I’ve been busy preparing our land for farming the past few weeks.
It’s all started one evening a few weeks ago. The kids went to sleep, my husband was watching TV and I found myself yet again thinking about our 20 acres an hour away from home. We bought this parcel last August with the intention to hold on to it until we can build our home and move there.
We went to visit every chance we’ve got. We will walk around or have a picnic by the stream. As soon as we left, I wanted to turn and go back. It just felt good to be there.
From the start, we had many ideas for things we might want to do; grow pecans, a vegetables farm, a sustainable homestead and hopefully use the clay we have to build our home.
But we “knew” that we will have to wait for a while because first, we didn’t have the money to do any of it, second, our locksmith business needs our close attention right now with a new store and new employees, and third, the land is almost an hour away from home, we can’t just go to water the seeds and come back in 30 minutes. Every trip was at least a half day event, especially when you add three young kids to the mix.
But patience was never my virtue. And my husband, bless his heart, has to deal with it.
So that evening after stewing with the idea for a while and after acknowledging the fact that my husband is not going to be able to help me much since he is already working 15 hours days which means that whatever I want to do will be mostly up to me, I declared, “I am going to farm our land.”
And braced myself for the worst.
But instead of telling me I am completely out of my mind, that I have three little kids going with me everywhere, that I didn’t sleep a whole night for… I can’t remember how long, that we don’t have almost any money to start with, and that he can’t believe he maid the mistake of marrying a nut case, he just looked at me and said, “OK.”
OK?! Really? Um… Great! (I think…). I had his support and I would have his help anytime he can give it.
I shifted from first to fifth gear without really knowing where I was going. Because, honestly, there isn’t a farmer’s bone in my family. I have zero experience, and absolutely no idea how to run a farm. Yes, I grow some of our own vegetables, but there is a whole lot of difference between a kitchen garden and a market farm (or is there?).
Why Do I Want to Farm?
- What is greater than to grow your own food? For me, it’s to be able too feed others as well. I would love to make great vegetables and fruit available for whoever wants them.
- I don’t think there is a better place for a child to grow than on a farm. Our kids, no matter how young, are part of the operation. Period. I don’t care how many tomatoes I’ll lose, or how many lettuces will get stepped on. They will learn.
- I always had a passion for education, vegetables and horses. This farm may be the opportunity for me to combine them all.
A gazillion questions were swirling around in my head, answers that I had to find. When to plant? What to plant? Direct planting or should I order seedlings? How am I going to water? How am I going to map the field? Where can I sell? Do I need a tractor? and on and on and on. I might have ran a stop sign or two and lost few hours of sleep.
I decided to take it one tiny step at a time, there was no way I can figure everything out right away.
- Driveway. I had no access to the land. Every time we went to visit we used the driveway of our kind neighbor. But I didn’t want to keep doing that, so driveway was first on my list. I will post about how we built it soon.
- Find a mentor. I needed someone who knows it all and doesn’t mind telling me his secretes. Well, I don’t know any such person and going to work on a farm with my three kids is not an option. So I turned to books. And found my man! His name is Elliot Coleman, and maybe some of you know him. I love his methods of farming, I love how old school yet innovative he is, I love how he farm only few acres but those acres produce so much food, I love how he farm year round even with the cold weather up North. Best of all, I love his attitude of keeping it simple, natural and cheap while saving the planet. I started reading The Winter Harvest Handbook and currently reading The New Organic Grower.
- while the driveway is being built and I read and plan, I needed to look for an RV. A very, very, very cheap RV. If I am going to spend my days on the land with my kids, I need a place for them to take their naps, a place for us all to cool down and wash. An RV was my first choice since it is something we wanted for a while for traveling anyway. Luckily, one of our clients, a car dealer my husband is making keys for on a regular basis, decided to sale the RV he originally bought for himself with the intention to fix. He never got around to fixing it and the 27 feet RV was taking valuable space on his lot. We bought it for $1700 and now working on restoring it. More on the RV in another post.
While we are working on the RV, I met with our county extension agent out on the 4 cleared acres I want to farm. Together we made a timeline of things to do to make the land ready for vegetables planting next Spring:
- Map the field – I will map the whole field as I think I would like it to be in a few years (considering hoop houses and such), however next year I will start planting only a very small area of vegetables and an area of berries.
- Take soil samples from next year’s planting areas.
- Till those areas.
- Read soil test results and apply the necessary treatment.
- Sow Summer cover crops.
- End of Summer – till cover crops under and let rest for a couple of weeks.
- Fall – sow winter cover crops.
- Spring (2015) – till Winter cover crops under.
- Sow vegetables and berries.
This plan will give us time to finish working on the RV, figuring out a way to irrigate and setting it up, collect manure from neighboring farms, start a compost windrow, and purchase the equipment and seed/seedlings we need.
So you can see we have a lot to do. I am happy the first phase of the driveway is done and the fixing of the RV is well on its way. My next big task is mapping.
Busy doesn’t even starts to describe our days. We feel like we are suiting up for war, but it feels so good to just do it. Even if nothing is growing yet, and the land is still bare, it’s just so much fun to accomplish one little thing at a time. To imagine how the land is going to look a few years down the road.
With that said, I have to admit that the greatest thing of all is meeting wonderful people along the way. We’ve been showered with support from friends; from watching our kids a few times when I had meetings I couldn’t take them to or gifting us supplies for fixing the RV, materials which would have cost us hundreds of dollars.
A neighbor who has a tractor and was doing some work for us refused to get paid for the first few hours of work! And what he charged us for the rest of the hours he worked was 50% less than anyone else would have charged. Our DOT county crew installed and covered our driveway pipe for free, we didn’t even have to pay for the fill dirt.
Everyone I meet wants to help, if they can’t help me they direct me to someone else who can do the work. There is only one problem…. I don’t speak Redneck, unfortunately.
Here is a sentence for you:
Ah bleeve yo gotta se Jimmah Atkins bout thet hep on account o’ he has them trimenjus tracko’s. And fer him na fur, jew yer hankerin his number? Na-wh-na, fav-three-taw fav-fav- na-seven.
Can you please tell me what that means? Cause I cudnt unnerstand a wurd he sed, I’m fran.
I still love and appreciate them all even if my ears heart sometimes and I lose valuable information, and I am trying to learn, as you can see.
Meanwhile, I hope y’all join me on this exciting ride ;-)!