I didn’t see a for sale sign when I arrived at my parents’ home in B.C. Thursday night.
Many of you will remember that my summer vacation in B.C. last year began a day after my folks listed their horse farm in B.C. – the place that they called home for 20 years.
I’ve mentioned it a couple of times since, but mom and dad sold the farm – by all accounts to a young woman and her boyfriend who know and love horses and will take good care of the place.
It was bittersweet when the farm sold; to be honest, I don’t think mom and dad expected they would be signing the papers for a sale three months after they listed the acreage. When I left B.C. last year, I didn’t think it would be the last time I’d be at the farm, although at least it ended on a high note with a really enjoyable trip.
So for the first time since I moved here in 2000, my holiday wasn’t spent on the farm.
Instead, it was at their new home in Aldergrove, in an urban setting instead of a rural one.
My parents’ decision to sell the farm meant something else: for the first time since I’ve known them, they are legitimately retired.
The farm was a full-time job for them. Each of them put in a full day’s work, every day. They’ve been out here twice together in 15 years, because one of them always had to stay behind and look after the horses. They’ve been able to take a few holidays – South Korea, Australia and the Kentucky Derby among them – but for those trips to happen, they had to find someone who could look after the horses and everything else on the property. That labour doesn’t come cheap.
Both of them were terrific workers in their respective careers, dad with the RCMP and mom as a nurse. They have been retired from those jobs for some time, but thanks to the farm, they weren’t truly retired.
At an age when their friends were wintering in warmer climates and travelling to different locations around the world, mom and dad were thinking about hay purchases, shovelling horse manure, being midwives to pregnant mares and doing all of the things associated having more than a dozen ill-tempered thoroughbreds on their property every winter.
Every spring, they mounted a camera into the stall of those pregnant mares, and would get up in the middle of the night several times to check and make sure the horses weren’t going into labour.
For the most part, they loved it.
Life after the farm has been an adjustment to them, but it looks like they’re handling it well.
The house they’ve moved into is pretty nice. It’s actually bigger than what they had on the farm, but the property is obviously smaller. Still, it’s large enough for what they need, a place where mom can have a garden and dad can tackle all sorts of outdoor projects. I have no doubt that before long, it will be the nicest yard on the block. And they’ll still look to make improvements.
They are not the condo types. They need their space and they need a place where they can do their thing without worrying about aggravating the strata board. They understand the physical and mental benefits associated with yard work.
Ultimately, all that matters is that they’re happy, that they’re going to have the retirement they have earned, and they’re going to travel and enjoy the spoils of all that they’ve done. The bonus is it looks like the right person bought the farm.
As for my visit, this is definitely going to be a different experience. Instead of heading outside and enjoying the picturesque scenery and peaceful isolation of the farm, I’ll go outside and see the homes of my folks’ neighbours.
During past visits, we’d get up, read the paper, enjoy breakfast and coffee together, and then mom and dad would go outside and do the chores. It was an opportunity for me to get some work done. Eventually I would go outside to say hello to the horses.
Now I’ll have to be awake earlier than them if I’m going to get that work done.
But it also means we’ll have time to “do stuff,” to do those things that maybe we wouldn’t get to do during previous visits, because we won’t have to worry about being back by 3 p.m. for afternoon chores.
(That did make it difficult to head into Vancouver for the day).
I’m looking forward to heading down to the barns to visit with our horses, who are now boarded at different locations.
I’m also sure I’ll enjoy the new digs more when I’m out in the summer months. The farm was more fun in the summer. B.C. is more fun in the summer. Life is more fun in the summer.
But for now, it’s great to be on the coast for the next week. The craft beer is cold and there’s still a lot that I can do during the next week.