Thursday, February 11, 2010

Welcome to the Farm

Hello there - this is our first blog and the beginning of our story about our path toward a self-sufficient homestead. Well, okay, it's not the beginning - that happened about five years ago, but it's the first we will tell the story.

First, a little about us - my name is Michele. I have been a traditional herbalist most of my life, and am a self-taught artist. I've always dreamed of living a peaceful, self-sufficient life, but modern day life got in the way and I've spend a lot of years working for the establishment I care not to really be a part of. I have been deeply in love with my betrothed since I was thirteen years old (not giving away my current age, let it suffice to say that was a very long time ago). Dan is the grounding force here that keeps the rest of us on the right path. I call him the musician, not necessarily because he plays an instrument, but because he knows more than anyone I know about music, artists, instruments - you name it. He also remembers an awful lot about films and foreign, subtitled selections always bring interest.

We share our little half acre farm with a menagerie of domestic and wild critters - yes, small though it be, it's a farm since we really have nothing growing other than grass that we can not use for something. Our two German Shepherd puppies keep us very busy, as do two cats and six Rhode Island Reds. We welcome most of the wildlife in our area, including a herd of white-tailed deer, a hawk we call Scorsia, a raven we call Kali, a skunk we call Daisy, an opossum we call Penelope, and various snakes, birds, mice, and others I'm sure I've forgotten. We do our best to walk softly on the Earth and live in harmony with the visitors to our little plot. We are careful to not use chemicals, choosing organic and biodegradable when needed, but mostly using natural methods and preparations in all areas of our life.

Over the last five years or so, we have planted fruit and nut trees, culinary and medicinal herbs, everlastings, and grown most of the vegetables we need. Our goal is to produce 80% of our own food and this year will be the first we do our best to make this a reality. We are currently planning an expansion that will make the vegetable gardens approximately 170 x 40 feet. We also installed a greenhouse a little over a year ago and we should have our winter veggies in there right now. We took these pictures in December:

Unfortunately, this year we did not get the passive solar heating elements in place that we had wanted to add and our produce froze by January. We have seeded just this past weekend to hopefully get an early harvest started and we will be posting about all of the improvements and details about the gardens in the coming weeks.

Our home is old and needs a lot of work, but we have managed to upgrade it to geothermal heating and cooling and solar hot water. We hope to add solar electric in the near future. We've had an unfortunate experience trying to accomplish these and other upgrades, including hopefully building a passive solar sunspace around the southeast corner of the house. More about this later also.

We are hoping to add a lot of useful information here for anyone else setting out on this path to self-sufficiency. We'd love to hear from you if you're starting, or dreaming about a peaceful life working for yourself and living off the land, even if the land is a container garden on your deck or patio. We also are hoping to share information with all of you who are seasoned homesteaders. We know we always have so much to learn.


the Dharma Dogs

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