OK so I feel very reminiscent of those wonderful Maple Hill Farm Days. For I was able to live with my family in NJ so my husband could work in NYC PLUS sneak out on weekends and holidays to a most magical place: Maple Hill Farm. It was so great for the family to spend long fun vacations with friends and family at The Farm. My children Becky, Kurt, and Will hopefully will carry these memories for a lifetime. Those memories are an amazing gift!
Later when the farm became mine, I carried out the tradition of the farm for 5 more years while starting up and running an organic farm B&B. And I bought another Victorian B&B right down the road from the farm (The Nethercott Inn). After only a 6 month startup we took in our first guests at the end of June. At first we could not feed our guests completely from the farm (thank you Binghamton Wegmans), but as we got the farm rolling, and with the money from the B&B, we developed a pretty great farm component. We could not only feed our B&B guests and all 12 employees and ourselves, but also we could sell in a farm stand on the side of the road right in front of the farm plus fill our freezers. We grew many many different wonderful vegetables and berries, plus we raised poultry (chickens, quails, ducks, pheasants). The ducks were extra fancy with beautifully colored feathers. We raised goats, rabbits, cows, pigs, and horses. Don't worry, we did not eat the horses!
Speaking of the horses I had the wonderful opportunity to care for Jazzy, my daughter's horse, for quite a few years at the Farm. Becky taught me everything there is to know about taking care of horses and believe it or not, we had 6 horses at different times for 25 years!! I thoroughly loved learning right alongside my daughter and found horses to be incredible beautiful graceful beings. My neighbor at the Farm gave me a beautiful buckskin horse named Arion to keep Jazzy comfy. Don't worry, he was a gelding! My sweet old Appaloosa mare named Timberline is buried there. As a matter of fact, our caretakers called us one cold January morning to say that Timberline wasn't feeling well. So after I whisked my 3 kids off to school, I drove 2 1/2 hours from NJ to the Farm to make arrangements for Timberline. True story: One of my neighbors offered to bring his backhoe over to bury her in JANUARY in NE Pennsylvania!!! Lol! Only in the country... So I was actually able to have her buried properly in my farm Pet cemetery and of course not in my farm animal cemetery. There is a difference when you are a farmer. I started off naming my animals even though I was probably going to end up eating them. But I wanted so much to let them know that I really loved them and loved caring for them. Now yes I did get involved in cutting their lifespan a little shorter than maybe they could have survived in the wild, but while they were with me, they were cherished and we went to great lengths to keep them healthy and safe and comfortable. We used creative ingenuity in constructing good shelters (or homes) for the animals. For the pigs, we built a very large lean-to. Pigs are super smart wonderful animals, plus they are very clean! Pigs are the only farm animal with enough manners to do their business in the same spot - easy cleanup! They do smell pretty bad though. But how cool was it when we could cook up our own bacon and sausage for the breakfasts. And because we were all about sustainability, we had a slop bucket at the end of the farmhouse sink in which to throw all leftovers from the gigantic 5 star breakfasts (oops bragging!) and of course the pigs delighted in my Bananas Foster Pancakes, and my Grandmas Peach French Toast! Mind you any bacon, ham, or sausage was carefully picked out of the pig's Sunday Delights.
Yes we did serve a pretty grand breakfast if I do say so myself! I guess my prior experiences traveling and eating fine international cuisine plus my 25 years of At Home Mothering resulted in a breadth of knowledge I didn't even know I had! So I guess I had the cooking down however I had so much to learn about farming! Luckily, my daughter Becky and I were able to attend the PASA (Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture) conference at Penn State where I learned bee keeping, hoop houses, dairy goats (I got the highest score on the Goat Test), farm businesses, and many other courses.
But gosh folks, I made many mistakes when I first started out and I learned from them. The failures were absolutely necessary for me to make better choices next time. Most of all I couldn't have done any of this without the support of so many people you know who you are :) But I think I might be in a better position to set this up for REAL (Maple Hill Farm was a trial run). I mean I want to make this new farm MORE sustainable, and workspaces MORE design friendly! I learned a lot about the conservation of energy - a principle stating that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but can be altered from one form to another. I am a nerd and physics was one of my favorite classes. Basically we all have a finite amount of energy in any given day. How you use that energy will determine your overall progress in that day. But I digress...
Some people may call me bossy or narrow minded, but clearly they have me mixed up with GOAL ORIENTED. It is in my constitution, please don't hate me! I wasn't always this way of course. I guess it started when I was a young girl trying to pretty much raise myself and often my sisters as well. I became an adult at 14 and while I realize that many of us become adults way earlier than that, still it can sometimes lead to a more intense focus on achievement, success, freedom, etc. Of course there is always the "Loser" drug path that is always tempting for a young unsupervised pre-teen. I am NOT saying that you cannot recover completely from going down that wrong path, on the contrary I have full confidence that given help addictions have better and better treatments now. My Airbnb employee Mary recently succumbed to an overdose of heroin mixed with fentanyl. I had no idea she was on any drugs as she was so very helpful and hard working as we were setting up the Airbnb! Argh!! Digression #2!!!
Anyway if you are wanting to follow me I really cant say where we will end up but here are my thoughts off the top of my head:
I feel frustrated lonely and scared right now. Uncertainty sucks. I imagine I am not alone in these feelings.
I am sick and tired of politics.
I want control over my future but not at the expense of losing loved ones. I want a kinder gentler (!!) way of living. I guess I don't just want to create a farm. I want to create a lifestyle!
After playing around with farming for a bit I want to learn more. Especially as farming relates to energy sources. Lets face it. Without planning and technology, farming might turn into a miserable chore. But I don't want to be on the grid! Does that make me an outlaw? Maybe so. However I practiced with the construction of a 800 square foot off the grid YURT at the top of a meadow on my 50 acre farmette. My daughter Becky and many of her University of Vermont Sustainable Agriculture students came out for the weekend to provide labor. Our friends The Clarks from Nutley NJ brought out a contractors van with a generator so we actually had power tools to put the yurt together!! I provided kegs of beer for the workers plus big breakfasts and even a pigroast. I need to find a picture of this.