Chomping At The Bit
I have been dying to post about this & I FINALLY can. I have been waiting for this moment for such a long time keeping this secret to myself and close family and friends. 2018 was a rough year for us to say the least, but if there is a silver lining to anything...it's 2019.
In the middle of January, my husband and I were given an opportunity of a lifetime. An opportunity when we needed it the most and we were feeling down on our luck. An opportunity when we literally didn't know what our next move was going to be or even where we were going to be.
I'll never forget it, we were standing at The Derby (a smalltown bar that you wouldn't know what it is unless you're from Salem County) with my family in between a wedding and a reception having some drinks and sharing some laughs. We were discussing what our plan was going to be, as we had made the decision to move. We looked at properties from New Jersey all the way to Texas and just didn't know what was going to happen. Neither of us willing to give up our lives in agriculture. We were having our normal family tractor gossip when my stepfather 'joked' about selling the farm. Jesse bit and threw out a number but we never really expected it to go anywhere.
That next day, Jesse (my husband) reached out to Brian (my stepfather) to tell him that he was serious about the offer if he was actually interested in taking it. Still...not expecting for him to actually bite. You see, from the time that Jesse and I started dating, he knew that it was my end goal to own that farm. But we always thought that opportunity would come when we were 50 years old, not 24 and 27. Before we even knew what was happening, we were meeting with loan officers and figuring out exactly how we were going to financially make this work. And GEESH is that a process for anyone that has never been through it. My head is still spinning from all of the paperwork.
To give you a little background on why I was so passionate to one day own this ground, my family (& yes my non-biological side of the family has been in my life since I was 6 years old and I look at it no other way) started this farm many many moons ago. In was before I entered the family that is was sold to a man named Roger and his wife. The family had to let it go for financial reasons and the unfortunate passing of a loved one. & though Roger owned the ground, my stepfather & PopPop continued to farm it and use the buildings on the ground as if it were still their own. There was always an understanding between them all & I think that Roger knew that he was just a bookmark in this chapter of life on that farm.
Roger was a dairy farmer from Mount Laurel who sold out to developers but still wanted to be surrounded by agriculture. He & his critters moved down to Stow Creek, NJ and started their lives over. My childhood memories include being so excited to go to my grandparents so that my cousins and I could go to the farm with my Mommom to see the animals. It was a regular old funny farm. There are peacocks running around EVERYWHERE. I think that they had one of every animal imaginable...it was Noah's Ark on land.
After Roger had been put into a nursing home, so had his wife who eventually passed, he gave my stepfather the opportunity of a lifetime. The opportunity to buy the farm back. If you are not from a farming background you may or may not know this, but it is nearly impossible to get something back once you sell it off. It is RARE. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity & despite my mom's hesitation, my parents' bit and took on another mortgage.
My parents owned and operated the farm & from that point forward I knew that I was never going to let it get sold out of the family ever again no matter what. It was my favorite topic of discussion at the dinner table and learning about sustainable agriculture became my passion. While in college, I would send Brian the papers that I wrote on no-till farming & together we would geek out over soil content and nitrogen levels. We would send each other YouTube videos, make fun of people that actually thought (& probably still do) that there is such thing as a GMO carrot, and read 300-page books on the topic for fun. It quickly became our 'thing.'
It was a common ground and a topic that we could agree on. It was something that we both cared about so much. When I met Jesse, who also felt strongly about no-till, I knew that this was going to be our life together. Buying the farm was an opportunity when we needed it the most & we couldn't pass it up.
So, fast forward & here we are. The very proud new owners (just about) of what was once Davis Farm (the new name to be determined and we could use all of the suggestions that you can give). The bank process was a long and frustrating one but we made it happen. Our original plan of building a brand new house on the property fell through, but we got the opportunity for something even cooler.
Our original plan included building a pole barn house where I could channel my inner Joanna Gaines and rock my babies on the front porch. When we got denied the construction loan, we immediately thought to ourselves "what in the actual f*** are we going to do?" We weren't going to pass up the opportunity to buy the farm but we needed somewhere to live and the house that was on the property was in no way salvageable considering the foundation was caving.
That's when Jesse's master plan came about. Why not take an existing pole barn & make it our home? I was immediately sold. He didn't have to talk me into it one bit. I loved the idea, and even more, I loved that we were saving some money. But what I loved the most, was that we could take the barn, a place that Roger loved so much, and make it into our home. A barn with history and love and meaning. A place that we could start our family with that angel looking down over us. Because even when he was alive, that is exactly what he was, our own personal angel.
This past winter, we lost Roger, a man that we had learned to look at as a family. My grandmother was destroyed and it was truly so hard to watch. She and my PopPop had grown to love this man, who was their neighbor and friend, so much. They were his family and he was ours. The man that gave the Davis's a second chance. And though I am not a Davis by blood, I have to think that he is looking down smiling at all that is happening beneath him. Smiling at the opportunity, that if it weren't for him, we would have never received.
As a matter of fact, I know that he is. Because on the Monday that the house got torn to the ground I took off work to be there. As I entered the long lane I felt a knot in my throat as the house that had always sat there was nothing more than a pile of lumber on the ground. Emotion swept over me that I never thought would. I sat there that whole day, just watching. I mentioned to my PopPop that I hadn't seen any peacocks floating around that day...
Tired of picking up debris, I decided that I was going to go for a ride and headed to the barn to get the Kubota. Right there, as I was down on the ground trying to get the door unlatched to open, I gazed off towards the woods. There was an all-white peacock standing on the edge staring towards the demolition zone. It was at that exact moment that I knew that everything was going to be okay. That no matter how much I stressed about our change of plans and life and worried about money, it was going to be okay. Because there sat that white peacock and I knew that though he was gone, his spirit would never leave that property. & each and every day that we have been at the farm working on our new home, if you look off towards the woods, you can almost always see that same bird sitting there watching. Sometimes even showing off his feathers for us.
It's moments like these that I wonder how people do not believe in a higher power. How anyone can tell me that God (whoever your God is), doesn't exist. In my prayers, I thank that man each and every day for all that we have achieved in our relationship. For the opportunities that we have been blessed with. For the family that shows love without end. I thank him for giving us the courage and strength to take a huge leap of faith. And most importantly, for showing us that we can get through anything.
We are the Sickler's & this is our next chapter.
To be continued....