Our farm has been around since 1986, before I was born. My mom started it with a simple dream, to produce wholesome food for her family.
From the very first day, it was an uphill battle (literally!). The 5 acres is almost completely hillside, and was covered with blackberries and tree stumps. The ground turns to clay a few inches down and is prone to go to mud, and there was no barn. The first animals purchased were sheltered under the house porch, and my mother and older brothers cleared acres of blackberries with nothing but pruning shears and grit.
By the time my memories start, it was thriving... Milk and pack goats, chickens, meat pigs and calves, dogs, cats etc. She had apprx. half the property fenced, 2 separate barns built, a gigantic vegetable garden with attached orchard, and flower gardens everywhere there was a nook to plant something.
We raised our own fruits and vegetables, gathered and canned them each fall, made our own cheese, butter, yogurt, bread, soap, and so much more... Fresh milk and eggs were always available, and breakfast was often a stroll through the gardens.
Unfortunately, divorce halted the growth of the farm in 2001, and it steadily declined from there. With my older two brothers moved out and my mom having to work to support us younger ones, most of the animals were sold and the gardens were eventually abandoned. One by one we all moved away from the farm, even my mom, but she and I never forgot. We pined for it, and thought often of its glory days.
Finally, in early 2013, Mom moved home. The house was no longer livable, so she stayed in a 5th wheel trailer while working on the renovations. The gardens were grown over, fences in shambles, barns dusty and ghost-like in their emptiness. What had once held such a bounty of life, to be so empty...
At that time I was living 45 minutes away, but I was bringing my daughter, Dalee, over for Mom to babysit while I worked. Seeing the grassy pasture, I started pining for a horse, so in August that year I bought one. She was a mellow, gentle horse, but we still needed to have secure fencing for her, so Mom and I dove in and dug the old electrical fence out of the blackberries and tree branches that had been steadily encroaching over the years.
Then I had the thought that changed both of our lives. The dangerous, dangerous thought that starts the adventure of all farmers...
"We have a fence now... We ought to get..."
In less than a year, I had purchased/procured horses, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, rabbits, and the coolest farm dog in the world. With Mom handling the insane amount of day-to-day work and me finding the animals/supplies, paying for them, and helping around the farm on weekends, we ran as a well-oiled machine getting the farm back into working order.
That first spring, our chickens started laying more eggs than we could eat, so I started selling them to family and friends. Next thing I knew, those eggs were paying for the chicken feed, and a new idea was born. Maybe, just maybe, these wonderful animals could enrich not only our lives, but the lives of others. And in so doing, maybe they wouldn't cost so stinkin' much!!
And there you have it, friends! It's not the most glamorous story, but it's how we came to start sharing what we have in the hopes of making our farm self-sufficient. In no way do we have enough land for it to become truly profitable, but maybe our labor of love can come at less of a monetary cost. Our time and effort will never be paid back in money, but our animals and that lovely land pay us back every day in happiness.
It's the most wonderful place in the world.