The care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope. - Wendell Berry
As most of you know, we have been leasing pasture land where we raise our animals. It's about three miles down the road from our home and is nothing more than a fenced field. No barns, no corral, not even a storage shed available to store our four wheeler. If you read my last post, you know that we spent nearly all of 2013 working toward purchasing a permanent home for Fair Valley Farm.
Just when we thought that it wasn't going to work out and that we'd need to wait on this dream, everything fell into place, due to the amazing generosity and support of a couple of individuals who whole-heartedly believe in the local, pasture-based farming movement. Needless to say, we are feeling extremely grateful and blessed, and are eagerly awaiting the day when we can pay this kindness forward to another young/beginning farmer.
We could not be more excited and thankful to have purchased this property and think it will be a wonderful home for our farm. For about four years now we've worked and improved the land of others. Don't get us wrong, we were ecstatic to do so - first at Jolie Vue in Texas, then Afton Field in Corvallis and then at our farm on leased land in Eugene. But gradually the urge to steward our own land grew. And meanwhile, our farm grew - to the point that we didn't think our leased acreage would be sufficient next season. We also started feeling hindered by the lack of outbuildings and living off-site. As we made these reflections, we came to realize that there is no "perfect place", but there is a "right time" and we feel that time is now.
So about the farm - it is a 70 acre farm just west of Eugene that used to be... wait for it... a chicken farm. That would be a confinement chicken farm, and as such it has two very long chicken houses on it that we'll eventually take down. In addition to the chicken houses, there is a hay barn and a large livestock barn, which we can use (one day) for wintering our herd. There is a very functional corral and holding pens that will make our lives about 10x easier when it comes to tasks like hot-wire training and slaughtering.
There is a good-sized pond in the center of the pasture and about 10 acres of woods where we can raise our pigs. There is a pretty nice shop, which we plan to convert into our farmstore. And lastly, there is a modest, but livable house where we can live, merely steps away from our animals!!
In general, it needs quite a bit of TLC. Some buildings need tear down, others repair. The pasture has been overgrazed, but nothing that a little rest and rotational grazing can't fix.
We'll have our fair share of blackberry hacking and weed-pulling (but thankfully not a single scotch broom in sight!) It just needs someone to steward it and breathe some life back into it - and we are thrilled to be those people. It won't happen overnight, but most good things take time.
We absolutely could not have made it through this process without the support and encouragement from many dear friends and family members, and for that we feel grateful, humbled and very blessed. Not to be overly dramatic, but at times the weight of it all felt like an overwhelming load to bear, but others helped lighten that load through their positive words and listening ears. And every single customer has played a part, as there would be no reason to buy such a farm if there wasn't such a demand for wholesome, clean food from happy animals that improves the land, rather than depleting it.
We can't wait to have a big farm party, but given the time of year we'll probably resist the urge until springtime. That said, the door is always open to come look around / pick up your CSA share or some chicken! One of the biggest motivations for moving closer to town and on-farm is so it's that much easier for our customers to see where and how their food is raised!
Needless to say, we have lots of big dreams and plans for this place. But right now we're going to turn it back down to reality and continue to focus on raising the very best pastured pork, poultry, grass-fed beef and lamb we can :)
ps- thanks goes to my bro Rob for taking these photos!