Recreating Happiness last summer, we moved!

From a Virginia suburb within the Capital Beltway to the rural crescent of Prince William County west of Manassas

Our acre hill top opens up to a full sky of bright sun and twinkling stars. Many ferns, camellias, azaleas, and blueberry bushes were transplanted from our old house. The moos of distant cows are heard and the outstretched wings of swooping hawks glimpsed.

Moon set over the three sheds

Horse riders occasionally pass on their way to a nearby county-owned woodland. Our first house to rely on well water. The first owners of our 1957 rambler built three rustic sheds out back - a crafts shop for her and a smoke house for him.

To replace an old heating system, we drilled a 320-foot geothermal well. During the three months of waiting for well permits, we've been burning stacks of firewood in our wood stove for added comfort and enjoyment.

We have twenty years of good memories from our old house - raised two boys and cared for my mother. The departure of our youngest – after the excitement of his senior year of soccer and social activities, however, brought an unusual stillness to the house. He’s now at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Aiming to become a dietitian.

Last winter's first bloom in our old back yard, witch hazel selected by my mother for planting fifteen years ago.
Morning light last spring as we began looking for a new home

After more than ten years of care giving, my mother quietly shed her Alzheimer's with great dignity and departed this earth in the last hours of the Obama presidency. With two generations now absent from the nooks and crannies, the house didn't seem the same, especially the quiet back porch with translucent roof views of arching bamboo culms.

The appreciating value of the land also was triggering higher and higher property taxes. As we had expected for the past decade from observing neighborhood changes, within three months of moving out, the old worn out and heavily shaded house, back porch, and many trees were bulldozed down.

The contractor for the new owner is a building a new and much larger custom house.

A couple of years ago, as a student at James Madison University, our oldest son successfully piloted a fresh vegetables aquaponics/fish pond structure enclosed in a hoop house for an organic farmer outside of Harrisonburg. After a year-long pursuit of suitable land with just the right soil conditions, robust clean ground water, and solar siting, we purchased a plot of rolling undeveloped open fields and forest in Rappahannock County within sight of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The farm that he is developing is an hour away from us outside of Boston, Virginia - a general store on a wide spot of the road to Sperryville with an adjoining post office and a flag pole out front and approximately 500 people scattered nearby.

Development of the farm – from well drilling, bringing in electricity, getting a used mobile home approved for occupancy – has taken much longer and involved more detours learning the ropes of managing chickens, ducks, turkeys, guinea hens, goats, and dogs than we all expected. To get basic internet for email - not streaming video or music, we had to install a satellite dish.

For a while early last year, we were enjoying and selling fresh brown and blue chicken eggs until production crashed with this spring and summer’s historic wet and damp weather.

Barn kittens have been helping to chase mice away!

A professional goat herder helps out!

So does a professional bear and fox wrangler!

black eyed susan in the meadows
Late afternoon low hanging mist blowing across the farm field

A new large barn was started last month which hopefully will become the focus for exotic chicken and goat breeding in the coming year.

Our Australian cattle dog puppy on the farm.

For me, the commute to work was cut more than half by our move to new quarters. At the beginning of the year and before our move, I was an Administrator of our 92-unit assisted living facility on the campus. I enjoyed the chance to be responsible for leading a team of dedicated staff who provided care for individuals from age 25 to 100, most of them who have mental health diagnosis including dementia. But this past summer, I decided that being Administrator and Director of Information Technology was unsustainable. I am now focused on my core competency and what comes to me more effortlessly - providing oversight of all-things technology-related for a long-term care campus with several hundred residents and staff, and contributing to the nonprofit’s long range strategic planning to fulfill its mission.

December rainbow over the assisted living facility where I served as Administrator last year.

At the end of a year, recreating happiness is as simple as lighting four candles for the holidays, taking the time to watch twirling wooden angels, listening to twinkling glass bells . . .

Created By
Myles Nienstadt

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