After 20 years of living in sunny California, my husband, Michael and I moved to rural Virginia 6 months ago. Wow! What a change and we welcome it. California is a very special place to us. So many incredible people and endless opportunities not to mention some of the best farmers markets in this country. With that said we have ventured into farming full time on a piece of property that is “to live for.”The setting is 300 acres in pasture and 600 acres in forest. Long walks in the woods this winter became daily medicine. So many trees, so much oxygen! A family of geese start their morning song around 5:30 a.m. in the pond outback. Many might find this alarm clock disturbing but the change for us from city workers blowing leaf machines to the song of geese is welcoming. This is a birders paradise.
In our very small town we often get asked why we moved from the “left” coast to Bath County, Virginia? Well, we came for the experience with Polyface and our deep desire to live on land has been manifesting at least 10 years. Surrounded by 2 National Forest we can go days without seeing any other living “beings” other than the animals we shepherd. No freeway noise! We enjoy trying to identify different species of birds. The endless diversity of songbirds reminds me of a farm in a remote village in the mountains of Bolgona, Italy where we woofed about five years ago. One afternoon we were working in the lavender field when we heard the call of a cuckoo bird, it sounded just like the famous old clock. Ii was wild!
We felt summonded to experiment with small farming when we left Los Angelels 7 years ago for a farm apprenticeship in Maine and have never looked back. Our strong desire for a healthier lifestyle, helped us understand that growing food and eating animals we raise has an indescribable quality that is clearly underestimated.
Once our Maine apprenticeship ended we returned to California. In our second move across the country we were introduced to a strong permaculture community. In time, we found a piece of rental property and we began to create a small homestead. One of the best things about practicing permaculture is the wisdom to start small and observe land the first year before doing anything on a permanent basis. Each year we added something more. Large garden,small pond, fruit trees, hens and ducks, compost, then broilers, then turkeys, worm bin and bees.Starting small allowed us to gain experience and kept us creating ways to make things more energy efficient.
What’s really heartwarming for me is that moving to Virginia has felt like coming home. The seasons, the slower pace, the people remind me so much of my hometown Ohio. I believe timing is everything. If anyone told me we would be living in Bath County Virginia two years ago I would have said, “you’re crazy.” And yet here we are, watching glorious pink and blue sunrises with the songs of geese and the cackle of our 500 hens nestled away in their winter hoop house. What more can a midwestern gal ask for?