Friday, November 14, 2014

We Bought a Farm: Answering Some Questions

So we bought a farm.

Now what?

Are we really going to become ... farmers?

Well ... not exactly. And not in the traditional sense.

Below I answer the most common questions we have received about what it is we are hoping to do with 100 acres in the middle of nowhere. Please feel free to leave your own question in the comments, and I will take the time to answer it.

1. When did you guys decide to buy a farm? As I have mentioned a few times on this Blog, this idea was hatched within JB right before or shortly after we were married. He found a book at the public library on Permaculture and basically decided right then and there that that was what he wanted to do. I, on the other hand, took a lot more convincing. It has been a gradual process for me to accept giving up what my ideal of a typical "American housewife and mother" should look like. Generally speaking, however, we have always thought that JB would (1) Go to medical school (2) Fulfill his military requirement (3) Buy a Farm. (4) Be a co-farmer and doctor. This has really been the plan all along.

2. What is Permaculture? I did a blog post discussing this awhile back. You can read it here.  You can also visit JB's (much more popular than mine) blog on just this topic to find out more. It is not farming in the traditional sense at all.

3. Do you plan to live here forever? We do. Obviously we can't predict the future, but this is not an investment property for us. We have no intention to ever sell it. We plan to live here until we die. It is actually why we chose this property over a few others. We wanted to make sure that the land and the house would suit us when we are old and can't walk stairs or hills. And this one will.

4. Will family/other people live there with you? JB's father, Ray, is in the final process of retirement. He and my mother-in-law, Mary, are planning on living with us forever. Obviously, something could change. (JB does have five brothers and sisters and maybe they will get a better offer from another sibling!) But for now, they are planning on retiring in Tennessee with us. In addition, I have another family member that I am not naming right now who is very interested in moving to the land with his wife and child/ren. They aren't sure if they would stay there or just learn from JB for awhile and then move onto their own property, but we definitely think we will have some sort of "intern" like this with us. In addition to these individuals, we have had a few friends express interest in maybe buying a few acres from us and settling in or using the space as a vacation home. We are open to discussions of this. Originally we thought we might create a much larger "intentional community." This particular piece of land, however, does not really warrant that. But we do like the idea of "community" and we are open to having a few people join us.

5. What do you plan to do with 100 acres? Great question. Here is the shortest answer I can muster:

  • Feed and raise our family! This is the most important thing we plan to do. We will be starting with chickens, pigs, and possibly goats. We will be planting a lot of trees and establishing a substantial garden, and we hope to be able to feed our family very healthy and chemical free food that we raise ourselves. We want to raise our children in a safe place where we can enjoy being together.
  • Educate the public. JB is hoping to be able to host small conferences on the land where members of the public can be educated by specialists in the field. He also hopes that he may be able to especially educate missionaries on the practices so that they can take this knowledge to the rest of the world and help lands ravaged by families. (If you want to see a great video on what permaculture is capable of achieving, click here.)
  • Feed and help other families. If the above items are taken care of, we would like to expand what we are doing to our communities. We could see selling our goods to others and maybe also having a nursery where we raise and sell herbs and trees via mail to others. Maybe we'd have a few cabins on the land that missionaries or pastors can retreat to. We are really open to however the Lord leads us for what else we will do with the land.
  • Have visitors. We are excited to have friends and family (and even people we don't personally) visit and see what we are doing and how possible it is to live a different kind of life. It will take awhile before we are ready to host people, but we hope to get to that point soon! This will have to be well organized as we still need to take care of our farm and homeschool and do all of our normal things ... but we'll figure that out later.
6. Will JB still practice medicine? Yes. He is really enjoying ER medicine and is planning on sticking with this field. He is going to work in a hospital about 30 minutes from our house. ER fits very well for the lifestyle we hope to have. He can work more or less shifts depending on need, and once he leaves his job at the end of the shift, the job is truly done. We are very blessed that his job affords us to not have to make money off the land. We bought this farm for what many families buy an entire house in the suburbs for. If we wanted, he could just practice medicine and we could live on the farm. However, we hope that eventually the land will be bringing in some income which will allow him to work part-time. He is planning on always practicing medicine, however, as taking a break from this field really causes you to "lose your touch."

7. What do you (Wendi) plan to do? I want to homeschool my children. I want to be involved with my community. I want to help on the farm in nearly all ways. (Except for slaughtering animals -- I am going to try and avoid that.) I still have plans to Blog, do some public speaking, and run our adoption organization. 

8. When are you moving? We'll be going back and forth a lot, but we plan to officially "open" our farm sometime in Summer 2015.

9. What structures are on the land now? 
  • There is a beautiful 3/2.5 farmhouse that we will live in. It looks very large from the outside, but once inside, we think we will have to do a few renovations in order to make it work with four growing children and one huge dog. But that will be our home. 
  • There is an awesome 3 car garage (that we will use for storage not vehicles). This garage has an apartment in it. My in-laws will occupy that space for a short time. Once they move out of this space, we hope to use this for friends and family that come to visit us on the farm since the big farmhouse really doesn't have room to entertain visitors.
  • There is a 2/1 old farmhouse from the 1950's that we think will be my in-laws "forever home." My father-in-law is a master carpenter and he will work on this home while they are in the apartment in the garage.
  • There is also a bunkhouse which we have a few different ideas for. Right now it has a toilet and sink, but we could easily add a shower if we wanted to use it for an intern family. Or, JB might decide to keep this for a conference room for educational purposes. 
10. What do your kids think? Hannah is obviously, clueless. The older three, however, are very excited, and totally "get" that we are going to be moving to a farm. They love the idea of exploring and collecting rocks and sticks. Every child currently has the job they have to do in mind:
  • Isaac is in charge of all organization on the farm. (He loves to keep things orderly.) 
  • Sidge is in charge of naming animals and all "destruction" (aka "construction.")
  • Abigail is in charge of holding kitty cats and petting all animals we have. (She currently wants a baby wolf and a pony.)
  • Hannah is in charge of not destroying as many things as she possibly can.
**** Updated with questions below*****

11. Will your crops be non GMO? Any plans for energy conservation? Our "crops" will be animal and perennial plant products. We are staunch detractors of GMO crops, but our products actually do not have GMO versions (as of yet!) so that really isn't an issue for us at this point. However, bottom line -- we will be and remain a non-GMO farm.

As for energy conservation, we will be steadily working toward minimizing our use of non-renewable energy. With about 50 acres of forest on the land, we have plenty of trees for fuel wood. We will be utilizing wood for heat as much as possible/as soon as possible. We would also love to utilize solar when appropriate. Considering we have a substantial elevation change on our property, JB also thinks that microhydroelectric would also be a very viable option.

Okay, that's all I can think to answer right now. What other questions do you have? Fire away! In addition, you can check out posts my husband has written about our farm below:

You can click the link below to read all articles on my Blog about our Farm!


Becky W said...

It's all very exciting! I've long had a similar dream, but we're not in a position to make it a reality right now. My parents live in Middle TN on about 240 acres. It's just beautiful. Unfortunately, as they are aging, they are planning to sell. Upkeep on a lot of land has become too much for them. I'm too far away to help. I'll miss that land for all it offered my children! Children benefit so much by being able to tromp through the woods and raise animals! I can't wait to hear your tales.

Anonymous said...

Will your crops be non GMO? Any plans for energy conservation?

Excited for your family.

Phil Danner