Putting Roots Down In The Central Virginia Mountains

Reader Contribution by Benjamin Baer
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Well, a lot has been happening with the Backyard Baers family … hence the giant lapse in posts. When we moved to Virginia, the plan was to rent our first year, and then buy the home of our dreams. Well, renting isn’t what it was for me when I was 19. I know that it is the ideal situation for a lot of people and their lifestyles … but not ours.

The rental itself was very cool. We were on 10 acres with stunning mountain views and not a neighbor in sight. Some folks might cringe at that setting, but it was exactly what we craved, and one of the main reasons we made the move to Virginia. But, being in the rental was like putting a kid in a toy store and telling him not to play with any of the toys, because there was an endless list of things we would have liked to have done on that land. Add a giant garden plot, set up shop for some honeybees, build an awesome chicken coop, but we didn’t want to do all that work, just to leave it behind in a year (besides, I’ve already had to leave one coop behind, and I wasn’t about to do that again).

So, we spoke to our landlords, and started advertising for a sublease. It took about two months, but we ended up finding some folks to take over our lease that were perfect for the home and were similar to us in many ways when we left Texas. They were looking to get out of traffic and town, and into their own private oasis … just weren’t looking to turn the place into a mini-homestead like we wanted.

At the same time, we started looking at houses; keeping in mind with each home we viewed, where the garden would go and where the chickens would live; and keeping our fingers crossed we didn’t put ourselves in a precarious situation between the end of our lease and the beginning of a mortgage. We looked at several, went back and forth on a few, and had the bottom fall right out from under us on one. But, it all worked out perfectly, because right after we got the (at the time) devastating news that one home was being taken off the market, one that fit us even better went on the market.

We ended up in a home ideal for our growing family; it’s at the top of a mountain with views similar to our rental, plenty of land for kids and dogs to play, chickens and gardens to flourish, and all within our budget. We’ve been in the home for a few weeks now, and while it’s nothing extravagant or luxurious, it’s everything for us to consider it our realistic dream home. It doesn’t have the isolation the rental had, but we’ve met the folks who live nearby, and they all seem like great people.

What’s next? Well, we have essentially had six months to plan the many projects we so dearly wanted to do in the rental. So, no more downtime, it’s time to get to work. And there is plenty to be done.

Most of our land is pretty wooded, so wooded in fact, we had our first black bear encounter about a week ago. It got the dogs pretty riled up; but for my wife and I, it was just fascinating to experience firsthand some of the wildlife living among us. We love that at any given time we can see deer or bear, or who knows what else, from our bedroom window. Again, it’s one of the reasons we made the move to Virginia.

Anyways, some of the land will need to be cleared to make room for the chicken coop I’m envisioning. Details will be forthcoming on that, because our chickens will be living a life of luxury; but before that project can start, a few trees need to come down, and plenty of foliage needs to be cleaned up. Safe to say plenty of work awaits the Backyard Baers.

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