When we moved to Wisconsin in 2001, we had a few very specific desires in our new home: an old farm, outbuildings; barn and silo, acreage, oak trees, and a stream. Who would have thought that would be so difficult to find in Southeast Wisconsin? Well, it was. So, as an alternative, we found a lovely old house in our town’s historic district and settled in. We made updates and utilized the postage stamp of sunlight on our mostly shaded lot for our little urban garden. Fast forward six years and by happenstance my husband, while on a bike ride, went past a property with a for sale sign, it looked to be exactly what we originally wanted. As we drove down the long winding drive to view the house, we had an instant feeling of peace, and new immediately that this was our home. Certain proof that things in life come to you when you least expect it and when you are not looking. We were fortunate enough to be able to purchase our little homestead in 2007.
Our special place is under this amazing old tree at the edge of the drive, it is a vantage point where we can look over the property. Grandpa hickory is over 100 years old. His shag-bark covers a mass of rings, not unlike what you see when tossing a stone into water. A record of the lives touched by this place and the ripple that we will leave in its history.
Our desire to teach our kids to appreciate the land, their food sources, and the simple pleasures of unbridled play gave us the nudge to toss that stone, disrupt the calm waters and begin our time of care taking on this 120 + year old farmstead.
We rolled up our sleeves and began to make this place our home. It didn't take much really, the house has been well cared for allowing us the luxury of focusing our efforts out doors.
Our first projects all involved the garden, inside and out. We garden vegetables on 1/3 of an acre and have four 35 foot berry beds and asparagus closer to the barn. The first garden year we found that we could get through the entire winter without purchasing produce! In year two we built a root cellar to hold all of our stored goods and canning. We planted a variety of berries in year three, that have now begun to deliver on their promise. This year we have eaten our fill, made jam and frozen about 30 pounds of berries! After our success in growing the first couple of years, we began to share our garden, also in year three, through farm bags. We now have a waiting list of friends and acquaintances each summer and it has been a wonderful learning experience for us. We truly appreciate the effects of the weather on growing food. The nuances produced each season with temperature fluctuations, or drought show dramatically in production and taste. I love that the kids will head out to the garden and simple graze as they go, such a natural thing, yet so few these days get to experience it.
When we are not busy running our business (what drew us to Wisconsin to begin with), and taking the kids to and from activities and friends, we are planning, planting, and preparing new legacy projects that will continue to grow our life here on our little homestead. I began blogging after our first garden year as a sort of garden journal. It evolved organically into a record of our journey and a way for our families, who all live far away, to catch a glimpse of our daily life. The kids assist in care of the chickens, ducks and rabbits, while dad and I work on infrastructure and growing our mini CSA. We introduced bees in 2012 and watching their intricate social structure and how they cooperatively create a diverse network of comb in the hive is simply astounding. There are so many components we want to add and expand. When we find ourselves getting inpatient we try to remember that this life is a marathon, not a sprint. All things will come in their time with hard work, planning and love, but most of all we need to focus on enjoying every moment.
The canopied drive greets us each evening. Transporting us to simpler times mere yards from today's fast moving world. This wooded safe haven with grandpa hickory as its gate keeper, houses our adventure toward sustainability, healthier living, and simpler times. Our land is a living breathing extension of ourselves and our dreams. Yet we feel the spirit of the history of this land like a current, running under our feet giving us the energy to move forward. This blog is the space where we record our adventure.