Over the last spring and summer, some of our favorite neighbors set out on a quest to find a farm property with more acreage to accommodate their family.
We watched from afar as they listed their home on the local real estate market. We enjoyed hearing stories of their search for the perfect place to relocate their farm and family. They included us in some of their searches for a second opinion. It was fun looking at different property options. We observed as they overcame obstacles with trying to purchase an existing home and property. The door would close on one opportunity and a window would open to something new and usually better. A lot of prayers and deep breaths went into this process.
Finally, their house sale and land purchase to build a new home came to fruition. Their children and our children are close in age, so we have traded favors back and forth over this progression – making sure everyone gets picked up, fed and shuffled back home. We have been excited to watch them embark on the process of transforming their dream property into their dream home.
A few nights and weekends have been spent helping them move and store large items and relocate into a temporary home. My husband loves new projects and has been right in the middle of helping clearing fence rows and erecting new fences to move their horses over to their new land. Our children and theirs have enjoyed cruising the new property on 4-wheelers. There is something to be said about the sweet freedom of a wide-open space like undeveloped and unfenced land. I’m amazed at how they love to pile in a pick up truck to go watch their dads pound fence posts and work together.
Back in the late 1800s, our government passed the federal Homestead Act of 1862. U.S. citizens were granted 160 acres if they were willing to settle on and farm the land for at least five years. I cannot fathom the hardships they endured as they made the trip out west to set up new farms and homes. I tried to remind myself of the adversities these homesteaders had to overcome to make a new life as we watched our good friends overcome “first world” problems of today’s version of homesteading.
Last weekend, the final large items were moved from their house. It was a weekend of sweat and comedy. At one point, a refrigerator fell over on top of my husband. Our neighbor was quick to come to his rescue. He was unharmed, but we couldn’t help but giggle later on about our own “Flat Stanley” being squashed by an appliance the rest of the weekend.
Changes are hard. Relocating your family in any circumstance is never without stress and hard work. We are grateful to have been a part of the process for our friends to start their new adventure just a few miles away. I would imagine the original homesteaders relied on their community for physical help, humor and prayers.
Moving, building and relocating are always better with good friends and good humor, neighbor.
Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’