Big update!

Here’s the quick and dirty update, because if I don’t get it out there it’ll all be so backed up I won’t cover it.

End of April:

Vera and I and my mom went to Monterey, MA for a few days to celebrate an old friend’s wedding and visit a very inspiring farm (where they live and work). I got to party with friends and study the farm (which has a therapeutic bent- making the destination particularly interesting to me given my work out at Dawn Farm). It was fun, beautiful, and very inspiring. A dedicated post is underway, will publish soon with more pictures.

We also got our well! Jeff called me on my drive home from MA to tell me they had struck water, right in the spot we divined.

 

May:

Market begins, so does the house building stuff in earnest. Jeff started putting in more time on the land, clearing brush and spreading stone for a construction driveway, etc.

My first market haul.

Above is a picture of my first purchases from the farmer’s market. I will do a dedicated post about this as well, but the gist is that I made a personal commitment to spend at least $20 per market (with at least 2 Ypsi markets per week). My reasons are culminating from years of witnessing many people in my community talk the talk about local food, the need to change our agricultural systems, a need to support the local economy, etc… and yet, in general, I don’t see many of those people shop at the market and support local growers/artists/activist IRL. I know, because I’m sitting behind the table all season and I see the regulars and the people who really support the market. I realized that it’s just simply not enough (even for me, as a producer) to have mere beliefs here. I have to actually put my physical money into the hands of my friends at market, on the regular. I need to make my menu around what they grow. I could go on and on about this one, so I do promise to follow up soon, but yeah… so far so good.

Asa and his “candle” made from pickles.

Asa is my buddy, coming everywhere with me. He “works” with me all morning at the farm, runs deliveries with me, is my helper at home. He’s been a trooper, and I’m grateful for these months with him where we can spend time together. He’s funny/sweet/stubborn/helpful/not-so-helpful and just generally a lovely almost-5-year-old (!!!). I’m excited for Vera to be done with school in the next week so he can have a steady playmate in the mornings, but he’s been pretty great all spring.

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He renamed this shovel a “pitchspoon”. 🙂

 

Mother’s day. 🙂

Vera is doing great, and having lots of fun at school. We are really grateful to be going this unschooling/democratic school route, it feels really right for us. I’m also just so grateful for our little community of like-minded-yet-diverse folks. Asa will be joining them in the fall. He’s so excited!

Vera at school.

Milton and I are working hard on the farm, trying to effectively start up/maintain all our projects while still leaving enough time for family/rest/play/etc. It’s a good thing to study, and we are getting closer and closer to the right balance every day. May brought us spring harvests and thinking about perennial crops/farm design/etc.- finding a way of farming that keeps us happy and motivated and interested as well as feeds the landbase and our overall mission. I’m pretty lucky to be able to do what I do- equal parts philosophy and grit. Good stuff.

We are playing at making seasonal infused vinegars. So that’s a new thing. 🙂

Violet and Redbud vinegars. So pretty!

We are back at market, and it feels really good. I am consciously keeping it simple and only bringing microgreens for now. It gets us to market but doesn’t make us so preoccupied with prep/harvest/etc. that we can’t focus on some of the other stuff we’ve got to do. I felt really sad that I didn’t have the full table of veggies that I’d envisioned this spring, but I’m finding that people like the micros so much it doesn’t even matter. We also keep them really accessible and they are a beautiful product, really. We are our own worst critics, no? I sometimes have to pinch myself and remember how much is actually going on. Kids, house, friends, my farm, the farming coop, building a house… it’s enough. I can fill a market table in the years to come, but for now I just want to show up, fill a small niche, and have a little fun.

I cut off the tip of my thumb a couple of weeks ago. It was gross but also got me meditating on how resilient we are. How I can lose a whole chunk of myself and still be whole… It’s also amazing how quickly it healed with this herbal salve I used that Katy made- calendula, comfrey, plantain… powerful healers. My finger was pretty much back to normal in a week. I have a growing interest in these things lately. I am excited to have a long-term place to grow things and explore different plants and learn about what they each do.

Speaking of Katy, she and Ross got their Certificate of Occupancy and they moved in in mid-May! Their house is so beautiful and we had this great little ceremony to welcome them to the space. Now it’s our turn…

Ross and Katy’s house and all of us on moving day! Photo credit to Ross.

So we’ve been having fun. Below is a sweet picture I took of Jeff and Zachary (Ross and Katy’s little boy) at the wedding of some friend’s of ours. I love watching Jeff be a “dad”, you know? He’s so immersed in it now that he can just pick up someone else’s kid (with Z he’s more like an uncle, but still…) and just do the “dad thing”. It’s so great and makes me love him even more.

My view at work every morning.

Our market display.

