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Out of necessity, these blogs that I share with you all weekly, will now be, if under the Regular Rural Updates category, a week behind. It can’t be helped; I’m already exhausting myself with being alone for the next two months and doing all the gardening, errands, renovating and animal husbandry myself. So, though I thought I could write on some of my back-rest, knee-nap moments, I find my fingers too sore to type and my mind too whirling with the next project.
However, there is SOOO much to tell from this past week’s move from Ontario that I don’t want to let it go any longer without sharing. I hope you’ll enjoy the antics below – while there have been some frustrating and even frightening moments, they are certainly good for a chuckle now!
We set out last Monday as scheduled, the U-Haul fully loaded, 1/3 with Rustic Revivals pieces which I hope to sell either on Etsy again (as we’re so near the Maine border now and postage will be easy from there!) OR by opening a shop here eventually. Simba sat in a box between us, looking excited and interested. That only lasted 5 minutes, however, because once we were on the 401 and a few transports whizzed past us (yes, that’s right – Richard was driving the speed limit!) kitty decided he’d rather sleep under Richard’s seat on the cold floor with bolts sticking up around him. And he stayed there, traumatized, for two whole days of travel, incl. the night we spent in Quebec at friends’. (More on these in a moment!)
Two movies will come up frequently when I speak of our journey to Blue Belldon Farm. One is the 1970’s Adventures of the Wilderness Family. In similar mode, I copied Robert Logan’s “We’re getting OUT OF HERE!” victorious exclamation as soon as we left the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) behind us and had pretty much clear ‘sailing’ from then on. I did the leaning out the window and hollering when we a) left Ontario behind and b) arrived in New Brunswick as well. High excitement from a life-time of ‘planning this dream’.
Upon arriving at the Wrights’ house in Hudson, Quebec, where we planned to spend Monday night – a great half-way stop, we thought – their door was opened by poor Jane in a sling and limping in open-toed sandals. She’d had a bad fall and didn’t look up to company, bless her, and Peter had been necessarily waiting on her as well as some other guests they’d had over the weekend. Nevertheless, Richard found it imperative to insist on going right out with Peter and examining the contents of the U-Haul. Of course, because we’d thrown many things on right at the end, they all fell out when the back was opened. And then something was caught on the hinges higher up, and the door refused to roll closed again. It took over an hour for both men to sort this out. At one point, sitting with Jane, I was aware of Richard flying horizontally through the air, parallel to the ground, as he had a ‘back-kick’ from the door. Later, he came up for some tools with his nose bleeding – not the inside, but on the outside where a heavy basket had fallen on him. I don’t know why on earth he couldn’t have just waited until we got to our new farm to open that damn door, but men always have to FIDDLE, it seems to me!
You will remember from my last blog posting (Mooning/Moving Mishaps One) that the entire Reich family are very accident prone. This was not the last time these things would happen on our trip – and that is where the second movie comes in: 1988’s Funny Farm, starring Chevy Chase. Sometimes it seemed that what could go wrong WOULD. Especially if Richard is around to influence it!
After we left Wrights we drove about 2.5 hours then stopped at a rest stop and took the cat out to sit in the grassy shade for a while. He enjoyed this so much we felt compelled to do it every few hours, which drove Richard crazy, as he has inherited his father’s resolve to drive and drive with nary a bathroom break, never mind lolly-gagging about under a shade tree! But Simba was so unhappy in the truck, and so pleased to be petted outside with no movement or noise, it was obvious that we had to do it for his sake! Thus, Tuesday’s trip was more like a 9 hour drive, rather than the 7.5 it should have been.
