Living on an acre or more and being more self-sufficient has been my dream for about 8 years. Previous to that I think that my life kept leading me in this direction. My first two jobs were at plant nurseries and then after getting my communications degree I also took gardening classes as well as a few horticulture classes at the community college. I thought I could combine my writing with my passion for plants.
The first newspaper I worked at I did get to do some of that but my day was varied. I would interview a pastor in the morning and track a cougar with someone from Fish and Wildlife by looking for it’s poop later in the day.
My second job was writing a bit of everything but I was in wine country in Oregon and had to cover that sector which was fascinating despite my lack of knowledge at first. Also frustrating was being offered expensive pinot noirs and not being able to accept them (against company policy/might sway the article). There were several winemakers who were so kind and explained how they tell when the grapes are done and how they manage for pests and their philosophy on winemaking in general.
Meanwhile grass seed was being grown and farmers were frustrated at the geese coming to eat it off their land. There would be a certain pest that could destroy a whole crop of fruit in one year and leave the farmer financially and emotionally decimated. I learned about the fish in the rivers, how the Native Americans survived in the area and what they ate. My head was and is filled with lots of pieces of information that are mostly useless but sometimes interesting and can come in handy.
I asked question after question to learn more about different crops and animals for an article but also for my own interest. The knowledge stuck with me.
Going to the farmer’s market one weekend that I had done some publicity for to get people there, I saw a man unload boxes of peaches off his truck. There may have been some ooohs and ahhhs as he sold them to several people in line at his table with a smile. The fruit trees produce the peaches sure but he was part of it and part of giving others someone healthy and miraculous to eat.
It was that moment that I realized I wanted to be able to do that. I wanted to be able to help people by getting them healthy food that they know was grown or raised in the right way.
Before I raised my own chickens to eat I had to make sure I could process them correctly and humanely while not being bothered. I volunteered at a nearby farm in exchange for two complementary chickens each harvest time or one turkey. I got comfortable and familiar with the process and brought home good food to eat. My daughters loved the pasture raised chicken and the turkey we had for Thanksgiving was the juiciest and best anyone had tasted. The animals were all raised with compassion.
From my apartment deck in Portland to my little backyard at our first house the second house was larger with a big backyard. After planting in raised beds and raising 25 meat birds to sell to friends and family I had maxed out. I had 20 laying hens and sold eggs and we ate very well. I needed more room. I needed a farm.