Cheese or A New Home?

There are no shortage of projects here at the farm. Every day there are the typical tasks such as milking the cows, bringing them to pasture, and weeding the vegetables gardens. Beyond that, there are always multiple ongoing projects that we decide between whenever we have a spare afternoon or weekend. Whether it’s working on extra farm jobs or spending time on personal goals, each member of our family seems to have a never-ending list of options. I’m sure most people can relate, whether you live on a farm or not!

The housing situation for each of the three families here at Fern Island Farm is currently undergoing major changes and represents a significant portion of the “extra projects” I’m talking about.  Last fall Fañch’s brother and his wife purchased a one-hundred year old farmhouse down the road and decided to completely redo it top to bottom. It had been redone in the 60s with questionable taste and quality of building materials so they want to return it to its original rustic character, uncovering the original stone walls and hardwood floors. My brother-in-law Julien has been using every spare moment to work on remodeling so that his growing family can move in by this fall.

Fañch’s parents also purchased a new home with the intention of redoing it and passing along their current farmhouse at Fern Island Farm to Fañch and I. The main farmhouse has been in Fañch’s family for five generations but the stones that make up the foundation date back centuries before that. However, before we can move in, his parents have to remodel their new home. It is a small and simple Breton penty whose owner had not done anything to update it since his parents lived there 100 years ago. Well okay, he did have two light bulbs put in and a hose spigot next to the stone fireplace where he cooked every meal in a large black pot over the fire. As you can see, despite the small size of the home the remodel job remains relatively extensive.

So, for the last year and a half while they have gone through plans with the architect and decided on how they want to move forward with the work on their home, Fañch and I have been living in a mobile home on the property (see previous post A New Year, A New Nest). Fañch will be doing much of the work on their home which makes for another large project tacked onto his ever growing list.

Finally, as most of you may know, my longterm goal here at the farm is to make cheese and other dairy products to sell to our customers at the market (see previous post The First Taste). In order to do this we need to construct a cheese-making lab complete with an aging room. Both the cheese project and the houses have been common themes of conversation here for the past two years but for an array of reasons are just now about to come to fruition.

We had originally planned to work on my in-laws home this summer and complete at least enough that they could move in this fall. We would be able to move into the main house just as Lewis was getting to crawling and walking age, allowing him more room than he will have in our tiny nest. That would leave the winter to build the cheese lab so that next spring and summer I would be able to start offering our dairy products alongside the vegetables.

Then the other day Fañch walked in and had on an expression that I know to mean he spent the morning obsessing over something. He clued me in pretty quick, “if you had to choose between having one thing done by next spring would it be the house or the cheese lab?” Ah, so it looked like our original timeline was unfeasible.

He could tell the question caught me off guard and smiled, I think we both knew all along that the farm had bitten off more than it could chew for 2017. So ultimately it came down to me deciding if I would rather prolong our stay in the tiny house with a rapidly growing baby or put my dairy project on the back burner. My immediate reaction was cheese can wait, we need more space. Then as I began to think it over I wasn’t sure if that was necessarily the case after all.

I know from experience that I need to contribute to what is happening around me, sitting back and watching everyone else pursue their passion just won’t cut it for me. Those first couple years here when I was still figuring out what I was going to do were some of the toughest of my life. I felt as though I were just treading water and not moving in any specific direction toward a more fulfilling livelihood. Of course, now I have a son to raise and staying at home to raise a child is the furthest thing from “treading water”, but I know that for me personally I need a job to pursue and work towards that is outside the family unit. So, cheese it is.

For now we are comfortable and happy in our little mobile home. Lewis can be playing in the living room and I can hear him from anywhere in the house. We have everything we need and all in a space that only takes 30 minutes to clean top to bottom. I have been able to work towards mastering my organizational skills and finding storage space in all kinds of places. We have put so much time and work into making our tiny home ours that in the end we aren’t as rushed to leave as we thought we might be. Though, if by next winter we truly feel as though it isn’t sufficient, we can always rent elsewhere while waiting for the main house to open up.

We feel confident that this will be the best option for everyone here at Fern Island Farm. Plus, even if there isn’t endless square footage for Lewis to crawl/walk/run around indoors, he still has plenty of acreage to get outside and become our little ragamuffin!

A few pictures of Lewis’ room:

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