This Land is Our Land

This Land is Our Land

We now officially own our land. One year after deciding that this was where we wanted to set down roots, it finally happened. We had some lag time with the title company and then a few other issues needed to be straightened out but as of yesterday, we closed.

I was looking back on this blog at my entry for October 3, 2018, and that was when we decided this was home to us. A lot has changed in a year. People have come and gone, plans have shifted, time has slipped through our hands, but we’re here.

Now we can set our plans in motion. We have so many things we want to do but chose not to start anything until we knew this was going to be home…for good.

Three years ago when Dom dislocated his knee and was unable to walk for almost a month, he created the above vision board. Nothing causes us to refocus in on our life goals like a serious illness or injury. We have carried this vision board from West Virginia to our new home in Glenwood. It sits in my coffee packaging room to remind us of how far we’ve come and all the things left on the board to fulfill.

In red, I’ve circled all the things that have already manifested…right down to the round tents and the dark skies! We dreamed, we went off the beaten path to get ourselves back on track, we pursued our passions, we found a place with bountiful diversity, we are home in nature, this land is our land, and even the trees circled in the lower left-hand corner of the board looks like our land. I think I’ll repost this board and circle new things that manifest as we move forward!

I also want to create a new board that will be a continuation of the one we started, because we’re always changing and growing.

Four years ago at this time, we sold our home in Los Lunas, and almost to the day four years later we are now in an even better place without a huge looming lifetime mortgage or outrageous bills that would force Dom to work two jobs. That was the ultimate goal for us. We wanted to be in a position where we could build our own environmentally safe house where I wouldn’t get sick from mold. We’re halfway there.

Over this last month, we’ve accomplished a lot!

We got the underside of some of the oak trees trimmed up and removed the huge grapevine bush to make way for our outdoor kitchen. We’ve been cleaning up the wood slash that was in different areas to cut down on fire danger. I think this was the most tedious job I’ve had to do in property clean up. It’s ongoing when you live in a place that is so dry it can easily become a tinderbox and go POOF! in an instant.

We’ve been enjoying BBQs and friends hanging out. We have some friends staying with us for a while and Simmi has been in her glory having kids to play with every day.

We have a White-Nosed Coati living nearby. He doesn’t seem to have any family so I’m unsure how long he’ll stay in the area.

The rock foundation was busted up and the covered porch was removed. I’ve been moving rocks away from the area so that the trailer can be hauled off soon. If you would have told me last year I would be strong enough to haul rocks alone for 4-6 hour time stretches, I would have told you that you were insane. But here I am strong as an ox. It took two years to recover from biotoxin illness but I did it! Every time I go outside and walk around I remind myself of how far I’ve come. From the trees I cut down, to the wood I haul, and the boulders I throw to save our rickety wheelbarrow from certain death, I am strong again.

Every time I procrastinate, it’s because I am still in an old mindset believing it’s going to hurt, or I’m going to have to stop because I’m in too much pain. Then I go outside and start moving my body and I become addicted to the fact that I am NOT in pain and it doesn’t hurt to move…it actually feels good. That’s how I know I’m getting better.

Dom works about 60 hours a week right now. He’s working on a build at the Apache Creek Firehouse, and there are two clients that hired him to do some repair work on their log cabin and deck. He chose to only take one day off, and that time has been spent cutting firewood from branches we cut months ago. In two weeks the firehouse will be finished so his schedule will open up and be a little more fluid again. He’s started designing our cabin and he’s hoping to get that started soon.

The firehouse addition is a monster job. The concrete work, steel framing, metal roof. Oye! He’ll be happy when this job is complete. There are three more roofing jobs after this that are lined up and will take him through the winter months if the weather agrees.

The temperature has plummeted to about 17 degrees at night. What does that mean for us tent folks? Nothing really. Haha

It’s amazing how much living in a home with four walls and a heat source can dull us. We’ve become scrappy creatures over these last six months. When we moved here the temps were hovering at about 22 degrees. We looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders wondering what the big deal was. It was 17 last night and it was fine. We haven’t hooked up stoves or a heat source in our tents yet. We sleep well in the cold. Geez, when I think about it, in Scandinavian countries parents leave their kids bundled up in the cold to sleep during the day.

The key is warmth. Are we warm at night? Absolutely! 17 degrees and toasty warm under the covers. No fear of Simmi being cold either. If she were cold, believe me, we would NOT hear the end of it. The protesting would start and not stop until we got her warm.

When the trailer is removed, we’ll be moving our tents up next to the rig and we’ll install some heaters. Simmi will have a catalytic propane heater and we’ll have a woodstove. I’m still on the hunt for a few of them. A friend of ours gave us a tiny one that was super cute, but not big enough to warm the tent before we go to bed. We’re not planning on heating our tents throughout the night, just an hour or two before bed so we’re cozy and can enjoy the early part of the evening by firelight.

I’m really happy with the way things have progressed and the future is looking bright!

A Dream Realized and a Hope Fulfilled

A Dream Realized and a Hope Fulfilled

“We are starving for spiritual nourishment. We are starving for a life that is personal, connected, and meaningful. By choice, that is where we will direct our energy. When we do so, community will arise anew because this spiritual nourishment can only come to us as a gift, as part of a web of gifts in which we participate as giver and receiver. Whether or not it rides the vehicle of something bought, it is irreducibly personal and unique.” ~Charles Eisenstein

I have this deep calling that gnaws at my soul regularly. Each day that I am not moving towards my calling brings pain to my spirit. I have a dream that will be realized. I am called to the agrarian life. I am also called to bless others with my gifts freely and abundantly, and to lavish on those within my inner circle of friends and family, my unconditional love.

