We’re Relocating to Maine in June 2015!

In 5 weeks we will be hitting the road to our new home in Gouldsboro, Maine. Although our house hasn’t sold yet, we made the decision to move forward with our farming plans and relocate. 

Our decision process on where to move was stressful at best. There were so many decisions to be made, as well as having no idea of which area would suit us best. How do you decide on a location when you’ve never even visited the state? 

We had lists upon lists (okay I had all the lists)  of criteria for the perfect location, the kind of people we wanted to share community with, the history of our future property and its uses over the year, farming needs, housing, and all while desiring to hold to the standard that we didn’t want a mortgage or to be in debt. 

My original question posed to Dom last year was, “If we could go anywhere, where would you want to be?” Both of us answered that wanted to be near the ocean. Being in the high desert for six years became a constant reminder of how much we desperately loved and missed the ocean. Dom grew up on Long Island and spent most summers surfing, and I have always been in love with the ocean spending summers along the Jersey Shore. 

Something deep was calling to us. We answered that call. We honed in on Maine and New Hampshire, searching for homes and land that were very inexpensive. The more I looked, however, the more discouraged I became. Were there homes and land in our price range? Yes, but most of them were infested with mold. Mold infestations can kill me. 

As we continued to look for land, we decided that the only way to keep me safe and alive was going to be if we built our own little cottage. Up in Maine, many people will buy an Amish built large shed and convert it to a little hunting cottage or summer cabin. Armed with new a new plan, we set out looking for only land. We found many properties, but then we looked at each other and realized that if we go this route, we will be doing it all alone. We had no interest in being hermits living deep in the woods where it takes 1/2 hour to get to the nearest neighbor. We also wanted to be in community, and a strong one at that. 

So we added strong community to our list of priorities, and kept looking. My next question to myself (I drive myself nuts with my constant questions) was how long would it take before we would get all our infrastructure in place so that we could actually farm again? That question nearly broke me emotionally. An agrarian life is our calling, and I couldn’t imagine going a year or more without having animals, a garden, and all the things that bring me to life each day, filling me with a sense of completeness and peace.

Feeling the weight of my questions bearing down on my soul as if I were about to give birth, I snapped inside. In utter frustration and feeling the despair of a life without a farm (even for a few years) I began looking for alternative ways to farm. 

I started looking for partnerships in both New Hampshire and Maine. New Hampshire didn’t have any opportunities available, but Maine had about four partnerships open. I talked with Dom about it, we went over all our lists of wants and  needs, and decided that a farming partnership would cover almost every single item on our lists. 

After making the decision to seek a partnership, we sent out emails to the four farm prospects in Maine. We didn’t know what to expect, but we were hopeful. We looked up where each farm was located and immediately had our favorite farm of all four farms. I don’t think I breathed much that day. I would find myself constantly holding my breath, and forget to breathe, anxiously glued to computer as I waited for someone to reply. 

Then it happened. I couldn’t believe it! Not only did they email back, they called as well. After the email, I quickly looked at my list to see which farm it was. Was it the one we really liked? Yes! The three other farms never contacted us. So we started talking via email and Facetime. It took all of one week for us to make the decision to relocate. 

Cynthia and Bill thayer

Cynthia and Bill thayer

The name of the farm is Darthia Farm in Gouldsboro, Maine. They have been certified organic for 37 years, and are most beloved in their community. Last year one of my deepest desires was to be in a place where the forest kisses the ocean because I love both the forest and the ocean, and that’s where we are going. Darthia Farm is located on West Bay and is a part of the Schoodic Peninsula in Downeast Maine. Click the photo to be taken to their website.

Going forward…

June 22 is our moving day so we can be to the farm by July 1 and start our training. We’ll learn how to run the farm and CSA, care for the animals, making products for the farm store, tending farmers markets, and everything else that goes into making Darthia Farm shine. 

Luna Hill, LLC will be dissolved this month before our move. Our farm website will continue, but most likely in the future as Darthia Farm, with an archived section for Luna Hill. My blog posts will be not updated much until we are done making the transition, and once we do settle in I will start blogging regularly about daily life at Darthia Farm. 

Here are some photos of the farm: 

Happy New Year!

