The house in Minnesota is going through the sale process. Closing is supposed to be in about three weeks. It’s been an aggravating process, one that I hope is over soon. I’m not happy with the sale; I have the feeling that the buyers don’t appreciate or respect the work that went into building the gardens, nor all the tools and materials I left to help the new owner jump-start their gardens in the spring. It’s none of my business, really, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating, since we had posted the listing in social media venues specifically targeted to homesteaders and urban farmers.
Unfortunately, the 80-acre property I was keeping my eye on turned out to be unsuitable for the Farm. Although I don’t need (or want) a pancake-flat field, I need a certain amount of uniformity for the buildings and pastures – although the critters and crops don’t care how level their grazing grounds are, slopes that are too steep make it difficult to impossible to move chicken tractors! And 160 feet of undulating elevation variation is a bit much (160 feet on a steady slope, or a steep increase at one point would be fine, of course). So I’m back to the drawing board on finding property. It took a while, but I found a real estate agent who “gets it” and read the Paper to get a better feel for what I’m after; we haven’t had much luck so far, but he’s been fantastic.
I have decided to buy raw land. In part, this was a financial decision: the presence of a house or outbuildings on a property automatically raise the price by at least $100,000. But I knew from the get-go that any existing structure would almost certainly not be what I want: it wouldn’t have enough bedrooms, the kitchen wouldn’t be laid out in a useful fashion, and modern construction techniques often rely heavily on materials shown to contain endocrine disruptors.
And speaking of the kitchen, over Thanksgiving I borrowed a book from my parents, Build Your Harvest Kitchen, and used it to help me design my ideal kitchen. I also researched and discussed different construction techniques with friends and family and decided on post-and-beam strawbale construction – the structural support comes from the post-and-beam framework, the insulation comes from the straw. Over Christmas break, I expanded on the blueprint and finally developed a layout that I like and that flows well. I’ve been drawing house layouts for the last four years, every one came out differently, and I was never entirely happy with them. Getting the single, most-important room laid out and building out from there did the trick! With my dad’s help (including a summer cutting lumber for the posts, beams, and studs), I’ll be able to build exactly what I want.
I’m still looking for a full-time job, but in the meantime I’m working part-time for the University library, for a friend. Although I’m still doing data analysis and web design, it’s a completely different genre of data and websites, and I’m deeply enjoying it. She has convinced me to finish my Bachelor’s of Science degree and get a Master’s in library science. I’m hoping to start classes this spring semester, although it’s more likely I’ll start during summer session or even in the fall.
The final item I have scheduled for the new year is working on my friend’s yard. I’ve put together a pretty extensive list of edibles for the yard, including a vegetable garden and a number of perennials. While I really hope to find property and get the Farm rolling this year, there are advantages to holding off a year and working as an urban farm on some local properties this summer.
What are your New Year’s Resolutions?