Grit Blogs > Transitional Traditions


"Life begins at the intersection. What direction, what direction, what direction, now?" ~Switchfoot

Remember how I mentioned we had a lot going on behind the scenes? How I couldn't really talk about it right then because so much was yet to be understood?


I think I can finally talk about it.

On the day Finn was born, Andy had a wonderful conversation with a friend of ours who came to cuddle a new baby. As I watched him speak with her about some relationship issues she was having, it really dawned on me that his long time desire to study psychology was well founded. This guy can really read people and help them out! A few days later, I expressed my support of him returning to college to finish his bachelor's degree. Instead of English like he began back in 2000, he would finish with a degree in psychology. From there, he could open doors to a number of vocations and careers involved in helping people overcome their problems.

We contacted the local university we both had attended years back (and is now consequently a mile from our home) and got him enrolled in their non traditional student, "welcome back, we understand it was rough the first time around" amnesty program. He applied for financial aid and was all set with his student counselor to begin school again for Spring semester (beginning at the end of January).

But then, the VA office was hard to get hold of for his paperwork and we were super busy with baby and life happened. Details for me at this point are a bit hairy as I was sleep deprived, but we sort of let it go on purpose. Summer school, it seemed, would be more likely and then really dive in next Fall.

Around this time, my father casually mentioned that the house across the street from Foxwood Farm was going to be sold. When we lived at Foxwood, the home was (is) owned by an older fellow whom I grew up knowing as Mr. Carly. Mr. Carly lived with his parents in a house down the road a bit (like 100 yards) until both of them passed. Then when I was in middle or high school, he built his own home directly across the street from our farm. He sold off his folks' home and kept seven acres to himself. He planted flowering trees and bushes and had a sizable pond dug at the very back of his property. An avid birder, he also carved wood as a hobby and built an enormous three-bay garage in which he kept his woodshop. My father rented out most of the acreage for farming and this arrangement has been going on happily for years.

When we heard that Mr. Carly's house was about to be available, our hearts skipped a beat. We could no longer have Foxwood, but here was a chance to create a farmette of our own, right across the street from family. It seemed so timely. Just that week, Andy and I had seen Mr. Carly out and about in Oshkosh in his silver little hatchback and we talked about whether or not he would ever move away and if it would be possible to buy his house. We agreed then that he likely would never move as he is fiercely independent, despite his old age.

Hearing Dad's description of the house, it sounded just right. Dad thought it might be a great investment home for us to work on for five to ten years and then have the equity and savings to build up on the hill at The Other Farm. The more we talked it over with family (both my side and Andy's), the more it seemed like a good idea.

We visited Mr. Carly and toured the home. With all due respect to the man, he has been a bachelor his whole life and the home will need some serious TLC! :-) But we have plenty of sweat and very little cash. So this works out.

We talked to a couple lenders and are getting qualified for a mortgage. Meanwhile, we talked to our old neighbor Mr. Carly and he is agreeable to the price we offered him! So the home has not been listed and neither of us has realtors, yet we are virtually at an agreement to buy a home in the country!

As exciting as that is, the intersections in our lives just keep cresting on the horizon.

While Andy is interested in continuing his education (something he has gone back and forth on for years), he is also passionate about the local food scene. Outside of Gourmet Grassfed, he is inserting himself in various organizations in the Fox Valley and Wisconsin to become a sort of grassroots expert on food systems and scaling up to the regional level. The inherent problem with knowing your farmer is that a school district cannot rely on one farm for all their food needs. But a collaboration of growers as well as local transportation just might work to get nutrient dense fruits, veggies and meats into the hands of those who really need it. In his dealings, he's been asked to be a mentor, an advisor and has become a sounding board for several non-profit groups who are trying to get local food more accessible.

This sort of acknowledgement of his abilities and skills is new. For years Andy has been battling delegitimizing and belittling authority figures. People who didn't take him seriously or only knew him for certain aspects of his past.

Perhaps until now, he didn't really deserve it. Rest assured, the time he spent being humbled has only served to build within him a desire for servant leadership; to kneel down and wash the dirty feet instead of sitting in the throne. Having people outside of me and a select handful of close friends begin to rely on his hard won expertise is a very new experience for Andy. Within this came an opportunity to work on the ground level of a new food hub being developed and partially funded by the Wisconsin Farmer's Union. Called the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative, it is brand new and already hitting the ground running for 2013. They have growers contracted and need a full time manager and full time sales person.

After Andy's work with them, a few of the board members asked him to apply for the sales position. They interview all the candidates next week. The job can be worked from home, too.

He is going to apply.

Which brings back the question he's been struggling with: Do I go back to school for a degree in psychology in which I am totally passionate about, but cannot do with street cred? You can't do anything in counseling or psych without at least a bachelor's and for most things you need a masters or more.

Or do I follow my food passion and continue to build up my street credit with hard won experience and learning? So far being in the trenches, degree-less and instinct-full, has gotten Andy some serious double-takes by people with influence. If he is not offered the sales position, he plans to continue to be a part of this local food movement both on the county and state level.

Then, to add another point to the intersection in our life, I just had an interview for a graphic design position in Fond Du Lac (20 mins south of Oshkosh). It would be full time and this is not temporary.

If hired, I would be a full time working woman again. Andy wouldn't be homeschooling, so Ethan and Elly would be enrolled in public school next Fall. If Andy gets hired, the younger two would be watched by someone else while Andy works from home.

Suddenly the intersection starts looking more like this:


"The future is a question mark/ of kerosene and 'lectric sparks." ~Switchfoot

In a few weeks, we'll know if any of this comes to pass. And then so will you. Exciting and strange times, right?

Rebekah Sell lives on a small plot of land with her husband, Andy, on which they are hoping to build a sustainable homestead. With a small business and four kids, life is always interesting as Becky and Andy live fully the idea that the journey is the reward. Find her on .