What a wonderful day!
When we moved to central Florida in January of 2013 we had to give up our little farm. Emily and I both loved it so much and we were so happy there. Because of my croahns disease and the economy forcing us to close the auction business, we made the hard choice to move to her hometown of St Cloud Florida and start over. We still own the house and land there, but there was just no way to move all the animals and infrastructure so we sold off all the livestock, packed away all the supplies and the like and moved.
We brought a few things with us, some show poultry, one of the horses and Lily’s pony, our dog, just a very few things. Over the past couple of years something killed the chickens, we rehomed the horse and pony and basically are down to almost nothing as far as farm critters. I’ve had a small garden here, but between floods, droughts and insects it hasn’t done much. Plus it desperately needed the soil built up and an irrigation system.
We have been desperately looking for a place since the first week here. We’ve came right down to signing the papers twice on homes, but backed out at the last minute because they just weren’t “right”. We are still looking for a home, but I decided a couple of months ago to go ahead and try to just find a place I could farm, even if I had to rent or lease it. All I’ve ever needed is a place to start. A place where I can raise my crops and my livestock and not be limited on space or the types of critters I could raise. Again, I’ve looked at maybe a hundred places from an acre on up, some the owners even offered to let me use free of charge, but they all had some reason it wouldn’t work. Most had no water, some were too swampy, none had usable buildings, one place didn’t like goats or other farm animals. It was looking pretty bleak. All I needed was an acre or two to work with. I know myself and my strengths and weaknesses and I know as long as I have a place to start I can someday be back to taking care of my family and making a living doing what I love.
Then yesterday I met a wonderful couple who had bought a very nice piece of land which included an old abandoned hog farm. They were looking to have someone rent or barter for the farm area to clean it up and put it back in production. It was sort of a long drive, and the pictures I had seen looked like it was pretty far gone, but I made an appointment to meet with them and drive down and check it out.
I was amazed!
First off the couple was very nice. They were easy to talk to, very interested in actually having it farmed and productive. I’m not a people person, and find it hard to talk to a lot of folks, but this seemed like a great match between my goals and theirs. Not only did I discuss the farm with them, I also enjoyed just visiting. From talking to them I was very comfortable with proceeding to look more depth into the area I was interested in using.
Then they took me on a short tour of the farm area. Wow! It is overgrown as it’s been sitting unused for a few years, but there is so much potential there! The place already has a good well and electric. There are irrigation systems already in place, the fences are solid, just need a few posts and lots of tightening. There is a full bathroom with a shower, a really nice storage building, several pole barns that I can fix up without too much money or labor, a start on a tiny greenhouse, a nice little duck pond with a boardwalk and dock, and even an old commercial walk in meat cooler that I might can fix.
We had already been talking some online and on the phone and spent a good bit more time talking face to face. We worked out all the details and decided to think it over and see if it was something we were all in agreement with and comfortable doing. We talked more after I left by text message.
I did have some concerns. It’s a long drive for me, I’ll be very limited on what I can get done until after the baby is born because I’ll have to be here to take care of Emily most days and because I still have my job and can’t miss any paying work. At most for the next six months I’ll be able to maybe work there a couple of days a week if I’m lucky. If I do sell my produce and such I will have to sit up a delivery route because it’s not the kind of place I could have farm pick-ups. So I thought on it. I prayed a bit on it. And I decided it was just too great of an opportunity to pass up. I decided to just go for it. When I pulled my phone out to call them a message popped up as soon as I pulled my phone out of my pocket saying they wanted me to have it. I’m taking that as a sign. I really feel this is one of those things that is just meant to be.
I’m a farmer again.
Emily has been very supportive also. She wants me to be happy. She has told me she wants the life we had in Mississippi, she just wants it here in central Florida. We both know I’ve got to work and make a living to pay our bills. I have to be able to support and take care of her and our children. But as long as I can do that then she wants me to have my dreams. We still won’t own any property yet, but we will have a place to start. I’ll be able to farm, relax, build up a little business and know my family is eating healthy, natural food. Once I get it cleaned up a bit maybe if she is feeling better I can bring her and the kids with me part of the time and we can all enjoy the critters and the farm.
I’m so excited! It will most likely be after the first of the year before I can start adding the farm critters but I’m hoping to have the garden in by the first of September and start making weekly deliveries of produce by the first of October.
I’m still sort of in a state of excitement. It’s been so long. Maybe the prayers are paying off, maybe it was just meant to be, maybe I just got lucky. But I can wait until the day I get it cleaned up and get back to farming.
It’s a good day in the life of an old farmer. I’m happy. Life is good.