Pumpkin . . . Fall 2011

Pumpkin . . . Fall 2011

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How We Found Our Farm - Part 2

We purchased our first home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in 1999. At the time our son was just a baby and Mark was starting law school at George Mason University while working full time as a software engineer for a government contractor.

While Mark was in the Army - we travelled and lived in Europe for three years. France became a weekend destination for us and we loved to visit the local farmers markets and the French supermarkets which were amazing with hundreds of varieties of local raw milk cheeses, fresh seafood and pasture raised meats.

I planned our first vegetable garden around the varieties of vegetables we were used to seeing in the markets of France. These were eagerly purchased by the Inn at Little Washington when we grew excess salad greens, artichokes, fennel and French Breakfast radishes. We soon expanded into growing fruits such as plums, peaches and heirloom apples. Of course we also put in ornamental flowers in numerous cottage garden beds. My favorite garden feature was our fish pond - right off our back porch which was a magnet for amphibians and dragonflies. Our son loved to watch and feed the fish.

All of this was accomplished on our 1 acre lot that our house sat on. The house had been built prior to the Civil War and was a simple cottage that at one time housed the local blacksmith. The view from our front porch was amazing as you could see the Shenandoah Valley below and the mountains of West Virginia in the distance.

In 2003 we built a chicken coop. Once we mastered the husbandry of chickens we started to search around for an actual farm in 2004. Mark had just graduated from law school and we were thinking about adding to our family. Our house was beginning to become too small for our way of life.

As we started to look for our farm in Virginia we quickly came to the harsh reality that real estate prices had really changed in the five years since we bought our house. A nice farmhouse on good farmland was approaching $500,000 or more even in out of the way towns within a 2 hour commute of Washington, DC. Land was much cheaper in West Virginia but we never really saw anything we liked (right land - wrong house, wrong house - right land). One day in the fall of 2006 I was looking through my Maine Antique Digest and saw a small farm listed at a very reasonable price in Downeast Maine - not too far from our memorable visit in 1994. The price was quite low and it even had an ocean view!!! I called Mark at work and asked if he would like to buy a farm in Maine. After a short pause Mark said "Thank you God". Little did I know this decision would alter our lives forever but in a very positive way. . . .

Next - Finding the Farm - Part 3

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How We Found Our Farm - Part 1

This is a long, long story with a very happy ending. It all started Memorial day weekend 1994 - nearly 6 months after Mark and I were married and we were finally settled in at Mark's first Army duty station at Ft. Monmouth, NJ.

I picked up the "Old House Journal" and saw a great ad for a house up in Pembroke, Maine that was listed as "museum quality - no renovations and alterations since the early 19th century. The house was really cheap and since Mark and I had never been to Maine - we decided to check the house and the area out.

The house was exactly as described. It was gorgeous and still had all the original milk paint throughout. There were brass eagle head coat hooks at the front entrance. I was so excited to find such a treasure.

Reality then set in. The house needed a new roof - immediately. The original upper two floors which had been preserved intact for all this time needed to be lowered onto new sills within the next year - it went on and on. We decided not to buy it due to all the work that needed to be done from a long distance in a very short time.

If the house although gorgeous was not practical - then the area was heaven. No big tourist traps. No large housing developments on the ocean. Pristine hiking right along the ocean with bald eagles flying overhead and whales surfacing right in front of us. The seafood - detailed descriptions will be in a future segment - the best in the world. The most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen (at Quoddy Head lighthouse). We fell in love but where would we work . . . . . .

Over the next 12 years every house we saw was compared to the house in Pembroke, Maine. Nothing was ever right. Little did we know - there was a reason for this.

Part 2 - Raising Chickens in the Blue Ridge and Selling Fruits and Vegetables to the Inn at Little Washington.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Welcome to Kilby Ridge Farm

Welcome to Kilby Ridge Farm. We are a sustainable farm on the coast of Maine way . . . way downeast. Am hoping friends and customers will stop by here often to check out our progress as the farm grows. We have high hopes for this year. Not only are we expecting a very large crop of Icelandic lambs in the spring but will be hatching out and pasturing many more of our Wyandotte chickens and Narraganset turkeys. Welsh Harlequin ducks will be pastured around our new pond starting in the late spring.

The farm shop will open up this year once our 1767 dated ell is restored in the spring. We will be selling seasonal vegetables, fiber and yarn from our Icelandic sheep, eggs and our Wyandotte chickens (Maine State Inspected from the COOP in Monmouth, Maine). Although we are not certified organic - all of our produce, poultry and lamb are raised without pesticides, hormones and soy. Our lambs never eat grain and are raised on pasture, hay and finished with apples and apple pomace from over 500 heirloom apple trees which grow on our farm.

I am hoping to share our day to day farm adventures, tips on animal husbandry, my own version of "permiculture", cooking, and possibly articles on the local food movement and "food politics".

Buy local and eat well:)