“However small it is on the surface, it is four thousand miles deep; and that is a very handsome property.” ~ Charles Dudley Warner ~
Your dream might well be my dream come to life. In order to speak to the direction this blog is taking, you should read something about the back story.
If you’ve read My Story, you know how Dave and I met but what you may not know is we moved to the Appalachian Mountains, were married on the front lawn, and immediately began restoring an 1860’s homestead and farm. (All while living in the house…not recommended for the faint of heart.) The land was a grant from King George II (although Dave and I appeared almost 250 years later) and was acreage given to a band of hunters, including Bowen, Peery and Harmon, who agreed to act as scouts for the western part of Virginia.
Ours was the smallest farm, 30 acres, in a large valley, Ward’s Cove, and our small acreage nestled amongst thousands of acres of privately owned land which stood between Thistle Cove Farm and the Jefferson…or was it Washington?…National Forest. Then, the most recent claim to fame was Lassie, Best Friends Are Forever, movie was filmed in this valley.
The original brick house, near as I could research, was built around 1860 or 1870 with sturdy barns and outbuildings coming later. Around that time, the house and farm of, then, several thousand acres was purchased by Abednego White for $300.00, the back taxes owed. This was after the Civil War and land in the south could be hand for the proverbial song. The newer clapboard structure was built Spring 1900 to replace the brick house which burned to the ground Christmas 1899. When his hired man rode to Joe White’s Store to tell Abednego White his house was on fire the reply was, “I’ll build a bigger and better one!”
Dave and I came along in 1995 and the rest, as they say, is history. We knew we couldn’t use traditional farming methods…meaning farm like the other folks were doing. They had so much more land, acquired generations ago, while Dave and I bought our small piece of earth and began pouring money into renovations of house, outbuildings and land. I farmed from the cold side of the window while Dave farmed from the warm side. He offered the deal, “You can do anything you like, have any animals you want but I’m only available in emergencies.” I started with two Angora Pygymy goats, Agatha and Esmeralda, The Fabulous Goatini Sisters then moved to breeding and raising American Curly horses
and then to sheep.
Dave’s deal was the best deal I ever made (humanly speaking) and I set about increasing farm income using non-traditional (some said crazy) methods. I opened the farm for tours aimed at home/school children, Sunday School groups, seniors, special needs, tourists (hosted Russians, Armenians, Georgians, English, French and others), soap making classes and so much more! Each spring, Sheep Sheering Day on the farm
was opened to wanna be farmers, spinners, weavers, fiber artists, families and everyone who wanted to spend a day on an Appy Mtn farm.
The Appalachian Heritage Day in the Cove hosted a thousand people the first year and we all made money…the community center (all eight of us) sold food and drink, other artisans demonstrated lost arts of smithy, re-enactment, basketry, spinning, crochet, knitting, a Kool Aid dye pot and a plethora of other activities and demonstrations to showcase farm life in the Appy Mtns.
Are you still here?
Those halcyon days are gone, it’s a different season of life and my vision now is to help YOU achieve your dream of “your handsome property”. In order to make that happen, the Concord University course I taught (also in Russia, conferences, workshops, fiber festivals, etc.) will be placed on this blog. You’ll receive a syllabus, handouts, homework and help to find and buy your own farm (large or small), make intelligent decisions regarding crops, livestock or both, how to increase farm income, partnering, networking, using Agri-Tourism and, along the way, be given recipes for lip smacking shortbread, how to churn butter, make an easy quilt…all those things that our Great and Grand’s did to make a house a home and to keep body and spirit intact. Because home, hearth, and heart cannot be separated; they all work toward making a life worth living.
My goal is to post every other week; this gives you time to nourish yourself with the information and me time to write it. Having said that, let me add…I’m north of Medicare, still farm (solo as Dave died) and it takes me a tad longer to “git er done”. Trust me, the information is worth the wait!
If you’ve always wanted to homestead or increase your farm/ranch/small business income, this is the place to start!
“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.” ~ Abraham Lincoln ~