Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Farmer's Wife Returns

The  Farmer's Wife Returns 

I know I've been away a long time. Those closest to us know the major life changes we've been experiencing over the past few years. The last you heard from me in my last post was that we had downsized to just 17 acres and were farming our "mom & pop" operation. That did happen, but instead of my monthly blog posts I was caught up in the day to day operation of a small farm with LARGE farm financial responsibilites. I'm thankful to say the Lord Jesus Christ has delivered us from those responisibilities now, but the path was a difficult one of learning, depending on Him, and just plain ole' hard work!

I began baking even more, canning even more, and working in the fields alongside my husband. Yes, we had children to help, but there were challenges there also as we helped the family deal with adolescent autism that "suddenly blossomed" in our son. The Lord was still teaching us major life lessons, despite our "smaller size". We enjoyed the challenge of marketing, but were thankful when the year wound down to one market in Oak Ridge...our favorite market Grow Oak Ridge.  Grow Oak Ridge

We retired from farming at the last market the end of February 2019. We were BEYOND BlESSED when our long time customers saw the newspaper headlines announcing our last market, and came to say goodbye! It was a thrilling but tearful day as I filled bags of cinnamon rolls for faithful customers, accepted gifts from long time customers turned friends, and our marketing family presenting us with gifts and applause at the end of our final market. A year later we are still "homesick" for those friends at market!

During our first summer "off" we prepped our farmhouse for selling it to family friends who had long admired it. This took most of the summer...all of the summer. The children joined in on the work of painting, a family novelty, as the Farmer NEVER paints anything he makes! Once the shock wore off to the whole family (the oldest children kept asking for pictures!) we had a new porch railing, (we hadn't had one because our box trucks used to back right up to the porch to load CSA shares and crates of vegetables) new screens built for each window, and the back of the house got new siding and a porch!

Our life has been linked with the land for YEARS, and when spring showed her face, our pull towards her grew just as strong as in the past. We scaled down our vision that had fed hundreds...and knowing we were moving in June, we planted a small spring raised bed garden. We started out our farm using the Square Foot Method and transfered the intensive planting spacing to our fields. We fashioned these beds after our old 1025 square foot beds that we began our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in 2000- 2002. 

I love demension in my gardens! Since we didn't have hogs this season, I used hog pannels (easily purchased at Tractor Supply) to add arbors to the garden. We grew cucumbers (pickling and slicing) and small melons on them. 
We planted with square foot gardening spacing as usual in our new beds. By using this method, we had the equivilent space of a large garden! 
A little later in the summer you can see that we're growing vertically too! Cucumbers and small melons grew up and over our hog pannel trellises. 

Our herb and flower gardens...or our outdoor classroom was a joy to us! I gave Charity (11) a daily "scavenger hunt" to do...find 5 insects and identify them...find 3 flowers and write down 8 adjectives that describe them, ETC. She would run from here to the vegetable garden  just on the other side of these snow peas!

Since we thought we we'd soon be moving I planted my herbs into a galvanized tub that would be easy to pick up and go!

Once again our gardens     naturally became the classroom of our home school. Charity loved having her own 4 X 4' raised bed and studied art, agriculture, English composition, and many other "studies" while we sat under the plum tree each morning enjoying the peace of the garden. We needed this time of "healing" after the intense lifestyle                   that farming for markets brings. 

With everyone busy amgost the varied fixer-upper projects, the summer sped by. Everyone joined in on the painting, caring for our chickens, gardening (much different than farming!) and paring down the posessions of a family of 15!!!!!!!!!!!! My, we were well stocked with clothing from sizes newborn to men's large, farming equipment, toys for all ages, our massive home school library, and YEARS of photos that were only partially put into albums. Our goal was to pare down, organize what was meaningful into albums and be ready to move into a 750 square foot "tiny house" we owned in the valley.

I acutally got to use the front porch for more than packing
vegetables this year!!

We sold most of our flock, paring down to just 30 birds.
This was a far cry from when we had over 300 birds at a time
on the farm!

I was overjoyed to enjoy decorating my front porch for it has been a packing shed for many, many years. 

The trellises we built early in the season were beautiful throughout the season.

A honey bee visits a cucumber bloom. In the background you can see our outdoor wood furnace that not only
heated our house, but our water as well!

I felt so incrediblly blessed to be able to wander in and out of our garden beds picking and cutting the vegetables
we needed for our meals that day. Instead of selling our vegetables I enjoyed gifting them to folks.


