Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Story of a New Brunswick Transplant

This blog would not be complete if I did not express how much I love New Brunswick. No matter what has gone wrong, which is almost everything, I still know I came to the right place. I believe I will spend my life here, so let me tell you how things have gone since we arrived.

We arrived in Woodstock, New Brunswick and stayed for the night. This was a challenge since it was the one night I think every hotel was busy. We liked the Best Western (best complimentary breakfast in any hotel in Canada!) but they did not have room for us. We ended up in a bit of a divy motel which shall remain nameless. We did NOT eat there since we had been there before for dinner and it was the worst food in Canada! Nevertheless, we had to stay over night since it was after 5pm and all stores in New Brunswick close at 5pm. (They have VERY different laws about stores opening and closing here.) 

We arranged to have the realtor meet us for coffee in the morning to bring us the keys to the house. Our home is about 50 minutes from town, but we took a slower way and it was over an hour with our truck and trailer on the country roads. We were also informed that the retailer who was to have delivered our appliances; fridge, stove, washer and dryer as well as beds for the kids, had not done so. Both the realtor and I called and insisted it be done that day. (They FINALLY arrived at 8:30pm that night!)

The water was not hooked up at the house since no one had lived there for several years. The realtor had the owner meet us at the house in the afternoon to help hook up the water pump. Len and the previous owner spent about two hours in the cellar and at the well trying to get the pump going but it was dead. So, at 5pm, we had a little BBQ outside and pulled water up from the well in a galvanized bucket. I had paper plates and cups and food in the cooler (waiting for our appliances.)

The girls went through the house and were happy with how big it was. They understood the layout and size better than through the photos and our descriptions and determined that yes, it was a good house. Gee thanks! They did see that it probably need a few more renovations than we originally thought. Most of these were cosmetic so I just shrugged them off. We each chose a room downstairs to call our bedroom area. We had to camp out in the family room, living room and den until the bedrooms were ready. The bedrooms should be ready by the time school started in September.  (In retrospect, we arrived July 21, 2010, it is now January 5, 2011 and we are still months away from having bedrooms.)
 We went to bed that night tired, no water running, (which means no bathroom) and were stunned at the complete black in the sky, brilliant starlight coming through the windows and the big dragonflies at night. It was a little scary (talking pee again!) when we had to go out at night to pee because we knew the area was teeming with bears, moose and other wildlife. The girls and I went in groups for the first few nights. I also found out the next night that the dragonflies were not flying at night but the BATS were! ICK! My whole life I had thought bats would fly into my head and tangle into my hear and get stuck as they struggled to escape. TERRIFIED! Except, did you know this isn't true? Bats are good things! They eat the bugs and mosquitoes and apparently the droppings are good for gardens... I don't really care for them living under my roof though, between the old roof and new roof!

The next morning, day two on the homestead, we had visitors one after the other. Men kept coming to help Len with the water system. This was a very crucial part of our living and had to be resolved quickly. Unlike in the city where we are all so busy, have to run to do something and work, etc. people out here, if they are home are not in a rush. Life is more laid back, loving that! So when the men came to help they stayed for hours to help. Some offered to go to the hardware store for parts (the closest is a half hour away) and they kept bringing in more guys to help get us up and running. We were amazed! We had cold beer on hand to share but even then, they only had one to cool down and moved on. Wonderful people!
Len and I went through lots of beer as part of keeping cool while we worked. We had flats and flats of bottled water until we could get our well pump going which was about 5 days. It was another week after that before we had any hot water, so I did a lot of boiling water on the stove. Before we arrived a neighbour had mowed our lawn aka field but it had grown again so another neighbour did it for us. We were ecstatic to learn that Sandy Beach was public access right down the road from us. We took all of our biodegradable hair products and headed for a bath! Apparently there was a fellow who was big, bald, tattooed, intimidating and who owned a pit bull so no one went there. Hey, we're from BC, everyone looks like that! We headed right in and felt like we had our own piece of the lake all summer! Jessica learned to swim and we bathed regularly!

