Whether you call it a gut feeling, a sixth-sense or even destiny, it’s that feeling one gets when something is just “right” and it usually becomes a monumental moment in your life. Taking advantage of the situation when it happens is sometimes as easy as just saying “let’s do it.” For Michael Higginson and his family, there were a number of events leading up to the them giving up the suburban lifestyle and moving out in the country where they could raise chickens, have a huge garden and some space for their family of seven to grow and enjoy life.
The Higginson’s gut feeling started after a seven month mission to Tonga to help a community with their dental needs. Dr. Higginson took time off of his Eagle, Idaho dental practice, packed their five kids up and headed to Tonga for what became more of an education for the Higginson’s than anything else. Dr. Higginson will be the first to tell you that their family received just as many, if not more, life skills when he volunteered his dental skills to the Tonga community. “The kids in Tonga were the happiest kids I have ever seen. No TV, no video games. Just time with family and raising pigs and chickens. They were always outdoors and always happy.”
Although the family was on an all English campus, both Dr. Higginson and his wife Marci agreed that the best lessons learned were not in a classroom, but rather seeing and participating in how others lived and worked on the land. “They did better in school when we got back, not because of the schooling down in Tonga, but because of the life lessons they learned while there.” Dr. Higginson continues, “There is just something therapeutic about working the land.” Before the family even boarded the plane back to Idaho, they agreed that they had a calling, a “Country Calling.”
Those that have lived and worked on land their entire life, might not understand this calling to have a small amount of acreage and be as sustainable as possible. But it is a huge undertaking when you have all the desire to make a better life for your family but don’t have all the knowledge to make it happen.
Marci grew up north of Spokane, Washington with a little bit of land and an understanding of what it’s like growing up in a rural area. Dr. Higginson grew up in Idaho, Utah and Missouri, but one of his favorite places was when his family had enough land with a few cattle and a dog. Wherever he lived, he always wanted those cattle back. After they met in college, married and started a family, they ended up in the Treasure Valley where Dr. Higginson started work as a dentist and eventually opened up his own practice, Lighthouse Dental in Eagle, Idaho, which will celebrate ten years in business in the spring of 2012.
The “Country Calling” was highly pursued once the family got back from Tonga and began with them moving to the outskirts of Middleton and renting a place until they found their new home. They had their sights set on a plot of land and an old house nestled in the trees, but that fell through once the owner decided to keep the property, tear down the house and build his own rural getaway. But, it was that same owner who gave them the scoop about a recently abandoned house, which was just a stones throw away from his own abode.
Dr. Higginson was able to walk around the abandoned property and saw the possibilities through the acres of overgrowth, tumbleweeds and dead trees. As any good home seeker, he also peeked in the house that had a number of birds inhabiting it due to a broken second story balcony door, which had been blown open by the wind. With all the fixing up that needed to be done, it was do-able. Dr. Higginson remembers the feeling that there was “something familiar, something homey” about this property where he knew he would raise their family and grow old with Marci for years to come.
Now the questions came: Where the heck do I buy a gate? How do I get rid of the algae in our pond? What is the best way to re-invent the large garden area? Once they started asking these questions, their neighbor and fellow church member answered their questions with “D&B of course!” Their neighbor, Shawna Barrow, works at the Caldwell D&B Supply store, so it was an easy answer, but the Higginson’s have discovered that “You can get everything there!” Even Marci is giddy over the canning supplies, especially the salsa mix, “I love this stuff!” Dr. Higginson’s next big purchase will be a small tractor to take care of the land in front of the house and at some point he has to figure out how to get the barn gate back on its track instead of it leaning against a hitching post all winter long.
For now, they are fixing the many broken sprinklers, saving what landscaping they can, pulling dead trees and shrubs and laying a lot of grass seed behind the house. The kids planted a few squash and some other vegetables in their soon-to-be huge garden and their daughter, Aubrey, prefers to spend her time in the barn with her new pet rabbit, Spanky. The new gate on the chicken coop is holding well and the list of wants and to-do’s seems to be getting longer and longer.
The upcoming winter will bring minor house repairs inside the house with plans, ideas and dreams of what they can do with their new found country life. All members of the Higginson household feel great about where they are and are ready for whatever comes their way, but both Dr. Higginson and Marci are quite happy to keep plugging along knowing full well this is where they are supposed to be.
Read about the Higginson’s adventure in their Tonga Blog.
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