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I was so excited to wake up to such a beautiful and perfect snowy morning! I haven’t seen snow this pretty in years. I’ve been relatively quiet on the Chronicles because I’m getting ready to migrate this website over to LunaHill.org. By February 1, when you click on HighDesertChronicles.com it will redirect you to LunaHill.org, and the Chronicles will exist under Luna Hill.

Our reason for migrating the site has to do with our move this year to the Northeast. It would seem strange to have a blog in New England with the title High Desert Chronicles, don’t you think?

Anyway, I’ve tried to refrain from adding any new posts until after everything is migrated.

The new Luna Hill website will have many new features not available on the Chronicles. I’ll be plugging away at it all this month.

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New Trees Ordered and on the Way

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A large assortment of trees, shrubs and flowers (578 to be exact)  were ordered and are currently on the way to our farm. Here’s a list of what’s coming:

  • 100 Mulberry trees
  • 25 Giant Arboritae
  • 50 Crown vetch plants
  • 50 Day lilies
  • 50 Viburniem American Cranberry
  • 1 American Sycamore
  • 2 Mimosa
  • 100 Siberian peashrub
  • 100 Elderberry (2 varieties)

It looks impressive, but all the different species are just little tiny seedlings. There’s no way we could afford large gorgeous trees! Little babies will suit us fine, and since they are all relatively fast growing trees and shrubs, we’ll have a food forest in just a few short years.

A few very generous donations (not listed on our farm site and wanting to remain anonymous) were graciously given to us to help get our farm off to a great start. Money for playground equipment for visiting children, garden supplies, building materials, a farm truck and so much more. Thank you to everyone who has believed in local small farms, and donated to us. From buckets and simple tools, to large and expensive items we could have never afforded…

Thank you, thank you!

We’re currently in the planning stage for designing the new playground. We found a used swing set that will work for us, and we’re also planning the sandbox area, gathering area and fire pit, and other things that engage a child’s imagination.

Originally we planned to put the playground in the Northeast Quadrant, near where we’ll be keeping the rabbit colony, but we changed our minds last night, instead choosing the area directly behind the courtyard. Below are a few photos of the area:

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This area was chosen because it’s attached to the courtyard, and makes it possible for children to play during potlucks or other gatherings in a safe gated area.

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The 4×4 posts surrounding the tree my daughter Gina painted is the perfect location for a covered sandbox area. All kids love sand, and creating an area that is shaded, with shelves for sandbox toys will be amazing.

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The play area is about 35’x50′ and planted in this area will be:

  • 4- Siberian Peashrub
  • 1 American Sycamore
  • 2 Mimosa
  • Coneflowers
  • Crown vetch
  • 8 Mulberry trees
  • Comfrey

In the future I’ll be planting honeyberry shrubs, after the other trees are established. Edible landscaping that encourages children to eat fresh fruit at their height couldn’t be more heavenly…don’t you think?!

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Although you can’t see it from this angle, the area is on a slight slope. We’ll be renting some heavy equipment to level the area for the swing set. I’m told that the dimensions of this set in an “L” shape are 30′ long x 25′ wide, with two playhouses, a slide, swings, and a long walking plank. Next weekend we’ll be picking up the set, so things will need to be done quickly to prep the area.

After the swing set has been installed, the trees and plants will be planted.

May 1st or 2nd is when our chicks arrive, and we’ve been preparing for that as well. We have a LOT of planting to do in the next two weeks, rounding everything off with our warm season crops going into the ground mid May just after the ducklings, goslings, and turkeys arrive.

We’re in a mad dash to get things finished off because we will be hosting our first potluck and garden tour the end of May. I’ll be living off a constant flow of caffeinated tea, very little sleep, and lots of Motrin to get me through. Planting 500+ trees and shrubs, no matter how small they are takes a toll on the body. Beyond the major tree planting, we need to finish the market garden and Northwest Quadrant garden, and get each of those planted out as well.

It’s so thrilling watching everything come together!

Progress and Transformation

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In past posts I’ve written about how Dom and I were on a primal diet. We’ve been primal for a little more than a year, and we kicked it up a notch by becoming keto-adapted in 2014. Making a switch from primal to a ketogenic diet is very easy, since it just involves maintaining a very low carb meal plan. We were already grain free, and for the most part, starch free, but January 1st began our ketogenic lifestyle.

