Tuesday, February 16, 2010

never looked worse

One of the more unsettling conversations I had this winter happened on the porch steps of one of my Sandgate neighbors. It was right after all the controversy was unraveling, when animal control officers were showing up and phone calls from the landlord about removing animals were common occurrences. It was during this malay that I went to a few of the neighbors to talk to them in person, and see if they felt I was in the wrong trying to start a small diversified farm in their village. I asked one woman her opinion and she sighed, looked off into the distance, and said "Well, you know Jenna. The property has never looked worse..."

This absolutely shocked me. Since I've moved in I'd turned the overgrown backyard with an empty dirt-garden into a thriving small farm. I had made useless land into a place that fed, clothed, and filled me with joy. But what I had considered beautiful, she considered an eyesore. The sagging fences, the chicken poo on a stepping stone, the bags of feed behind the garage, the hay stacked on the porch....all of this was aesthetically unpleasing to the non farmer. I had turned a lawn into a pasture, an abandoned metal garden shed into a chicken coop, and a porch into am open air hay barn.

OKay. Martha Stewart I was not. The property had gone from domestication to production, and it wasn't what some of the locals preferred. I didn't spend the summer mowing lawns (what a waste of sheep food) or planting flowers. I spent it turning the one acre I had at my disposal into a place that could help sustain me. I planted thirteen raised beds of organic produce. I bred litters of Angora rabbits. I raised Thanksgiving turkeys, ducks, honey bees, and a pack goat kid. I sheared wool producing sheep. I raised egg-laying hens from chicks and even had one rooster in the freezer. How could all this been seen as ugly? Was Cold Antler better to the locals when it was just empty grass and a few tulips? I agreed, currently this place may never make the cover of Yankee Magazine - but it wasn't ugly. It was edible.

I recently read this passage in Joel Salatin's You Can Farm. The book explained this opinion as all too common:

"Ask the average person to describe a successful farm, and you'll hear about pretty fences, painted red barns, waxed green tractors and manicured lawns. Because people have a jaundiced sense of what 'success' looks like. they think the lean and mean, threadbare look of a truly lucrative far, indicates a lack of care, negligence, and poverty....Too often people get so bogged down in appearance and having everything just right that they never get the basic project underway. Trust me, the pigs are much more interested in feed than in whether or not the feed trough is perfectly square."

I'd been so deeply in love with Cold Antler, I didn't realize what it looked like to the manicured-lawn set. I saw food, and wool, and eggs. They saw muddy hooves, scrappy gardens, and a shed gone bad. They saw dead grass in the sheep pen, and the tall grass on the wooded hillside as unmowed. I had been so focussed on the productivity I didn't even think about these things. Apparently, others had. It was a reminder that not everyone (even people in the country) appreciate the idea of a homesteader as a neighbor. At the end of the day, most people want to hear lawn mowers and and smell grills - not hear roosters and smell wet sheep. Consider my eyes open.

When I made the offer on the Jackson farm, I had to sign a waiver saying I understood I was moving into an agricultural disctrict. That Washington county was a place of dairies and tractors and if you weren't prepared to live aside agriculture you may want to live elsewhere. When you cross the state lines there are signs posted saying "Right to Farm Law" and that's what it means. You can't complain about your cake and eat it too. I never smiled so much while signing a legal document. I'll fit in just fine over there.

Good news friends. I checked my credit score today. It went up 50 points! I am nearly home free in this USDA home loan process. My credit score is soaring thanks to that last paid off credit card. I have leaped the final personal hurdle and now I just need to pray that Chase bank agrees that I am ready to start planting on my own land. It is farming that gave me the drive to get this far. And if not mowing lawns means owning my own 6 and a half acres of hard-working land, may I never mow again. That's sheep work.

Life is happening so fast around here. I am humbled at the pace

87 Comments:

Blogger Georgia said...

I am heartened to see that things are working out for you- it seems that you have found the place where you really belong!

February 16, 2010 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Rachel B. said...

Wow! You're almost there!

February 16, 2010 at 8:50 PM  
Blogger Celia said...

You are getting closer and closer to your dream! I am so happy for you.

February 16, 2010 at 8:52 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

All I can say is I'm so glad you got evicted!! Those neighbors don't deserve you, and that wonderful old Jackson farmhouse (and farm neighborhood) does. The gentrification of any rural community tends to ruin it, and it sounds like your current neighborhood is well on its way to ruin.

February 16, 2010 at 9:02 PM  
Blogger Robj98168 said...

