The late afternoon sun lengthened the pear tree’s shadow as the warm breeze gently ruffled the leaves. It had been another good day for Mom and Dad. They walked inside the paddock fence together with the horses and a few of the goats following them. Their daughter and youngest son emerged from the barn and set an intercept course in their direction. Mom and Dad turned towards them, and the animals changed direction also. The four people joined near the southeastern corner and moved in unison back towards the barn.
The son and daughter had finished cleaning and storing the tack used on their earlier trail ride. The horses had already been wiped down and groomed before the stalls were cleaned and stocked with fresh water, grain, and hay. Diesel, the Cat Queen of the Barn, watched from her perch on a beam as the humans, horses, and goats entered.
Once the animals were secure for the night, the family walked to the main house. They passed the workshop where they stored the plans, tools, and machines Dad used to construct items needed to rebuild the Cook House. Soon, the family would be able to relocate the chinchilla cages from the basement storage room into their new location. Chickens might be the next addition, but that was still undecided.
They reached the house and took the stairs to the sunroom and went through the French doors into the kitchen. The siblings headed upstairs to wash and change clothes for dinner at Lowery’s in Tappahannock tonight. Their older brother was coming for a visit and bringing his fiancée. The wedding was one month away and plans for the reception at the farm were coming together.
The guinea pig squeaked for attention when she heard the refrigerator door open as Dad pulled the lemonade pitcher out for a small drink. He reopened the fridge and pulled some lettuce from the crisper drawer for her. Mom went to the master bedroom to change and Dad took a few minutes with the guinea pig, stroking her fluffy fur as she greedily nibbled the lettuce from his other hand. The rabbit in the next cage stomped his foot for attention and Dad shared the lettuce with him as well. He made a mental note to pick more from the garden tomorrow and smiled in satisfaction at the thought they were growing a good portion of their own food.
He had grown up on his grandfather’s 145-acre dairy farm in Connecticut and had been accustomed to sprawling fields and wooded areas to explore. His nearest neighbor growing up had been one-quarter mile away. The 35 acres of Rock Spring Farm offered the opportunity to reconnect with his past and transfer a portion of his own experiences to his children. They fully participated in the animal care. He walked the woods with his younger son and taught him to identify the right trees to remove to help maintain a healthy balance. His son’s skilled hands assisted greatly with the farm’s buildings restoration and maintenance.
The horses were definitely for his daughter. Ever since receiving riding lessons for her Make-a-Wish event, she had wanted a horse of her own. The obstacles caused by repeated respiratory infections, hospitalizations, and multiple intravenous antibiotic therapies had interfered throughout her earlier years. Her dream of horse ownership had been delayed and only partially substituted by the care of guinea pigs, rabbits, and chinchillas. What had begun as a few pets had led to competitive shows and breeding for specific traits and stronger bloodlines. With the move to the farm, the smaller animals might finally decrease in number as she shifted her attentions to the two horses.
Moving to the farm had been the best thing for their family. Dad reflected for a moment on how crowded they had felt in Tidewater. Their first home had been a tiny brick ranch house with neighbors so close one could almost borrow a cup of sugar by reaching out the back window. The next house in Chesapeake was a two-story on less than one-half an acre in a subdivision of Hickory between the denseness of Great Bridge and the dwindling rural areas approaching the North Carolina border.
The home sold quickly in the neighborhood known for its good schools. The proceeds paid off the remaining seven years of their old mortgage with plenty to cover the taxes of the farm and create a nest egg for future improvements. His wife had been able to transfer to the Tappahannock Elementary School leveraging her years of experience in the Chesapeake Public Schools’ Pre-Kindergarten Special Needs program. She dearly loved working with the little ones and came home with stories of their innocent antics and development milestones. His own employer had been flexible in accommodating the move from Chesapeake by allowing him to operate from the Dahlgren office 31 miles away.
He buttoned his shirt and called upstairs to the kids that it was time to go. The family pulled out of the driveway for the trip to Lowerey’s. The setting sun filtered through the leaves and drew long shadows across the paddock fence and deep into the enclosed field. Dad looked all around and smiled once again before moving onto the country road. This was home now. This is where his family belonged. Buying the anywhere doors had allowed them to move here and eliminate commuting. They could live comfortably in the country far away from the noise and congestion of the city.
Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why?