Something that’s really helped my mental health lately is spending weekends at my family’s farm. My parents bought it as a vacation property last summer.
Growing up, we never had a cottage or vacation home. My dad (a lawyer) worked long hours and many weekends, so it wasn’t feasible to go out of town every weekend. Instead my parents took us on some great vacations – skiing in Quebec or Vermont in the winter and going to the beach in Maine in the summer. My sister and I feel very lucky to have wonderful memories of our family holidays.
When Littleman was born, my parents started thinking more seriously about purchasing a vacation home where we could spend more time together as a family. My dad grew up outside of the city and worked on a farm as a teenager. A farm is something he has always wanted, and now that he’s getting closer to retirement, my parents decided to go for it.
Last year, D, Littleman and I spent many weekends with my parents on the hunt for the perfect family farm. It wasn’t easy. My parents each had their list of criteria, which proved difficult to meet. For my dad, we needed to find something within a two-hour drive from the city. It needed acreage, with land that could be farmed, as well as some forested area. And it had to have a barn. For my mom, it needed to look “farmy” (which we discovered meant it needed to look like the cover of a country lifestyle magazine!) and it needed to have a pool (or a decent space to put in a pool).
We looked at tons of properties. Each one had a couple of things on the “must-have” list, but there was always something missing. Then, D and I found a listing. It was large (five bedrooms) but would provide the perfect amount of space for our family as it grows. It had 100 acres (including fields to be farmed plus 30 acres of bush, with walking trails throughout). It was just over an hours drive from Toronto. D and I fell in love with it (on paper) right away and sent the listing to my parents. It was pricier than the others they had seen, but it was the first one with everything (or almost everything) they were looking for. They brushed off the listing and continued to view others. D and I never forgot about it and would occasionally watch the virtual tour and wish that we would win the lottery so we could just buy it ourselves.
Fast forward a couple of months (and a bunch more dud properties) and my parents finally agreed to visit the one we had found. I think we all knew it was “the one” from the moment we pulled into the driveway. It just felt right.
After a couple of visits and some negotiations, the farm was ours! We took possession last August and have enjoyed every minute of our time there.
It’s so amazing to have a place outside of the hustle and bustle of the city. Littleman loves being outside and the fresh air is so good for all of us. In the summer, we eat every meal on the beautiful screened-in porch and pick fresh vegetables from the huge garden. A local farmer brings some of his horses to graze in our pasture. In the fall, we took long walks through the bush to admire the colours of the changing leaves. In the winter, we bought Littleman a sled so we could pull him through the snow. In the spring, we put on our rain boots and stomped in the puddles from the melting snow.
I’ve always been a city girl, so I had no idea how much I would love spending time at the farm. I feel blessed to have a place to go to get away from our busy lives and slow down a bit. But mostly, I’m grateful that Littleman (and, with hope, a future sibling) will have the opportunity to grow up enjoying the great outdoors.