LOL Your post made me laugh- When I lived in a mobile home in a park, I had the audacity to put in a small garden at the front of the mobile home, and had people complaining that I was growing food! And eating it! Finally got solved with my nehigbor when the park owner was doing a walkthrough and said how much she liked the little garden! I laugh when people think they should legislate what other people grow or do in their own property!

February 16, 2010 at 9:02 PM  
Blogger Meredith said...

Let them say things never looked worse. We all know that things have never looked better for you and for Cold Antler.

February 16, 2010 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger S. Edwards said...

LMAO. I was so puzzled by the headline because I was looking at the picture thinking "that's a fine looking garden". Hell, you even took time to lay some straw on the garden paths! So I was confused. Read through the post and got it sorted and it left me thinking... I am an "urban homesteader". I have a small cottage in Seattle -- close to a village center. Although I (and the bank) own the house and the land it sits on, that land extends about 5' left and right and about 10' rear and front. Bonus for the 11'x30' sidewalk strip. TINY! But in that space I have 2 types of asian pear, 5 varieties of plum, 2 variety of blueberrry, strawberries, a grape, and artichokes. Those are just the perinnals. I also have a variety of NW natives with berries for the birds, an annual garden that stretches almost 10mo. that incudes herbs, melons (watermelon and a heriloom small orange flesh one), peas, 2 types of tomatoes (paste and heriloom slicing), cucumbers for pickling, herbs, lemons (oh yes!), pomegranates, greens, and flowers galore. I have mated hummingbirds and bees and all kinds of things. I am blessed with a half dozen little micro-climates on my plot and a south wall to DIE for in this maritime climate. But yes, when I peak out my back window and see the mulch bags piled up and bare root plants leaning every which way I think too of my neighbors. A working plot has many moments of staggering beauty (nothing like a pair of Anna's hummingbirds hovering over my pineapple sage or the butterflies on the artichokes), it has periods of down right cerative mess. So far my neighbors are tolerant -- I bribe them with piles of fresh basil and vine ripen tomatoes.

February 16, 2010 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Roy said...

I love looking over your shoulder and watching you go through this process. Just a few short weeks ago, you were so discouraged and scared; now you know that God had something much better just over the rise for you. If only we trusted more and worried less. I'm so glad to see your dreams coming true. You will be a great New York farmer.

February 16, 2010 at 9:07 PM  
Blogger S. Edwards said...

Oh, and PS. CONGRATULATIONS on that credit score. As a single girl that has bought 3 house now and plans that the next purchase will be space to roam, its always a process! Congratulations.

February 16, 2010 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Chance said...

Yay, congratulations! Eviction was a wonderful thing -- all the good that came from it. I think that house is a total steal, an amazing buy.

On another matter, since I have gone and delurked, I just want to thank you. thanks long overdue. I got a gnarly bout of cancer last September and all through chemo, surgery, and recovery, I read your blog every day and wept at the beauty of your writing and drew much strength from your scrappy freeholder ways. I read some of your blog posts aloud from my laptop in the chemohell place, and other people, strangers to both me and you, laughed and drew strength as well.

If you find yourself bogging down in the details, or if the no snow for now VT winter grinds you or whatever, just remember how many people find revelation in your gifted words. Thank you.

February 16, 2010 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger Miriam said...

One of the things I have so admired about the path you have taken through your trials and tribulations is how reasonable and fair and non-judgemental you have been about the neighbour(s) causing all your headaches. In a situation where others might get stuck in their anger, you were extra careful to see the other person's point of view.

Well, today when I read about your conversation with the neighbour I got so mad I could spit. Forget reasonable! Forget rational! If I wasn't on the other side of the continent (Vancouver Island) I would like to find your neighbour and give her my two cents' worth.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you in these final days before the Jackson property becomes yours. May your neighbours be wonderful enough to deserve you.

February 16, 2010 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger twistie said...

I think Mrs. Roy hit the nail in the head when she said, "If only we trusted more and worried less."

February 16, 2010 at 9:25 PM  
Blogger Tora: said...

This post made me smile - I'm old enough to be your mom Jenna, and I couldn't be more proud of what your doing if I was.

Your are a remarkable young women and I'm so proud to say I "know" you!

February 16, 2010 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger deborahwolfe said...

Sometimes I simply can't abide the other humans.

When 5 inch stiletto heels and cleavage have become the 'norm' for office, park and grocery store, how can it be otherwise for land?

February 16, 2010 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger melinamarie said...

Oh you totally got me with that title. I was so worried you had bad news. Now I think I'm going to cry I'm so happy for you. I know that your dreams are just beginning. You are an amazing individual. We need more young homesteaders. So funny that you mention mowing the grass. I can't stand the sound of mowers. I used to have neighbor that mowed everyday and complained about our flowers being messy. My current neighbors put plastic tarps over their gardens to keep out the weeds. I can't wait to make it to our garden of eden. Can't wait. This post gives me hope in our generation and in the future. You should be proud of yourself. You are a swan among the ducks. I'm glad you heading to a new community.

