Friday, June 24, 2011

My "Big Farm" Dreams

At the age of five, I spent a short part of my childhood on a farm. I still remember the barn, cows, pasture and the creek that ran through the property. At that time we were just renting the place. The cows weren't ours but for me, it was all mine. We even raised a huge, pink pig for our freezer.

I have always lived rurally. Either on a small farm, deep in the woods or in a very small town. I spent most of my youth in Brethren, a town of about 1000 people located in the heart of the Manistee National Forest. We still own a small cabin on two acres just outside of town and a 115 year old house in town. There's still no traffic lights there. As for businesses, Brethren boasts several bait n' tackle shops, a pizza shop, a bar/restaurant, and a gas station.

I spent many thousands of hours playing in the woods, swimming in the lakes and rivers, and digging in the dirt while tending my garden.

Those days I wanted to be an Architect, then a Veterinarian, then some sort of nature activist. Never once did I realize that being a farmer was an option.

Since the day I discovered small farming and the CSA concept I haven't thought of much else. It has been very clear to me that that is what I want to do. After all this moving around, renting and bouncing from state to state, we will soon buy a farm and I will get started.

My eyes have settled on a 36 acre farm in Northern Lower Michigan. It's within a half hour from where I grew up. The land has a long gentle south facing slope and about 10 acres of Maples and several more of Spruce trees. The house was built in the 40's and is a bit small at 1300 sq feet but I really don't care. I can change the house. It's the land that I want more than anything else. There is a large barn, detached two car garage and another smaller garage out behind the barn. In the maples sits a small sugar shack. Andrew wants to turn it into a sauna but I think it would stay a sugar shack. We can build a sauna.

I can picture the rolling land divided into pasture by Osage orange. A small herd of goats and a few cows, horses and a mini donkey or two browsing the pastures. Chickens, ducks and turkeys enjoying open air. A pig and her piglets resting in the cool moist soil beneath the apple trees. Tidy beds of vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers covering a few acres near the house and the small orchard just to the north.

I can imagine the extremely hard work that it will take but I will love the feeling of the accomplishment. I will love bringing people together over food. I will love raising my family there, under the sun and over the land that feeds them.

I will relish the dark winter days spent planning the coming years farming activities. Improving on the past and cataloging my mistakes, hopefully few. Hours spent crafting, mending and tending and reading the latest news in agriculture.

I have plans to install a cheese cellar near the house. Stone walls and steps lead down to the door. An earth roof will disguise it from a distance. Perhaps a slightly 'hobbit house' appearance.

The gardens around the house and buildings will be English/Country with emphasis on country. Field stones and reclaimed barn wood will be used to build all the little outbuildings that I've always dreamed of having.

Well, It has been many months since I typed the above post and since then the farm has sold, not to me unfortunately. So, I will have to find another one to start dreaming for. It's okay. I've done it a dozen times.


Jeph said...

Aw, so sorry to hear you lost the farm (at least, technically, it wasn't yours to lose to a bank!). You just have to tell yourself that thing all potential home buyers say when this thing happens - "it wasn't meant to be...our house (farm) is still out there waiting for us to find it!" Give it time - it'll happen.

Oh who'm I kidding? I'm the most impatient person around when it comes to this stuff. That really sucks - and I'm sorry to hear it. :-(

Your vision is absolutely beautiful, and I have a similar one (not yet as well formed) for our farm future. When we recently confirmed we can't have chickens in our housing development, Brett said "wait a couple years for the market to improve, we'll sell the house and get you a farm."

I should be ecstatic, right?

Um....small problem. That impatience thing I have? Well, I'm working through it buy growing fruit trees!! I don't want to move just as they start doing their thing!!! Hm, would I dig them up and move them to the new place? I don't think that'd go over well with the trees or our buyers!

You have my'll happen. It will.

Oh, in the meantime perhaps you should read The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball! It might help with that fantasy acreage in your mind's eye... ;-)

Elephant's Eye said...

That was all coming together ... then you dropped us!

I hope you will soon find the farm of your dreams. Muddy Boot Dreams shares your dream, hence her blog title.

HolleyGarden said...

Like you, I have always lived in the 'country'. And I was so excited to hear of your dreams, your goals, visions, and could imagine your family living fully in the setting of a farm. Then, the place was sold? You've done this a dozen times? If this is your dream, do it!!! You will wonder why you waited so long. Good luck!