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