We Made Some Mistakes Along the Way Series: Leaving the Nest, Part 1



This is the third installment of the We Some Mistakes Along the Way homesteading blog series. Find all installments here.

After moving around my whole adult life and spending a significant amount of time deployed in a tent with the Army, I decided it was time to buy a house and put down some roots. So, soon after returning from Iraq, my boyfriend and I bought our first house in the city/suburbs near Trenton, New Jersey.

Renovating Our First Home

Together we took someone else’s home and made it our own. We knocked down walls, renovated and added bathrooms, even blew out the roof line to expand the two upstairs bedrooms. We put in new floors, new windows, painted, gardened, and built our first chicken coop. Most things we did ourselves, some we hired out for, some we begged stole and borrowed time and talents from friends and family. I was surprised to find that for the first time in my life I wanted to stay home and work on projects instead of going out to party and have fun. This was my new fun. Friends and family commented on “how domestic I’d become.”  I never considered myself “domestic,” but I didn’t care what you called it. I was making my home and I loved it. Eventually Dave and I got married, and would go on to do many more projects together. I was unaware at the time that I was nesting, and I did this for years before having our first child.

What do you mean it’s too small?

All the while, unbeknownst to me (or maybe knownst and ignored) my husband was outgrowing our beautiful nest that we had worked so hard to create. So, while I was filling our home with love for our new child, Dave was planning a new homestead for our family. We finally discussed this in my third of fourth month of pregnancy. I could see his point – we both wanted our kids to live close to nature, be able to run freely (and safely) outside, and he had about 1,000 plans for things he wanted to build. I held out for several weeks, but had to admit our neighborhood was going downhill. I believe the last straw was when our shed was broken into, our bikes and multiple power tools were stolen. Up and down the street, people’s tires were getting punctured, and windows broken to steal change out of the ashtray. So, in about my fifth month of pregnancy I finally entertained my husband’s plea to look at this beautiful homestead in the country he had been eyeing for months.

Catch: it was a fixer upper. A big time, falling apart, full of mold, formerly used as a trash dump fixer upper that had sat on the market for about two years. “The value is in the land” the realtors say. Yeah. If you could get past all the trash and neglect. But there was no mistaking it, it really was beautiful. It sat on 11 acres that backed up to a brook and miles of preserved hiking trails and horse farms.

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