Sunshine and Shadow


It's been a few days of bleak news and difficult situations. As a result, I allowed myself a rare day off the paying job, and committed to a day on the farm - and for once, the weather played ball, and it was just bliss.

First a trip down to Whiston's to see Linnie and Lacey. They are our 3 year old girls, best milkers and all round general loveys. They have yet to meet Billy the Boy so will be last in kid, but one of them may be the best choice for Julia when the time comes. We sell youngstock as part  of our goat enterprise, but a long time ago we got a start by being given two particularly gorgeous old things and then subsequently our first purebred, Scallywag (Linnie and Lacey's grandma).  We knew one day we would want to pay it forward, and one of our goats would move on to a new home free of charge, in kid and ready to go, to get someone else started. We also knew we'd 'just know' who that person was, and Julia is she. So either one of these, or possibly Lacey's mummy, Poppy - who is *in love* with Billy and is already *undoubtedly* in the family way - will be moving to Devon when paper work and transport is sorted.

Next, a bit of investigating. Our property developing ducks, Phil and Kirstie, have been widening their search area a little too much. They arranged a visit to our neighbour's house at the weekend, and they've been checking out the garden at the property over the road for a while. So it was a case of finding where they were getting out, and plugging the gap. Job done, they were allowed out of their temporary prison and are now happily snaffling slugs in the veg  beds.

Meanwhile the return of the sun meant the beagador was sunbathing on the stoop, welcoming back the rays.

I've loaded the seed trays for the propagator, and evicted the cat who was sleeping on it, and turned on the incubator in the hope that the bantams who are in with the cockerel continue to lay and we'll set some on the go. It feels like spring. It isn't of course, it's January and apparently about to snow, but like the dog on the stoop, you should never miss a chance to feel like it's spring. Even when it isn't.

Work tomorrow, is the price I pay - but it was worth it.

It's all about

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to change?

Don't know.

I know we've been trying to achieve the homestead dream now for fifteen years, by roughly the same method, and we've hit a wall. We've done an amazing amount, lived the dream in so many ways ... but where does it go?

2013 could be the year for us to get real.

We both work part time, self employed, and now what we need is to get more control over our finances and have a real end in view - we may need to take a step or two back, in order to take a few steps forward.

We need a stake in our home, a way to save and manage our finances, and a plan to move on.

My design work in permaculture, as I study for my diploma, is also leading me down paths I really want to explore - transition, small space living, suburbia/village life - which may be a key part of our own transition.

I don't do change. I really struggle to even imagine clearing out the garage. But it may be time to move on.

Now to see if we can do what we have in mind ...

What would you do ...

I'm going to talk about a choice, or  a decision, or a fork in the road ... and I'm going to ask you what you would do.
I am so happy to hear what you would do, where ever you live - I have lots of American friends, but if you are one of them, please hear what I say about land and property in *this* country because our decisions have to be made in our conditions.

this way or that?

We have lived in this house for five and a half years. We have rented the land on a farm business tenancy for somewhat longer. In this country to get hold of an fbt is quite something, and not to be lightly discarded. If  I move ten miles or a hundred miles down the road, I am not likely to just pick up another. Access to land in this country is woeful - shameful even - we were once a nation of free peasants, and now only the richest can dream of having real access to any kind of land at all.

We have been unable to look at buying property for several reasons, most to do with our financial history. We are both self employed and still very  would find it difficult to raise a mortgage.  In the five and a half years we have rented *this house alone* (and we have actually been renting in this county for 15 years)  we have paid out in rent (with at times some government support) around about a quarter of the average UK house price. There is no way we could buy anything - and yet in rent, we have paid out one fourth of a house. It seems a bit mad.

HOW much?

There may be a possibility for us to buy into a house. We would - initially - own 50% of it, and pay rent on the other 50%. It is in a nice village, and it is really, a nice house. It's semi detached, and surrounded by people but it would be (at least half) ours. It is 15 minutes from where we have our land (which is currently, lets say 5 minutes, but still requires a car journey) and everything we do, farm wise, would have to be concentrated onto that land. We'd have to have two homes. Living home - for weekdays and winters, school work and laundry - and Farming home (we have a caravan on the field and could make better use of it) - for weekends and summer evenings for lambing and growing and letting the inner farmer run riot.

Not the house in question, I might add. 

My soul is torn in two. I'm afraid of giving up my dream. I'm not sure I *want* to live in a little house in a line of other little houses - and yet the possibility that it will lend us greater freedom and in the end, we might have some kind of equity in that house and be able to think about some other future move to land of our own (where I would truly love to live in a simple roundhouse on my own land, with my own animals and my own crops) - and the end to the paying out of truly *vast* quantities of cash for no gain at all ...

We mustn't delude ourselves. Land in this country is so expensive that even living in a half owned house for a decade, frugally and with great economy, even if property prices picked up, and we saved like little squirrels,  would not enable us *ever* to buy a house of our own with land. There is just the slim hope we might be able to buy just a plot of land somewhere.

The alternative is to trust in the Lord and the Greater Good, stay where we are, safe and well provided for, surrounded by our big garden, with my polytunnel and my veg garden beside it - the goats around the corner and the field a five minute drive or a 20 minute summer walk away. And calmly pay out perhaps the next quarter of the value of the average UK home over the next five and a half years. And still have nothing solid to show for it.

my much loved sunny kitchen window sill

So I'm carding jacob wool ready for spinning and I'm thinking and troubling - no one knows how long they will be here for. I am ten years younger now than my mother was when she died - and barely seven younger than my brother was when he went - so I'm very aware that scarring the present to provide for a future that may never be, is a bitter kind of foolishness. Equally to live long on the earth in penury of your own stupid making must also be sorrowful. I try and try to be still, and just know that He is God - but life is a decision. Not moving on is a decision as much as moving on would be.

I want to seize the day, be positive, take the dream by the scruff of its throat and march on laughing into the sunset - if it ever stops raining! - but ... I don't know which one is the big positive ... which of the days to seize!

It's a family decision, obviously, not down just to me - but out of interest - what would you do?
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