|A freshly grown Radio Acres carrot for the new year. Kind of funny and not totally normal, but tasty just the same.|
Sometime at the beginning of November, on an afternoon much like this one, I was at a museum in Old Town with some friends and our kids. Suddenly, as we were dawdling amongst the exhibits, I get a buzz in my pocket. Now, it's no surprise to have someone from the farm calling me, so I thought nothing of answering this phone call on this particular day. A panicked Sarah was on the other end of the line this time, and immediately my heart rate shot up.
"We've got an emergency," she stated "the permitting department just left our house."
Uh oh. My world started swirling in slow motion. What did it mean? Well, the short answer was that someone had called the permitting department on us, and that meant a lot of things. We currently had two unpermitted structures on our property, as well as an old trailer that we were in the process of gutting and refinishing that someone was (cough*) utilizing for a short period of time. We were busted. The major problem with this scenario is that not only were we busted, but the situation seemed pretty hopeless. We could not all feasibly live in the main house, we couldn't back permit our studio and bathroom to be legal livable space, and we could see no way to further our future here at the farm. This all really hit the fan in November/December.
As December rolled around, Jeremy and I were looking for new places to live. We could not figure out a functional way to have all of us stay at the farm. As many of you know, it is impossible to get a construction loan, we have no equity in the house, and we definitely don't have tens of thousands of dollars saved up to build an addition like we dreamed of doing. The studio was supposed to buy us time to save some money and eventually build something big, but we hadn't bought enough time yet. Our hands just seemed tied, and it was a very sad and hard time here. We had hoped that our families would be committed here for at least a few years, and that we could see this project through. So many curve balls seemed to be thrown in such a short window here at the farm, and this was just one of many big ones. We continued to look for answers, to look at rental units, and to figure out an exit plan here (and learned that we really need to have this in place NOW, in case something happens again).
Finally, one afternoon as we were coming together for yet another meeting, BJ presented something that seemed like it could be a viable solution. We may not be able to get a line of credit or a loan from a bank, but what about our network of friends and family? We knew what our monthly comfort level was, and if we worked backwards and came up with an amount that we could comfortably pay off over the next 3-5 years, why not pitch it to our friends and family and see if they'd invest in us? It seemed like a long shot, but it seemed like it just might work (and we didn't have very many other options.) We sprung into action.
And so, it seems, our loving community of family and friends has rallied around us and made this next phase in the farm a reality. We currently have the final plans from the draftsman. He will take them to the City Permitting Department later this week and we will be praying that they stamp them off and we can break ground in the next couple of weeks! By summertime we will have a legitimate "west wing" to our main house, and both of our families will have enough space to stretch our legs and really settle in! As for the studio and bathroom, that's a separate issue but we are jumping through all the hoops with the back permitting to make it al legit one way or another.
I am so grateful that we can get another chance to take this to the next phase. It's forward movement on our dream, and I can't wait to see what the next years will bring. There are so many possibilities here! I can't wait to have more years to grow in our relationships with each other and to support each other. I long to learn how to be more sustainable, and I can't wait to move forward on our possibilities of goats, fish, gardens, and bees. It feels like everything has been on hold for so long, and like we were all holding our breath to see how we were going to make it all work. Prior to this, we were still having issues with figuring out how to save money to really build something bigger for Sarah and BJ because they couldn't live in that studio for the next 3 years while we saved that cash, so we've realized now what a backwards blessing this has been. I am just keeping my fingers crossed and praying for a little longer that this permitting stuff all goes smoothly and that we can really continue on this path. I love the people we are on this journey with, they are my family now and I am not quite ready to go our separate ways yet. It would seem a journey too short and unfinished. Thanks, y'all, for your prayers, energy, and just rooting for us! Keep it on.