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