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Thursday, December 01, 2005

New Beginning

I suppose December 1st is as good a time as any to start this 'blog' thing again. I have started and stopped on numerous occasions. It always ends up feeling a little self-indulgent, like who cares what I'm doing in my life?

I have since come upon a few farm blogs, so to speak, and I think they are a good thing. It is interesting to read about how other people are living this life we have chosen.

Not to bore you with a lot of background, but just enough so anyone who might stumble upon this blog will get where we are coming from.

My husband John and I have been married for 12 years and have done our share of moving around the U.S. with his job. We have 3 daughters whom our lives basically revolve around. Since our oldest was 5, I have stayed home and not worked outside the house. Grateful is an understatement for how I feel about being able to do this. Our oldest is now 15, middle 11 and youngest 8.

For as long as I can remember, having a small farm has been my dream. This dream has been put on hold to follow my husband's career and raise small girls.

Finally in 1999, after several moves, our family settled back in Wisconsin where my husband is from, in the town of St. Croix Falls right along the beautiful St. Croix River that divides Minnesota and Wisconsin. Right away, my dream of having a small farm returned. It took 2-3 years for us to get to the point of being ready to buy our own land and agree on what we wanted.

In April 2003, we sold our house in town (with nowhere to go and no land bought yet, we don't advise this method!), moved into a 2 bedroom apt. and got serious about finding land. Luckily in June 2003, we found our dream spot and put an offer in immediately, which was accepted that same day. Now what?

Over the course of the next 10 months, we built our home, with my husband and I doing MUCH of the work ourselves and various charitable friends with carpentry/electrical skills donating many hours. Looking back on it now, I can't believe we did it. My husband working a full-time job, night shift no less, living on about 3-4 hours of sleep a day for 10 months - wow. We officially moved out of the cramped apt. and into our new home in April 2004. There are still plenty of things left to do - minor things to finish, but we couldn't be happier with the results.

In the fall of 2004, we plotted out our garden spots, tilled, added organic matter, put up fencing, built chicken coops, put up my greenhouse and got ready for spring 2005. It was all very exciting, but also a little intimidating. After all these years, was I really going to do this? When will I find the time?

Oh, did I happen to mention that we also homeschool our children? No minor undertaking in the time department. Our oldest daughter went back to public school for high school in the fall of 2004. She is an avid and talented golfer and dearly wanted to play on the high school golf team - so off she went. A dream of her own that has proved to be a positive one.

Spring 2005 came, the greenhouse was brimming with transplants just waiting to be put in the ground. Our first batch of chicks arrived and made for noisy but cute house companions as they lived in our mudroom until it was warm enough for them to go in their new coop.

We proceeded to plant an acre of vegetables and flowers and before we knew it, we were farming. We didn't feel confident enough in this first year to sell subscriptions, we first had to see if we could even grow anything on this virgin land before we made anyone any promises. It didn't take long for us to discover that this former cow pasture could grow some amazing vegetables and flowers in spite of what we did!

Soon we were surprising people with deliveries to their doors of the things we were growing and the response was overwhelming. People tried to pay us this first year but we refused. We told them to try our produce, spread the word and subscriptions would be available for Spring 2006. At this point, we hadn't even come up with a name for the place! I had just finished reading the book Brother Crow, Sister Corn. What a great book. This book described how corn, beans and squash were the 3 sisters of native american agriculture due to the way they companion plant. The corn would be planted in the middle, the beans would climb the corn stalks and the squash would be planted around the bottom to stifle the weeds and shade the roots. This really struck me and considering I had a set of "three sisters" of my own - it felt right, the name of our farm had been discovered. Through the help of a friend who is an artist, she came up with an amazing logo and off to the presses we went and came back with brochures, flyers, business cards, etc.

Needless to say, our growing season was a success. Now we can't wait for next spring when we are officially open for business, actual customers - scary. We are in the process of sending out a mailing with all of our subscription information and we will see how it goes. We would like to keep the first year small, 10-15 members, and grow as our experience grows.

The ultimate dream for our farm is to offer vegetable & flower subscriptions, organic chicken & eggs, organic goats' milk, cheese & soap and eventually organic beef. We would also like our farm to be a place to educate people on the benefits of eating organically and living sustainably - even venturing into classes on canning/putting up food, making soap, cooking and juicing. Who knows where this venture will end up - all we know is we love what we are doing and feel very blessed to be able to live this life.

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