February 16, 2010 at 9:33 PM  
Blogger waitingforcider said...

shocking us with that comment! You're almost home free! Crossing our fingers for you. Take a big deep breath when you cross into the Ag zone!!

February 16, 2010 at 9:39 PM  
Blogger Aimee said...

Ugh! Sometimes I hate people. However, you are that much closer to being on your own land! Congratulations on the credit score!! Crossing my fingers that you hear news soon.

February 16, 2010 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger sara amber said...

"never looked worse"?? dude...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/scorpiosphynx/sets/72157608042169343/

and that's all i have to say about that. hmmmph!

February 16, 2010 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

I am so glad things are looking good for you. I am trying not to hold my breath until everything is signed. Farming communities are better places to farm, for sure. My MIL freaked out when we got chickens and lived at her place. She thought it would ruin their chances of selling the place. Lord knows, no one buys a ranch with chickens on it.

February 16, 2010 at 10:08 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

Yay you!!! Way to get the credit score up...can't wait to see pics of you on the farm!

Vermont sounds kind of like Kentucky. Everybody here is so concerned with how their lawn looks. I can't have chickens here in the burbs because of the noise and smell,but my neighbors can mow and spray from dusk till dawn everday and people think that's just great. People's priorities are just plain screwed up. Sounds like you'll be way happier and much more appreciated in N.Y.

Sending good mortgage vibes and lots of reiki.

Blessings,
Debi

February 16, 2010 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger finsandfeathers said...

Some people thing golf courses are beautiful too. Despite all the evvironmental dammage, all the pesticides, all the pollution... they look pretty so they must be good.

February 16, 2010 at 10:12 PM  
Blogger Farmer's Daughter said...

Congrats on the credit score!

My family has farmed the same land for 350 years. Last summer, a neighbor of 20 years complained that we were working too early in the morning and too late at night. We laughed and said, you knew this was a farm when you moved in! We agree we work too early and too late, but we have to!

February 16, 2010 at 10:13 PM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

Awesome.
People will feel a lot differently about farms and farming in the not-too-distant future, when we can no longer afford to truck in out-of-season produce from South America. You're just ahead of the curve.

February 16, 2010 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger Penny said...

Yay on the credit score and sorry you have to go through Chase Bank.

When it comes to neighbors it all about priorities. Hopefully you will be acquiring new neighbors that are in agreement with you and life will be good!

February 16, 2010 at 10:27 PM  
Blogger karental said...

Jenna,

"Right to Farm" sounds perfect for you. Some people - most people - just don't see beauty in hard work and manure. At the DIY store, while waiting for paint today I looked up the CAF blog on my cell phone. I told my husband about your postive inspection and he said,"what about her credit score?" Tonight I get to say, "she's in the ballpark!" We walk with you every day, Jenna. Thank you.

February 16, 2010 at 10:37 PM  
Blogger steptrig said...

You go Farmer Girl!!!!!! You give me hope for the future!

February 16, 2010 at 10:49 PM  
Blogger Pacy said...

Some people have no taste, I think it's just darling. I nominated you for the sunshine award over at my blog. Head over there later today to check it out and accept.
You Go Girl
http://pacycrochets.blogspot.com/

February 16, 2010 at 11:19 PM  
Blogger Tami SouthStreetShabby.blogspot.com said...

Jenna...congrats on making that score raise! Lots of good work, you've done in a short time. Just proves that no matter the task...if one's heart is in it...it's not only possible, but more likely, probable!

I have to say that on some counts your neighbor might have had a gripe. Unkempt property can bring the value of those around it down and these days...value is important. But let's just say...it probably wasn't a case of her owning a house worth $500,000 and you living and maintaining a 'Ma and Pa Kettle' homestead for heaven's sakes! So much going on in such a small piece of property must have been what made her say that.
No worries...soon you'll be living in NY and homesteading til your hearts desire...and in the properly zoned area.
Still pulling for you, Tami

February 16, 2010 at 11:19 PM  
Blogger Tami SouthStreetShabby.blogspot.com said...

J...I didn't mean to insinuate that your property was unkempt, quite the opposite...but it may have looked that way to someone that doesn't understand... Tami

February 16, 2010 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger Jeff_in_Pawlet said...

I have been on and worked on Jenna's farm. She is a designer and her spread reflects it, it's fine!

The neighbors need to move on. Vermont doesn't need them, it needs more folks like Jenna!

