Thursday, May 17, 2007

My Country Story

I want to share with you a little about myself and the reasons why I am so excited about this opportunity I’ve been given to start my own little “farm”. I feel so incredibly blessed to have this opportunity.

See, I grew up in the ‘burbs of St. Paul, Minnesota, typical city corner lot. But my dad didn’t. And in fact his brother took over the family farm which happened to be approximately 2 ½ hours from our city home. So for the first 7 or 8 years of my life our family would travel to “the farm” on a regular basis. I know there were summers that it probably was almost weekly. We learned to help with chores. Their main income was from the diary cows. I remember them having chickens early on but as I got older I don’t remember the chickens much. They milked at 5:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. We all would help, my job mostly was to wash the udders and teats before the milker was put on. I would wait till uncle would tell me who was next. I also helped set up and clean the barn, scraping the center aisle clean and feeding the cows. I LOVED the smell of the barn. To this day it brings back wonderful memories. You know the smell. As you are driving through the country, most people say “Ewwww, what’s that smell?” I say, “Ahhhh, the farm.” LOL

As a teenager we went less often. One of my cousins, my uncle’s daughter (Judy) who is 7 years older than I, married a farmer and lived only a few miles from her family. We got along great!!! We became fast friends when I was in my later teens. At 20 I moved up north to a small town where another relative lived. Here I met a family who became great friends of mine. They were also dairy farmers. I was at their home all the time soaking in the farm life. After a year in Detroit Lakes, MN I moved to Exeland, WI to be near my farming family. I lived there for about a year visiting at chore time as often as I could. My cousin, Judy, and I would talk about me buying a farm near her someday. Right about this time my other cousin, John, who had taken over his dad’s farm, decided he didn’t want the farming life anymore. OH how I longed to buy that farm. The Family Farm!!! If only I had been married and ready, that’s all I could think about. It never happened. (Today it sits empty, no one to take it over, I still want it!!!!) I moved back to the city and started back to college but never really left the country behind. I was really into country, cowboy boots, hat and all. The summer before James and I started dating I went on a big vacation with my mom, we went to Montana!!! We toured one of the famous ranches of Montana, Grant-Kohrs Ranch, as I dreamed. While there C.M. Russel became one of my favorite artists after visiting the C.M. Russell Museum.

That winter I fell in love with a city boy and moved out to Bellevue, WA. I wore cowboy boots under my wedding dress and line-danced with my friends. But after that, superficially the country left, but never from my heart. For the first couple years of marriage I would talk about it a lot, wanting to live in the country. I even took him to visit “the farm”. He got to see first hand what I was talking about. We visited Judy’s during chore time. Kelsey got to go up in the hay loft to see a new litter of kittens; she was only 4 or 5 years old. But that didn’t trigger anything in him. So I just let it go, stopped talking about it and we lived our happy city life. We bought our first home in a tiny little town outside of Seattle. It was definitely the country, but we lived in town on your standard city lot. I drove by farms everyday!! Then we moved back to the big city, Bothell, because we really wanted to be near our Church family. Out in Sultan we were 40 minutes away with no one nearby. For three years we lived in Bothell in our close-knit community. We developed wonderful friendships, started some great traditions and were able to really grow in our faith. After a couple years in Bothell I started to talk about wanting more room for the kids to run and more to garden! Wishing my children had the opportunity to explore nature on a daily basis. Kelsey was really into Little House on the Prairie books and would even tell us how she wished we could live in the country. I’m not sure what the catalyst was in gearing James towards wanting to get out of the city. It could have been his daily 2 hour commute by bus on the crowded freeways but something awakened his roots, the roots of his Kentucky hillbilly relatives! J

It was a whirlwind of activity; I can’t even remember when he first said, “Okay, let’s do it.” So we fixed the house to sell and looked and looked to buy a minimum of 2 acres. We weren’t sure where right away. But we soon fell in love with the Kitsap Peninsula. We hoped to have huge gardens and maybe some chickens. Here we are nearly 8 months into our new adventure and WE are loving every minute of it!!! We have big dreams to really make something of our chicken farming, to live off of our land and animals as much as we can. And someday, maybe someday, James can retire to the farm. But we’ve discovered our market…is at his job.

That’s my story! Now you can get a better understand to why I am SO excited about our adventure.

The first picture is of my brother climbing to the top of my uncle's silo. That was entertainment back then. Also, I want to add that at the ripe old age of 17 my brother took care of my uncle's farm for a whole summer while he took his family on a vacation across the USA. SEVENTEEN, he milked the cows 2x a day, fed and cared for them. Plus I am certain he did field work.

The 2nd picture is the front of the old barn. There were 2 barns, one old one (pictured) and one built as the new milking barn. Probably held 60+ cows. I think my mom was taking pictures of my brothers getting ready to jump out of the hay loft, they'd shimmy down the rope. That's how we entertained ourselves back then. :)


grammafaithie said...

GOOD JOB, Sue, - yes the kids did swing out of that hayloft - they had tons of fun up there. Greg was the only one of you kids that climbed that big silo though. I am so glad we lived close enough to take the family over there almost every weekend when you were young - we had great get-a-way times from the busy city life and I think it was good family ties and times!

Liz in Seattle said...

What a cool story! I knew you were "born to the farm," but now I know why :-)

JamesoftheNorthwest said...

Good stuff m'lady.

Ummm...Do I need to blog my excuse? I think I have already, haven't I?

A bit of insight into my transformation I suppose. I just think the grass is greener...where...ummm...the grass is greener.


Mimi said...

So awesome!

Arielle said...

Sue, I just started reading a book that I am LOVING and you are the first person I thought of when I started reading it. You should definitely get it, if you haven't already. _Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life_ by Barbara Kingsolver.

I will be posting about it soon, as well as on my new absolute favorite book of all time. But you have to wait for the post for that one! OH, and you should also take a look at "Women of the Harvest." Also a great book - profiles on about fifteen female farmers, each one a very different kind of farmer.

Susan Sophia said...

Arielle, I ordered Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life_ by Barbara Kingsolver from the library. I am number 75!!!!
But I cannot find the other book you speak of...who is the author?

Arielle said...

I'm a big fan of libraries, but I think the Kingsolver book would be worth buying in your case. It's full of recipes, for one thing, and I bet you would loan it out to others. I'm about half way through now, and it's fantastic. It's only out in hardcover, but my Barnes and Noble (...although buying her book on supporting the local economy at B&N is rather ironic...) had it for 40% off.