Visiting down the road

Nearby farm!

Ryan, Corrie and their girls moved onto their farm this summer, new to the experience, and they’re already eating their own chickens, turkey, lamb and eggs, and managed to get some veggies out of a late-planted garden. CSA members last year, next year, they’ll be growing their own. Pretty cool! Yesterday, Lynn came by, and we dropped in for a visit that included home-baked muffins and bread, pots of coffee and tea, seed catalogs and my first encounter with The Lorax. Hmm… A lot different than the usually high-octane “visiting” from big-city-living days not so long ago. More and more over the last couple of years, I’ve realized how much tiny farming is actually about people, and simply farming a piece of land is only the half of it (of course, the all-important “we need to eat” half!). It’s exciting. Change is in the air. Something is happening… :) (I forgot to take photos, so today, Ryan sent along one of his.)

9 thoughts on “Visiting down the road”

  1. I think not so long ago “tiny farming” was called “living”, “neighboring” or ” house keeping” :-)

    In my own life time, I have seen the move away from a sustained domestic home based or community economy, to an industrial and global factory based consumer economy.

    I can remember in Washington, D.C. & New York city in the 1950’s people kept backyard poultry, rabbits and the occasional goat.
    Vegetable gardens, grapes & dwarf fruit trees were common.
    People actually grew & cooked their own food.
    People were freer and owned themselves.

    Sadly today, people are semi helpless when it comes to life’s basic necessities – food.
    Seems to me today the purpose of people or families is to be wage slaves for globalism and multi national corporations.

    I have great confidence that a new generation of people will “return to the land” and a simpler way of life.
    I believe the coming global economic collapse & food shortages will send people scrambling back into their kitchens & plowing up highway strips for community food.

  2. Mike,
    In our area there’s a huge interest in sustainable, small farming. One of our universities (a land grant university) provides an excellent course in sustainable farming. We just completed this course and it was full to capacity. We’ve been doing some research on the subject and found a couple of very interesting links that we wanted to share with you. These are very old publications and have some outdated information in them, but they’re also filled with excellent information on owning a small piece of land and growing your own food on it. There’s also some information on how to store the food you do grow. One of these publications is from 1917 and the other from the 1940’s. The references to DDT and arsenic are scary, but hope you can find some useful info. Enjoy!

  3. I guess there’s nothing like a little fear to put some wings on common sense! ;)

    Chance: Thanks for the regional report! :)

    granny miller: I like your optimism (is that before, or after, the civil war! ;) I think it’s possible, because as far down a weird and unrealistic path as we’ve gone with consumer, wage-slave society, it only takes a minute and an example for many people to shake it all off.

    A good part of the last six years I’ve spent chatting with Bob, a lifelong farmer in his late 50’s, who quit high school to carry on on this farm with his dad. The people today who might be surprised to know that milk comes from cows, would be SHOCKED to see how much stuff an old-school farmer really knows. (Your blog is also an example of that…)

    Back-to-the-land and small-farming books point out how many different things a farmer has to be skilled in, but the descriptions don’t come close to experiencing what that means in real life. You have to actually spend some time (months, at least) working beside an old school farmer, seeing how problems are solved day to day, and the simple, concrete actions it takes to solve them.

    And there’s also the active, observant, disciplined “farmer” mindset that carries out and adjusts all the different, necessary routines, day in, day out, no matter what.

    It makes the average well-rounded, well-educated city-dweller seem virtually helpless in the world, if 911 or the auto-club or the emergency plumber stopped answering. Let alone if the supermarket shelves started going bare…

    The good news is that it’s pretty simple to revert to a more self-sufficient mode. You just have to get out there in a situation where you can, or have to. And have some basic example to follow.

    It’s amazing how quickly things get practical in your head. People thought I’d go crazy up here alone, straight from living for years in NYC, but I was absorbed in learning to grow stuff, the feedback was immediate, tangible, natural and all-involving. (Fun!) I haven’t looked back for a moment.

    I also see how easily the people who’ve come to work here, even for a day a week, settle in, from the first day where they’re all tentative, to confidently, unselfconsciously, happily doing everything I do, in just a few more days.

    Anyhow, I could ramble on forever, but I’ll stop…

    Sharon: Thanks for the links. Both books sound great, I’ll check ’em out. You may want to read this take on farming and back-to-the-land/homesteading: the plowboy interview: Wendell Berry. (Oh, I took the liberty of fixing your link above, hope you don’t mind.)

  4. Thanks for fixing the link. I think you’ll enjoy both books. I’ve read the interview with Wendell Berry before. I agree with him that farming (on any scale) is not for everyone. Can’t imagine too many people who would be willing to spend the night with us in the barn with the snow blowing outside and freezing temperatures inside trying to save a newborn lamb or help a ewe give birth. Or who would work without complaint for hours under a blazing sun pulling weeds, irrigating crops or harvesting. But for those who are willing, the satisfaction that comes from watching that tiny lamb take its first steps and grow stronger with each passing hour or of selling that beautiful ripe tomato that you’ve grown with your own hands to a grateful customer can’t be equaled.  This life style requires that you’re willing to make sacrifices and get your hands dirty. It’s definitely NOT for everyone!

  5. Sharon, I agree it is certainly not for everyone nor should it be. But everyone could have a tiny garden plot in their backyard or grow their own herbs in containers on the window sill. It all starts with a step and if we can learn to make that all important first sacrifice perhaps the bigger ones down the road will come that much easier.
    Thanks again for the visit Mike the kids were very excited to see you and Lynn (as were Corrie and I). I think the girls miss seeing you guys every weekend at the farmers market!

  6. This gives me hope for my kids, that farming won’t actually be just learned about in the history books or on PBS.  To know that there are real small farms around other than our own warms my heart and makes the future of small farming look bright!

    In case I haven’t told you before, I so very much enjoy your blog and the inspiration it gives to all of us!  Thanks, Kim


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