Farm Tours

We Bought Property!

Our most frequently asked question since we started building our tiny house has been, “where are you going to park it?” Our response has always been that we’re looking for land, but hopefully we’ll find a backyard that we could put it or if all else fails we could park it at the local RV park. I am extremely happy to report that as of last Thursday, which happened to be our 5 year anniversary, we can now call ourselves land owners!

Pete and I have been looking for land the moment we left college and headed out west. We would be driving down the road in Garden Valley, Idaho and I would say, “look at that land, we should buy that.” Pete’s response was always the same, “is it for sale?”. No, it wasn’t for sale but it didn’t matter because we weren’t in a position to buy anything anyway! We didn’t have permanent jobs and we knew we would be living in a new town in 6 months, but it was still fun to daydream about our future land and the farm that we would start.

To make a long and probably boring story short, the land we purchased (40 acres) had been for sale since we first moved to Marquette and probably for a year or so before that.  We had checked it out when we first moved here but the timing was never quite right for us.  At the beginning of the summer we finally decided to look at it for real and make an offer but it was no longer listed.  At this same time we found another piece of property that we liked but the seller was not yet ready to accept our offer, she was holding out for something better.  Because of her unwillingness to negotiate with us, I started checking the listings again and this time checked Craigslist (which I rarely look at for property).  Low and behold the original property was now being listed on Craigslist, not with the realtor.

Pete was in Montana fighting wildfires and when I told him the land was still for sale he told me to go check it out and make an offer. I thought I should wait for him to come back before looking at the property, but at his insistence my mom and I went and walked the property. I made an offer and waited to hear back from the seller. Then we found out that the seller who was not ready to accept our offer on the other piece of property was now ready to accept. There were pros and cons to both places, but ultimately we liked the 40 acres the best and we were able to settle on a price and proceed with the purchase.

Our goal is to start a small farm. The property is about 20 acres of pasture and 20 acres of woods, with the woods being mostly sugar maple. We hope to make maple syrup, raise laying hens and meat chickens, have a dairy cow and pigs, as well as a large garden. The property comes with its challenges; mainly it is off grid and it would be rather expensive to have power brought in. We also have to have a well drilled.

We are now under more pressure to finish the tiny house so we can move it out to the property when our lease is up on our apartment next spring. We’ll be roughing it for a little while. We’ll have to haul in water until we get the well drilled and we’ll have to rely on solar panels and/or a generator; we’ve been doing a lot of research on off grid living. We’re no strangers to backpacking and roughing it though, so this will just be one more adventure to have fun with.

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Categories: Farm Tours, Tiny House Living | Tags: , , | 32 Comments

Josie the Jersey

May 21, 2013 – Our tiny house doesn’t have a roof and we don’t own any land – so the obvious next step would be to buy a dairy cow! Yes you heard right; Pete and I are the proud co-owners of a beautiful Jersey cow. Our friends Eric and Theresa, who have a small farm, wanted to get a dairy cow and they were looking for someone to share in the responsibilities. For months I have been dreaming of making butter and cheese.

Josie came from Hidden Acres Dairy Farm in Houghton. We’ve had Josie just over a week and things are going very well. Pete and I milk Josie in the evening and Eric and Theresa handle the morning milking. Eric and Theresa have four dairy goats, so they are already established hand milkers. I milked a cow once in high school, so it will take me a while to build up the hand strength and coordination, plus Pete doesn’t like to give up the milk stool if he can help it. Pete is also already a good milker due to milking the goats while he was laid off for the winter.

I currently have five gallons of milk in the fridge; I plan on making Leipajuusto, a Finnish squeaky cheese, this weekend.

Categories: Farm Tours | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Another Farm Tour – and we brought home babies!

September 6, 2012 – On Monday we drove to Curtis, Michigan, to my friend Sherry’s fiber farm and picked up a few new family members.  Pete and I are the proud parents of three angora rabbits.  I have mentioned before that I love knitting and all things fiber. Pete and I are working towards having our own farm in a couple years and I hope a few fiber animals will be included in our plans. In the meantime, however, rabbits are something that we can have in a small space even while renting.  To be honest, the thought of having angora rabbits never occured to either one of us.  That is until Sherry invited us to the Eweper Fiber Fair.  I really wanted to make the almost two hour drive to peruse fiber and see a few spinning/felting/fiber demonstrations.  Pete was a little grumbly about the whole thing but I talked him into coming with me.  We pulled into the parking lot of the local school and started making our way to the front doors when we spotted a super furry rabbit, an angora rabbit.  Pete took one look at this beautifull creature and all of a suddon the drive was worth while.

I had already been planning on getting a spinning wheel at some point; again, thanks to Sherry and watching her spin yarn.  Having our own angora rabbits started to make sense.  It also just so happened that Sherry had bred two of her rabbits and had babies that would be ready for a new home by the end of August.

The bunnies have settled into their new home and we are loving them.  We’ve been making sure we handle them everyday after work so they get used to us and being groomed.  We also have a fenced in area for them to run around and burn off some energy.  They do get full of leaves and needles when we let them run around, but it’s worth seeing them explore and jump about.

For those of you wondering how I’m going to fit a spinning wheel in the tiny house, I already have that figured out.  Sherry is a dealer of Schacht spinning wheels out of Boulder, Colorado. One of their spinning wheels, called the Sidekick, is designed to fold for travel.  When folded, the Sidekick measures 8.25″ wide, 15″ deep, and 21.5″ high and we will be able to store the spinning wheel in the storage loft when not in use.  It will probably be a little while before I splurge on the spinning wheel, but in the meantime we will collect the fiber from our new furry friends.

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Farm Tour – Rock River Farm

May 27, 2012 – Every summer our local food co-op organizes tours of the small farms in our area; today we took a tour of Rock River Farm and Rock River Perennial Garden & Greenhouse in Chatham.

Our hope after completing the tiny house is to find a cheap or free place to park it while we save up to buy land to start our own small organic farm. The opportunity to visit working farms and see what we hope to be doing soon is very inspiring and today’s tour was a real treat.

Categories: Farm Tours, Farmer's Market, Marquette Food Co-op | 2 Comments

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