I’ve always been a homebody. I don’t suffer the claustrophobia others do while ‘cooped up’ at home. One thing I recognised when I moved to the country is that it would be incredibly easy to just never leave. There’s longer to go to get to the good stuff; more room to ramble around; and more responsibilities to consider.

You never get a day off on a farm – even on a small one. Animals gotta eat. And when you’re looking after the same amount of land as several city blocks, there’s always a backlog of maintenance to get on top of. Some days we look at each other and say “it’s an easy day today”. But even on an ‘easy’ day, there’s still a couple of hours of work to do between us.

When I worked as a petsitter, I had several rural clients who told me they made a point of leaving each year over winter. It didn’t take me very long to recognise their wisdom, and in 2018 – around a year after I moved to the country – I got out and went to the city for a few days.

This year, it’s our first year at our own place. At this point, keeping the promise to ourselves to leave is very hard. We have to find someone who is willing to look after our cats, ducks, chickens, cows and rabbit while using our composting toilet and being aware of water and internet restrictions.

Then I have to get over my anxiety. Of driving long distance. Of leaving. Of being somewhere new. Of strangers. Once we were actually on the road, it was fine. But getting on the road in the first place was a whole other story.

February isn’t an ideal time to leave, but I also didn’t entirely choose the dates. For the last couple of years, leaving has been about weddings. It seems everyone is getting married. We went to a family wedding, saw some friends, and we were supposed to see Elton John, but ended up selling our tickets instead. I’m pretty glad we did after what happened.

Some friends came up and enjoyed their time at The Outpost, but unfortunately two of our cats have decided to scarper. Talk about buzzkills – apparently we can’t leave for 2 nights without upsetting their delicate constitutions. Obviously we are pretty sad about their disappearance, but I’m also hoping they’ll pop back soon. It won’t help us leave in the future if they bugger off whenever we need to take a break from the place.

Getting off the property is important. Even if it’s hard. Seeing the people we love is revitalising – not to mention pretty essential for our mental health. Seeing my cousin marry her beautiful wife, and having a chance to catch up with my oldest friend was absolutely worth it, but I do hope our kitties come home soon.

EDIT: They did! Samurai came home at 11:30pm on the night I wrote this blog. Sabre was at the door the next morning. We’re very happy to have them home.