So. Here we are. I am starting a blog. I am pretty sure I still don’t quite know what a blog is, but apparently that isn’t stopping me from starting one. Why? I am still as unsure about that as I am unsure about the “blogosphere” (did I use that right?). But I do know that I want to keep track of, and share, my experience of turning a chunk of land into a farm and home. I want to learn and teach from my inevitable mistakes and from what are hopefully plentiful doing things right.
So where to start? Should we start right here in the moment? 10 acres in, a mostly built barn, planted trees and bushes scattered in various places, ideas and future hobbies coming out the wazoo? Maybe the journey starts a little further back when we (my husband and I, as well as 2 friends) purchased, and split, the 20 acres of land that will be the setting for this blog? Maybe even further back when my best friend and I realized that we should be more than friends and started dating (and eventually got married)? Or, perhaps, it goes all the way back to my childhood, 7 hours north of where I am now, and the crazy ideas, schemes and hobbies my dad drug our family through? Yeah, that’s defiantly where my journey begins, but maybe its not the best place for this blog to start……
I guess I will start with the land. The “Compound” as we call it is a 19.5 acre piece of land located in southern West Virginia in the New River Gorge, known for its world class white water rafting and bountiful rock climbing (as well as a schmorgassborg of other outdoor activities). My (now) husband and I knew we were in the market to buy some land in the area. He had lived in the area for 6 years and I had just moved there full time less than a year before (I had spent a handful of summers being a rock climbing guide at a local company prior). We scoured the paper for listings of land and other houses with acreage. Often we drove by what is now our property and saw the dilapidated ‘For Sale’ sign in the marshy field and scoffed at the piece of land that didn’t look like it was good for anything. And our search continued. We had a few other good friends in the area that were also in the same boat. None of us could find anything that was worth spending the money, time and energy to make a home out of. Until one day we decided to suck it up and go check out that swamp for sale. First off: there is only a little bit of marsh on the property, its just surrounded by tall grass which made it look worse; second of all: there was waaaaay more land there than we thought! Score! Instantly we fell in love and started to “stalk” the property, wandering around, taking our dog for hikes there, planning on where we were going to build this and that. In hindsight, it was slightly crazy. One of the couples we were friends with that were also looking at buying some land decided they liked the property too and after 4 ½ months of stalking, we each became the proud owners of 9.70 acres, split evenly between field and forest. So what did we do as soon as we signed the paperwork? Cut down a tree of course!
And so began the process of cutting down lots of trees. Now hippies, its ok. We like trees. We like them so much in-fact that we wanted our future houses to be close to them…so close that we felt it necessary to cut down a handful of them. Along with the tree cutting down, came the endless task of cleaning up all the many, many branches that are attached to tree tops. I know they are way, far up there, but next time you are outside, try to count all the branches and twigs on a tree. There are a lot, and once they are on the ground, they need to go somewhere. Fortunately, we really like to have people over and have bonfires. Lots of bonfires. Bonefires here. Bonefires there. Two bonfires at once and bonfires in the rain! Out of all of them, who would have thought that the cops would only show up once? Don’t worry, no one got arrested. As they came flying through the field toward the fire like a bat out of hell, and screeched to a halt, they were mighty surprised to find a handful of people just hanging out. No loud music or underage drinking or shenanigans that I am sure they were expecting. Just some people hanging out watching a very large fire (with the smoldering remains of a couch in it, of course). While the cops may have been left feeling jipped out of not being able to get some kids in trouble, they did leave us with a good story: as they were heading out, tail between their legs, one suddenly turned around, shining his flashlight, “None of you are smoking the devils lettuce are you?” It was all we could do to be polite and not laugh out loud, “No sir.”