last friday we became first time land owners. we now own ten acres in a very small farming community with a population of less than 1,800. we’ve spent the past several months dreaming, scheming, scratching out figures, drawing up floor plans, researching, land shopping, then land shopping again (we had one false start), and finally closing out on a place we absolutely love.
the desire we’ve had for some time was to have a place where we could have a large garden, a few fruit trees, and some small livestock; a place that would basically become self-sustaining. i use the word “self-sustaining” loosely because to some self-sustaining means that one crafts one’s bricks from the dirt in one’s yard – then uses said bricks to build one’s house. that isn’t at all what i mean. i mean self-sustaining in the sense that one simply grows and produces the majority of one’s own food but still unashamedly uses the grocery store from time to time for staples.
last year when asked about our plans for an acreage i described it as “ a sort of homestead” . i said “sort of” because our scenario doesn’t really fit that of the typical homestead: about 2-5 acres with a garden and some small livestock. at the same time i couldn’t really say we were planning a farm because your average farm consists of several hundred acres and a series of out buildings. i later picked up the term “farmette”. not only did it describe our situation to a “t” , but i loved the sound of the word. wiki describes a farmette as “a small residential farm run by an owner who earns income from a source other than the farm. “ farmettes typically are no more than fifty acres, and contain a garden and some small livestock.
our farmette will feature ten acres and a pond, a small simple “starter home”, a single outbuilding to serve as a shop and garage, a honkin’ big garden, and some small livestock. for the sake of not getting too overwhelmed, we’ve divided our plan into three phases. phase one: the actual purchase of the land already being completed.
the second part of our plan is to now build our home. we’re starting out small and temporary (most likely). i see this as the modern day equivalent to the sod houses and log cabins of our pioneer ancestors. i’ve found that in starting out on the land it is common to use a travel trailer, a mobile home, or in some cases even a yurt as a temporary residence while the permanent home is being built. but my husband and i are not good at roughing it. we hate camping. we must have heat. we must have running water. so we’ve decided instead to build a small barn, influenced by the traditional red barns seen in a children’s story book; and fit it out as a cottage. it will be very, very simple but i still plan to give it some style. my decor has evolved over the years, starting out very colefax and fowler, to williamsburg colonial, now to modernish vintage country chic (is there such a thing?). my hope is that when we open the front door to our new home for the first time our reaction will be “this is gorgeous! let’s just stay here!” instead of “omg. what on earth have we done!?” once we have the home built we’ll put our current little house on the market, and move. we’ll do a lot of landscaping (i’m thinking native perennials) and put in a kitchen garden similar in size to what we have now. then we’ll purchase three chickens.
phase three will be to establish a very large garden, large enough to provide the majority of our produce with enough left over to freeze and can. we have also toyed with the idea of growing enough to someday enter the farmer’s market arena as a small business. the garden phase will also include some apple trees and blackberry bushes. then, we’ll purchase a few more chickens.
if i’ve learned anything since we’ve started acting on our plan, it is that things never go according to the plan. so i’m trying to keep it all loose and just go with the flow. should however, things actually go as planned, they may look a little something like this:
~ increase the chicken flock to provide adequate eggs and meat
~ add some ducks and turkeys to the mix; maybe geese if they will be nice
~look into the possibility of taking on small ruminants (dairy goats and sheep)
~ train the sheep to graze picturesquely on the front lawn. ::sigh:: ok maybe not.
~mmmmmaaybe…raise a pig or two so we can have bacon with the eggs
~plant millions of daffodils on the slope below the pond
~toy with the idea of a dairy cow
~contemplate bee keeping
~dig out the pond a little deeper and see what it would take to stock it
~build a new-to-look-old-white clapboard farmhouse depending on how much we like our barn cottage and whether or not we decide we need or even want anything more than that.
i know we’ll be crazy busy. i know it will be a lot of work. i know it will be a tremendous challenge, but it is a challenge we welcome and we can’t wait to get started.
as for timing? i really don’t know. we plan to start as soon as we can but i’m sure we’ll encounter some snags and delays along the way. again, i plan to just try and go with the flow and in the words of tim gunn “make it work” regardless of what happens.