It’s amazing to me that at this time last year I could barely breathe walking from part of a room to another, I had to shave my head because my hair was falling out so much that it was everywhere. It’s disturbing to see hair all over the place! Moving back to our home state of New Mexico was an act of desperation much like when we first arrived in New Mexico ten years earlier. We learned our lesson that this is our home forever. My mold allergies are so bad that our home state is the only one with the ability to help me recover.
And I am recovering, slowly but surely.
It has been nearly four years since we were raising animals and farming. Now that we have our land, we are moving full speed ahead, biting off more than we can chew, and I’m sure we’ll make plenty of mistakes along the way. I don’t fear making mistakes at all. I never have. It’s how I grow and it keeps me flexible when I want to stay rigid.
Jumping back into farming is something I am so very excited about. Proper planning, however, is key to being successful and profitable. We started the tradition of writing out our goals when we started homesteading in Los Lunas. It feels good to get back into the practice of writing our goals again. In every place that we were at from Vermont to West Virginia, we had grand plans for establishing a garden and keeping small animals, but I would get so sick from each house we lived in that we would need to move.
We moved a total of 10 times since leaving New Mexico four years ago. In 2019 we will make another move onto our land.
2018 was a great year. Our coffee roasting company, Buffalo Mountain, has thrived and made 10 times the amount made in 2017. We can’t yet take an income from it, but I believe by the end of 2019 we will be profitable enough to start paying ourselves. Buffalo Mountain pays for all its own supplies, operating expenses, internet and phone, and electric bill. We will be building the new roastery on the land and it will have an art studio, commercial kitchen, and a farm store attached.
We moved here to Reserve in February, and with the amazing support of our friend Jennifer, who allowed us to rent her little adobe this year, it helped us to get established in Catron County.
Simmi made a new friend named Angel and they have become great friends. It’s the first time she has had a real friend to play with…ever. it’s a pretty big deal!
Simmi has made great progress in her school work. She was evaluated by a dyslexia specialist when we lived in Vermont and we were told that she has profound dyslexia. This is not a bad thing, it just means that she processes information when reading or doing math differently than other children. Children with dyslexia have many strengths. I am also dyslexic, but mine is not as advanced as her’s is. So I work at her pace which is very slow, with lots of days in between for her to process what she has learned. If I do school work with her every day, she goes into overload and won’t stop rubbing her eyes because it’s like there are letters or numbers missing from what she’s reading. She believed that she was dumb and not smart because she couldn’t read like her friend Angel. It was very frustrating for her, but recently she has come to accept that she learns differently than other kids and that it’s okay to do things at a slower pace. I think she’s doing fantastic!
Dom has been working hard this year as a cook at the restaurant next door to us and also taking on side projects and maintenance work. He’s still emotionally recovering from this last move. The emotional stress of my illness over the last three years has really taken a toll on him. While I no longer have to worry about toxic mold exposure, I am still suffering with electro-hypersensitivity. My inability to deal with wifi and electricity, in general, has gotten worse since September of this year. My only solace is being down on our land where there are no frequencies at all, and if neighbors do have wifi in their houses, they are far enough away from our property to not affect me.
We made many new dear friends this year, and some of those friends became family to us.
We have our own land to call home and an emerging farm that is co-owned by Dom, me, Toulousse & Saint, and Sara. Sara will be moving to the property sometime in 2019. Toulousse and Saint are already there. I’ll be adding them to this website in the new year.
We gained a new son-in-law, Kyle, when our daughter Shoshannah was married in June of this year. Kyle is one of those rare, gentle and beautiful souls that captured my daughter’s heart and wouldn’t let go. I feel so blessed that they found such a great love in one another.
As we bring 2018 to a close, it’s time to look forward to the goals for 2019. While our list is extensive and so grand that we may not be able to fit it all into a year, it doesn’t have to fit neatly into a one year span. Let’s look at these goals as part of a Five Year Plan.
Firelight Farm’s Goals for 2019
Establish the market garden: Build the greenhouse, stake and build the grow beds, add row covers, install irrigation
Build a chicken coop and compost run
Line the duck pond and put up fence for the duck run
Build topbar beehives
Build a freestanding full bathroom: This will have a worm composting flush toilet (Solviva design), sink, shower and bathtub, and a washing machine. The bathroom will be located between the market garden and the French potager garden.