We are hanging out as a family often, and Jeff and I are back to frequent evening walks. These are some of my favorite moments in the day. I have made it a priority to maintain our connectedness through this year, and so sometimes it means packing everyone up with a pot of food and going to meet Jeff on the land while he works. I’ve learned that we do best with lots of time together- leisure, working together, just talking or playing… all of it has a quality that builds us up as a family. Below, a family date with some baby raccoons (Coon-Coon and Toon-Toon’s first trip to a restaurant… big day, I was told). It’s been cool and wet this spring, as evidenced by our hats and jackets at the end of May…

Jeff worked hard on creating a good road into the construction site. He spread all this crushed concrete so the big trucks can have good traction.

Deer sighting!

We staked out our final house site, once all the necessary clearing had been done.

June:

More cute farm helpers,

and lots of porch-sitting and puzzling with Lindsay,

…and we finally broke ground! We hired a really nice man with a big backhoe to come dig for us. He did the entire job in one day!

We also bought ourselves a nice used riding mower, since things were getting pretty wild out there.

Big hole.

 

I transplanted some of the perennials we had growing in what will soon be our septic field. These are walking onions.

The kids really love the big mounds of dirt. They run up and down and get totally filthy. I’m just glad they aren’t full of nails and screws yet!

We have tried to do minimal clearing of trees for the project. However, right in the middle of the construction site is this little tree that I’ve just grown attached to. I can’t seem to let it go! Jeff has been nice and found a way to preserve it so far. Here it is nestled neatly between the mounds of soil.

Next we had to lay stone down around the perimeter in preparation for our foundation/basement walls. It was interesting to try to get the stone into this pit, which was neatly surrounded by trees and hills of soil all around. Jeff got creative!

 

The stone had to be about 5′ wide and covered our drain tile, and about 6-8″ deep all around. Jeff worked hard on it for a couple of days, and I came and helped when I could.

The last of it we finished in the rain, and he had a smile on his face the whole time! I’ve been really glad we’ve been able to maintain this level of gratitude the whole time. We keep feeling like kids who found some buried treasure or something- like, how is this something we get to do?! How lucky are we? Do they know that we’re just regular-Joes who don’t really know what they are doing yet? I want to keep cultivating this sense of gratitude, since I know this process will be trying at times and I just don’t want expectations to transform into resentments and spoil any of this wonderful opportunity for us. Fingers crossed.

Then, the preformed walls/foundation! They came and installed them in 6 hours, and we suddenly have our first form- the first semblance of a house. I had chills almost the whole day.

They are 10′ tall, and this will become our walk out basement. It’s tall because half of it will be Jeff’s workshop, and we wanted it to be a versatile space for that kind of work. This design also enables us to get by without a barn/outbuilding for a while.

Next we have plumbing and prep for the slab, which we’re doing ourselves. Our house kit gets delivered on the 20th, then the slab gets poured a few days later, and the construction of the kit will happen between the last week of June and the first two weeks of July. It’s all happening fairly quickly (at least this part)!

And this tree. I think it’s a red cedar (actually a type of juniper) but if anyone can identify it for sure, let me know.

May 2013. Vera next to this little tree, overlooking our future house site.

I’m taking some time off of market and farming during the couple of weeks this is all going down, so I hope to be able to find some time to document our process. Overall I’m really excited to be doing this mostly with our own hands. I know it’s a dream-come-true for Jeff. I’m praying for safety and timeliness and sanity through the process, and outside prayers/well-wishes/good energy/etc. are welcome. <3

Gracie
Gracie

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Comments (5)

  1. CreateHarmony

    This is the most wonderful blog I have ever read. It made me cry. I am grateful to know y’all and eat your food. I am so excited about the building of your farm. You are an extremely important part of the food economy in our wonderful town. Thankyou for all you do! The Yoders are a beautiful family, that’s for sure!
    In Harmony,
    Rae

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Rae! We are so grateful to be *your* friend! Thanks for all your support. <3

      Reply
  2. Linda Diane Feldt

    So much progress! That’s great. Just a small note that those jars of vinegar will do better with plastic lids. The metal interacts with the vinegar and makes them taste off, and mostly bad. If you don’t have plastic lids then a bit of plastic between the liquid and the canning lids works as well.
    Looking forward to seeing even more progress!

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Thank you for the tip!! Very helpful, I wouldn’t want to get too far along and find off tasting batches!

      Reply
  3. Mary Elizabeth Tait

    I love reading about your life and your deep commitment to the land, your food, and most of all, your family.

    While I can’t live on a farm, I am inspired by your promise to spend a specific amount of the food budget at the farmers’ market. I can do that. Our town has two markets per week!

    Blessings to you and your family.

    Reply

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