Our Path to the Homestead

Posted by Bonnie

Every house we have owned was going to be our 5 year house – up until our last house, which was going to be our 25 year house. Buying a house is a funny experience though… You spend 30 minutes looking at it and then decide if you would like to plunk down hundreds of thousands of dollars on it  and commit to a 25 year payment / LIFE plan. It is actually insane when you think about it – you probably spend more time at the car dealership then you do when buying a house.

When you buy a car you can take it for a test drive, read online reviews, join forums dedicated solely to the car you are interested in. When you a buy a house on the other hand you get none of those options. Sure you can get a home inspection but they really can’t dig deep enough to find the issues that are going to cause you big problems down the road (like well problems for example).

So jumping back to our story, we started at the very bottom of the property ladder with a 640 sq ft house that was in an “emerging” (read: rough) neighborhood. In actuality the exact location wasn’t bad but it was a hop, skip and a jump from some of the more dodgy areas of town. We renovated that place top to bottom, then went on to do this two more times and actually got in to the rental property game for a bit (more on that disaster in a future post).

It wasn’t until we moved in to our 3rd house in 5ish years that we thought we could stay there a while. It was a big two storey house that backed on to a lake. It was most people’s idea of a dream house. It wasn’t brand new but it wasn’t old and we renovated it quite a bit to modernize it. So you can imagine our parents reactions when the for sale sign went up just two short years later. It was somewhere between general confusion and “what the eff are you doing?”

The problem wasn’t the house, the house was great, we actually miss the house itself. The problem was the same problem we have every year. The month of September.

We both grew up in the city, went to city schools, lived in suburban neighborhoods but we both had a little bit of country life instilled in us throughout our lives. Kyle spent his summers camping and at the family cottage while I took equestrian lessons and was a councilor at a local nature conservatory. It was these seeds, planted as youth that would guide us on our convoluted path to the homestead.

You’re probably wondering what any of that has to do with September and the answer is simple. We love fall. It is by far our favourite season, the temperature, the colors, the smells and the homey feeling that it brings with it. The thing is though that every single year after labor day we both get the itch to just completely unplug from society and move to the sticks. We looked at a few properties that were out there, secluded with acres and acres of bush. Every single September we start searching for large acreage properties, drive out to see them and seriously consider buying them. The hesitation though was always; what are we going to do for work? How are we going to survive out there on our own? What will our family think of us?  So every year we would chicken out and stay in our house in the city.

Authors Note: We are pretty sure this is genetic. Kyle’s Dad lives outside the city on an acreage and Kyle was always camping or at ‘the lake’ growing up. My dad owns a large parcel that he is turning in to his own personal forest conservatory. So in reality this probably was inevitable. 

Roll back now to September of 2014. I didn’t know it yet but in a few short months we would be expecting our first child. Before that though we said okay, we are going to do this. We put our house on the market, said screw it, we are moving to the country. Well, the house didn’t sell, it sat and sat and sat until finally the snow came and the housing market died off. So we missed our fall opportunity. Fast forward to March when the selling season begins again… We find out that we are having our first child but still decide to put our house on the market. Only now the fear sets in. How are we going to raise a kid in the country? We need to be close to grandparents and stores and work etc, etc. These are all valid concerns we should have had but looking back now I’d say we just wussed out.

So we bought our suburban lake property and moved in Summer of 2015. Our daughter  H was born in late fall of that year and we settled in to our new routine, until September 2016. You guessed it, the itch. We both started talking about moving to the country again. We wanted to start beekeeping but couldn’t do it in the city (the city has since changed their beekeeping legislation, but you still can’t have chickens!) I wanted to grow some food and maybe get a horse or two. But most of all we just yearned for something more natural, something more real. We wanted to learn the skills that were lost before our generation and to become more self-sufficient. So we started looking.

We had some general criteria for a property but really it came down to three things: price, proximity to the city, and land size. If it was going to be super far out then it had to be cheap with a large acreage. If it was closer to the city then we expected a smaller acreage and a slight premium in price, but more convenient. We looked for properties through the fall until November when, BAM, pregnant again. To say we were surprised was an understatement – but this time we were set on moving out of the city. We had chickened out with the last kid but now we wanted chickens. So come spring the house went on the market and SOLD!

The property we ended up buying was definitely a compromise because we only got 2 acres, not 80+. We are okay with this for now because it gives us enough room to start our little homestead. By next summer we will have honey bees, chickens, gardens, and fruit trees while only being a short 5 – 10 minute drive from the city, and from friends and family.

Having said that, having had a taste of country life ‘lite’ we realized this will not be the final stop on our personal property ladder like we thought it might be. We want out. Way out. After considerable discussion, reading, podcast listening and quiet meditation (kidding.. we have two kids), we have decided to continue looking for that big parcel, far out of the city where we can take all of the skills we learn on this homestead and then scale them up. Our ultimate dream is for Kyle to work full time on our farm. We are working super hard to make that a reality, but in the meantime we are honing our skills, reconnecting with the land, soaking up every minute with our family and generally loving life.



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