Who are those in my inner circle? It is those people who are aligned with my values and have a heart like mine. That doesn’t mean they are exactly like me in any way. They have a heart song that I recognize and embrace because we are spiritual kin. It is like deep calling to deep.

There are those who sing a song that sounds similar to my heart song, but by the end of the song it’s evident that the melody might sound similar, but the words are all wrong. They think they’re singing the same song, but you see, the song takes months to sing and they just haven’t invested the time to sing it the way their hearts needed to. Sounds cryptic, right?

It’s not.

Each of us has a heart song. Those who do not betray their own hearts or reject their own souls will find comfort in others who do the same. That is the heart song. We recognize it instantly. It is a song that you sing to others with your actions, your time, your intentions. Those who betray their own hearts and compromise their integrity recoil at the sound of a true heart song. Those who have denied their own beautiful song will be suspicious, cruel, withholding, cold, distant, all while still claiming to have a song just like mine. Their words and actions betray them. My love is anathema to them as they choke on their own betrayal and inability to break free from their overabundant pride. I have been witness to this throughout my whole life. It’s a part of the human condition.

Yet…

My heart is soft, so it doesn’t break easily. I keep it soft because others are too hard on themselves. My softness is a part of my song. But being soft doesn’t mean being weak. Weakness is a habit developed by those who have lost their way and compromised their integrity. Being soft allows me to fully recognize my desire to love radically. To give abundantly. To forgive freely. To follow my wild heart and search for home.

I’ve searched for home my whole life. No matter where I have lived, I’ve always made a home for myself. My husband is my home. My children are my home. Seeking deep connections with others who have a heart like mine brings me home. But my desire to set roots and be home has brought me to a new place. A place where I hear other heart songs sung unabashedly wild and free.

We started a new chapter in our lives recently. We currently live in a very small place and out of necessity we started searching for a new place to live. Even though there are only three of us currently living in this small space we call home, we also have grown children who, when they come to visit have no place to sleep when they stay over. Add to that the fact that I operate our coffee roasting business from this same space AND having the little storefront here cuts into personal space even more. Along with running a business comes balancing my time during the day homeschooling Simone. Some days she’s on the computer working with an online program, and the rest of the time she’s sprawled out at my work table completing the lessons of the day while I’m working on a customer’s order. Our space is very limited for what we need.

I’m also a hardcore introvert with a great need to recharge myself away from the presence of other people. That includes my own family. Introverts draw their energy from solitude and time alone.

Our current living space is not honoring my needs. I keep trying to make it better, and Dom will take Simmi out of the house so I can be alone and recover, but it doesn’t always work out the way we want.

In the process of looking for a larger place to live, we found a gorgeous piece of land we decided to invest in.

It is sacred to us.

There is great peace there.

It is a place where my wild and innocent young daughter can run free. A place where her feral heart can grow strong and soft.

With the investment we’ve made in the land comes the investment we’ve made with friends who have become our family in that very place. They are home to us. Our friendship was forged in our ability to be vulnerable to one another. We strengthened our friendship by hearing one another’s heart songs, and then we became family.

We’re home at last.

Over the next few months, we’ll be building our first home on almost fifteen beautiful acres. Located about 30 minutes south of where we currently live, this place of beauty stuns me everywhere I look.

There are unforgiving steep slopes, pastures, rocky paths and river beds. Rising up from the deep earth are sycamores and cottonwoods, willows and oak trees, evergreens and shrubs. Grasses and weeds reveal the splendor of a fertile and untouched land.

There are quiet places to recharge the soul, and gathering places to engage our hearts.

Time stands still here.

I’ve started planning our gardens, ordering seed, and designing our first house. It will not be our final house, but instead, it will be the business hub that we move into.

In past posts, I’ve mentioned that we want to build a house that doesn’t have any electricity and that includes conventional or alternative. The space we’re designing and living in first will have electricity in it. It’s the place where our businesses will thrive. My non-electric house will not be built until we have observed the land and find the best place suited for it. We do have an area that we adore, however, we need to live there full time and go through the seasons to know for sure where to build.

The business hub will be located in an area that is near the pasture. It will have our offices, art studio, fabric studio, a roastery, outdoor kitchen, as well as a become a Farm to Table venue. It all starts with that space.

It will (hopefully) be a bit larger than the space we’re currently in, but ultimately it will allow me to cultivate the land and get animals established prior to building our final home.

We’ll be living in our current house until we’re able to move into the new space. Unfortunately, we don’t have a good timetable for when that would be. We want to do it efficiently and inexpensively, utilizing the timber nearby as well as other free or almost free repurposed materials. I will be blogging about everything we’re doing on the land, but it won’t just be me blogging!

I’ll be adding new features to this blog, including new writers and artisans in our community. In future posts, I’ll share who they are and how amazing they are because there is just too much to say in one blog post. 😉

In the meantime, here are some photos of our new land…

This area we’re considering as the location for the business hub/temporary home. It is located near an open pasture to the left and two paddocks on the right. One of the paddocks will be used for small and medium sized animals, and the other for our garden. Each paddock is about 50’x50′.

The view from the first paddock looking north.

Simmi running past the second paddock.

A view north-west.

The western side of the property.

Beauty surrounds us.

Simmi’s favorite tree.

An opposing gigantic cottonwood tree stands guard at the entrance to the pasture.

The grapevines have decided to be hardcore and skip cultivation. They’re total badasses.

The pasture awaits larger animals and meat birds in chicken tractors.

This is one of the paddocks that will be turned into an intensive French potager garden.

There is so much to love about this place. It is a dream realized and a hope fulfilled.

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!