Build the produce washing and workstation, and animal evisceration (for meat processing) area next to the bathroom: This is the heart of any market garden or garden in general. It’s where fruits and vegetables are processed for the market either on farm or at the farmer’s market.
Build a tool shed between both gardens
Build our hybrid canvas tents: We will be building four 12’x12′ tent cabins. One is for Dom and I, the second tent is for Simone, the third one is for guests who come to visit us, and the fourth is for furniture and boxes as well as storing our kitchen supplies and food in. There will be a large covered area where we will have our kitchen and dining room table. The free standing bathroom will not be located too far from our camp.
Build a canvas tent cabin 12’x12′ for our coffee company, which will be located near where we will be building the roastery.
Establish the French potager garden
Plant fruit trees
Build a tropical greenhouse: This is for our personal use because we want fresh avocados, citrus, figs, and other tropical fruits that won’t grow in our hardiness zone.
Build the coffee roastery: This roastery will be built from logs that our neighbors have sitting up at their property. It was as if it has been there for the last ten years waiting for us to arrive. Haha, at least that’s the way I’d like to think of it! There’s enough lumber for our business complex which will be the roastery, a commercial kitchen for making cold brew and lactofermented vegetables, and the farm store.
Begin improving the pasture for the horses
Clear and remove rocks from the front of the property along the river for the future flower farm: This area is about 30’x200′ feet by my best guesstimation. 😉
Build a horse barn for Sara’s three gorgeous horses that will be coming to their new home
Build Sara a house. Sara is like a mama to Toulousse and I. We adore her and feel so blessed that she’s a part of our family.
Purchase ducklings and goslings
Build a rabbitry and worm beds underneath
Purchase meat rabbits
Build a quail aviary
Build a scaled up black soldier fly shed: Black soldier flies are one of my all time favorite creatures. The larva are highly nutritious for poultry and the adult black soldier fly is an elegant creature, living for only about a week. Adults do not have a working mouth and do not carry vector-borne diseases. I could gush on and on about these little creatures.
Build the farm’s outdoor kitchen and covered dining area: This will be for Farm to Table events
Purchase EZ Up Tents and things needed for the Silver City Farmer’s Market
Purchase or acquire a donated a Suburban or farm truck: We desperately need a large working vehicle that can haul a trailer and for Dom to continue working. Right now we only have one vehicle.
Establish a few commercial accounts for our organic fruits and vegetables and animal products
Build chicken tractors for meat birds. (See photo of chicken tractors below)
Purchase meat chickens and turkeys
Is your head spinning yet? Mine popped off just writing it all down! There’s more, but I think I’ll stop there. When I build the page for our Farmstead Milestones, I’ll add the above list with the rest of our goals, because the list keeps growing. It’ll never stop growing as long as I have breath in me.
I hope you all have an amazing New Year!
2019 is the year of great expectations and will be filled with strength, courage, wisdom, laughter, friendship, financial abundance, and lots of love!
Living two lives isn’t easy. We live in a house with four walls, but our lives, our souls, our very beings scream to be on our land. Managing two lives isn’t easy when our time is divided between our work and commitments, and the commitments we made to ourselves more than 10 years ago when we decided that we wanted to live an agrarian life.
The excitement grows each day, and sometimes I feel that I can’t contain myself. Dom and I go back and forth about how to approach moving onto the land. Do we build our camp first? What about establishing the farm infrastructure? There are so many important decisions to make, that we barely know how to rate them on a list of things most important. They are all important!
For now, we have decided to move forward establishing the gardens. Our main garden which will be a semi-formal very structured French Potager garden will be the focus over the next few weeks while still gathering resources to build our camp.
I’ve always wanted to have a French Potager garden, and I’ve had a lot of fun designing ours. They feel otherworldly and completely magical. There is something poetic about how everything is arranged for beauty and function. The picture on the right is an example of a potager garden.
