Take the First Step

Friday, April 30, 2010

Jenn farming

I found this photo from the first year here on our little suburban homestead. It was taken after my friend Rouge came over to grade and level the property, making the water drain properly. We had already removed about a dozen old, scraggy, ill cared for fruit trees that were planted haphazardly around the property, mangy Oleander bushes and a row of boxwood hedge that divided the property in half.

The photo is nothing special, just Brianne helping trench the barn waterline, raised beds and stakes outlining the footprint of the barn. But what it has lead to is six years of a working, prosperous backyard farm. In just a few years after this photo was taken we have built the barn (by hand) that now houses our livestock, planted gardens, bred rabbits, raised sheep, kept chickens, lived with mutts (Dakota and Dutch), danced to music at sunset, raised a kid and fell in love with the simpler things in life.

There were many times I had no idea what the hell I was doing; I taught myself as I went along, reading books in Borders over a steaming bowl of soup at lunch. I scoured the internet for forums of like-minded people. I joined clubs, made new friends, tapped old ones for information and techniques. We learned to eat from dirt and farm stands. We mostly eat at home now, but we go out to get what we need; out to the garden that is, to pick veggies and fruit and eggs. I can quilt now, build what I need, bake our own bread and sit down to share it all with you. But, the point I want to make is that things grew from the first small effort, and with steps taken it will bring you home.

Here we are today, with a freezer full of home grown lamb and chicken, handmade sausage and salami, berries, tomatoes, beans and peas. We get almost a dozen eggs a day. We’ve just hatched our own chicks – again. I know how to butcher a chicken from first cut to final wrap. I’m learning to collect rain water. Every year we learn and grow, becoming more self-sufficient thanks to this land.

A lot can happen if you make it. And it all starts somewhere. As the saying goes, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”. If you need proof, just look at the picture again. What was once barren, dry, and brown is lush and green and fruitful.

Make today the beginning of your journey. Just take that first step.

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