Hello all! I'm Kristin (with an "in"), nice to meet you! My husband Daniel and I manage Briarmoor, one of Polyface's rental farms.
For my first post I thought I would expound upon our journey to Virginia. In May 2005, my husband joined the military. In the fall of 2005, we discovered Joel's book, "You Can Farm", and the general idea of homesteading. We felt something ring true in our spirits, and knew we had found our calling in life. However, with my husband's five-year commitment to the army, we couldn't rush out to pursue our newly discovered passion. Instead, we began where we were. We built a small chicken shelter, ordered 25 baby chicks, and started to learn. We were so excited! We brooded the little chicks in a cardboard box in the bathroom. When they went outside, I was extremely nervous that we would get in trouble for having 25 chickens in our Californian, suburban, military-base backyard. Miraculously, we didn't! The experience went well, although I cried when we processed the first chicken.
We weren't in California very long before we moved to an arid, miserably hot part of Texas. Behind our apartment complex there was a dead, dried-up empty lot for sale. We called and asked to use a small part of it for a garden. The owner was thrilled and gladly said we could use all the space we wanted! So, we experimented with our first (horribly unsuccessful) garden. We began composting. We read everything about homesteading and farming we could find. And again, being in the military, we moved.
Finally we ended up in San Antonio, Texas for about 3 years. We tried to purchase a house in the country with a few acres so we could begin to homestead, but that consistently fell through. Eventually we bought a suburban house about 1 mile from my husband's work-- very convenient commute, very inconvenient for farming. We were, however, undeterred; our 1/16-acre backyard had a 6-foot high privacy fence! In the height of our backyard-farming endeavors we had a teeny little pond, raised lots of meat chickens, had 8 egg layers, 2 pygmy goats, 5 rabbits, an attempted garden, and a compost pile. We rotationally grazed all the animals around the backyard, and had the best grass I ever saw in Texas. We gave our neighbors eggs in exchange for their loyalty to us, instead of to the homeowners' association. And we learned so, so much! To this day, the sound of a goat bleating will pull me out of bed in a fraction of a second, ready to rush outside and hush her up so the neighbors won't hear!
I'm sure you can imagine how shy we were to have anyone find out how truly "weird" we were- we didn't want people to see our backyard and think we were out of our minds. I'm certain some of our neighbors already thought that, but over time we discovered that our friends didn't; they thought our backyard was amazing! We began teaching them how to take care of chickens and compost. Eventually we approached our church about using their 10-acre plot of land for a community farming project. They said yes. We now had 10 acres in our care, amazing! We began teaching about 6 families in our church about animal husbandry, sustainability, and raising their own food. Instead of raising 25 broilers in the backyard, we were raising 350 at a time with our friends, and selling them to fund the project. We planted a few trees, raised egg-layers, tried to garden (again unsuccessfully), and dealt with a lot of vandalism and destruction from the surrounding neighborhood.
Amazingly, time passed quickly- our 5 years in the military was almost up-- what to do next?? We knew farming was the next step for us. We were very tempted to stay in Texas and continue suburban farming on our church's land- we had developed many close friendships there and didn't really want to leave. However, Daniel felt led to apply to the Polyface internship program. He was accepted, and so in May 2010 we moved to Virginia. We've never looked back- as soon as we were here, we knew we were home. A rental farm became available towards the end of Daniel's internship, he was offered the job, and we gladly accepted. We moved to Briarmoor on October 10th 2010. We're so glad to be here! Farming is definitely the life for us.
Although our 5 year journey to Virginia seemed painstakingly long, I know we were always where we were meant to be. Each valuable experience led us here, and we wouldn't want to be anywhere else!