Second Chances

Searching for a farm has become, once again, a part of our weekly routine.  Looking at listings for land and for established farms has become part of *my* daily routine.  I look at listings from Kentucky, and because the children are dyed-in-the-wool New Englanders, I’m also looking here in Massachusetts, and in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Recently Brian and I went out to look at a place a little over an hour from here.  The land was not as much as we wanted, but the house was a sweet old antique that had been lovingly cared for.  The listing said it had 5 bedrooms and outbuildings for critters.  We hoped that this was going to be the perfect place.  It was going really well until we went upstairs…  Turns out that the 5 bedrooms weren’t quite adequate.  Very disappointing.  Two bedrooms were actually quite perfect, but one bedroom was about the size of a closet, and the remaining two were long and narrow without room for more than one bed.  After mulling it over at length, we determined that we just didn’t feel we could make the place work for us.

On the way home, we stopped in a nearby town for a bite to eat.  As we sat down to at the table with our sandwiches, we were both thinking about a farm we had seen and bid on about 3 years ago and then again 2 years ago.  It was the farm that really made us begin to focus on what our mission would be – real food for real folks at real prices; and dignified work, hospitality, and service to the poor, displaced, and disabled.  Brian spoke first, “I wonder what’s going on up at that farm?”.  We had been to check on it a couple of times and it seemed that the chap who had bought it was struggling.  Actually, there were no real signs of farming, though the house had gotten a new roof. “Mmmm, me too.”  We decided that since we were in town, we might as well take a swing by.

It’s hard to say whether my heart sank or rose when we turned into the road.  It was clear that almost nothing had changed.  There appeared to be a shiny new tank of some description just visible behind the huge sand-and-tire pile which was supposed to have been removed by the USDA two years earlier.  The house was as ever – not much improved, making the roof look strangely out of place.  The barn was shut up tight, no lights in the house, no cars, no animals… no life.  We sat for a minute or two remembering the figure of St. Joseph that our family had placed under the twined maples more than 2 years earlier – and the day we two stopped and prayed in the field.  Then we turned, and drove away to go home.  We debated back and forth whether we ought to make him an offer.  How would we do it?  Neither of us is naturally that bold.  But it was clear we had nothing much to lose.  We could make a cash offer since we have a commitment from our bank in hand.  That’s something.

By the time we got home I was exhausted and my poor joints were screaming.  I decided to stay home while Brian went to our class.  After seeing the kids fed, I logged onto the computer and decided to check the county registry of deeds…  I was stunned to learn that the farm had just been foreclosed.  I called and left a message for Brian to call me on his break.  When he called back, we decided that we really had to take a chance and make the offer.  There really was nothing to lose and the owner had everything to gain by getting out from under the place with the least pain possible.

It was only a day or two later that we realized that the day the farm foreclosed was the exact day that our commitment letter (too late for the Petersham farm) was issued, and the same day we discovered that we would be welcoming a new baby.

We have sent a letter to the owner of the farm to ask whether he would entertain a cash offer on the farm.  And a phone call was made to the bank holding the note.  The banker was most kind and helpful.  He encouraged us to make an offer to the farmer, but cautioned us that he probably would not be interested, though he (the banker) would encourage him (the farmer) to accept our proposal.  In any case, there would likely be an auction this spring – and we were urged to come along at that time and bid if we hadn’t succeeded in persuading this fellow to sell to us before then.

So here we are again, asking for your prayers and good thoughts – not just for us, but for the chap who owns the farm.  I’m sure this can’t be easy for him.

For your dining pleasure…

I have begun posting recipes.  Today we have Braised Chicken with Apples and Cabbage or a lovely Lamb Stew.

Recipes are for a rather large bunch (like ours), you may want to halve them if you are a smaller family.  I’ll try to upload a photo of that lamb stew tomorrow.

They Say

…that when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.

So the children and I went out to the shops today for a little group retail therapy (a VERY rare occurrence).  It served the dual purpose of reducing the stress of so many changes happening simultaneously, and giving us a change of scene.  We’ve done a lot of fretting around here about how we will fit into this little house if we aren’t able to find a new place, making some changes to our homeschool routine, choosing colleges; and we’ve been keeping ourselves close to home with all of the snow and ice that has come recently.

Our first stop was at our favourite toy store – Barnes and Noble.  I was just planning to pick up a road atlas for our trip to New Hampshire on Saturday.  And I did.  See?


But anytime the Gadbois clan is in a bookstore, we find it difficult to resist indulging in further literary goodness.


These are edifying. And they were a bargain.


So I could afford these:


William’s and Carrie’s picks


Louis’ pick.


Sophie’s pick (and our dear friend Fr. Augustine’s favourite)


The Hungry Caterpillar for James to go with Brown Bear and Polar Bear which came for his birthday.  I LOVE these little Eric Carle board books for wee ones. HIGHLY recommend.


I remember this book fondly from my own childhood.

Light in the Attic

And can you believe we didn’t already have this one?  I kept meaning to pick it up.  I thought it was high time.

I want you to know that I saved a bundle with my B&N Member Card. Brian will be very happy to know.  And there is probably a $5 coupon in the mail, too.  I suggested to the lady who checked us out – she was wearing a manager-type name tag – that they should give away bookcases as a bonus gift after a member buys a certain number of books.  She promised to suggest it.  🙂

While still riding the book high, I had the girls run into Carter’s and pick these up:

Aren’t they divine? If course, it’s MUCH too early to know whether our little sweetpea is a girl or a boy. But after two little fellas in a row, everyone figures the odds are in her favour.  And if we have a little chap, we’ll tuck these away for a future godchild or grandchild.

And in order to bring myself back down out of the clouds, we trekked across the plaza to pick up… pillows.  Strangely, that still gave me an awful lot of pleasure.  I kept imagining my loves resting their weary heads on fresh new cushions and dreaming sweet dreams.  How is it that everyday ordinariness can produce such feelings of joy?  I don’t know.  But I’m very glad it does.

Until next time…

Portrait of a Lady

… who is expecting her eighth child, as drawn by her 4-year-old daughter.


Sophie as she sees her mother.  That little dark circle in the center of my body is our new little baby.  See how happy I am?  She captured that beautifully.  And she also captured my awesomely bad hair day.  We’re keeping it real here.  Anyway, it was a very windy day (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

Here we are!

It’s been a long while since I blogged anything.  We’ve been so, so busy.  We *thought* we were going to move to a farm we’d fallen in love with.  In fact, we had a contract on it, but the seller either couldn’t or wouldn’t wait for our financing to come through.  Ironically, our financing came through this past weekend.  It took a grand total of four months’ time.  That’s a long, long time to wait for a loan to be processed.

It doesn’t look like Massachusetts is for us.  In fact, it looks like New England isn’t for us, despite the fact that we grew up here.  So we’re looking at moving further away. Like, to Kentucky.

And we haven’t much time to get ourselves re-settled because, in case you hadn’t already noticed the ticker to the right, we are once again expecting.  That makes eight children. In a tiny little house where businesses are run and a homeschool is supposed to be operating.  I can’t tell you how difficult it has been over the last two years to keep things organized and running in this little place.

Hopefully I’ll return to regular blogging now.  I’ve missed it – and you.

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