Monday, March 24, 2014

Livin' the Dream

“You’re living my dream!”

            “You’re SO lucky!  What a great life!”

                                                “You’re a perfect example of why small farms are best!”

There seem to be a lot of folks who think living in the country, doing the whole farm thing is the perfect life…the ultimate dream.

If they only knew…

When we came to the hill, it was NOT the final fulfillment of a lifelong dream.  It wasn’t to prove somehow that small operations were better than large ones.  …and it definitely was NOT because we had any burning desire to become Farmers’ Market vendors.

…no…we came to the hill with heavy, broken hearts, knowing that our old life was a memory…looking for a way to survive. This was one spot we could afford and ultimately it would allow us to heal and find the strength to go on with life. If you don’t know what I’m talking about…you need to read this.

Looking around today, it’s hard to imagine that there was once nothing here.  The hill was windswept and bare when we first visited back in ’97.

March 24, 1997

looking down the front hill
  The only sign of any previous life was a weathered sheep skeleton that was discovered as we marked the house site. I'm pretty sure I’ve done this whole story before.  Yep…read THIS.
the "back forty"

If I say that it was hard those first years, I fail to convey the depth of my own despair.  But, if I say anything more, I run the risk of sounding like a crybaby.  So, we’ll stick with hard…

Just how do you start over again? How do you start over again with a broken heart? How do you start over again with a broken heart in a place so unlike anywhere you’ve ever known? WHAT do you do?

You just do it. 

You show up every morning and do the next thing. 

You have to try even though you make a lot of mistakes. A WHOLE LOT of mistakes.

hoophouse #1 under construction

the garden begins - 1997
this is how we used to start seeds

the awesome workforce

And sometimes, you are blessed with a little help from your friends.

While we’ve since gone our separate ways, those folks who extended the gracious hand of friendship in those early days will always hold a special place in my heart.  The gifts of physical labor, encouragement and plenty of food and laughter made the adjustment to a new life a little more manageable. There is tangible evidence all around the hill of the help and care extended to us in those early days.

In reality, this life wasn’t our dream.

This isn’t our dream house, we certainly never dreamed of becoming farmers and prior to our move I hadn’t ever even shopped at a Farmers’ Market. Honestly, I was pretty content with our predictable, somewhat boring, stable life before our move to the Valley. But, when life throws you for a loop…you have to do something.  We knew we needed some sort of income when we got to the hill.

Our first thought was that the Boss could turn the “shop” (our separate garage) into a wood-working business.  He’s an incredible craftsman and he had all my granddaddy’s tools from his upholstery business.

But…in order to get our place re-zoned (we’re zoned EXCLUSIVE Agriculture) we needed $300 for a permit or we needed to attach the shop to the house by an enclosed breezeway.

 …and we didn’t have it or any possibility of doing either one.

                                        So…that was that.

Our new-found friends suggested that we consider selling at the local Farmers’ Market.  They were participating and it seemed a good way to earn some much-needed income even though our needs were relatively few. If there was one thing we knew how to do…it was food. Be sure to read THIS for more of the story.
1st Market day - 1998

As we worked, we learned…and as we learned, we grew…and as we grew, we found that the pain of the past was just that…the past.  The rhythms of the seasons became a part of our lives…a familiar and comfortable dance that we know and love. Every season brought new lessons, new challenges, some new heartaches and ultimately new joys and success.

Of course those folks who think this life is the ultimate dream have no inkling of the heartbreak it took to get here, the hardships we have faced to develop our business and way of life and the perseverance it takes to maintain it all. That’s okay. I don't want to burst anyone's bubble...but, dreaming doesn't make it happen. It has been (and continues to be) a lot--a whole lot, sometimes--of hard work.   I truly hope the dreamers hold onto their dreams and take advantage of each of those opportunities offered them.  You just never know where you might end up.

2013 Market

No, I wouldn’t say we’re living “the dream”, but it IS a very good life...and (borrowing lyrics from Montgomery Gentry)

That's somethin’ to be proud of
That's a life you can hang your hat on!
You don't need to make a million…
Just be thankful to be workin'.
If you're doing what you're able
And putting food there on the table
And providing for the family that you love
That's something to be proud of!
And if all you ever really do is the best you can
Well, you did it man!   -montgomery gentry

…and really...who could ask for anything more?

March 24, 2014
...just waitin' for warmer weather...


  1. Thanks for sharing your long journey into farming. I think with any desired lifestyle, people sometimes overlook the difficulty that may lie ahead. People focus only on the positive because they want "it" (whatever it is) so badly. It's good to remind people that there is good and bad in every life circumstance :)

    1. Thanks for the comment, Caitlin!
      I hope I didn't make it sound dismal in any way, because it is not.