In Funny Farm, the couple are at their new farm waiting on the movers to arrive. Unbeknownst to them, the movers are lost, and trying to cross a covered bridge. One mover says “That’s no bridge – that’s termites holding hands!” While we had no movers and were driving ourselves, and whilst Richard DID research the route he wanted to take to Blue Belldon (ie : NOT up the steep “Crocodile Hill” – real name: Klockedahl, and not through the treacherous Lucy’s Gulch, of which I’ve written previously in this blog) RICHARD FORGOT THAT THERE WERE MANY BRIDGES in New Brunswick. Luckily, the one with which we found ourselves abruptly confronted was NOT one of the many covered bridges. But it WAS full of holes and weak boards, and was only narrow enough for one vehicle to cross. This was on Brook’s Bridge Road. I think that might have been Richard’s first clue when he was researching, but there we were, pulled over to the side while I got out and walked tentatively out on to the bridge, with its iron stanchions running up and over top on both sides. Would the truck fit under? Would the wooden bridge hold the big U-Haul? I helped direct R. across, feeling the weight of the bridge shudder and sigh as he white-knuckled it across. When we got to the other side, he stopped again to change his pants (kidding) and catch his breath. I wanted to take a photo and compare it to the shot (above) from Funny Farm, but he was afraid we’d done even more damage to the bridge and wanted to high-tail it out of there before ‘someone’ caught us!
We chugged slowly up a few more hills and finally pulled into Blue Belldon Farm, all its radiant beauty, its apple blossoms, lilac bushes and meadows of dandelions taking my breath away in a whole different way than the bridge just had. Our new place is STUNNING! The major renovations inside which will be primarily up to Rural Revivals (me) to initiate did not worry me much as the outside was so incredible, especially at this glorious time of year. As we slowly pulled around the drive toward the barn I said “Oh, good – there IS a clothesline!” (because you can’t live off-grid and self-sufficiently without one!) whereupon my dear husband drove the U-Haul straight into it and pulled it all down.
This is absolutely typical Reich behaviour. You have to just ‘go with it’ as best you can… Of course he fixed it within the week (’cause I wouldn’t let him forget it, believe me!).
Poor Simba was SOOOOOOOOOO pleased to be out of that truck, with all the movement, noise, disruption to his diet and litter box visits. He was EXHAUSTED beyond belief. But it would take him 3 more days to fully recover, and then something else would come into his life which set his old teeth on edge all over again:
That something was “Smitty”.
I had agreed to foster Smitty for a few months to see if he was the right kind of dog for us here at the farm. I’ll write more about his poor life up to today in another blog, but suffice it to say, he needed us right now, and we looked forward to having him. Simba, however, was NOT impressed. He has been hiding behind – and IN – U-Haul boxes all week, but at least he’s not in a moving vehicle and he can get away from the dog as much as he likes.
But Smitty is another reminder of the humour that was decadent in the movie Funny Farm. For Chevy Chase’s character decides to adopt a dog, an Irish Setter. And the second the dog arrives at their new country property he takes off up into the hills, and at various points throughout the movie, you see the dog just running and running up hill and down dale, ears flopping, as Chevy calls “Here! Dog! Come back! ”
This was Richard and me the very morning after we acquired Smitty. He took off on me as we walked to our brook for a drink, and I had to trudge all the way back to the house to get R. to help look for him. We never found him. But after 20 tearful moments, he did return to US. However, he’s done it 2 more times since. On the 2nd occasion he insisted we meet the neighbours. He found 4 doggie friends up the hill at Eileen’s and her mother’s house, and he just helped himself to their home, letting himself in, eating the other dogs’ food, drinking their water, etc. A sort-of backwards Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
He has also chewed through 4 ropes that he’s been tied to while I’ve gardened, thrust his nose under my arm while I was painting and splattered himself with white paint, cut himself on a rose bush I was pruning, and tangled TWICE with the skunks that were living under our side porch. Keep in mind we haven’t had him a week yet!
But at least I and my cat and dog are HERE, in this amazing, stunning, most wondrous place. The first night we spent listening to the spring peepers from Toad Pond and looking out at the neighbours’ lights spread sparingly across the valley. Then I lay in bed looking through the big bay window at a completely clear sky positively SMEARED with starlight, the silhouettes of the mountains their backdrop, like dark sentinels protecting us from all sides.
The next morning, the sunrise was incredible and our red maple seemed the perfect frame to take a due-east photograph:
Renovation and Gardening/Orcharding posts will follow in the weeks to come, with many before-and-after photos and how-tos if anyone is interested. But for now, I’m very happy to be here safely, knowing my mother and husband will follow in July, and content, if exhausted, in the work that awaits me each day to prepare for this, our new life of simplicity and homesteadie-heaven at Blue Belldon Farm, Blue Bell Corner, N.B.