February 16, 2010 at 11:42 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Sounds to me like you're better off in the next town. Lawn mowing, indeed... pssh.

February 16, 2010 at 11:47 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I love that "right to farm" law you had to sign. I'd be smiling, too. Funny, I never thought of any farming enterprize as unsightly; farms are what they are. There used to be a person near me who used old bedsprings for fencing. I thought it was so creative and unique!

February 17, 2010 at 12:18 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

I'll admit that my backyard is an incredible mess- I've a couple different projects going on, not the least of which was to tear off half my deck because it was twice as big as it needed to be, and I just planted all my bare root fruit trees and left piles of unearthed clay soil all over the place because I'd amended the soil in the holes with home grown compost- oh yeah- I have several of those piles scattered about the yard.

If I ever got a complaint from a neighbor, mind you, I'm doing this in my backyard behind six foot fences, I'd say QUIT LOOKING OVER MY FENCE!

February 17, 2010 at 12:26 AM  
Blogger Rhonda said...

Jenna, I am SO happy for you! I've been reading your blog for almost a year now, you are the first I read in my Google Reader in the morning. I thought about becoming a homesteader, but don't think the lifestyle would work for me. I'm very happy you have found your calling and will soon be able to call yourself a farm owner!

February 17, 2010 at 12:32 AM  
Blogger René said...

Good luck ! We're pulling for you. Sounds like while you were looking for a home, a home found you.

February 17, 2010 at 12:42 AM  
Blogger Fallen Oak said...

Don't get me going about lawn mowing. It's not all that glitters is gold- gold is useless like bagged grass and leaves you pay to have removed so you go and buy fertilizer??? Can't wait for the coming days.

February 17, 2010 at 1:01 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

Great news. Having been raised on a dairy farm on the edge of town, I can understand the concern about the neighbors. As towns/cities expand often its the farmers who have worked their whole lives on their piece of land that end up getting drawn into court by the new dwellers who don't understand and refuse to tolerate farming and what goes with it. It sounds like Jackson is the place for you to be!

February 17, 2010 at 1:13 AM  
OpenID ruralaspirations said...

Ugh. I'm so sick of lawns. What a waste of...everything! Right now I live in a suburb surrounded by incredibly beautiful mountains and west coast rainforest. It seems crazy to walk past all the expensive homes in our neighbourhood (we rent) and see the manicured gardens. The owners pay people to come and mow, spray, plant, etc and it's like they cannot see the insane beauty all around them they need to create this artificial silliness instead. Food not Lawns!! :-)

February 17, 2010 at 1:18 AM  
Blogger ammamcp said...

It is a shock to find others don't share a homesteaders idea of beauty - how could they not?! Sounds like you are being led to a community better suited to you.

I live in So Cal and rent a house. I would love to turn the front yard into garden. Gets full sun and you can grow something here all year round. But the landlord didn't go for it and the neighbors certainly wouldn't. Back yard, yes. Front yard, no.

It hurts every time I have to the the sprinklers on the lawn (whoever thought lawns in the desert were a good idea in a drought prone state?), but I have to, it's not my house.

Can't wait to have my own little piece of land. Lead the way, Jenna!

February 17, 2010 at 1:34 AM  
Blogger ms lottie said...

Ha! Some people have such a backwards way of looking at the world.

I drive straight on past lawns. But I slow and look at places where I can see a garden, or a chook pen, or some fruit hanging on a tree. Anything that looks productive attracts me like a magnet.

And the more I hear from Mr Salatin, the more I want to hug him (oh, and read his books).

February 17, 2010 at 4:52 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Folks who live far from New York State often don't realize that agriculture is our largest "industry". City folks were invading the rural areas with their McMansions and then complaining when they could smell cow manure on warm breezy day. So NY passed a "right to farm" law. Sometimes Albany actually does something right!

February 17, 2010 at 6:13 AM  
Blogger MIB said...

"And if not mowing lawns means owning my own 6 and a half acres of hard-working land, may I never mow again. That's sheep work." WORD

February 17, 2010 at 6:14 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

You go girl. I am so excited for you

February 17, 2010 at 7:58 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 17, 2010 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Yeah Jenna! I'm so happy for you. I'm hoping your good luck will rub off on me and we can get our farm moving this year. It all hinges on a job. Just let hubby get a job up there and we can be on the land maybe my Christmas.

Looking (a little obessedly) to hear more!

February 17, 2010 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Meagan said...