I found out that up the street at the community centre about a mile away, there was a "Fun Park" for kids age 4-12 from 9am to noon each day. This was a god send! Jessica was quickly wanting activity, someone to play with and to be entertained. It took a few days to get her comfortable with the group but she grew to love it. She was able to spend the rest of the summer at Fun Park which was a drop in group. She met almost everyone who would be on her bus, made friends and met the school bus driver. All of this helped her transition much better into school. Rachel had met a few people on Facebook prior to our move and was getting to know the kids better too. She discovered she loved four wheeling, aka quadding. She thinks we should buy one which would be tons of fun but not a priority ... yet! She was also happy on day three when I set up the internet so she could communicate with the "real world".

Len and I were working, day and night. Getting things working. Rachel helped me with cleaning, unpacking the kitchen and both girls helped a bit with stacking wood. There was a lot of wood! We ordered 9 cords of wood split and had to stack it all. We hope to get more of our own wood this year off the property for our heat and keep expenses down next year. We do have 50 acres, but don't want to cut many living trees. We will thin out some areas and pick up dead fall and work with that to start. 
 A wonderful couple up the street brought us a table and chairs set and vacuum to use until we got furniture. Another woman gave us an overstuffed chair which sits in the kitchen, next to the fridge, in front of the fire. The girls fight over who gets the "comfy" chair! (It is January and due to more breakdowns and vehicle repairs - we still have no furniture. It too shall come!) We have had many offers to give us a couch, TV and more... I however, am holding out until I have bedrooms, move the beds out of my living room, buy a NEW couch and NEW flat screen TV! Two dreams ... it will happen! Eventually...

So many people have welcomed us. Helped us, offered support, kindness and friendship. I must say the Maritimes hosts amazingly kind people ... I was told this and it is true! Of course life keeps setting us back, the diesel truck got water in it from a bad gas station, which by the time all was said and done was six weeks of anxiety and $2,000 in repairs. My EI which was to run for another six weeks, we thought, based on the reporting system and information was cut off a week before Christmas without any notice... 

The rooms and house are a nightmare to repair, being 100 years or so old, it is not a straight building, the studs are hard to find in the walls and every time we get going we have to stop. I have taken on a part time cleaning/baking job a half hour away, not my plan but helps buy food! I have had to throw out the open a store/coffee shop due to inane rules that would put us out of business before we started. I am now working on a website development company and hope to get my proposal in for approved funding in the next week or so. Wish me luck!

I have learned (again) how to preserve and can food; dry plants to make tea; make home made pure apple juice; I am planning my garden; getting my organic chickens; working towards living differently day by day. This has been an adjustment, particularly for a mall rat teenager... Jessica was in her first parade at North Lake Field Days which was very exciting! AND! Jessica has learned to ride a bike, compliments of a gift from the neighbour.

Still I am very grateful for what we have, what we are developing and even though it is all taking longer than planned and we might not fully build the farm we wanted, we are here, alive, together. I love my friends and family in the West! I am building new friendships in the East. My children are safe, well and have all they need. (Yes they do disagree about this from time to time, but expectations are slowly changing and we are all settling in!)


Sarah Sherman said...

Again I love your story. From Linda S.

Thank you again! Sarah

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful story!! Thanks Sarah for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah, couldn't figure out how to get comment on so I am anonymous! Karen from Brechin

Sarah Sherman said...

Thank you for your support! Glad you enjoy it. I certainly enjoy writing it all down! A book? Mmm ...

Sarah Sherman said...

From Anita: love reading about your move and adventures across this wonderful country. it also makes one realize how different places are even though we are all from Canada. Fosterville has wonderful people and everyone helps everyone. it is a wonderful place to bring kids up and live the good life!

Sarah Sherman said...

From Chad G: Hey there Sally! Happy New Year to you and the family! I don't always get around to reading all of them, but I read this one. Good for you sis! It sounds like an interesting adventure! So glad to see all the preserves. And having some wildlife on your property is a real boon. Maybe bag the odd moose.

Thank you Chad! You are a sweetheart!