Lavender Orpington Rooster

Sting, Hatching Eggs, and Food Independence

One day, Daniel was scanning a local Facebook farm group and noticed a lavender Orpington cockerel for sale. He texted Miranda who okayed the purchase. A few hours later he arrived home from a doctor’s appointment with a 14 week old cockerel he’d picked up on the way home.  We hoped the cockerel would change our way of raising chickens for meat.

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“Now What?”

A cartoon of a dog having just caught the police car it was chasing and a family having just bought a farm, both thinking "Now what"

There’s a cliche of the dogs chasing police cars having no idea what they would do with them if they ever caught them. Having just taken the first really big, concrete step on the dream of having our own farm that we’ve been chasing for years, we’ve got a similar feeling. “Yay, we finally bought the farm! now what?”

Boy with egg basket in front of 5 chicken tractors on a field of dry grass

The Cornish Cross Learning Experiment, Part I

In our quest to build our dream farm, we started with a crazy, mid-pandemic move out of suburbia and onto a 10 acre rental property. We made the move in order to gain the time and resources to hunt for our forever farm and try out aspects of our desired lifestyle. What, specifically, would we do with our year of rural renting? It was the wrong time of year to start a vegetable garden, large animals take time to find and are hard to move, and bringing the soil ecosystem into good health would take years.

To start something immediately, we settled on raising enough meat chickens for our family for a year, about 100 birds. For us, those 100 meat chicks were a step towards more sustainable food, an experiment with pasture raising birds, and a chance to learn more about what we need to create the curated ecosystem that will support our food animals.

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The Comedy of Excessive Events; Moving to Nowhere During a Pandemic, While on Fire

Things got complicated really quickly. Sometimes, when you plan for the long haul, you end up in a house that doesn’t have a functional kitchen sink, with a smoke-filled outdoors, cupboards covered in grime, no internet, no phone service, no car, four kids who are bored, a heat wave, all in the middle of a pandemic in a location where people don’t think the pandemic is real. To review, our goal was to build a regenerative agriculture farm that would be carbon negative, debt-free, off-grid, with diverse solar-based income, managed together by our family of six. We’d been inspired, done research, taken courses and felt we’d reached the limit of what we could do in suburbia. The next step seemed simple: find the land and sell our house…within the next few years.

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The Generation of a Goal

We grew up in California and Wisconsin, two thousand miles apart, but still suburbia. Our families were friends, and visited every couple of years. Over one glorious winter break, just before college, we fell in love, and over the subsequent months we talked to each other about everything: hopes and dreams, family expectations, values and morals, philosophy, all the problems with the world around us, and how we wanted to fix them. After we’d both graduated from the same college, after Daniel finished a masters degree and Miranda apprenticed at a dance company, after we were married, after we’d moved into a house and had our first child, we went back to looking at the big questions: what can and should we do with the time that we have? What can we leave for our children? 

We knew our suburban lifestyle was directly threatening the livability of the planet. Like many people, we wanted to find ways to mitigate and reverse that threat. We had the desire and means to have more than two children, but the suburbs are built around the assumption of families of four. We feared the massive societal upheavals that climate change coupled with growing inequality seemed to make inevitable. We wanted the means to survive and thrive in an increasingly unstable world. We wanted to give our children something tangible in addition to knowledge, family, and culture. How could we accomplish all that? 

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