We’ve estimated that our garden area is about 50’x50′ but until Dom gets in there and gets an accurate measurement, I can’t get too specific with my plans. I estimate that the garden will ultimately be a 40’x40′ area. This area is the true focal point on the farm. It will marry two other areas together. On the west side of the garden will be an outdoor kitchen and covered gathering place. On the east side of the garden is where we plan to set up camp and build a chicken coop, rabbitry, duck pond, and a tropical greenhouse. To the east of that section will be a large market garden and high tunnel for high-value crops like tomatoes, peppers, basil, etc.
To the east of the market garden is pastured area for the horses, meat birds like chicken and turkey, and eventually sheep and goats.
Where was I? Oh yes, the French potager…I just have a general idea of what the overall design will be. In this area, there are a few challenges. One is the side of the mountain that blocks some light on the south side until about mid-morning. The second challenge is how cold air descends into the garden area.
In the photo on the left is Dom clearing the weeds in the area we’ll be building our camp, the animal structures, and the tropical greenhouse. See the mountainside in the distance? That is at the edge of where potager garden will be going.
To address these two issues, we’ll set up espaliered apple trees that require more chill hours and plant more cold hardy perennials in the area that will get hit with the coldest temperatures.
I’m also setting up our garden with far more cold hardy annuals and perennials. We are in growing zone 6 to 6A, however, our perennials will all have a hardiness to growing zone 3-4. The reason I’ve chosen this approach is that we are at the beginning of a Grand Solar Minimum. Agriculture will suffer greatly because of this natural cycle of cold coming to us. It will mean erratic fluctuations in temperature, excessive rain and snow, and much longer cold seasons. Fall will continue to grow shorter, with snowfall and bone-chilling cold becoming the norm. Growing seasons will be shortened. Farmers will find it difficult to plant in spring because of snow or frozen ground. Once they can plant, they will then deal with compression events that bring excessive rain. Rain in areas of wheat production will bring fungus and molds.
Thriving during the grand solar minimum is of the utmost importance for us. Food prices are steadily rising, and it may become difficult to get the foods we are all accustomed to. Also, have you tasted what is being passed off as fresh fruits and vegetables? They are tasteless, and, even organic food is becoming lackluster.
Our farm is not being cultivated to feed the world, but we will have a farm store for the products we choose to sell.
All these things weigh heavily on my mind and heart.
We can’t wait to be on the land full time. Right now it feels like we’re going at a snail’s pace, but planning is the most important part of this adventure we’re on.
Wait until you see the rest of the land! I’ve only shared the side where our farm will be. Then there are the other 10 acres to the west of the farm. It is where we will eventually build our home. We’re not in a rush to build because the farm infrastructure is far more important. We will be living in canvas tents for the next year and we may make the tropical greenhouse our temporary home if we get tired of tent living. In the meantime, we will continue to live these two lives.
Aren’t potager gardens beautiful? I love the whimsical aspect to them, as well as how they mix flowers and herbs and fruit trees.
The wattle edging is swoon worthy!
There are so many beautiful versatile ways to set up a potager.
I want to build something like this for where we gather. It would be wider, but this bliss to me. Where this would go is at the edge of the badass grapevines that need new vertical space to thrive on.
At the entrance to different areas, I would love to have inviting entryways that beg you to come and stay for a while.
Normally, economic and social unrest sit in the back of my brain throbbing and pulsating like a deep migraine ready to explode.
These days however, the throbbing has moved to the forefront of my brain, creating the perfect storm within me for a rant.
I guess this is a rant of sorts, even though I feel fairly contained and at peace right now.
I have questions, because I guess I want to know if others feel this economic and social unrest?
Do you think our country is in for a major economic collapse? Beyond an economic collapse always follows a social collapse…are you concerned with this as well? Maybe its just a small percentage of us in the U.S. and around the world that are concerned, but I truly want to know what you all think.
How will the economic collapse of the dollar affect you personally? Have you invested in silver and gold as your “backup plan” or is it just a way to diversify your portfolios? What would happen if that gold and silver was confiscated by the government, as can be done in a TIME OF WAR?
