Greetings permies! I feel like I may have stumbled upon a community of people that are delightfully abnormal in the same way I am.
After a few decades of hedonistic meandering (fulfilling my patriotic duty as a white male born in late-20th century America), I was struck in the autumn of 2012 with an all-consuming dream to become a farmer. This lightning bolt of purpose was delivered via Joel Salatin's book "Folks, this ain't normal", which led to several dozen other books, volunteering on a pasture-based raw milk dairy, visiting Polyface farm for a two-day workshop, and most recently to searching for, finding, and leasing my own slice of land to partner with. The idea that one could work together with nature to not only produce the finest food, but also end up with a more healthy ecosystem capable of producing even more and better food, is pure magic to me. The additional fact that food is only one of the benefits among many (capturing more solarenergy, encouraging biodiversity, providing a better quality of life, etc.) excites me to the point of giddiness and, at times, the spontaneous dancing of a jig when no one is watching.
In late June 2013 I moved from a <500 square foot studio apartment in Seattle to a drafty old farm house on ~8 acres in Maple Valley, WA (around 35 minutes' drive SE from Seattle). I lead a double life, as I continue to work full time in the software industry in Seattle (which I think of as 'cash farming' to support my dream) and spend the rest of my time/energy on the farm. My first hard lesson in sustainability has been in expending my energy to the point of exhaustion and illness, things I've generally been lucky enough through good health and habits to avoid.
Since moving out here, I've created a ~1000 square foot garden, a laying flock of 23 hens, three (no longer so little) pigs, and four goats that were slaughtered at the end of November. These are all firsts for me, and I am having the time of my life learning all about these systems and my relationship with and responsibilities to them. The folks I have met and friends I've made along the way in this odyssey have supported and nurtured my dream in ways that overwhelm me with gratitude. I feel that at each juncture of this journey, the universe delivers just what I need (though perhaps not what I may want) at the perfect time.
I am currently spending time imagining how I want to set up my life to allow me to spend more time towards investing in the land rather than towards making money. I feel that finding this place, which seems to exist largely to cultivate creative thinking specifically in this area, is just the latest in the long line of me finding just what I need at the right time.
I look forward to doing some great and crazy things together.
Hi Tony, I am very interested in learning more about your farm. I just got on my land about 3 weeks ago and am not sure what I should be working on. Should I be starting Plants from seeds? I get my laying hen chicks in March. I am located on 8 acres in Aberdeen Washington. I am also in the IT related engineer. I think we have allot in common but your a year ahead of me. would love to hear from you.
Location: Maple Valley, WA, USA - Zone 8a, 500 ft elevation
Andrew Winsor wrote:Hi Tony, I am very interested in learning more about your farm. I just got on my land about 3 weeks ago and am not sure what I should be working on. Should I be starting Plants from seeds? I get my laying hen chicks in March. I am located on 8 acres in Aberdeen Washington. I am also in the IT related engineer. I think we have allot in common but your a year ahead of me. would love to hear from you.
Hey Andrew! Thanks for the welcome and the interest. I am still learning what to do here, and figuring out my priority list for the dozens of projects I have in mind. One thing that helps me is getting all of my ideas out of my head. I use Trello to keep a list of ideas, and then drag them up or down the list depending on what is most urgent/important. Being in IT, I'm sure you're accustomed to always having too many things to do. Remembering that what we say 'no' to has more to do with our success than what we say 'yes' to has been extremely helpful in allowing me to achieve what I have so far. Of course, I stumble all of the time here and get caught up in things that seem 'urgent' and forgetting that just because they're urgent doesn't mean that they are important.
Thanks Tony, I am trying to stay away from the screen as much as I can, When we moved out here, we did not bring a TV with us. As such, I am reading allot more.
I am currently reading two books, "Introduction to Permaculture" - Bill Mollison and "Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest" - Russell Link. I am really enjoying both books a ton, and I love the Pacific Northwest book due to the list of plants and wildlife being Pacific Northwest specific.
I am really interested in Trees that provide a yield outside of July, August and September.
The wildlife book talks about snowberries (which I believe is a Shrub) and bares fruit even into "winter" but I guess they are poison to humans, I think my chickens would love them but I don't like the idea of poison food out there with my children doing allot of the harvesting.
I am also looking to do some hedge rows, at some point I will want to introduce bee hives and dairy goats.
Solar Station Construction Plans by Ben Peterson -- ebook