A Move to the Country

Wow, what a crazy month.   We’ve moved onto an old working ranch in Petaluma.   Fayvor’s company is taking shape.  So is our garden in the rough.  I’m not sure where to begin with catch-up here. Pretty overwhelming to think about, so much so that I’ve put off doing this for a long time.  Looks like almost two months. Yikes!

For a while we were going back and forth looking at properties in Sebastopol, apple country here in California.  Land of rolling hills, cows and home of the Gravenstein.  Our trips up here confirmed more and more how much we really liked the country up in both Marin and Sonoma counties.  The visit to Tara Firma Farms in May opened our eyes to Petaluma being a possibility too.   Below is what I meant to post but left unfinished.  I’ll pick-up with current events after.

It’s been an interesting week so far. Between the Agrarian Swap Meet at Tara Firma Farm, Fayvor’s sister’s house catching on fire, and learning about two new vegetables it’s been… well, it’s been a little exciting if not a bit nutty week.

On Saturday we loaded up the car with our  home-made Ginger Beer, Hard Cider, Rhubarb Jam, Meyer Lemon(& Tangerine) Marmalade, Double Chocolate Cookies, Sourdough Starter and Knits to attend our very first Agrarian Swap.  We first heard about the farm when looking up opportunities to hear Joel Salatin talk.  Tara Firma hosted one of these talks, and in the blurb about the event, it mentioned that her farm was modeled after Joel’s principles.  And since Joel’s farm, Polyface, is out East and Tara’s is close to us, I mentally bookmarked her farm to ‘visit someday.’

A side-note to help tie things together– I’ve been working (volunteer) 2 days a week at both Alemany and Hayes Valley Farm here in San Francisco to practice and learn how to grow vegetables and about permaculture.  Most days we get to take vegetables/greens/herbs home for our work; and, there’s always more than Fayvor and I can finish on our own.  These extra take-home veg I share with friends here and one of these friends, Kim, recommended this Agrarian Swap meet to us which, of course got us all excited to go, especially since we had been meaning to go to Tara Firma. phew.

So back to the gist of it.  We met a ton of like-minded people at the Agrarian Swap in Petaluma that resonated strongly with our core values.  This opened my eyes to include Petaluma in our house-search radius. I’m really grateful that I did.  One night, exhausted, having spent the weekend driving up and down from San Francisco to Sebastopol looking at places that just were not matching up as advertised, up  on craigslist came a word only  post,  ‘a home for serious farmers only’ with no photos.  Had it not been for that line, this post would have gone overlooked.  My curiosity read-on and an e-mail later a visit was scheduled.

Have you ever met a house, a dog, a person, a place that just feels right or familiar?  Walking the pastures and being in this house felt that way to us.  Never in a million years did we think that we’d actually get the place.  Although I’d been working a couple of months at two ‘city farms’ in SF,  that couldn’t possibly be serious enough (as asked for on the listing).  Did Fayvor growing up on a family farm count as serious farming?  With us living on our savings until Fayvor’s company supports itself, who would consider us?  The more we walked around the property the more heavy hearted I was just seeing that there was a place up in the country that felt right after all those months, but just of reach.

We got a call a week and a half or so later and my jaw hit the floor.  They wanted us to move in!  They thought that we were right for the house.  We’d soon be looking out onto the pasture and garden and calling the pink house our home.  What a great way to start off our 1st year wedding anniversary.

And the house/land is perfect. It really is.  We’re allowed to have chickens, small farm animals (like goats) and dogs and cats too.  The vegetable plot alone is 1/3 of an acre.  There’s a back and front yard in addition that’s over grown but has lots of potential.  Lots of plum trees, two apple, two guava, pear, fig, quince and lemon trees too.  An acre of our landlord’s ranch for our future animals.  All off this overlooking acres of pasture where Bill and Lucy, aged ~ 80, graze a small heard of angus cows.  Just. Beautiful.

They’ve been so incredibly kind with letting us borrow the tools we need to get the garden going.  Always willing to answer our questions about how to do something or history on the place. The property is one of the last unparceled ranches in east Petaluma from wayyyy back when Petluma was producing chickens for the rest of America.  For at least four generations this land has been in their family and now they are sharing this historical and beautiful property with us.  In a way, it’s kind of an honor that they’re trusting us to take care of part of  such a historically  significant place.  I hope we can bring some magic back here.   There’s already so much love apparent– From the bones of the garden (visible thoughtful decisions on placement of plants from a long time ago) to the families’ requirement that whoever rent the house be taking good care of the land.

We’ve been here for about two weeks camping in the house until our furniture arrives at the end of July, keeping ourselves endlessly entertained with trying to bring the dormant garden back to life.  We were told that no one had gardened it in over 20 years!

I’ll leave it at that for now and a few pictures.

Exhausted daily with endless things to tend to, and still very much over the moon.

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