. But there will be frequent joy-filled trips to our new house to get seeds started in the greenhouse (did I mention the sprinkler system on a timer?) and to ready the chicken area for the sweet baby chicks that will be ordered to arrive just as we finally move in full-time. There are pantry shelves to be built and gardens to prep. We feel like children the night before Christmas, so excited that we drift off to sleep thinking of the pros and cons of different chicken breeds (maybe Australorps and Ameraucanas? Chicken folks chime in here…) or which veggies we want to give a go this first year (pumpkins and kale, definitely… sweet peas and carrots, maybe).

Now we are beginning the messy part of moving — the packing and purging of the extra “stuff” we seem to inevitably accumulate, planning for the end of the children’s school year and their transition to a new school (or dare I say out loud, homeschooling). Negotiating a new work schedule for me and a new commute for my hubby — test drives and different routes are in the works. Oh, and then there is the matter of purchasing and prepping wood for our new wood stove (wood stove!) that will be used as our sole heat source during colder months and budgeting for that 1000 gallon propane tank.

So much to be done, so much to be done.

This work is heart and soul medicine…

Better get to it!

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