Years ago when we lived in the city, I remember pulling into the driveway and looking up at our three-story home. It seemed to tower above me, with six bedrooms and multiple bathrooms, home to us and our seven children.

Sometimes I would just sit there in my car, thinking to myself that yes, we had made it. This house was somehow a symbol of our success.

But one by one, the children grew up and moved away, and Greg and I found ourselves living in only one or two of the many rooms. Heating the house was costly, urban taxes were crazy, and insurance was frightful. We realized that we would have to work forever just to keep the house going, and so we began to wonder what it would be like to live in a smaller house, away from the urban world.

These days, when I turn off the main road and head two miles down the creek on the lane that leads to our farm, I do not just think that yes, we have made it. I know that we have.

I have come to realize that this simple phrase, to have “made it,” actually has two meanings, one quite literal and the other more metaphysical.

I smile to realize that both meanings apply equally well to our creek valley lives.

For you see, Greg and I have literally built, by ourselves, everything on the farm, from chicken coop, to windmill tower, to pole barn and shop, to our first 388- square-foot home, to our current three-story log home.

To be honest, though, it is really Greg who has built almost everything, all by himself.

I might lend a hand here or there and dance about on the ground below while Greg works high above on rooftops and ladders, but Greg has been the major maker, even building much of our furniture, so it can fit just so, into our creek valley life.

So, when it occurs to me that yes, we have made it, I know that we have in fact built it all with our very own hands. But what of that other kind of “making it,” that feeling that does not relate to what I can actually see in our creek world, but rather the feeling that echoes through my thoughts about what our lives have become?

I know that yes, we have made it, every day when I return home and drive through the two miles of woods before I turn off at the old tobacco barn.

Turkey, heron, hawk and deer greet me on an almost daily basis. This time of year I imagine the turtles and toads hibernating along the creek banks and hillsides, and I wish them well as I pass by. The deer turn their heads and look at me, not even bothering to turn tail and
disappear into the woods.

I know that yes, we have made it, as I open the ground floor door to our log home and feel the warmth of the woodstove surround me. I see my current projects lined up along the ten-foot table Greg built, projects just waiting for me to pull up a stool and get back to work, pine cone ornaments, colored glass lens suncatchers among them.

I know that we have made it as climb the log stairs to the main floor, my hand running along the metal railing, and I am greeted by the vaulted ceiling and beautiful beams of our home.

Everywhere I look, I feel wrapped in its warmth, and I know that yes, this life really is our dream come true. We lack for absolutely nothing. The freezer is filled with our beef, the cupboards with our honey and maple syrup and dried flower teas from our garden.

As I fall asleep at night, I know without a doubt that yes, we really have made it. We are fully content with our lives … but have no fear!

Our hearts are still filled with so many dreams of things to do in the coming new year, dreams that I know will turn into adventures, and adventures that we will share with whoever happens to stop on by. So please do pull up a comfy chair, or drive on down the creek road.

Looking forward to our next 52 weeks at the creek!

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio. Visit them at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.