But then came 4 years of dealing with leaks, broken parts, warping and splintering wood and tearing outdoor carpet on the deck, wasted money spent on liner patches and chemicals - all for maybe 4 days of use. My kids were not really into it - I think they're just a bit too little, and one of them is afraid of everything. I never wanted to go in. It creeped me out that the center drain cover was missing, and it felt too much like a giant shared bath. I'm sorry, but I wouldn't get in a bathtub with my in-laws, how different is a pool, really? Thin scraps of spandex and chemicals separating us isn't enough for me. (Shudder)
Our pool was ancient, faded, and warped. I begged Matt to ditch it for the last 4+ years, but he liked the idea of the kids having a pool as they got older. We'd hoped to replace the pool in a couple years, and the deck the year after that, but it would mean a lot of saving up money and a lot of wasted time and resources while we waited years to afford it. And for what? No use and an eye sore on our otherwise breathtaking property.
I'm not sure what exactly pushed Matt to the point of saying, "See ya never, sucker!"...but he finally did this year. I think the time and money it would require to keep it alive (which was 100% on his shoulders) finally outweighed the perks. So a couple of weekends ago, we had some family and friends spend the morning with us while we said goodbye to the pool. In about 4 hours, the pool and deck were completely gone. It was incredible how quickly they worked! And I have to admit - I was a little nervous before they started. I had momentary regrets about the kids losing their pool (someday, they will likely beg for one), but I knew that a pool's value is probably 5-10 years off for them, and it wasn't really worth that long of a wait. So when it started coming down and I had a clear view of the woods where that aging monstrosity used to be - I was invigorated!
Matt and I have been talking about the options for our new empty space. There's a massive sand-covered circle out there now, and a lot of fixing up to do. We could just buy topsoil and grass seed and expand our yard, which would probably take a few seasons of work to create. But - we could also take advantage of the cleared space and put something useful there.
My first thought was a chicken coop. I've always wanted chickens (for the eggs and the pet factor), and we could design a really cool coop inside a circular "yard" for them. I hear the ideal bedding for chickens is sand, anyways, so we're halfway there! Not to mention, there's already electricity there from the pool filter and a really large spot light we had that used to light the deck and pool at night. We could easily install lighting and heat lamps for the chickens. We wouldn't even have to do much to the land surrounding the coop - it would be simple to set up. But Matt's not into it. He's fearful of what will happen should a chicken be attacked, or need to be "put down" (to put it nicely), and despite letting him know that there are people that will take care of all of that for you should the need arise, he doesn't want to deal with it. My biggest pause about the situation is what to do when we go on vacation. I don't know of anyone that would know how to stop by and care for the chickens. But that doesn't mean I will stop wishing for them!
My next ideal option is a greenhouse. I LOVE the idea of starting our gardens with our own seedlings, extending our growing season, and even having something to do outdoors in the winter. I am really inspired to become more self-sufficient and to work back to basics, and this would be a huge step in the right direction for us. Of course, chickens would offer us fresh free-range eggs and practice with raising other animals, but I am really enjoying my gardens - a little more each year - and I love the idea of being more fully-immersed in it so that my kids grow up with the skills that I'm just now learning.
Greenhouse kits are not cheap. All of the readily-available ones I've found are $500-$1,000 (and counting) and they don't even look that great! I found one that looks really cute and sturdier than the kits (albeit a little small for the size plot we're working with), and the plans for it are under $18 while the building materials are about $150. That's much better.
That's the one I'm leaning towards right now (and maybe I'd build a little covered raised bed around the outside of it to expand my growing areas and use up more of our ex-pool space - kind of like what this one has), but I'm still looking into the options. Looking at the inside of this little green house makes my stomach flip-flop with excitement. Eek!
I also really like the interior of the one above - the walkway on the floor with the actual ground being used is great. Plus, if you look at that blog (click on the source!), they built it so it you walk right into it from their house! I think that's so neat - you get to check on everything every time you go in or out the back door, and through the winter, you don't have to walk through the snow to get there!
I'm super excited about the possibilities, and I'm making a new year-round gardening plan to go with it! Who knew growing things could be so fun?