What would you do then? My point is that paper money can not feed or care for you and neither can gold and silver. Huh? What was that you say? Well, haven’t you ever heard the expression “money doesn’t grow on trees”?
I’m sure all of you have. What good is gold and silver if there is no food to eat? If you can’t go out and buy it? You’d have to hoard food now for any impending crisis, and for how long do you believe that will last you? It won’t last. It will spoil or rot, unless its canned foods.
Gold and silver can definitely pay to keep the electric on, pay for gas, and other utilities, but for how long? What happens in the event of social collapse and the major infrastructure of your town or city is no longer functioning correctly?
How will silver and gold help that little predicament? It can’t. My point is that silver and gold, while important and valuable is not the end all-be-all for making it through an economic and social breakdown. Anyone that does have a portfolio knows that you never put all your “eggs” in one basket, and the same is true with gold and silver.
So what else can you invest in? Invest in purchasing and planting fruit trees and learn how to grow food in a sustainable way. The investment in all kinds of fruit trees, vegetables, grains, nuts, and livestock will create real food not only for you and your family, but for your community.
It is an actual commodity that others can not live without. Investing in your own fruit trees, nut trees, veggies, grains and livestock also creates an increasing yield each year if managed properly.
I know that when these kinds of questions about surviving come up, the first thing we think of is Y2K. Everyone who believed that our world was going to hell in a hand basket started building bunkers and hoarding food for when the collapse happened…it never did happen. Hoarding food and gold and silver is not the answer.
It just perpetuates the same problems over and over. Why? Because people have not learned how to actually grow good food…to get down upon your knees and plant some seeds. Growing food is not a method of survival…it is a way to thrive regardless of the economy.
It creates a firm foundation in which you can assist others in learning how to thrive as well. Our economy is consumer based and not product based, and in order to begin to reverse this trend, we will need to start getting on our knees and actually produce things of real value.
One seed can produce and produce, year after year, and without getting into the politics of big pharma genetically engineering and patenting seeds NOT to produce, buy organic seeds and watch those seeds perform endlessly.
A $2.50 package of organic seed will provide a yield where you will no longer ever have to buy that kind of seed or fruit or veggie again. $2.50 investment and never have to pay for another zucchini, tomato, watermelon, wheat product, rice, and anything else that can be grown in the ground.
Purchase an organic fruit tree for $25.00 and that tree will bear you fruit each year for that one time investment. $25.00 and never have to pay for another apple, pear, plum, peach or what ever else will grow in your region.
It seems such a small investment, but few do it. How about owning chickens and never having to pay for another egg or poultry product? Some may say “I don’t have enough land” but to that I say, do a little homework and research and you will find out that you can in fact grow a huge amount of food on a very small plot of land.
It also gives you the opportunity to create community gardens. We have just forgotten or haven’t been taught in the first place to grow things. Its either a novelty, or a “lower occupation”, which has been taken advantage of by big corporations.
If it takes a good three years for fruit trees to produce from the time you plant them, why not start now?
Even if there is no economic collapse or social unrest? The least you will be doing is utilizing your hard earned (almost worthless) dollar on something else you may want after planting some real products.
I have a dream which is becoming a reality for me and my family, the dream of thriving and producing something of real value that not only helps to create stability to us, but to our community that surrounds us as well.
One of the things I find repugnant are actions of well meaning people here and abroad that believe that they are the saviors of others by providing goods to developing and/or impoverished nations.
What will happen to them in the event of our own economic and social collapse? Will we actually be traveling to those distant exotic lands to put store bought goods into their bellies, and claim we are helping them?
We can’t help them unless we teach them to grow their own food, show them how to get access to clean water, and when we stop making them think that they should be thankful to us for the handouts. Because you know what?? they won’t be thankful when you don’t come anymore.
They will think they have been abandoned. We will never truly help others until we learn how to put the tools in their hands (and our own!) that will fight poverty.
Learning to grow food and share the surplus. Honestly, in an economic crisis, are you really going to be concerned with the well being of starving people thousands of miles away? I AM! I’m concerned that we have made them dependent on our way of life which, if we open our eyes, is in danger of extinction.
