Well, it’s been 7 months since we officially moved to our land at Two Clay Birds Farm and in that short time we have seen and done much. We grew and harvested our first crops of tomatoes and squash through the hot summer followed by okra, corn and more tomatoes in the fall. We had successes and mistakes and we learned from them all. We built our first chicken coop and quickly filled it with some 70 hens and 4 roosters and have begun gathering dozens of eggs a week over the last month. We went from a few hoes and shovels to two tractors and a heavy-duty tiller that hopefully in time will no longer be necessary as we build our permanent beds and transition to a more sustainable no-till system. We’ve gutted and rebuilt our 86-year-old farm house and in the process discovered that it was built in at least 4 distinct parts – the original house consisted of nothing more than our current living room! We spent most of this time living out of two bedrooms, cooking on the back porch, and showering under the Milky Way in our field with fireflies as our companions, and the whole thing was a grand adventure. As Fall arrived with its cooler temperatures we finally were able to move inside and begin using our newly rebuilt kitchen and living room and we cherished the simple pleasure of at last having hot water and a working bath tub indoors. We even saw eagles nesting in our trees!
Projects that were born of necessity included setting up a propane-fueled 1941 cookstove on the back porch for our daily mealtimes, building an outdoor shower, putting together a small chicken coop with our children, converting a horse stall into a large chicken coop, raising three separate batches of chickens in the living room, incubating eggs from our own chickens in order to grow the flock, learning how to operate our new (old!) tractors, and getting a feel for our land in general. Additionally, we’ve logged countless hours tearing down and replacing walls, replacing ceilings and wiring in virtually every room in the house, learning how to hang wallpaper, teaching kids to use power tools such as drills and saws, and buying rain boots for the whole family so that we can slog through the mud that came with historic rainstorms this year.
With spaces we could share we opened our home to friends and held what will be the first of many “Friends’ Thanksgivings.” A houseful of friends and joy, and a table spread with the kind of food we hope to provide for all of you let us know that every sacrifice we had made was worth it. Our family has been deeply blessed with our little farm, and we know that in the coming months and years we will add to that joy and return as much as we have been given.
We are now looking forward to yet another adventure as we open our store in the coming months – Two Clay Birds Garden Market. Our vision for the store is to merge ecologically responsible farming and gardening with art and local culture. We will have top-quality gardening tools, books about alternative building and cooking for good health, products that encourage good stewardship of the soil and other natural resources, and the work of local artisans and craftspeople. We are happily anxious to meet so many of you in person and to share our passion for growing good food and good families and good friendships. This morning as we looked out our living room window, we were reminded of the colorful and happy interactions that a community meeting place can bring. Kevin remarked that it “looked like a children’s book out there” as dozens of colorful birds of different species lighted on the ground to eat the pecans that had been crushed by car tires and kids’ feet. We saw incredibly vibrant goldfinches, bright bluebirds, cardinals that seemed to glow red, black capped chickadees, and cedar waxwings. Our family stood mesmerized at the scene, and each of us had a smile on our face. It reminded us that this is exactly the exuberant and lively atmosphere that we hope to offer through both our farm and our upcoming market. Can’t wait to see you there!