Slow Farming

It’s Friday the 13th of May. We’ve officially been full-time farmers in our new home in Madison for about a month now. Some days, when I see the perfectly tilled plots of ground that virtually ALL my neighbors have, complete with perfect rows of all kinds of fruits and vegetables–and growing a 1/2 acre garden is just a hobby for them, something to feed their families with and maybe spread some good will in the neighborhood with bags of tomatoes on doorsteps, and then I look out at our back four acres that is badly in need of bushhogging and houses an underground metropolis that must be the groundhog capital of Virginia, I wonder how we’re ever going to make it.

But then I realize that we’ve been enjoying almost every step of the way, the good, the bad, the really horrible, and the really beautiful. We savor our independence. And appreciate that sometimes hard work is its own reward. We try not to get ahead of ourselves and just do the very best we can with whatever energy and resources we have at any particular moment. We plan, we prepare, we build, we feed, we dig, we haul, we rest, we linger at views of sunsets and thunderstorms and mountains and scampering chickens and hound dogs romping through wildflower meadows.  We try our best not to worry too much about the future, so long as we’re doing the best we can now. I think we may have stumbled upon a philosophy of Slow Farming. Who knows, maybe it will be the start of the Slow Farming movement.

Since I last wrote about being whomperjawed back in March, I’ve lost 10 pounds and have callouses on my hands and the smell of chicken poop lingers in my nostrils no matter where I go. And I am decidedly content.

Contentment is actually not the friend of the writer. And so I will just show, not tell, what we have been up to.

Moving day, April 2nd. The truck broke a wheel joint just 15 miles outside of Salisbury. Right after we pulled over, the skies broke open and rained fury upon us. We felt blessed that we weren't actually on the road or bridge at that moment, as we would have been if the truck didn't break. A mere 12 hours and two big-rig tow trucks later, we were home safely and ready to farm.

Our first batch of chicks moved in before I had even unpacked our kitchen!

All ready to promote some free-range chicken at the Madison Farmer's Market! The chicken won't be "ready" for another 8 weeks, but customers are waiting.

By the way, the name of our new farm is:Glean Acres. Growing food, faith, and the good life.

You dig?

This is our makeshift greenhouse, at night. The previous owners enjoyed it as a gorgeous, well-appointed, comfortable sunroom. It is now our plant workshop.

I am so proud of my husband, the ex-white-collar-worker-cum-carpenter/farmer who completed a state-of-the-art chicken coop just days after we moved in. The same chicken coop that I had already developed a list of local carpenters to build for us. It was his first ever building project. He learned to use many power tools and the purpose of a miter box and saw horses. When flummoxed, he simply prayed "What would Jesus do?" Jesus being a carpenter and all, he told me. And we have an elegant and pratical coop! Now, we just need 3 more!

If there wasn't so much poop, I'd wanna live there, too!

The chickens love their new home. At one month old, they're already huge fans of perching, and fight for all those perch spots. Freedom Rangers, the lot of them. Active little buggers! Keep us busy!

Our chickens don't lack for much. Green pastures, large coop, views, piles of hay, plenty of bugs and food and water. They've actually been eating about 1/4 LESS feed since we moved them to pasture. That means they're getting plenty of bugs and grass. Yum!

Cock fight! That's what happens when you have a straight run of chicks and let them out to play!

We really don't encourage this sort of behavior. Honest we don't! Roosters! Can't live with them, can't eat 'em! Wait...

Oh, and my Mom and Dad came to visit from England! They bought us a lawn tractor! Okay, not a "real" tractor, but it'll keep our grass down enough to run chickens and make garden beds. Thanks! We're naming our first tractor after you, Mom!

This is Diesel, the friendly neighborhood hound dog. He is a joyful, exhuberant creature, and we think he wants to protect our chickens. We're not sure how to test that theory, though. We love having Diesel around, though, and we're pretty sure he keeps the deer away, too!

This arrived this morning. It's 8 tons of topsoil mixed with a little compost. We have spent most of the day moving it with a wheelbarrow. My husband is still out there in the drizzle, on his 40th load or so. I did about 10 loads before deciding it was very important that I update my blog. I love that he's so supportive! And adore his newly popping biceps!

This is where most of that dirt is going. Our raised beds with a view. Now who wouldn't want to spend all day weeding with a view like this?

Okay. I better get out and help my husband move a mountain. Not that he needs me to be his mustard seed or anything, but I’ve got to keep moving if I want to keep up with his physique!

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7 Responses to Slow Farming

  1. Farmer Ted says:

    awwhh shucks thems’ some cute chickies! nice lookin pens too, great job Amir and Diana!

  2. Khalil says:

    Looks great!!

  3. My bit of gardening is a Peace Garden in the Denne Road Cemetery near our home in Horsham, West Sussex. On 16 May when the Horsham Interfaith Committee meets, I hope we get final approval to hold the re-dedication of the Garden at 11:30 AM, Friday, 24 June, when two dozen Germans are here from our “Twinning Town” of Lage. Below is the poem I wrote for the local paper calling for entries in our Peace Poetry Contest.
    Can you write about peace?
    Dream that wars may cease?
    Inspired by Martin King or Gandhi,
    Wilfred Owen or Sassoon.
    Act in the hope that we can be
    Free of Blitzkrieg, Bombs, and Doom.

  4. Joseph Lynn says:

    I am really enjoying your blog! Please keep posting with lots of pictures.

  5. nabil says:

    Down with the groundhogs.

  6. Julia Wycall says:

    I am having raised bed envy! Everything looks great, good luck on your first year! can’t wait to visit this winter.

    • doodi says:

      Funny, I was just thinking about you all visiting this morning! That would be swell. Don’t be too jealous of our beds. Amir has spent four days rebuilding them, not to mention the days of moving the mountain of dirt to them. You have bed envy… I have tractor envy!

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