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Moving, downsizing & chickens


After almost 15 years of living in the wilds of Garcon Point, my wife and I decided it was time to move. We still feel young, but there was no denying that the work required to maintain 12 acres of fast-growing forest was becoming too much.

And after having watched both my mother and my wife’s mother struggle to visit our home because of the steep stairs, we accepted that we, too, would face similar challenges as we aged.

So, like many other babyboomers, we decided to it was time to downsize.

Actually, we had a five-to-seven-year plan to put us in a smaller home in the downtown Pensacola area by the time I was 70. But late last year we decided to act now, and, given some unique aspects of the house and surrounding grounds, we were prepared for it to take a year or even more to sell.

But, plans change. Within weeks of informing our realtor that we intended to list the home in late spring, she had found a buyer.

What followed was a furious month, all the time we had to reverse the previous 15 years of accumulating stuff.

Oh, here let me mention that one of the first questions we always get about our move is, what about the chickens, which we have raised basically as pets for most of those 15 years. Happily, the new owners took them, and took to them immediately, despite, like us, having never raised them before. Leaving the girls in good hands was one of our main concerns, and from Facebook we can see that our spoiled birds remain spoiled, and still love to be near their human family, which I assume they see as big roosters.

The only gripe I have is how quickly the little traitors moved on. There was a petite, gray hen that used to follow me around, but would run if I so much as moved a hand near her. Soon after moving in, the new owner reported how much she liked to be picked up and petted, even purring with pleasure at it.

Never trust a chicken, I say.

Anyway, I mentioned downsizing, which has become the buzzword for my aging generation. And downsize we have. Our rental home on Pensacola Beach is 1,300 square feet … compared to 2,300 square feet on Garcon Point.

How did we do it?

We took truckloads of stuff to the landfill. We gave stuff away to family, friends, neighbors, thrift stores and complete strangers. On that score, I can report that if you leave things at the end of your driveway with a sign that says Free, it will disappear. We sold things on Craigslist and Facebook, and had a garage sale. And we stuffed everything that was left into two mini-warehouse units, to deal with later.

Another thing I learned: Stuff must breed on its own. We moved at least 5 pickup truck and trailer loads after I thought we had done the last one. And the day after closing the sale, we found ourselves in our small rental home with stuff stacked to the ceiling in every room.

Believe me, downsizing is not for the faint of heart.

Carl Wernicke is a native of Pensacola. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1975 with a degree in journalism. After 33 years as a reporter and editor, he retired from the Pensacola News Journal in April 2012; he spent the last 15 years at the PNJ as editor of the editorial page. He joined the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in 2012 as Senior Writer and Communications Manager, and retired from IHMC in 2015.His hobbies include reading, traveling, gardening, hiking, enjoying nature around his home in Downtown Pensacola, as well as watching baseball and college football, especially the Florida Gators and New York Yankees. His wife, Patti, retired as a senior vice president at Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union and is a Master Gardener. Carl is a regular contributor to WUWF. His commentaries focus on life in and around the Pensacola area and range in subject matter from birding to downtown redevelopment and from preserving our natural heritage to life in local neighborhoods.