Faithful APB reader and modern pioneer MattDaddy recently commented:
“HOWEVER dear sir I’m concerned that you’ll never get out of CT and to ID where you really want to be if you continue to increase your output and energy in your current situation (I say this with all due respect and affection). I saw that you took stock of your “halfway to your halfway” point and you gave yourself an honest review. I’d think at some point you’d have to shift your focus, especially with an undertaking as significant and as hard-scheduled. Will you make this shift after the growing season? I’d be interested in knowing how you will make this transition and when your will phase-in/phase-out will occur.”
Wow, so that’s a can of worms. Let me see if I can address it, having only just now realized that I’ve never really shared my plan, such as it is.
Our goal is to decamp from New England and relocate to Idaho – no news there. At the start of the year we gave ourselves a deadline of the end of 2015 to have the move completed, which is where the whole 103 weeks thing came from. But a goal and a deadline do not a plan make, so we knew we needed to take some concrete steps to make this start happening.
First step: an assessment of the obstacles we face. We needed to know what stands between us and Idaho, other than an entire continent. So, we made a list of the obstacles, in order of importance:
- I need to be able to make a living;
- We need to sell our house;
- We need to make sure we take care of the family.
Employment is a sticky issue. Idaho is not exactly a job-seeker’s paradise. It’s a tough place to be looking for a job these days, and I’m not yet in a position to be self-employed. So, my best bet is to parlay my current situation into a telecommuting gig. Since this is the key to the whole venture, I’ve been concentrating on it almost exclusively since March, when my daughter got sick. Unfortunately, I don’t exactly register on the HR radar, and to say they’ve been moving glacially is an insult to glaciers the world over.
Our house is also a huge anchor. We built this house eleven years ago figuring it was the last place we’d ever live – my stock joke was they’d only get me out of here in handcuffs or a hearse. Unfortunately, we didn’t put much thought into ever needing to unload it, so we’re kind of playing catch up now. It’s not in bad shape, although it surely needs some cleaning, patching and painting. With some concerted effort, I think we can get it ready for the market in a couple of months, and I’ll concentrate on that once the “working inside” weather rolls around again.
But the big problem with selling this house is marketing. As we’ve learned by watching our neighbors try to sell their house for the last three years, a house deep in the woods on a shared gravel driveway is a tough sell to the usual “curb appeal and school district” buyers. It takes a special kind of buyer to fall in love with this arrangement, and even more so when you’re selling a large house on 10 acres of land. Most buyers want the quiet cul-de-sac ranch or cape with a quarter-acre lot to maintain and a driveway short enough to clear with a snowblower. That ain’t this place.
With this in mind, we decided to focus our marketing efforts on people who would appreciate the extra acreage, the privacy, and the access to thousands of acres of undeveloped state land. The group that immediately came to my mind was the horse people. We’ve been researching what features a property needs to have in order to be realistically marketed as a horse property, mainly by asking horse people what they think, but also by having a Realtor specializing in horse properties over to look around. We got a lot of feedback, and started implementing some of her suggestions already, but there’s more to come this fall and into the spring.
Right now, we’re shooting to have the house ready for market by the late spring of 2015. To be honest, this is going to be hard – we rang up quite a bill with my daughter’s hospitalization, and we don’t have the cash reserves needed to attack some of the bigger projects. But we’re doing what we can.
Once we get the job situation settled and the house on the market, we also have to weigh the impact on the family. And not only the immediate family, but the extended crew as well. That basically consists of my parents – the rest of the relations probably wouldn’t notice we were gone until the next Christmas. I’m getting to that age where I’ve got to start thinking about how I’m going to take care of my parents as they age, which would be hard enough to do living 40 minutes apart. But trying to help them while living on the other side of the country will be impossible, especially for someone who refuses to fly. I’ve tried to convince them that they need to get out of New England for the same reasons we do, but they can’t see it and won’t budge. In the end, the only ethical decision you can make is to care for your children, and this relocation is all about giving our kids a chance at a decent life, a chance that will be stolen from them if we stay here. When push comes to shove, we’ll go. But just because it’s the ethical decision doesn’t mean it’s an easy decision.
That’s the rough outline of our plan. With a few hiccups, we’ve been pretty good about executing this plan so far this year. I know it may seem otherwise from my posts, but you’ve also got to keep in mind that I still have to have a Plan B: what if something happens that makes it impossible to get to Idaho? I’d be seriously remiss as a prepper to not take that into account. No matter what happens, we still need to eat, we still need to stay warm, and we still need to be secure. So homestead life continues – there are gardens to tend, firewood to put up, and projects that need doing. I’m trying hard to make as many of those projects cross over into making this a marketable horse property – land cleared for chickens or goats is good for horse pasture too – but sometimes you’ve just got to make the sacrifice and do the chores. Such is life on the homestead.
So will there come a transition point? Will I switch over from homestead mode to “get out of Dodge” mode? Probably yes. If I had to guess, it’ll be sometime in the spring. I may forgo firewood preps for the 2015-16 season, and just buy 3 cords of split and seasoned wood. That’ll at least buy me more time to spend on getting the house ready to sell. But I don’t know that I can bear to not plant a garden next year, as much as I could use the time for other tasks. We’ll have to see how this year’s harvest comes in. But eschewing these vital aspects of homesteading is a double edged sword – sure, I’d gain time back by skipping them, but I’ll shell out more money in food and fuel, so I’d be in the position of having time to work on projects but no money to do so.
That’s some catch, that catch-22.