In the end, I believe that those in poverty has been defrauded of what they really need. They need to know how to care for themselves, and instead they have been enslaved by many well meaning people who think candy, bread, pasta and other commodities (even medicines) will help them out of their plight.
How many have gone oversees and taken pictures with these poor people, holding and cuddling their babies? And how many took a picture with these people while working along side them in a field, teaching them how to be self sufficient…not just to survive, but to THRIVE?
They hang around the cities, pour loads and loads of food, clothes and other products into their laps and then leave at the end of the week. Yes I’m ranting about this…well I’m railing on this topic, because when we can NO LONGER provide these kinds of services what will happen? What? Out of sight out of mind?
Will we really even care? Or will we say “I did the best I could, now I have to take care of my family. I can’t afford the trip to that distant land to bring candy and toys to these “poor” children I need to find a way to provide candy and toys for my own.”
I know that some (or a majority) of people will take offense to what I’ve said, but that is the truth, hard and cold. I’m sorry to burst the “good will” bubble and self congratulating attitude of those who think they are doing good, but unfortunately all you have done is create an even longer slow death of these indigenous cultures, who for thousands of years were able to create their own medicines, clothing, goods and services.
We have globalization to thank for that one. It is a slow and painful death which we bring to these people, and in the end, bring upon ourselves if we do not begin to make a change.
Why is the American Dream to own a home, have a couple cars, a couple of kids that go to college, and to keep buying stuff?
Why is that the American Dream? Its more like the American Nightmare, from which we will not be waking up anytime soon.
The American Dream should be about freedom and independence, but we are neither free nor independent. We think we are because we have money in the bank and we have a job.
But as we can see over the last few years, more people are losing their homes, their jobs, even their families. We think “this can’t happen to me”, but it can.
I have had this throbbing ache in the back of my head since the year 2001, and I remember thinking back then how much better it would be if we knew how to grow things, live off the land and live in a new way.
Ten years later, we are on road to making our dream an actual reality. Back then the only talk in circulation happened before the year 2000 with the Y2K event, and I was not worried about that in the least.
My American Dream is to be able to grow fresh fruits and veggies, livestock, honey, grains and to be able to pass this knowledge on to my children and my children’s children.
There is so much information out there on how to grow fruits and veggies naturally without the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
Ways of caring for animals that’s simple. How far we have strayed from real knowledge. We go to college to get a degree, but what will that piece of paper do for you if you can’t get a decent job?
Worse yet, what if you already have a great job that pays quite well, but all your bills and mortgage keep you tied to that job and POOF! your job is gone because you are expendable?
What then? How do you feed your family? How do you care for your community? What true worth is there in money? Even gold and silver?
We all need to eat, yet the knowledge to actually produce our own food is quite limited or non existent for the average person. Utilize the internet to learn how to produce real products that will help your family and community.
To summarize my long winded rant, don’t hold on to tightly to that money, gold or silver that you believe will save you or at least get you through.
Unless you own your home outright, it is not an asset, but a liability. If you pay a mortgage, it is a liability until you own it outright. An asset pays you! What are your real assets right now? If the housing market continues to decline as it has, you won’t be able to even sell it and break even.
We are just getting started on our road to freedom and independence, and this spring will begin our investment into an agrarian life.
For those who have a mortgage, start investing fruit trees and other real products onto your land, so that your liability will start to become an asset for you.
Let your land pay you back! It could in the end guard your greatest investment (your house) from foreclosure. If we are not headed for an economic collapse, then you can go into your yard and smile as you pick fresh fruits and vegetables for your family to enjoy before going on that long awaited vacation you’ve been saving a year to go on.
I’m not against buying things, raising the standard of living and enjoying the finer things in life, but just as you “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” when it comes to saving and investing, you have literally put them all in one basket because one crucial element has been neglected…sowing and harvesting of real products.
Here are a few videos that I feel should alarm everyone:
About Evangeline Grace
Thank you for visiting my blog. I've entered my 50's, and as I delve into the next exciting chapter of my life, I’m so pleased to be able to share it with all of you. I am a lifelong artist, writer, vocalist, crazy organic farmer, and own and operate Buffalo Mountain Coffee Roasting Company.