Day 1 was a bust, but with a hopeful ending: We had a new real estate agent, in a new location, and 5 places lined up to see the next day.
I woke up early on day 2, impatient to get started. A wild mix of emotions bubbled inside me, jostling for attention: Apprehension, hope, restlessness, excitement, fear of disappointment.
But the sun was shining, my eternal optimist won my internal battle, and I was ready for round 2. Bring it on!
Our first property is located close to a small town called Lumby. Until yesterday I have never heard of that place, but Rich has: He knows several chicken guys who live there. We decide to have breakfast there while waiting for our agent.
Driving in, I'm pleasantly surprised: This town is so cute! Beautiful flower baskets are hanging from the street lamps, alternating with colourful flags proudly displaying everything the town has to offer. Everything is neat and clean. There are several coffee shops, little mom and pop restaurants, and stores lining the main street. We choose one coffee shop, and after ordering, watch the locals: They all seem to know each other, stopping in the street for a chat, greeting every person they meet. It's nice. Kinda Stars Hollow-esque.
After breakfast, we head to the Visitor Centre where we are to meet the agent. Wouldn't you know it, there's a feed store right next door! Wherever we are moving to, a feed store is essential for us. While Rich is checking their inventory, I'm taking a seat next to Lumby Jack and soak it all in. There's a warm, happy glow in my belly, and after a moment I recognize the sensation washing over me: Possibility. This could work.
Property #1, The Money Pit
We are driving down a dirt road, and pull into a long, winding driveway. Two dogs are running towards us, a chocolate lab and a - "Is this a Great Pyrenees?" That's my first question upon meeting the owners, who are both at home. Yes, it is. A Bear-dog, one year old. Right away I like the place.
We enter the house, and I'm pleased: The living area is gorgeous. Hardwood floors, vaulted ceiling, a tall fireplace. A few steps lead down to the dining area, which is also beautifully remodeled. "The kitchen is not done yet, it's a mess", the owner warns us, and I have to agree. It's dark, old, and awful. We learn that the current owners bought this place only 15 months ago, and that it needed a lot of work. Then the wife suffered two strokes in quick succession several months ago, and this place is too much work for them now. That's why they are selling.
What they have renovated so far is stunning - we share similar tastes, so I love what they have done. But the work is far from completed, and the bones of the house aren't great: Rich discovers a soft spot in the floor in one of the bathrooms, meaning the wood is rotten; the kitchen is a disaster; and the foundation is wood, not concrete.
We check out the rest of the place. It's 18 acres, mostly grass, with a steep hill and a nice plateau on top. Not bad. The outbuildings are tear-downs, which means we would have to build every single stall, chicken coop, bird aviary and a barn.
While it's tons better than anything we have seen the previous day, it's just too much work and would get too expensive. It's a no.
Property #2, The Barn That Never Ends
This place is right next door, which is the reason why we don't actually go there. We see it from property #1, and find out what the advertised "one of the most unique horse properties you will ever come across" looks like: A giant barn. They built the barn right onto the house, boasting that you don't have to step outside in order to feed your animals. There is a door leading from the house directly into the barn. Practical? Maybe. Aesthetically pleasing? Absolutely not. Besides, it's too close to the neighbour, the property is on the small side (8 acres), and the listing mentions a camera security system that makes me think this place may be a grow-up. Moving on.
Property #3, You Had Me From Hello
We are driving out of town, along a winding road that leads us past meadows, little farms, and wooded hills on both sides. Gorgeous.
Eventually we turn off the paved road onto a dirt one that leads into the forest.
A minute passes.
I'm just thinking to myself, "Hmm, that's quite deep in the woods", when I see the 'For Sale'-sign ahead of us.
We pull into the driveway, and my heart stops.
Wow. This is breathtaking!
We have pulled up in front of a pretty house with a huge deck, bathed in glorious sunshine. The house is sitting on the top of a grassy sloping hill, interspersed with little groups of trees. In the distance we see pine dotted hillsides rising above the valley.
I'm mesmerized. A gentle breeze is ruffling my hair, and I see an eagle soaring high in the sky.
It's so peaceful.
Looking around, I can't see a single house. Nobody would complain about the dogs barking or the peacocks calling!
Stepping inside the house, I'm delighted. I'm standing in a bright dining room area, with the kitchen straight ahead and the living room behind it. It's an open-concept living space, which I love. It's also in excellent shape, with barely any renovations needed. Going downstairs, I discover another 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, and a separate exit.
"Perfect for guests", I think to myself.
I go outside again to explore the other side of the house. What I discover makes my heart leap: A willow tree.
Willow trees have a special significance for me. We have one in our place that's my favourite spot in the world. I go there to read, think, and do yoga. Rich and I have the best conversations there. We have solved problems, made plans, and had major and minor epiphanies under our willow tree. Last year we celebrated Rich's birthday there.
Willow trees are special.
I can't help but regard the willow tree as a sign from the universe - is this place meant to be our new home?
Rich has been exploring on his own, and we meet up at the fire pit.
(Did I mention that it has the most perfect campfire spot ever? Did I?? Because it does. Who loves campfires? This girl.)
He looks at me, and says fervently: "I love this place."
"You do?", I squeal excitedly, jumping up and down. "Me, too! I was so hoping you would say that! I love it, too!" We hug each other tightly for a moment.
We end up staying for a good hour, walking around, soaking it all in, already planning where we would build the barn, where the dogs would sleep, if the sheep would like it here.
Properties #4 and #5, Forget It.
We do look at the other 2 places, but we are fairly sure that we won't like them. #4 is quite horrible: A single-wide trailer, with neighbours all around, within smelling distance of a huge cattle ranch. We can smell the manure already, and they are in the process of expanding; once they fill up the new barns with cows, the stench will be overpowering. No thanks.
#5 isn't bad, except for the fact that it's close to a busy road, with the sound of cars driving past being a constant background noise. Again, no thanks.
We saw "our" place last Tuesday, and have been thinking about it constantly. There are several cons: It's 13 km away from the next town. Is that too far?
There are no visible neighbours. While we love that fact, would it feel lonely after a while?
The majority of the 22 acres is on a sloping hill. How much would we be able to use it?
We haven't even investigated about possible employment opportunities yet. Would I find a job?
But there is no denying our strong initial reaction. We both, individually, fell in love. Not unlike when we first met each other. That meeting was also highly unlikely to lead to anything lasting, given our circumstances. And look at us now! 14 years later, and stronger than ever.
We have to see it again. Next week we will head back to Lumby, and look at it again. Stay a night in town, to explore some more. Try to decide with our heads, not our guts.
Or should we let our gut-feeling decide? We did it before, and it didn't lead us astray.