Friday, March 19, 2010

just start

I found this photo from my first spring at the cabin. It was a weekend my friend Nisaa from Brooklyn came up to help me get the new chickens and first gardens ready. This photo is nothing special, a cardboard box with some started plants (mint and lettuce) and an empty carton of eggs. Yet what it lead up to was nearly three seasons of a working backyard farm. In the few years I lived here I grew gardens, raised sheep, bred rabbits, tended bees, lived with dogs, played my fiddle and banjo on the porch and fell in love with my guitar again.

Most of the time I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I learned as I went, picking up books and haunting web forums. I joined clubs, made new friends, learned to eat out of the dirt and farmer's markets. I cook at home now. Eating in is glorious. I can knit my hats, sew my bags, and bake my own bread and I still write about it all here. But the point is I made that first small effort, and it trotted me home.

Now, a few years later I'm nearly closing on my own 6.5 acre homestead and trying to figure out how to move sheep, a goat, chickens, and start a farmer's market garden. I get a dozen eggs a day. I know how to plant pole beans. I'm learning to shear wool and make lamb cuts. Every year I grow, thanks to the land I made mine.

A lot happens if you make it. And it all starts somewhere. Case and point: two plants and an empty egg carton on a cardboard box. Make this spring yours. Just start.

19 Comments:

Blogger Mariko said...

Wow. This post really touches my heart. I think this may be my Spring to get started... Thank you, Jenna!

March 19, 2010 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger twistie said...

ABSOLUTELY!! I'm SO tired of people "farming" and 'virtually living' on FB, or what have you and then telling me I wish I could.... I want to do..... what ever you know!!?? Just DO IT!! Even if it's not all what or exactly how you want to forever, like you say, just start already! What are you waiting for?
Great post Jenna, so happy for you!

March 19, 2010 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger Tora: said...

How wonderful to see your dreams unfold - thank you so very much for sharing it all. I truly enjoy it!

March 19, 2010 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger cpcable said...

You are so right. Talking and planning are great, but doing is what really matters. It's something I keep trying to remind myself. Every small step is at least a step.

March 19, 2010 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Veronica said...

I'm excited! This past Winter my husband and I have been talking about starting our own little garden. Reading your post gives me a motivation that my husband and I can do this. We don't know much about gardening, but we know its a better way...
Thank you for sharing your start and success.

March 19, 2010 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

That's how it begins - just digging and doing. I did the same thing with my garden 10 years ago. I removed the grass from 9/10 of my HUGE backyard and just started planting. Perennials, lilacs, vegetables. When my master gardener friend came over, he took one look and said, "Holy Crap!" and then walked away, overwhelmed. But I persevered. I succeeded, I failed at some things, but I did it. Doesn't it feel great?!

March 19, 2010 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger Toni aka irishlas said...

You've hit the nail on the head - just start!

March 19, 2010 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger BJ Gingles said...

All learning begins with "just start". Walking... talking... feeding oneself... Just jump in and do it and learn whatever lessons come from the action. At the very least you will learn what not to do again. A very important lesson at that! Thanks Jenna, for reminding us.

March 19, 2010 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger Jen R. (emeraldsunshine.org) said...

Great post - you are right. All it takes is the mindset to "start." Just do it!

March 19, 2010 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger SouthernHeart said...

So true. This time last year we bought a ten little chicks...brought them home and kept them in the entry hall...post about that experience here: http://patacakebabies.com/wordpress/?p=481

Needless to say, I didn't know what I was doing but my husband did. It has been a fun year. I want Nigerian dwarf goats now!


I'm enjoying your blog very much. Please keep on writing...

March 19, 2010 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger MGreenwood said...

Nice, Jenna! Too true and your story proves it. Sparks to a flame, sister.

March 19, 2010 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger dogear6 said...

"Just start" is a great way to describe the learning curve on being self-sufficient. When the hubby and I moved to Virginia two years ago, we threw garden seeds and some plants into empty flower beds and observed. Most everything either rotted at the ground or on the vine. But we learned how truly crummy our soil was and where the sun was. The farmer's market was an hour drive away, but I still did a fair amount of freezing for our off-season meals.

The second year we did raised bed gardens and some edible landscaping under our front holly bushes. Two nice farmer's markets started up a very short drive away. I canned (boiling water bath), dehydrated, and froze my own food plus things from the farmer's market.

This year, another raised bed in front of the deck might go to strawberries. I will probably add pressure canning to my experience as well.

Each year I learn more and am able to do more successfully.

March 19, 2010 at 3:40 PM  
Blogger Christa said...

What an inspiring post! Thank you for sharing.

March 19, 2010 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Come to Arkansas,anybody who lives outside the small cities lives your life.

March 19, 2010 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger Sense of Home said...

Never stop learning, it is what makes life exciting.

March 19, 2010 at 11:07 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Great post! Last spring I started an herb garden after my husband and I built a house on a little over 2.5 acres. This spring we've added 5 chickens and 130 square feet more garden. I've started!

March 19, 2010 at 11:38 PM  
Blogger Carrie in Wisconsin said...

You know, I'm so excited to start planting all those seeds I have ordered and coming in the mail, I almost can't stand it. And, when I started to read the comments here, well, first off it made that even worse :) and second, it reminded me that I started reading this blog a little over a year ago now, and I have herb beds, raspberry beds, flower beds galore, blueberry plants started, the list just goes on. And it was all built in one growing season(last spring/summer) and all because I read Jenna's blog and was inspired. Now, my plans for this year include enlarging my current garden by double, looking into fruit trees, and who knows what all else. Thanks Jenna for everything!

March 20, 2010 at 1:15 AM  
OpenID ruralaspirations said...

It's so true. Hubby and I were out clearing some land today and I was just marveling at how we had absolutely no idea how to do this, but we just started doing it and we're figuring it out as we go along.

March 20, 2010 at 5:00 PM  
Blogger Moose Nuggets said...

This is my year! My sweetheart just informed me that he will be spending this week building my chicken coop. Little Farm on the Tundra is officially strting farming!

March 22, 2010 at 3:01 AM  

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