Finally made it to the “muddy road property” as some of you have come to call it. Honestly, there are no words to describe stepping into this place. It’s actually kind of funky and maybe even a little odd looking from the outside, but the inside, well... it settles you. I shared the above photo on Instagram and Rachel said, “How could you live anywhere else once you know this exists???” This is the very question we are asking ourselves.
Over the weekend Adam took me back to the property, this time approaching from the other side of the mountain, the side we’d probably be more likely to come and go from to get to town. It felt a little less treacherous. Like, I could see myself sort of being okay with it. Sure, there would still be days I’d not venture out unless there was an emergency of some sort, but for the maybe 30 days of the year that felt impassable, there’d be 335 more that would be smooth sailing. And I bet with time I’d gain confidence and shave those 30 days down to a mere 28. Tough girl.
We’ll see. Lots of variables, questions, big decisions. But what a sweet sanctuary.
A few of you have asked the question I’ve been expecting: “I’m confused, I thought you had land that you were planning to build on?” I know right!? Us too! I’ll do my best to explain, just know it is important to me to share this without also sharing the story of extended family members who do not write here. So, I might not be able to explain it perfectly, but hopefully I'll relay the gist of it. Most of you know that our land in Vermont is a piece of what was originally a nearly 400 acre parcel owned by Adam’s grandmother. Through the decades, that land has been divided up among family members, and some to other people in the community. Mostly though, it remains in the family. It’s not crowded by any stretch, with only 7-8 families now occupying the land. Still, after spending time on the ridge, Adam started to get cold feet about adding another dwelling to his grandmother's original acreage. He doesn’t want it to feel too built up. I get it. This might sound crazy to some of you, given the hundreds of overall acres, but land preservation is one of the most important things to Adam, and every time we got close to breaking ground, he just couldn’t do it. Part of this is because there is one (or two) family houses bordering our property that will be coming up for sale at some point in the near future, so it started to make even more sense not to build. Instead, we'd buy an attached property, absorbing its home and land into our parcel and live happily ever after. Easy plan, yes? The problem is, timing is a tricky thing. We all wanted to make this work, and never say never of course, but it turns out that we are feeling more than ready to put down some year round roots up north, and the family members we are most likely to buy from, are not quite ready to move. So, what can you do? Plan B, that’s what!
We’re looking for something that is as close as possible to our family, which given the nature of rural living coupled with slim inventory, “close as possible” is defined loosely. We’re looking at two kinds of properties, the first being the type of place that is a notch above a camp, the second being a more typical but still modestly priced/sized home (such as the muddy road house). Each end of the spectrum presenting different options for our long term plans.
The right “camp" for us would be a well built small cabin on a fairly good sized piece of land. Possibly not costing more than some people might pay for a brand new truck. Something that we could hold onto and maybe offer as an Airbnb in a few years when one of the family homes on the ridge becomes available; still retaining use of the land for sugaring, timber, hunting, etc. The second option being a more standard year round home, not too big (very important!), with more acreage, and more long term potential. This kind of investment would probably mean we would not be moving to the ridge. But again, never say never. Basically, we want to plant apple trees and berries and nut trees and have more animals and feel a sense of permanence that we have not felt for the last five years. If this means we choose a forever home now, and forgo moving to the ridge in the future, that’s okay. It’s time to dig in.
Anyway. Hope this clears up any confusion.
Back home now where it is full-on sugaring. We’re having a great season so far, collecting anywhere from 25 to 50+ gallons of sap per day, depending on what the weather is up to. Pretty decent haul for our simple backyard operation. The other day while collecting, each of our 2.5 gallon buckets on our 65 taps seemed to be about half full. Then I got to the tree closest to our compost pile and those two buckets were completely overflowing. Some would disagree with the correlation, but I like believing one has to do with the other. A comforting reminder of the good things that happen when we dig in.