In the series of photos above, the top right is my before photo. Dom snapped that photo of me last fall before we started on our keto journey. We are still eating a primal diet, but eat very little fruit (if any), moderate protein (about 35 grams per day), high fat, lots of veggies and salads, and great dressings. We have never looked back and I feel even better than I did when we were just primal. Granted, I had a LOT of healing to do over the last year, and I believe that the healing had to happen before I could begin to lose weight.

I no longer weigh myself like I used to. Instead I go by how my body feels and how many dress sizes I’ve dropped. When I first started in January, I was in a size 2x and now I’m currently in a size 16. I don’t expect to stay there very long though. My 16’s are getting loose and I’m already thinking of going back to the thrift shop for more clothes. I went to the thrift shop a few weeks ago and spent about $50 and brought home a great number of treasured items. Topping that list was a 50% alpaca and 50% merino wool Bill Blass coat that I got on sale for $3.00, linen clothing by Banana Republic, 100% wool sweaters, and so many other gorgeous high end clothing…in my new size. I walked out that day with about 10 bags of clothes. It was a great day!

The other thing that has changed about me is my hair. I have wild woman hair, and I’m learning to embrace it. On most days I keep my hair tightly pulled back with a rubber band and/or headband, but recently I let my wild hair down and Dom loved it, wanting me to go out to the movies with him that way. I was mortified. Seriously, my nutty hair has a mind of its own, but I worked through my own discomfort and he enjoyed having a wild woman at his side.

Opening up and sharing photos of myself is another thing that I decided to do as well. I’m usually the person behind the camera, but being that we will open for business in the next few months officially, it would be good for others to at least know what I look like, right?

It all started on Facebook when I posted a photo of my crazy hair recently. I thought everyone would laugh as hard as I did, but everyonePhoto on 3-10-14 at 11.50 AM seemed to love my nutty hair. I had purchased a few products for curly hair since my hair was just a frizzled mess.

I put the product in my hair at night, pinned it back out of my face, and in the morning…POOF! I was really mortified and hysterical laughing all at the same time. I took the photo and sent it to Dom at work.

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Well, that started the conversation about letting my hair stay wild.

So here I am, Farmer Jane, growing wild and free…

If you need me, I’ll be in the garden or greenhouse.

The Mulching Continues

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Today was another productive day. Noah has been on spring break and he helped move the rest of the mulch that was in the greenhouse to the north east quadrant. On Sunday I got quite a bit accomplished laying mulch around some of the fruit trees. Well, today, before I could lay mulch, I needed to rework each basin around the fruit trees.

Last year the chickens scratched up and flattened all the basins. The way our earthworks are laid out, there are two swales dug about four feet IMG_1480deep and four feet wide on contour. Both swales are filled with dead trees, branches, sticks, twigs and anything else we could fill the swale with. Then each swale was filled with dirt, and then on the west side of each swale, Dom installed a berm. It’s on this berm that the fruit trees are planted.

On the berm, we had basins dug so that each tree could be watered individually. Without a basin, the water would just run off.

Although there’s a lot of water stored in each swale, I still decided to build new basins and deeply water. As I dug the basins, the soil was already very moist. Swales help cut down on our need to water, although we do have weeper hoses on the berms.

The weepers were installed to help establish new fruit trees planted on the berm. We’ll leave them in place until we’re done planting the berms.

This year I plan on installing more fruit trees and berry bushes on the berms, but once they are all established, the weeper hoses will be removed and used in other areas.

Tomorrow the work continues. I have weed seeds to burn, and more areas to clean up. I’m about 75% finished with the north east quadrant, and I hope to be finished with this particular quadrant tomorrow. Then it’s on to the next section.

Today Dom got in touch with a local tree company, and it looks like we’ll be getting regular deliveries of wood chips. This company was taking their wood chips to the dump! GAH! As Dom was talking to the owner on the phone he was actually delivering the wood chips to dump. Dom told him he’ll never have to pay the dump again. Woot! He’ll just bring all the chips here and save himself a ton of money.

Here’s more photos of the day:

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