Those of you who have been following along from the beginning will have heard us refer to our recent transitions as “phases” of the master plan. Phase 1 was leaving our jobs in New Mexico and moving to Western North Carolina for a life-changing farm internship with the inimitable H & M. Phase 2 was a baby step into a rental and a simple, (mostly) frugal lifestyle on the farm of our new dear friends S & S. Phase 3 was what we were aiming at the whole time, the vision that sustained us through all the changes – a little homestead of our own, where we could grow food and raise animals, start a new family closer to our old ones, build community, live more sustainably, and pursue lower-stress, more fulfilling work.
Well, that is a lot to cram in to one phase, and really, phase 3 is probably going to be the phase with no end. But, the beginning of phase 3 can be officially marked. We’ve spent months exploring hundreds, maybe thousands of miles of rural and suburban Western North Carolina. We’ve seen two or three dozen properties: fancy modern homes with rather large yards, rustic cabins perched on steep slopes, 10-acre holdings with 1920’s farm houses, vacant pastures, and mobile homes with goat pens. We’ve been on the emotional roller coaster of love at first sight and dashed hopes (don’t even get me started on flood plains, asbestos, power transmission lines, highway noise and church parking lot light pollution). We sat in the car for hours and hours, searching, dreaming, laying plans, bickering when we found ourselves tired and hungry and stuck in some rural holler, getting sore rears and stiff necks and search fatigue. We schemed with friends – maybe we could do more if we pooled resources? We devised nutty bargains with the universe. All this is the reason we didn’t grow anything this season except the garlic we planted last fall, and the reason you haven’t heard much from me in months. But I am thrilled to announce that we are now the proud owners of a beautiful mini-farm!
Our new place is so different from our original vision that it took some time for me to realize that it is actually a better fit for us. We began our search big (5-10 acres) and far from town (30-45 minute drive). The little place we ended up with is just 1.5 acres, and within 10 minutes of downtown. Though we are sacrificing some of that country peace, wildlife, and space, we feel like we’ve chosen a more realistic and manageable size for our interests. We’re excited to develop an urban-farming model, and the proximity to town will help us build community, pursue other interests, and find supplemental work, without having to be in the car all the time. I had no idea you could find such a large piece of land so close to a city in the eastern part of the U.S.
Moving is always bittersweet, though, and I felt rather wistful about leaving S & S’s farm, both for the peace and beauty of the land, and the close friendship we shared. I’ll miss hearing their lambs bleat when I open my front door, seeing the wild turkeys meander up the road, watching the firefly light show every evening, hearing nothing in the mornings but the rooster’s crow, the rushing creek, song birds, and distant rumbling thunder.
Still, we’ve got a lot of nature and a lot of food-growing potential for being only minutes from an urban center. There are blackberries and wineberries, plum and apple trees, a pond, walnut and choke cherry trees and a pasture. We’ve been busy, busy, busy with unpacking, new home owner responsibilities, and planning for fall and even next spring.
Once we get settled, I hope that I’ll be able to write more often about what we’re doing. We’re going to take our time developing a plan for how to use the land, but we’re day dreaming about wildflowers, bee hives, dairy goats, outdoor pizza ovens, blueberries, pear and peach trees, lawn games, hammock swings, rabbits, fish in the pond, and of course, a large herb and vegetable garden. Stay tuned, and be on the lookout for a change in blog venue, and maybe blog title, sometime in the near future.