How We Got Here

2004 After buying the original acreage (a mixture of bare pasture and woodland) we began the building of our accidental farm.
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2005 We had the big barn built to house the tractor and tools, and to provide a place for electrical service from our local energy co-op. With electricity came the drilling of the first well and the construction of the well house to create shelter for pressure tanks.
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2006 – 2008 We established the first field for row crops and laid out the initial raised beds.  Then came the orchard and grape and berry rows.  The deer and cows ate or damaged almost all we planted, so then came the first fencing projects.  We tried electrical fencing; it worked for cows, not for deer.  Then we graduated to barbed wire, and then woven wire with barbed wire on top to create high fencing that has kept the cows, deer, wild hogs and horses out of the growing area.  We continue to deal with coons, possums, armadillos, squirrels and gophers. And we finally installed a drip irrigation system thereby saving two precious resources: time and water. Most importantly we found Mauro, our invaluable and consistent part-time employee and resident expert.
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2007 -2011 We were a month away from breaking ground on a weekend cabin when the acreage with cottage across the road became available and we were able to buy and then renovate the cottage. We drilled a well on that property and put in a state of the art septic system and built another but different well house, which provided an above ground root cellar for cool storage capability.
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When vegetable handling became the priority in the big barn, we built a pole barn for equipment storage and then a tool room with office to help us keep organized and efficient.  In the big barn on the other side of the road we eventually out grew the 6 refrigerators and installed a walk-in cooler for real cold storage.

With an added greenhouse (an old one from one of Donna’s brothers) and a rolling cold frame for winter seedling management, we took the seed starting operation out of the kitchen and into the future. As we increased infrastructure, we also increased growing space by moving the fence and adding composting areas, orchards, raised beds and row crop fields.  On the cottage side of the road, we planted the fig orchard, citrus orchard and rows of trellised blackberries and muscadine grapes. We also installed a gravel walkway flower garden that was fenced and gated to keep the armadillos out and high fenced the entire acreage.  And added a cool/hot tub (cattle troughs aka poor man’s spa) in a clearing in the woods and then a fire pit behind the cottage.

Last year in anticipation of Ernest’s retirement, we put an addition on the cottage.  Tearing down the eating screened porch and the property’s original falling down old barn gave us a good batch of salvage material which has gone into the construction of a chicken house and the casita.

2012 After adding some old windows and insulation, the chicken house was considered too swanky for chickens and so it was repurposed for an intern/volunteer overnight cabin. We also started construction on a 2 bedroom/2 bath guest house.

Looking back at all we have achieved and accomplished, more than anything, we have come to an appreciation of how much help and goodwill it has taken.  We are not possessed of superhuman powers, but we do have wonderful children and great friends.  Luck, common sense and good judgement have all played a part in turning this piece of land first into a weekend retreat and now a full working farm. Perhaps most critical to our attempt has been the great good fortune of hiring the right employees to join us.  Mauro has been a part-timer from almost the very beginning.  He showed us how to use the tractor and plow  a straight furrow, and has been with us every step of the way, sometimes leading, sometimes following but always enthusiastic and committed to the farm’s success.  We now have the help of another indispensable full-time employee, Al. Because of Mauro, we will plant watermelons and hot peppers every year. And also because of him, we have been welcomed into the Edna community and our farm equipment and example have made it possible to help 5 other families attempt vegetable gardens.  It is a good ripple effect to watch circle outwards.

Looking forward, we intend to extend the hand of friendship and aid to anyone else who wants to make the journey back to the land. This is our thank you and our promise.

 
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