January 23, 2019
Since I’ve been an adult I have moved 17 times. 17. Count ‘em. Everything from being 20 years old, throw everything in the car that will fit, leave the rest, and move cross country without a plan, to the full service corporate move where you just stand around and drink coffee while they do everything for you. Plus, I’m a Realtor; I’ve seen more than a few folks move with a variety of styles. But, still, there’s nothing quite like moving a farm. Twenty-two animals, a tractor with an astonishing amount of attachments, hay, fencing, tools, 32 bins of alpaca fleece, more tools, assorted barn crap, contents of (this is embarrassing) 3 storage units, and a dead-as-a-doornail old Dodge truck.
Then there’s the house stuff. Every time we’ve moved over the last 15 years we rented a dumpster and did a serious purge, yet apparently we keep the breeders as we had so much crap crammed into our old 800 square foot cabin that you’d swear it was a Tardis. So again, another dumpster and a show-no-mercy attitude as we began the adventure.
Let me say, I am absolutely convinced it’s easier to move cross country than it is to move 6 miles away. This all started last spring when we literally bought the farm. A beautifully renovated 1920’s farmhouse on 5 ½ perfect acres of which 4 acres is glorious, yummy, pour salad dressing on it kind of pasture plus a pond, a creek, magical trees, a barn, and the house that we just fell in love with. As soon as we closed, we fenced two good sized paddock areas off the barn, one for the alpaca girls, one for the alpaca boys. The plan was to move all of the animals and our house essentials first so that we’d be living in the new place and the rest of the cabin emptying project would go quickly and take us a month, maximum. That was about the time the universe started laughing.
Everything was ready for the alpacas and dogs the evening before we had shearing scheduled at the new place, so we enlisted the help of friends with trailers and had what seemed like a great idea in place. Six male alpacas in one trailer, 12 female alpacas in another trailer, and 2 Anatolian Shepherds in a third. The alpacas all haltered and loaded up without much fuss, so far so good. Clara, our female Anatolian, jumped right into the third trailer and was ready to go. And then there was Moses.
A brief history on Moses. First, we just plain screwed up when we got him as a puppy. It was back during the Summer of Suck and we kind of forgot to get him used to riding in a car, or even just leaving the farm in general. Big mistake and we knew better, but it was a challenging summer that year. As a result, several years later, he was now a 150 pound master of stubbornness who would not leave his assigned area at the barn where he was in charge, even when his charges were already loaded up. You could leave a gate wide open and, while Clara would blast through it and cruise the neighborhood looking for friends, you couldn’t push, pull or drag Moses through it. So we pulled the trailer up into the gated barn area and his comfort zone, had treats at the ready, and tried to load him up. He said no. Eight adults, a pocketful of cookies and a bag of beef jerky could not get him into that trailer. We pushed. We pulled. We dragged. We cajoled. We tried to lift and shove. He had magically turned into a 300 pound cement block that would not be budged. As it was getting dark, we had no choice but to leave Clara and Moses at “their” barn, tucked them into their stall for the night, and moved the alpacas to the new place.
The next day after shearing, serious sedative in hand, Jim and I gave it another go. Once he was looking pretty blissed out we backed the Tahoe up to the barn door to make as few alternate escape routes as possible and lifted him up to put him in the car (he sure wasn’t about to jump in voluntarily). I had the front end, Jim had the back, and – we were so close – Moses then jumped right over my head and around the car. We caught him and tried again. Wash, rinse, repeat. It took us six tries, but the last attempt when he made the leap we managed to steer him into the back of the car for the landing, Jim jumped right in on top of him, I slammed the door closed and we were good. I then opened the side door, Clara jumped in like a happy little champ, and we were finally able to get everyone to their new home. (Which they love, by the way.)
So now to move The Stuff. In the beginning, a month seemed like an incredibly long time, so I had what seemed like a brilliant plan. Dumpster at the ready, I’d go one room at a time (and there were only 6 tiny ones), sort as I go, purge as needed, and take a load over to the new place in the car and promptly unpack it. We’d only rent a truck as we were moving big stuff (which wound up being 6 times, but who would have predicted that?). Plus the added bonus of reusing those boxes so we wouldn’t need as many. And coordinate all of that around working. I may have been a little prematurely smug.
The first month actually went very well. Except that it took a month. And while the new place was shaping up nicely (I had stuck to the unpack-as-you-go part of the plan), the old place didn’t look like I had moved one darn thing.
As time went on, and we really, really, really needed to be out of the old place, the plan morphed from organize-as-you-go to what looked like a pub brawl of just-shove-everything-in-a-box-for-cryin-out-loud-and-we’ll-figure-it-out-later. Four months later, yes FOUR freakin’ months, we did the last load and now still have 72 unpacked boxes of who knows what stacked in the basement.
Here are your Pro Tips whether you’re moving across town or just next door:
- Pack everything. Throw out and/or donate the stuff you need to, but just pack the rest of that stuff up.
- Suck it up, rent a big ol’ moving truck or three, and get it all done in one trip. The added bonus here is you only have to bribe your friends and grovel for help once.
So, if your move is a local one, these two tips alone will save you at least three and a half months and 147 trips. I counted.