Our daily salad...

Green onions/scallions fresh in from the garden.

For the FIRST TIME we had allllllllllllllllllllll the asparagus we wanteed!!
I froze many many meals of it, allowing us to eat all we wanted over the winter.

One aparagus harvest. We grow purple and green verieties.

Our outdoor classroom filled in over the season. I also learned that the rusty holes at the bottom of my herb garden pail weren't big enough to drain well. We eventually lost most of our herbs. (But it was a learning experience!)

Our porch with its' new railing took on a whole new personality. This was a quiet
spot to sit and enjoy all the Lord was doing in our lives.

In my paring down and organizing process I eventually got to our root cellar where there were HUNDREDS of canning jars for me to go through. I kept these -PLUS...enough for a small family of  five.

God protected me from this Rattlesnake while I was clearing out the root cellar!

Our farm kitchen where soooo many loaves of bread were baked, jars of jam and vegetables were canned. It was the hub of our home. We were country...hmmm "farmhouse" before it was "in". 

My sewing room....

In my sewing room I used furniture not needed by the family anymore...
The changing table (dry sink) and kitchen table  Steve made 39 years ago became
"my spot". 

Our deadline to move in June, then July and August came and went. With all our energy and time about spent, we saw the Lord had another lesson to teach us! The sale of our home fell through SUDDENLY, and we left the farm to spend time at my family home in Massachusettes, and on the coast of Maine. There we truely rested and enjoyed God's creation, so different than the foothills in Tennessee! During our stay we sought God's will for our future. (When you think you know His will and work towards it, and it suddenly falls to pieces you begin to wonder!) By the time we left the waves lapping against the rocky shore in front of our cottage, we knew we were  still on the right path . The Lord doesn't usually work OUR plan, but HIS ways are ALWAYS better!

Charity LOVED the water in Massachusetts and in Maine! She swam daily up until SEPTEMBER 5th!!
(That is very late to swim in the icey waters of Maine!)

We visited Plimouth Pantation near my childhood home.

We enjoyed time with some of our favorite people "on the shores of Silver Lake".

But my heart goes to Plymouth Bay where I grew up. 

Forefather's Monument
Plymouth, MA

The week we returned to Tennessee we placed the farm on the market. By week's end pictures of the interior were taken and papers signed. Less than a weerk from when we got home, on Monday evening our farm was on the market. Tuesday we had THREE showings, and we had an offer by Tuesday night! After negotiations, we had sold our farm the first week.  God's plans are always sure and best!

On the other hand the paperwork took three months to complete, teaching us more lessons of waiting on God for HIS timing. (I must be a very very slow learner!) Each time the closing date was set back again (three times) I wondered if I should unpack...and we did often because we needed something! Where would we celebrate Thanksgiving?...then Christmas? I'm thankful now that we had those last holidays as a family in our farmhouse, but it was a waiting game for sure!

Our original idea was to live in a 700 square foot house we owned in the valley. But God once again directed us to a small 5 acre farm closer to the highway with a house that needed A TOTAL RENOVATION. With a sigh of relief, we began to rent the farm we would purchase. With the closing papers FINALLY signed on the final day of 2019, we were set for a new deadline.. .We needed to get the bedrooms and bathroom liveable. The clock kept on ticking, but with the Lord's enabling we moved in by the deadline on January 30th!

We're organizing, purging our posessions, and planning our new sustainable mini farm....we were excited to return to the homesteading life of our earlier years.

There are many possibilities before us as we still wait on God's leading for the next phase of our lives. We don't want to settle in too much, as we have a heavenly home that is looking brighter and brighter each passing day! We are looking to see what He has for us to do with expectancy. 

I'll be writing more often now that I've made the plunge to catch everyone up on our lives. I'll be sharing our "homesteading" adventures, our "farmhouse" renovation,  our home schooling adventures (from the past 34-36 years),  lessons the Lord is teaching me, mini farmhouse cooking, and much, much more.

There are many "voices" on the Internet to listen to...but God has directed me to speak what He has taught me in the spirit of Titus 2, coupled with the industriousness of Proverbs 31. 

"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." Titus 2:4-5

Come join me on the journey!


Abundant Blessings, 

The Mini Farmer's Wife

Val Colvin

1 comment:

  1. Hi sister,
    It is nice to read how God has blessed and lead during these last couple crazy years. Can't wait to see what's ahead!