We are packing up and leaving lovely Oregon tomorrow. My sister and niece will be flying back to San Diego early in the morning, while Tony and I will be packing up our Subaru to the brim with our belongings and as many of our tomato starts as we can fit and heading out to Wisconsin to partner with Peter and Mo Allen of Mastodon Valley Farm. Tony and I will be running broilers, hens, some veggies, and whatever else we can manage to find the time for. We decided to do this after attending the Permaculture Voices Conference in March. We debated returning to the National Park Service or making the plunge and doing some full-time farming. We have chosen to farm. It will be yet another temporary situation, but this time we will be spearheading our own enterprises and will be directly responsible for our own income. We started an LLC and plan to, at the very least, feed ourselves.
We have 100 Freedom Ranger baby broiler chicks arriving to Wisconsin on May 8. We will be arriving at the farm May 1-2 (after checking out a property in Idaho and picking up our truck in Montana). We plan to simultaneously start a large garden, build a brooder, inoculate logs and wood chips with mushroom spawn, build a small greenhouse, and the list goes on. We will be living in a Yurt in an off-grid situation, but will have access to a high-flow natural spring. This will mean using head lamps and carrying lots of buckets of water.
I also ordered a bunch of seeds, in hopes that I will be able to establish a decent garden. I even started some trays of tomatoes, onions, leeks, eggplant, celeriac, rosemary and oregano that we plan to stick in the car somehow.
The tomatoes look happy. We hope they survive the road trip.
We have enjoyed our 4 months in Oregon, where we lived in an office-turned-apartment, complete with 9 office chairs at Abbey Road Farm Bed & Breakfast. Tony and I helped with a number of tasks, including building a couple of flagstone patios. We spent our free time exploring the area with my sister and 2-year-old niece, visiting the oregon coast, walking in the woods, exploring portland museums, and preparing for the next phase of our lives.
Abbey Road Farm is in the heart of beautiful Willamette Valley wine country. The owners used to operate a goat dairy, but now keep retired goats and sheep, along with a flock of laying hens. They also offer the “Silo Suites,” 3 silos converted into 5 luxurious rooms for their Bed & Breakfast. It has been a peaceful place to spend our winter.
Before we decided to spend the winter at Abbey Road, we spent a couple of weeks with some friends who own and operate a goat dairy down in Southern Oregon. We helped build a miking room, slaughter a couple of goats, and do the morning and evening milking and feeding chores. We learned a great deal while we were there, about natural and holistic management of a goat dairy herd.
While we were in Southern Oregon, we took the opportunity to check out a 160 acre property for sale. It was incredibly beautiful, but not necessarily zoned to live on. We have a great deal to learn about zoning laws, property rights, permits, etc. Either way, we realized we need to spend more time checking out pieces of property for sale. It would help if we knew where we wanted to live. Southern Oregon is still on our list of possibilities, although there isn’t much water down there right now. We do know we want to have trees on our land, and water, and topography. And ideally somewhere near mountains.
There have been many things we’ve appreciated and enjoyed about Oregon. There is an incredible amount of support for young organic farmers, and a large network of like-minded people. We don’t necessarily feel at home here, but the option to buy land here some day isn’t out of the question. We still have some exploring to do, but for now, off to Wisconsin we go! It will be difficult to update this blog without electricity or internet, but we’ll find ways.