Glad to hear your credit score has increased! I hope your loan application goes through. I've been following your blog for a few weeks now after reading both your book and blog archives. Your experiences mean a lot to me because we are close in age and I am directing my life in a similar direction to yours. Last Friday I became a (first time) homeowner of a wonderful farm here in Ontario, bought some sheep who will join us in March, have plans for the veggie garden, basically going from city folk to country folk. The town bylaws explicitly say something like "Listen, this is farm land, not the city. There's gonna be tractor and rooster noises, try to be respectful of quiet times at night but sometimes one needs to work late into the night to harvest etc." Here in Ottawa in fact you can't even have any backyard chickens unless you live on agriculturally zoned land and there sure isn't any of that in the city. I'm so happy to be leaving this city life, and I'm really excited and hoping that you get this farm because honestly at times I won't know what I'm doing at all, reading your adventures helps me figure things out or inspires a new research thought etc. Us noobie techno-farmers gotta stick together :)

February 17, 2010 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

All in the perspective ...

Our acreage was farmland before we bought it. The first year, the fields lay fallow, as we had no time, or means, to ready and plant it in crops.
So the fields grew up in a mixture of grass, weeds, and wildflowers. I thought it looked beautiful, all green and full of flowers, but then, I moved from the concrete jungle.
The locals, however, always made it a point to mention how unattractive those fields looked. They wanted to see them in crops again.
This year, our wonderful farmer neighbor ploughed them all up and planted hay and grain.
The fields look great, if not domesticated, the neighbors are happy, and we have all the hay, straw, grain that we need.
But I still miss all those wildflowers!

February 17, 2010 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it? It's nice to see that you don't look at the situation as right or wrong. Her perspective is really, really different than yours. But she's neither right nor wrong, and neither are you. It's hard when we care so much about using land for production to keep in mind that our neighbors just aren't in the same space. I feel lucky that our property is very private, even though small and residential, and surrounded by other residential properties. At least I can do pretty much whatever I want with my little patch of land, without offending anyone's sensibilities. Even if my porch does look pretty trashy at times.

February 17, 2010 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger greendria said...

Another excellent post. Wanted to say: We live in a suburban neighborhood and are among a few who do only the bare minimum in terms of keeping up house/landscaping appearances. However, we do have quite the fruit and vegetable garden, and are adding chickens. It wasn't until I read your post that I realized: while I am increasingly tolerant of our sloppiness as our priorities change, I still judge “real” farms by appearances. Example: picking up my CSA share, I’ll look around thinking…”If only they’d clean up that brush pile, or paint that shed, or etc.” So funny! I will now work on training my eyes to appreciate the beautiful veggies, the hard work, the biodiversity, because that’s what really matters.

February 17, 2010 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Oh, YAY!!!!!!!! I'm so very, VERY excited to see how things are working out for you!! It gives the rest of us "wannabe" homesteaders hope! Keep moving forward! :o)

February 17, 2010 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger Snyder's Homestead said...

Some people get it Jenna, others do not. Be thankful we have.....

February 17, 2010 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Bless the folks who had the foresight to come up with the "Right to Farm" laws. Living in the Berkshires, I've seen so many dairies converted into groves of McMansions it makes me sick. Locally, a woman planted a huge house in the middle of a cattle pasture, just downhill from a horse pasture, and had the audacity to complain about the smell come spring.
You might want to look into the NY Farm Bureau, (I'm a member of the MA variety). There are opportunities for us young people (up to 35!) and very often you can get all kinds of insurance through them.
http://www.nyfb.org/

Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

February 17, 2010 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Katy said...

EVERYONE should have the "right to farm." I wonder how many states out there have this provision - the only other one I know of is Oregon. Sad.

Congrats on the credit score! I'm wearing my Cold Antler Farm shirt to the office today in support!

February 17, 2010 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

First of all, congrats on the credit score!

I remember talking to the mayor of my town about being able to raise chickens in my backyard. His reply was, "No. Chickens stink." I wanted to reply with: "And lawnmower exhaust, lawn 'beautification' chemicals and my neighbor's gas grill DON'T stink?"

February 17, 2010 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger EcoLife said...

I encountered the same eye opening situation with my father who said (concerning my urban garden and chicken coop) "You are depreciating the value of your neighbors homes." Seeming fine that I walk down the path of destruction, but aghast that I would take my neighbors home value with me. That quote from Joel sums it all up nicely!

February 17, 2010 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger kayxyz said...

"Martha Stewart" prompts me to comment that you are mixing together several different topics, magazine versus reality, and Americans see far too many photo ops versus the real thing. Last year I participated as a greeter in my local CSA farm tour. My farm was Castlemaine near Liberty, NC. I won't post the URL.

The farm web site shows the farmer's market veggies in absolute pristine form. During a break in the tour, I told the farm owner, Joanna, that her web site photos looked like something right out of Martha Stewart, no offense intended.

