Building Our 1st Home

Finally we’re ready to move onto our land! We spent the last three months completely renovating a 1969 Frolic pull-behind camper. It is just under 80 square feet of home, and we’ll be living in it for the next couple years while we build our house. We spent last weekend “camping out” on the land taking care of some prep work before we move out there forever next week. It was a wonderful and exciting experience to see the sun set, worry about the wind blowing too strongly, and laugh at Mr. Bingley lounging in the sun. The Frolic was our first building project together, and we transformed it completely. Here is a brief chronicle of what we did and of our new home. Enjoy the slideshow.

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If The Flowers Can, Then I Can Too!

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Brrrrrrr, it has been a frigidly cold winter (for us southerners) with temperatures in single digits, inches of snow, ice and so on and so forth. The snow caved in the hoop-house and the ice knocked over trees onto our deer fence.  The deer are STILL getting into our fence, so we beefed up the brush around the garden to deter them.  The brush might be a bit unsightly, but it seems to be working.

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Tree down on fence

Jonathan and I planted a whole bed of flowers in October to winter over until early spring blooming.  We covered the bed with 2 layers of frost cover and left them for the winter.  I have been worrying about our little flowers for months on end.  With such unusual temperatures and heavy snow and ice making the hoops cave in on top of the flowers, I thought that surely the flowers were dead or suffocated.  But no!  We opened up the bed the other day when the row cover had defrosted enough to not tear when removed.  The flowers were not only alive they were thriving!  They love the cold!  In fact, more learning has taught us that some cannot even bloom properly without the cold.  We gave the bed a good weeding and left it uncovered to get more sun and rain.  This bed of flowers includes larkspur, nigella, bachelors buttons, agrostemma, bupleurum, red sail poppies, tulips, and matricaria (a flower in the chamomile family).

Will I continue to worry about the flowers even though they clearly love the cold?  Yes indeed. I can’t help it. I want them to succeed. I want us to succeed.  Yet in the darkest and coldest times of the year, the flowers are happy and thriving, promising a lovely spring crop.  I take heart in that realization.

These past few weeks I got started on seeding for our spring flower crops.  I seeded over 1000 flower starts into trays including snapdragons, lavendar, ammi majus, dianthus electron, flowering kale, black-eyed susans, zinnias, gomphrena, herbs, and more, plus some vegetables for us.  The “gardner” at Orchard Hill Children’s School has been helpful in watering the starts with me as part of their rotating weekly job.  Today I managed to work in the garden beds, seeding carrots, turnips, beets, onions, lettuce, and arugula.  Just as I was finishing it started to rain, sometimes the timing is just perfect!!

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Flower seeds are tiny

The recent warm weather has left the taste of spring in my heart, but with nighttime temps back in the mid 20’s my hopes aren’t too high yet. Sigh… I guess we have a little bit of winter left.  Maybe it will leave our little farm alone.

But I know that if the flowers can survive this cold and busy winter… then I can too.

A New Plan

Things don’t always go the way you’d planned.

This year, we applied to four area farmers markets, confident that we’d at least get into one. We didn’t. Perhaps it was an unusually competitive year? Hard to say.  Our day jobs stopped us from applying to a mid-week market. Maybe that did us in? Whatever the reason, this new information has left us scrambling to find outlets for our beautiful flowers this 2014 season.

Hoop-house starts
Hoop-house starts
Flower starts are tiny
Flower starts are tiny

We need to have at least two days a week we’re selling flowers, so we’re considering all our possibilities. Farmers markets we may have overlooked? Increasing our marketing for wedding flowers? Reaching out big-time to area businesses for weekly bouquet deliveries and calling every florist in the phone book? A roadside stand? Some sort of CSA? We are still figuring out what the future holds, but as soon as we know where we’ll be this season, we’ll post it here.

Broad-forking bed
Broad-forking bed
Bed of over-wintered flowers
Bed of over-wintered flowers

In the meantime, we’re looking on the bright side. We were each embarrassed to be the first to admit it, but we both felt just the tiniest bit of relief: This will be a busy year for us as we build our house, and maybe God is looking out for us by reducing some weekly pressure on the farm so we can focus more attention on construction and learning to grow our flowers well.  Our investment in alternative marketing strategies this year may pay off down the road in ways we can’t yet see.  After all, what’s the rush?  I would rather grow well and grow into our business slowly.

A few things we know for sure:

  • We are busily preparing for a successful 2014 season. (Megan will be starting hundreds of flower plants this week.)
  • We will have beautiful flowers for sale this spring. Our tulips are coming up and the poppies, bachelors buttons, and larkspur are getting bigger.
  • We will be persistent in applying to markets again next year.
  • And growing flowers and creating bouquets brings us JOY!!
Over-wintered bachelors buttons
Over-wintered bachelors buttons

Farmers never know what their season will hold. We are open to each new possibility and the different challenges it brings.  Farmers must be flexible.  A life lesson there, perhaps?  I think so.

Stay Tuned!