I am so excited to share another blog that I've been
following. Today we have Jenny from Black Fox Homestead
sharing her journey to full-time homesteading.
|My paternal grandmother, herself a farm girl, reading to me: "Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm". It was my favorite.
My husband is of Italian descent, with family still living
in Italy and working on a farm that has been theirs for several generations. As
a child and later as a young adult he visited for the summer. He was so moved
by his experience that he cried when he left. When he got older, he said, he
wanted to farm.
My grandmother grew up on a farm and later married my
grandfather who was a farm hand. She learned to forage for dandelion greens
which she canned, and made the most amazing pies. When I received a bundle of
cash for a high school graduation present, I wanted to go visit her and spend
afternoons picking cherries in a Michigan orchard. That was my idea of a good
Our First Home
If one had known our roots one might have thought that we
were bound for farming from the start. But we weren’t. We began our married
life like most other couples our age: in a nice subdivision. Neither of us knew
very much first hand about gardening, but one year I decided to give one a try.
Having read Square Foot Gardening from
cover to cover I planted my first tiny, 4’x4’ vegetable garden. I really didn’t
know what I was doing, I put all the wrong things in at all the wrong times,
but a few small crops managed to grow: enough that I was hooked on growing food
for my table.
My love of growing things led to my pursuit of a Master
Gardener certification and it was through a dedicated and gifted extension
agent that I learned about heirlooms. I remember the day she gave the lecture,
explaining how these seeds had been handed down from generation to generation,
and how, once planted, allowed to grow, and produce seed, we could continue the
cycle. The thought gave me goosebumps. That summer I planted my first Cherokee
Assortment of heirloom tomatoes
It was about that time that my husband and I encountered
some health issues that made us stop and think about what was in our food. We
began to gradually make changes to our diet, eliminating as much processed food
as we could and eating as much organic produce as we could find. I began baking
my own bread, we located a local dairy that sold raw milk and cream. I began
making my own butter. We worked to grow as much of our own produce as we could.
Our garden began to expand and take over our back yard, and
we began to wonder aloud about a farm. It was never really a serious dream, it
wasn’t one we thought was attainable, but every so often, we’d sit on our back
porch overlooking the lettuces and beets and talk about how cool it would be if
we could raise all of our own food.
Then, one afternoon we realized that the tone of our
neighborhood had changed and not for good. It was time for us to make a change.
The dream of a farm surfaced again. After much scratching of figures,
adjusting, refiguring, and more scratching we realized that we could make it a
possibility. We located a lovely spot some forty miles east of where we lived,
a gently sloping acreage with a large pond. We built a small red pole barn and fitted
it out as a home.
Last October, we moved in.
Our garden, the barn, and our home
The transition from city life to living in the country has
not been without its challenges. We’ve learned the hard way that growing food
on a large exposed plain is quite different from the protected miroclimate of a
back yard. We’ve learned to live with the mud, and we’ve learned to adapt to
living 15 miles from a well stocked grocery; but we’ve never regretted our
decision or wished for a second that we were back in the city.
This past February my husband decided to take an
extended leave of absence from his computer consulting job with plans to work together
to see if we can make a go of full time market growing.
We currently have eleven 5’x50’ garden beds which hold a
variety of cool season heirlooms: lettuces, Swiss chard, spinach, kale, and
beets. They will soon be joined by eight different varieties of tomatoes,
summer squash, peppers, and beans as well as a fava bean green manure crop to
help enrich the soil for future planting.
In June we are scheduled to receive eight tiny Rhode Island
Red chicks, the first of our livestock. Future plans include dairy goats and
there has been talk of pigs, ducks, geese, meat birds, and perhaps a dairy
cow. The eleven garden beds will
increase to twenty-two.
My favorite time of day on our little farm is sunset. There
is something spectacular about ending a days’ work and looking out over our
land, seeing the vast expanse of sky above painted with a beatifully setting
sun. No two are alike, every evening the show is completely different, offering
Sunset at Black Fox Homestead
Tired of city life and the stress of an eighty hour work week, Jenny and her husband decided to trade in their computer consulting business for life on a homestead as full time market growers. In the fall of 2012, they moved to a small acreage in rural Northeastern Oklahoma where they are learning to live off the land. On her blog at www.blackfoxhomestead.com
, Jenny writes about their transition from city to country life, learning how to can and preserve food, and their experiences with gardening naturally. Visit her growing Etsy site
featuring country curtain patterns, gardening books, and other vintage treasures. Connect with her on Facebook
, and follow her on Twitter @foxhomestead .
Join me as I party HERE.