Her reply was astonishing. "That's because farmer's markets are SO COMPETITIVE. There are so many farmers who have been farming for so long, it's difficult to compete with them. Every veggie has to look pristine and perfect." My jaw dropped because "MS" and "CSA" seem completely at odds to me.

I'm still beaming positive thoughts your way. Congrats on your progress to date.

February 17, 2010 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Lil said...

Every morning I check my reader for two blogs waiting for news. One is a couple who are about to have their first baby and then there's yours to see if you've gotten the farm. No baby or farm yet but you're both neck and neck. :-)

Just a friendly thought, be careful about checking your credit score too much. Too many inquiries will lower your score - I saw many, many loans fall apart because they were submitted to too many lenders and each of them ran credit which ended up driving down the borrowers' scores. Not saying that will happen to you, just a friendly piece of advice from a former loan processor (thank goodness I don't work in that industry any more).

GOOD LUCK!!!!!

February 17, 2010 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

It is truely sad that people who live in the country don't or cann't appreciate the beauty of a working farm. They want the same neat yards that you get living in a housing development just without people living so close.

They miss the real reason that some people have for moving to the country, i.e. grow food and livestock.

Makes me glad that my place is so far off the road that people cannot see it and given the county even if they did no one would care what it looks like.

Keep living the dream!!

Peace,
Pam

February 17, 2010 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Sneaux said...

Oh YAY!!!!! I'm so happy to hear how things are moving in a great direction for you. To heck with what other people think about farm life - leave them to their sterile yards and mass-produced lives. I look forward to reading about your newest adventure on Jackson Farm!

February 17, 2010 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

Looking at Sara Amber's photos via the link she shared, I see one thing - that you are a young woman whose sensibilities run towards the artistic, with an appreciation for oddities, whimsy, and irony. You'll be doing yourself a big favor if you keep that aesthetic rather than trying to fit into other people's expectations.

February 17, 2010 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger Kimberly Ann said...

This post really rang true with me. I don't have an acre, but I do work my own little piece of suburbia and I often wonder what my neighbors think. I've been guilty of judging my own neighbors by their lack of care for their land (who poisons wildflowers???) but I bet they judge me just the same over cackling chickens. I guess we could all use a little "live and let live" in our hearts.

February 17, 2010 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Patsy said...

Oh Jenna. I am so glad you are getting out of there. God's plan has you owning your own land and so much better than where you are now.

I don't know how you keep your tongue! Obviously, a couple of folks have put their heads together to get you out of there. But that is okay. You are on to bigger and better things. Good riddance to them.

February 17, 2010 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Stephanie O' said...

Huh, I never really thought that to other people a sustainable "lawn" might be an eye sore. It seems ridiculous actually. I live in the city and my small little 8 x 6 foot garden has only brought my neighbors closer to us.

But, wow, I can't wait to see more pictures of the other place and I can't wait to hear what the bank says!

February 17, 2010 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger dogear6 said...

I can so sympathize with you over your neighbors comment. I have the same thing on a much smaller scale. With three dogs, the floors are always dirty and the house is not pristine except for the few minutes after it is cleaned. Our neighbors, of course, have pristine homes.

Likewise, we have vastly improved the yard by hauling out dead landscaping and planting things for some privacy and also my small gardens. But it isn't thus and so pristine like everyone else!

It's too bad you're getting so little support in your community. I'm actually rather puzzled by it as up until recently, it seems you fit in just fine. Hopefully the new homestead works out better on many fronts.

February 17, 2010 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger mjblanchette said...

hi there. i recently tripped and landed smack dab in the middle of your fab blog. let me say this: it is people that can't find the beauty in a productive, sustainable & grubby littke farm that are the same sad group that have been sold the b.s. that all lawns must be perfectly manicured and good for nothing (aside from pleasing the Jone's). remember, aside from clean air, clean water, clean food and some shelter — we humans really need little else. everything else is just decorations of sorts. so pardon the french, but i say eff 'em. rock on girlfriend.

February 17, 2010 at 1:28 PM  
OpenID thatsthelife said...

woo hoo! so far, so good.

February 17, 2010 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger Jody M said...

Yes! Congrats on the credit score!! That is sooo fantastic.

I wish people had to sign a waiver around here for things like that. Farm land around here is shrinking as commuters from DC/Baltimore move in and complain about the smell, appearance, etc, of the land THEY MOVED INTO. It drives me crazy.

February 17, 2010 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Jody M said...

