April 27, 2021

Four Years of Freedom

Hey hey! It's that time of year again. A time, I'm sure, you have all marked on your calendar. An auspicious day. A day of reverence. Yup! It's that day we all celebrate Todd's departure from the corporate world and his move into semi-retirement.

Four Years of Freedom

Today is National Todd (Semi-)Retirement Day!

Four years ago today or April 27, 2017, I left the corporate world (fortune 500 tech company) behind for good. Every year on this day, I celebrate by essentially bragging to everyone I run into and on all the social medias. Seriously though, anymore, this is arguably my favorite "holiday." It marks a moment where I moved from a mode of living that was incredibly unhealthy, uninspiring, and spiraling towards something awful, to a life of true fulfillment and peace and happiness. Plus, this day allows us (my wife, Monica, and me) to update everyone on what has been going on with the two of us.

As many of you know, there are two huge activities in our lives right now: (1) the farm and (2) real estate. On the side, we are gardening, walking, writing, juggling pets, fishing, and simply appreciating more time together as a couple.

Speaking of Farm and Real Estate, like and follow our Facebook pages, yo!

The farm.

In the past, the farm was a money-making enterprise (when Monica was working honey bees full-time). Since Monica shifted towards real estate full-time and I had been busily de-stressing from my prior corporate life, we de-cycled the farm into something more geared for self-fulfillment and pasture maintenance (and for food for ourselves, of course). We do (and will continue to) sell a very modest number of things (primarily 100% grass-fed-and-finished lamb and mutton, at the moment), but we are staying away from attending festivals, farmers markets, etc.

We have our sheep in heavy rotation about the farm (except when over-wintering, of course). We hit roughly 50 sheep at one point—far too many. On paper, 50 is about ideal for our acreage, but that's only if you adopt the conventional management approach of stressing out your pasture and relying on lots of inputs. In reality, a flock of 50 is hard on the land (given the size of our farm) and unsustainable. We are still learning and are in the process of paring down the numbers. Fifty animals is challenge for other reasons. As the numbers go up, every interaction becomes a bit more challenging: 50 mouths to feed, 50 shots of medication, 50 human-to-animal interactions for even the most minor things, etc. We even skipped lambing this year until we get the numbers under control.

There will be lamb and mutton for sale, by the way: 100% grass-fed sheep. If you haven't tasted 100% grass-fed lamb or mutton, you are missing out. We'll probably post something on this topic at some point (Facebook page). Currently, we are busily filling the freezers. So, if you are in the Raleigh-Durham region of North Carolina, we can supply you with some meat.

For the first time in a very long time, we finally put a garden together. We're rather excited to be getting our hands dirty and growing some vegetables and berries. I have been planting more and more blueberry bushes and blackberry canes over the years, but veggies are something we have tended to avoid (they're primarily annuals and somewhat fitful). Not this year! We'll finally have veggies! Yay! Gardening, though, aways seems to be a race to get what's left after the birds and critters take notice.

And bees! We took a two-year hiatus from honey bees (after 15 years, we were a bit burned out), but now, we are happy to announce that honey bees fill the air once again at Tandem Farms (aka The Carolina Bee Company). We are happy to have them. They are the happiest creatures on Earth. It's no accident that I used the word happy three times in that paragraph.

The real estate biz.

Raleigh-Durham is a real estate madhouse. RDU is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country. Combine that with all the supply issues in the housing market and . . . yowza! It's a bit crazy. I have all kinds of thoughts on that, but perhaps I'll save that for a separate post (watch our Tandem Realty Facebook page). Despite the craziness, Monica is in the thick of it. She is a full-time real estate queen and just so very talented—a guru. Of course, I'm involved as well. I may claim to be "semi-retired" or "retired-ish," but I have somehow collected seven clients at the moment. Go figure.

I can't neglect our peeps at Navigate Realty (the agency with whom we are affiliated). They are such a fantastic crew of people. Working with them reminds me of my team at the tech company when it was small and earnest. Everyone is kind and fun. They are good people. And the professionalism of the leadership team is outstanding—bias: Monica is a member of that team.

Writing and other things.

Semi-retirement—even if it were full-retirement—still leaves me with little time in the day, and my grand writing plans have suffered. I am still doing a bunch, but key projects have been stymied. There is no rush, but damn, this is an activity I need to stop deprioritizing.

Friends and family.

Friends? Family? What are these things of which you speak? There has been such a dearth of social interaction over the past year. In many ways, our lives haven't changed much due to the pandemic, but we haven't seen most of our family for over a year. And COVID has not left our family (well, our extended family) unscathed, sadly. (Wear your damn masks, people, and get vaccinated. Please. Don't be a child about it. Geez.) We finally got to see my mom and dad, but for a sad reason: My mother's brother, who lives not far away from us, recently passed (cancer). A week or so before he passed, my parents came down for a final goodbye. Since he lived relatively close, I had the honor of spending a great deal of time with him and my aunt before he was gone. Uncle Don, we will all miss you!

Side note: Treasure those hugs from Mom. I wish I could put them in a bottle and keep them at the ready.

The rhythm of life.

One of the more interesting aspects of the last four years has been adjusting to a life without temporal boundaries. It took, I think, three years before we fell into a natural rhythm. Without a 9-to-5 (or, more accurately during my tech years, a 5-to-midnight) and without kids, it took some time to set that keel and find a daily rhythm. Monica is now struggling a bit to keep her hours in check, but for the most part, we have found time to live our lives instead of living only for other people (and companies).

Four years.

Four years have passed in an eye blink. Heck, the last 20 years have passed in an eye blink. But, without a doubt, these past four have been some of my best. And Monica's as well, I believe, if I can speak for her. Monica and I are in close proximity almost continuously, and our relationship has only gotten stronger. Relationships have their ups and downs. We have had four solid years of ups! That's a treasured thing.

And that, folks, is the summary. Thank you for celebrating National Todd (Semi-)Retirement Day! I hope it was as festive for you as it was for us. And when you get a chance (and when you are vaccinated), please come and visit. We'll have a beer and a bourbon, go fishing and sit around the fire.

Cheers! -todd

Please add todd+ruminations[at]errantruminant.com to your contacts and