2021, The 'Quiet' Year
I did stay up to watch the ball drop on December 31st, 2020, if only because I desperately wanted to see the door shut on that year. I was looking forward to 2021, finding comfort in the new normal and hopefully seeing things calm down. In reality, 2021 has been anything but quiet.
January started us off big with some huge life changes. Sara's career took a turn south, literally, and we discovered within the first week of the year we'd be moving to Virginia. This was a welcome change; after both of us having called Philly home for ten years the Summer of Hell 2020 meant we were more than ready to leave. Our neighborhood had changed so drastically due to the pandemic it was almost unrecognizable, and most of our local friends had left for less chaotic pastures. The final nail in the proverbial coffin was Sara's exposure to covid. While we both tested negative, she was very sick for a few days and we spent the rest of the month quarantined.
In February we started our house hunt - or should I say FARM HUNT. We took a trip down to Virginia and looked at a couple houses with land. Our dream property came on the market. Five acres, fenced, with a little three bedroom house and four stall barn. It was perfect.
And then it became The Hunger Games.
I was completely unprepared for the shit-storm that is the 2021 housing market. Within hours the property had 15 offers, several of them full cash with no inspection. We lost the house, of course, but it didn't stop there. Every weekend there was one, maybe two properties that fit our requirements. We put in offer after offer and none of them stuck. As time wore on and inventory got more sparse, the offers were getting more outlandish. The sellers started asking for ridiculous things; living in the house for free for weeks after closing, guaranteeing $80K over appraisal, huge deposits. We frequently had offers written before we even looked at the house because stuff was going so fast.
February turned into March and we still had nowhere to live. Sara had to start work, so she was living in a hotel while I stayed in Philly. The hunt continued. No matter how far we stretched ourselves, none of our offers were enough. Instead of feeling like I was fulfilling a dream to own a farm, it felt like a waking nightmare. I hated being apart from Sara, and I hated getting my hopes crushed repeatedly. I just wanted to move down to Virginia and be together, be it on a farm or in a refrigerator box (which was quickly starting to look like our best option).
By the time we hit April I was done looking for a farm. Sellers had caught on that it was a free for all, and frankly were starting to really piss me off with their demands. We made an aggressive offer on property, and checked with the sellers agent about any possible stipulations they might have. We included all requests in the offer, only to have her start jerking us around when it was submitted. This was our 7th offer, and I was so fed up I had my realtor pull the offer (well, what I really said was tell her to go fuck herself but he's a professional so he didn't do that). We instead made an offer on a little house on almost half an acre in town, just a few minutes from a boarding barn and close to Sara's work. Our offer was accepted and finally - FINALLY - House Hell 2021 was over.
May was moving month. The cats, the dog, and a giant truckload of crap all made the migration south. It's quiet, close to everything, and Bailey loves his new backyard.
Of course, as this is a horse blog, I'm sure you're all wondering about Spicy.
Winter was not kind to my riding. We got a lot of snow and ice this year, which meant the horses were in a lot more than normal. Spicy started having ulcer symptoms and became difficult and frankly not very fun to work with. I ended up giving him most of the winter off, if only because I had so much else going on it just wasn't worth struggling through snow and ice to watch him work himself into a lather. Once we moved would be more than soon enough to get back into 'work', and it would give time for his ulcer treatment to work.
While he didn't end up in my back yard, I think what I have is better. He's at a beautiful 90 acre farm just a few miles from my house. It's so strange and wonderful having him five minutes away. I've always been at least 30 minutes from where I board, on a good day, but living in the city means sometimes there's traffic so it could take an hour or more. Being able to just 'pop over' and see him has been life changing.
On top of that, he loves the new farm. He's in a huge pasture with a bunch of other horses, and even has a girlfriend. I've been slow about bringing him back to work, but what little we've done has gone really well. There's enough space here I can do my favorite type of conditioning - long purposeful walks.
Which brings us to now. We're still getting settled, spending way too much money on nesting in our new house but I'm loving every minute of it. And so far, I love Virginia. My neighbors are lovely, it's peaceful and quiet, and they sell wine and beer in the grocery store.
What else could a girl ask for?