Just out of curiosity, and because it has been naggling at the back of my mind even before you posted this story, but what are your plans for....taking the farm 'down?' Are you going to leave it as is, or make it the pristine trimmed lawn the neighbor apparently would like, or...?

February 17, 2010 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Kristina said...

Congratulations on your credit score. That's GREAT news!!!

And, about the neighbors - I live in the city and am hoping to turn my front lawn into "edible landscaping". My husband, who also grew up in a suburb (same as me) loves the idea of growing our own food, but is worried about how the neighbors will react to us ripping out lawn and replacing it with food. I would LOVE to have to sign a document telling me that if I don't like food growing near me then I can leave. I like living in the city for it's convenience, but there are times I envy your ability to live in the country and farm :-)

February 17, 2010 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

I also thought your garden looked lovely and anything but an eyesore. Neighbors. Can't live with them, but HAVE to live next to them.

My backyard is a total wreck right now. We've spent the last year landscaping, setting up housing for the goats and chickens, putting in veggie beds. It's still not done and there is a huge load that needs to be shuffled off to the dump. Fortunately, my neighbors have been very patient with me.

I've got my fingers crossed for you lady. Sounds like you are almost there. I check your blog everyday, anticipating the good news :)

February 17, 2010 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger lisa said...

You're right. People who don't farm expect cleanliness, which is just about the opposite of what any farm I've been to or worked on looks like. Neat and tidy is possible, but not clean. Glad that you have good plans in the works.

February 17, 2010 at 1:59 PM  
Blogger Harvest Kitchen Sisters said...

You hit the nail on the head with this entry. I live on my familys 98acre farm (not owned mind you...)and am a multi generational farmer BUT I am doing things abit differently than my once conventional growing Father. It is a generational gap.Sucess does not have to be white picket fences and shiny tractors. It can be a simple as a ramshakle greenhouse and a garden rake. It felt like your words were coming straight outta my mouth! Thanks for that!

February 17, 2010 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger Ohiofarmgirl said...

I laughed when I read this. Nope 'success' looks different to a farmer than a city dweller. I cringe when I see people more to the country and have 5 acre lawns that they pay someone else to mow. I know they are cringing at my poultry, gardens, and 'free hay' by way of a heavily clover-ed longish 'lawn.' Feel free to put a big sign in the new place that says 'bite me.'
;-) (just kidding)

February 17, 2010 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

That's the best news I've heard all day!!!

February 17, 2010 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger Melanie J. said...

Every time I read here I come away with something...we have the same mindset, so it's good for me that you're going through the things you're going through now...I'm recognizing that my first rental house probably won't be zoned for backyard chickens or bunnies, but it reaches beyond that to "the public." I thank you for this lesson.

February 17, 2010 at 8:39 PM  
Blogger Elsie said...

So glad there are others out there who think productive is beautiful. We are working on turning 1.49 acres in our city into and urban homestead. It is messy and absolutely delightful. We are totally on a budget so often materials come up at inconvenient times. 8 tons of rock? Sure! Some old picket fencing? Absolutely, put it over there until we have time to install it. We are constantly waiting for citations from the city. All I can say is that if you approve of the mission, support those who are heading down that road. Nothing like a few friendly neighbors at a City Council meeting to make the tightwads seem like the crazy ones.

February 17, 2010 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Excellent news on the credit score! On the neighbors, it's a sad commentary on our society that we devalue farming, so much that we can't appreciate where our food comes from or the people who raise it. It's not just there, it's endemic. But there are more & more bright spots all the time.

February 17, 2010 at 11:24 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Jenna, beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder--I looked at your garden picture before I read your blog and thought how nice your garden looked--healthy and abundant. I have to laugh when I hear people who have no appreciation of gardens, farms, animals, and all the things that were, at one time, all anyone did until we industrialized. I've been reading your blog for a long time now and I think your property looks wonderful, just what I'd expect to see and quite well kept. I don't want to say this too soon, but way back when your troubles started, I wrote that you would find that one day soon you would have more blessings than you could even imagine at that time, and I believe that's beginning to happen now. Consider yourself lucky that your eyes have been opened--now you will appreciate even more the new road upon which you are about to embark. Negative people have limited lives and try to do that to others but you're smart to move on to much better times. Mimi

February 18, 2010 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger CoyoteGirl said...

I know someday in the near future that neighbor is gonna wish she had you around for your farming know-how. Like others have said before me - we'll be needing our little farms! I'll be glad for the change.

Congrats on that beautiful farm you're getting. Keep posting those pictures!

February 18, 2010 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Cindi said...

