My wife, Laurel, and I married in 1981. We talked many hours about life ahead. Were will we live? how many kids? All the usual things newlyweds talk through as the excitement of years together brings. In all our musings and planning, one dream was at the forefront in our mind and conversations, “we want to own a farm”.
I believe my father, wanted to farm. As a child I lived on a Hop farm with 12 other siblings. Well not all the siblings lived on the farm at the same time but you could usually find them seated around the table at dinner time. Family and friends made quite the gathering.
There were a few animals around the place and I can still remember the smell of hops after a summer rain. Hops are known for their soothing qualities. It wasn’t uncommon to find farm hands snoozing away in the late afternoon under the shade of the hops. Long vines twisting and climbing up the poles held my fascination as I walked through the farm, hidden under their heavy canopy that kept the 100 degree temperatures bearable.
I think that’s when farming got in my blood. Something you could grow, be proud of, and people wanted to buy. Well who didn’t want fresh hops? I really didn’t know back then that hops were used for beer. Mmmm beer.
My dad once mentioned the term “Gentleman Farmer”. I liked the sound of that… “Gentleman farmer”. I knew then, somehow in some fashion, sometime, I would like to be a “Gentleman Farmer”
It wasn’t until our 36th year of marriage with 4 children, most married and gone giving Laurie and I 14 fabulous grandchildren did we finally reach the goal of living on a farm.
Finally in 2010 leaving the corporate world of business management, we began to prepare ourselves for the next chapter of our lives. Now this year after all the paths we took, the different jobs, the many towns we lived in, we made the leap to the farm and the little cottage in the woods.
This is our story.
Follows us as we take you through our journey into off the grid living at almost 60 years of age. Some say we’re too old, others think that being so close to retirement we should be winding down not winding up. We should take a few cruises, visit a few countries then move to Florida. Uh, no I don’t think so.
I like what John Barymore once said.
“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams”.
We’re not traveling down the road of regrets, we’re on an adventure to fulfill dreams.
My wife and daughter are in the final stages of designing our “TINY” home in the woods. You would think there’s not much to designing a 600 square ft home, but that’s where you’d be wrong. Storage, lighting, windows, and traffic flow. All are quite challenging to design and do it right.
Laurie and I have always lived a frugal life. (just ask my kiddos) Living as pastors and missionaries for a good portion of our lives, you’ve figured out what is useful and what is not. Especially when you live in a foreign country. But this lifestyle is very comfortable for us and even more so now that our kids have gone. The “Big” family dinners will have to be in their homes.
Because of the generosity and vision of my daughter and son-in-law, and his folks, we are able to lease from Greif Legacy Farm an acre or more of great ground for the market garden. Old alfalfa fields where cows grazed for years makes this the ideal natural/organic farm land.
Yeah, ownership and management in our later lives might be a challenge, but Garden Spot Farms, a market garden, where we sell vegetables, flowers, eggs, meat birds, crafted goods and more is the adventure we’re looking for. Our mission is living a sustainable bio-diverse life style and our passion is sharing our stories of family, love, hope, and dreams with you.
Our lives and hearts are full because of our children and grandchildren. How they see and interact with nature and the world around them make for the greatest stories.
“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Since we’ve begun this journey we’ve learned that nature is a great teacher. Sometimes very strict and not so fair, at other times rewarding beyond our expectations. In this great education we’ve discovered animals are born and some die, crops can flourish or they don’t. Many day to day activities are at the mercy of Mother Nature.
The different seasons bring their own challenges. Sometimes you think they’ll break you, but Laurie and I have found that nature can also be kind in sharing her bounty and blessings.
We preserve many of our foods by dehydrating, canning and freezing our bounty. We enjoy teach how simple the simple life can be. We think we’ve developed some easy delicious and quick recipes that we know you’ll like. Friends have comment on how well we eat on such a frugal budget. Were always glad to demonstrate how.
We love hosting on farm workshops and classes. We’ve had people from many different walks of life out to the farm. One weekend we had nurses out to help butcher our meat birds and I believe it was quite an experience for them as they reached inside that chicken.
Last year we held a Pro-biotics workshop using kefir, yogurt, kombucha, and pickling vegetables and slaw. We followed the class with a lunch using some of those foods.
Most yogurt lovers don’t know you can make yogurt in the crock pot cheaper and more delicious than store bought. This was a great workshop. We plan on holding even more classes as time permits.
Laurie is so creative, she’s made everyone of our children exquisitely beautiful hand stitched quilts which I say are family heirlooms. We’re all are the recipients of beautiful knitted socks, sweaters, hats, doll clothes and other fun items. She always fixing someones toy and repairs fluffy broken bunnies, mauled ducks, ripped monkeys, and the occasional penguins’ beak.
Come with us and we’ll share all these wonderful lessons, creative ideas, bits of good humor and useful information for you and your family.
Chris and Laurel