December 21, 2019

We Bought the Farm!

Pennellville, New York

After a few weeks of settling in to our new home, the blog is back! Following such a big transition, it’s only fitting that the first post be about the farm. This story is full of surprises (like how this whole thing started at a baby shower!) and ends with a astoundingly-quick answer to prayer. It’s a long story, but so worth hearing. I hope you’ll stick around!

The Dream

Our journey to this place started in early 2019 when a feeling of restlessness started to creep into my heart. I didn’t know what exactly I was restless for, but I started craving some sort of change. I loved our life in North Syracuse. We had a sweet house, the very best neighbors, and we were very conveniently located. Still, I felt unsettled.

My heart started longing for roots. I wanted a place where we could dig deep, and lay a lasting foundation for our family. I wanted a place where we could live a simpler life with less distractions. I wanted land that our kids could inherit one day. I started long for the type of home where the memories of the place itself would be just as important as the memories of what happened there. I told all of this to Caleb and it turned out that he had been feeling this longing too.

While we loved our little Cape Cod style house and our neighborhood, we knew we would outgrow it someday and that day was creeping closer. So we came up with a plan to buy the “Ludlow Dream House” and created a realistic timeline: approximately seven to ten years.

The Farm

A few months passed and nothing really changed on our end. We had been saving pretty intensely, hoping to buy an income property that would allow us to buy our dream home in a few years. Since we knew we had some time, we never looked at real estate listings or ventured on Zillow.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned since marrying into the Ludlow family, it’s how to spot a nice property when I see one. We can’t take a road trip without Caleb pointing out all the “potential” in abandoned houses or farms. After five years of marriage, I’ve adopted this habit as well.

Well in September, I was invited to a baby shower that our friend was hosting at her cabin on Pleasant Lake. I had never heard of the place or even ventured north of Rt. 31 before, but right before I turned onto her road I saw a beautiful farm house and a “For Sale” sign out front. It was surrounded mostly by fields and had a big red barn next to it. There was something simple and beautiful about the place. I quickly texted Caleb, “I think I just found our dream property!”

At first the idea of moving to this farm was somewhat of a joke. Who buys a farm on a whim?! But once we started running the numbers, we realized that the savings we had built up for a rental property were actually enough for a down payment. We also realized that if we rented our current house, we could get the income property that Caleb had always wanted, and make the farm even more affordable.

All of the pieces started falling into place and in less than three months we had moved in!

Welcome Home

We’ve been in the house now for just over three weeks. The first thing everyone has asked us when they visit is, “Does it feel like home yet?” The answer to that is a resounding “YES!” I would be lying if I told you that this transition was without its challenges, but we’ve felt at home here since day one.

Some of the things we’ve come to love about this place so far are:

  • The way you can spot the top of the silos over the trees as you drive up the road. (And how Elizabeth always shouts “I see our silos and the barn!”)
  • The growth chart kept on the door frame of the downstairs closet where generations of kids have been measured.
  • The creaky old stairs that make noise with every step. (Okay, it might only be me that likes this.)
  • The giant mudroom!
  • All of the windows that let in so much natural light!
  • The dining room and breakfast nook that finally give us enough space to have large groups over for dinner.
  • The land with space to really run, although most of that will have to wait till spring.
  • The barn with just enough of a hill in front for little kids to sled down.

This house is big, it’s old, and it makes lots of strange noises, but there is something so peaceful about it. Every time we walk through the door (even into a mudroom that is currently filled with tools, salt for the porch steps, and bathroom fixtures waiting to be installed), it feels like coming home.

A Very Special Thank You

This post may have told how we came to the farm, but the story of this place really began long before us. This home has been lovingly cared for by many families, most recently the Knickerbockers. Of all of the wonderful things this home has brought us, the most treasured moments have been getting to know the family who lived here before us. A large part of how familiar this place feels to us is thanks to their generosity with their knowledge, stories, and copious amounts of baked goods!

The Mrs. Knickerbocker who lived here before us lived here for 72 years. While we never met her, living in her house for the past few weeks, I feel like we’ve gotten to know her a little.

A few days ago, her daughter brought over a tray of Christmas cookies as a housewarming gift. “These are what Mom would have made if she were coming to welcome you,” she said. On the tray were all sorts of delicious cookies, many of which were the very same types that Elizabeth and I had made the day before. It was a small connection, but to me it felt reassuring. Someone of the same mind as me (or at least the same taste in Christmas cookies) once lived here, baked here, and watched her children grow.

I don’t know if we will live here for 72 years (I’ll be 101 then, so it’s unlikely), but I am so grateful for all this place has brought us already. It is exactly what my heart was longing for. That restless feeling has gone and left in its place a feeling of home.

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