Jenna,
your little farm looks absolutely perfect the way it is. I grew up on a small farm in the midwest during the 1960's and 70's. We had about 40 dairy cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs and cats and a very large garden. When I take my daughters back to visit their Grandma who still lives on that farm, it is really sad to see how the landscape has changed and a way of life is nearly gone. Small, diversified family farms are nearly impossible to find. What one sees now are homes in the county whose inhabitants commute to jobs in the larger cities. These places have a look of their own....nice homes, manicured yards...growning larger with mowing every year, no livestock to be seen, central air and few people outside and the sound of tractors in the field only a distant memory. The out-buildings have been torn down, windmills silent, and the few remaining non-inhabited barns falling down in disrepair. It is like watching a slow death. My teenage daughters ask me why peole, with all this land aren't utilizing it more?....what can I say? So keep up the good work and keep your land a working farm the way it is supposed to be. It looks "REAL" to this farmgirl! As for me and my daughters, we have a tiny home on a small city lot in an old neighborhood in the Pacific Northwest. We are enlarging our front yard garden every year, have an old dog, 2 cats and 2 free range chickens who are the hit of the neighborhood. My neighbors have asked me to get more chickens this spring and were sad when I gave away my noisy, cranky rooster last summer! Good luck with the new home, we are seening you all the best wishes possible!

February 18, 2010 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger cpcable said...

Congratulations on the good news! All seems to be falling into place. It makes me so sad to hear of the poor opinions of your neighbors and I'm even sadder to admit that the threat of the same situation keeps me from taking many of the steps that you already have. I have half an acre of lawn in a suburban development. It kills me to know how much more it could be, but how quickly my "neighborhood" association would crack down if I tried. We do what we can and I'm so happy for your progress!
-Courtney
http://alifesustained.blogspot.com

February 18, 2010 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

I can't wait to share this post with Joel! He'll get the biggest kick out of it! I sometimes think folks that come to Polyface expect it to be more idyllic than it is. Follow your heart - and feel sorry for those who can't see the beauty you see!! I wish SO VERY MUCH i could come to you fiddlers classes!! I've been dieing to learn and would just love to sit with you on your new farm and learn all about it!!! Let me know if you want any more of Joel's books!! I would love to send any of them to you! He's working on a new one now that will be out in Sept! LOVE your blog!!! xo Wendy

February 18, 2010 at 6:40 PM  
Blogger gabby said...

There are lots of things to be thankful for but i guess none of them is my debts. I don't want to sound bitter but it is something i can hardly be proud of. My family knows about all my debts, they really wanted me to help on this but then, all of them have their own life too, until they discuss me about the free credit repair and the credit report score, I really work on hard just do get over it. and now i am free from debts =) hope you are getting there very soon =) congrats =)

February 18, 2010 at 10:16 PM  
Blogger Jerry said...

It's a real shame to hear about the attitude of your neighbors but sadly that opinion still reigns supreme. You have shown them a better way though, and hopefully one day they will appreciate it.

Congratulations on finding a more welcome place to do your thing, and extra congratulations on purchasing a Jackson farm. I grew up on one and have returned.

I'm sure you will take good luck there along with all your hard work.

February 19, 2010 at 3:50 AM  
Blogger Cris said...

I live in a small village in Wisconsin--"farm" is in the name of the village--and I have systematically been changing my 3/4 acres from lawn to garden to farmyard over the past three years. For some reason, although the village is zoned for agriculture, folks are surprised that I actually attempt to grow something other than the backyard veggies and a mowed-within-an-inch lawn. I just laugh & remind them, once upon a time they were farmers too. When I added chickens, I invited my immediate neighbors over for a barbeque to introduce them to the girls. They all said, "why did you get chickens??" But no one has turned down the free eggs & occasional butchered bird. When I built a bigger coop, one neighbor complained it looked like an outhouse. So I painted it hot pink and found a chicken sign to hang on it prominently. This year, I am adding a shed for more chickens, and a larger chick tractor for the garden area. Oh, and I brought home a rooster today. At least I didn't bring home a cow. Ha ha!

February 20, 2010 at 5:36 PM  
Blogger Linda's Kitchen said...

One of the best things about living where I do is that it is zoned agriculture. I have a working farm next to me (chickens, ducks, horses, goats, gardens,etc.), horses on the other side and across the street.

I love hearing the chickens and watching the horses. Yes, there are some things that are not so great...the smell sometimes of manure, horseflies the sign of small birds. But this is a small price to pay for having livestock so close.

I always say, if you don't like it, build your house in a fancy development.

February 25, 2010 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger crowjoy said...

Just catching up on all of your excitement! I felt the same way when we bought our homestead in NY. I'm buying in an ag area! Yay!

A million congrats!

February 25, 2010 at 4:02 PM  

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