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the city mice went to the country/ why we moved

In 2009, Rory planted tomato, green pepper and basil seeds in three pots on the porch of our apartment in Nebraska. I don't believe I would have ever thought those little seeds would be magical, but looking back, they sort of were. They set a new course for us. Because when we ate our own food...our own tomatoes on our BLT's, our own basil on bruschetta, we got really excited. I mean, really excited.

At the same time, we had good friends who had just made a bold move to California to purchase their own land with dreams of one day planting an olive orchard and maybe raising some animals. We happened to be in the area when they were looking for their new place and the hunt sort of got into our blood. Rory came home and began looking at topographical maps of Minnesota and taking road trips to scope out parts of the state.

It was all a far off dream though. Nothing that was going to happen very quickly in our minds.

Just before we had Ivar we moved back into our home on a tenth of an acre in Minneapolis and Rory began to draw up plans for his first garden. He spent the winter reading books, working and reworking the garden grid, planting a few seeds as starts in the window sill.

That winter he decided to take the month of May off as a sabbatical of sorts. He would check his email in the morning, but decided not to do any programming or computer related projects for the month. He was tired of technology and excited to start digging in the dirt.

He built his raised beds, mixed the soil, planted his seeds and began to unwind a bit. Taking the time away from his all-consuming company was a really, really good move.

That first harvest of veggies and berries was pure joy. Turns out Rory could grow things. And build things. And I started stretching my own self...finding new recipes for eggplants, canning tomatoes and making our own spaghetti sauce. This little pastime was becoming a really fun lifestyle. And we loved being outside so much.

Winter came and Rory began to modify his garden plans, staked out a third plot for more produce and suddenly half of our backyard was gardens.

Something began to shift in me during this first year of gardening. And it had to do with my husband. As Ivar and I sat out on a blanket watching Daddo, I saw Rory grow happier as he was fully engaged in something that was life giving and disconnected from his laptop. When you work for yourself it is quite easy to work all the time. And when you work from home it is nearly impossible to "leave the office." But this garden was helping.

Rory was transforming into his best version. I loved it. He was less worried. Less anxious. And he looked really good with a tan. Really good.

We continued to look at different parts of Minnesota for property. But we really didn't think the move would happen any time soon. Mostly I liked the romantic notion of a Sunday afternoon drive while we looked for properties. They were lovely mini roadtrips, with soulful conversation, dreaming together, wondering what our future would hold. Rory nearly got mauled by a farm dog on one vacant lot he was scoping out (clearly I would have been great help, able to document his mauling with my camera if need be).

I had a picture in my head of what rural home might work for us though. It was a picture of my Grandma Bredberg's farm with the yellow house. It had a big garden, a nice grove of trees with a long lane. Whenever I pictured this move, I imagined us moving there. I even inquired to my uncle about us moving there...but it was sold long ago, and the woman living there isn't moving anytime soon.

While in California on our first Ivar-less vacation, we talked more about what we hoped to get out of such a move. We started making dreams for our new life on a hobby farm. And then we got practical and specific. We sat down and we each made a list of what exactly we were looking for in a future place. My list had to do with the house (an attached garage, a kitchen that could fit a table, carpet in the living room, 3 bedrooms...) Rory's list had to do with the property (how many acres, part wooded, part tillable...) I added to my list that I would like neighbors close by and Rory tried once again to explain to me what rural meant.

Eventually we found the listing for this house. The pictures were few and left a lot out. But the description nearly perfectly matched the lists we had just shared with each other. Rory checked it out and loved the property. But he didn't know what I'd think.

In absolutely no hurry, he brought me to see the place five days later. And I kid you not, I was sold before we even turned into the drive. The Oak Trees had me at Hello. Theyhadmeathello.

I loved the town, I loved that it was a dirt road with neighbors (neighbors!). I loved the location to our families (we could have ended up a lot farther away) and I loved the house: an old 1890's farm house that was kept in great condition with lots of love and care. I loved everything about the place.

As I saw each room for the very first time I was already figuring out where to put our furniture, deciding which room would be Ivar's, which room would be the nursery. 

Forty eight hours later, this house in the country was ours. 

We moved out here with no agenda. We're not going all organic. We're not going off-grid. We're not building a bomb shelter. Our hope for this move was based around our kids wanting to raise our family with more room to run around. And we wanted a bigger backyard to plant our garden.

It's a bigger back yard, that's for sure.

So here we are. It has almost been six months and we continue to love our new life out here. And wait until you see Rory's sketches for his next garden. I believe we may have to get our hands on a tractor. I'll keep you posted. 


Mrs. Manders said...

Good for you guys for dreaming and for having the courage to follow those dreams. Looks like a beautiful place. I agree...those oak trees are stunning!

hootenannie said...

Can I come over?

Erika said...

Very cool that you guys followed your dream and made it a reality! We are wanting to start our first vegetable garden this year. We are trying to eat less processed food and I thought a great way would be to start growing some of our own veggies. Any tips on some easy ones to start with?

Rachel said...

This post makes me so happy for your sweet little family! So happy :-) You have a wonderful home for your little munchkins to grow and grow. (Thanks for all the "warm" pictures on this "crisp" day!)

Jamie Willow said...

this was so nice to read, you could really hear your heart and desire for your family and being intentional about it as a couple. I am happy for you guys and I know everything has it's good and bad, but it seems like the good is really good and that's great :)

[not the] Best Blog Ever said...


Joy @ Sea said...

That was fun to read. Papa Groves will help drive the tractor if you get it!

Jordan Miller-Stubbendick said...

This is such a great post! It is wonderful to read about how you and Rory are making your dreams come true. Adam and I send you lots of love!!

Meta Herrick Carlson said...

What a great adventure! I just had my country mouse read this post. We're staying in the city for our next house, but find ourselves in similar exciting conversations about what we value and how exciting it is to write our next chapters. You have found a wonderful corner of the world and the dirt there will be happier for Rory tilling it. :) Love to you guys!

Becca Groves said...

Erika, yes! Tomatoes, egg plant, raspberries and snow peas have been my favorite. But I'm going to have Rory answer this one for you sometime on the blog. The quick answer: just try it. I am learning that gardening is just one big experiment each year. And then you make new plans for the next year based on successes and failures. So just do it. You'll love eating your own food.