Independence Day, 1973, marked the beginning of the best decade of my childhood. A decade of cherry pie, homemade apple cider, hand-churned ice-cream, and home-brewed sarsaparilla. It was the decade in which I grew up a farm girl on the banks of the McKenzie River. My parents had just bought a ten acre cherry farm, and it was all about creating a self-sufficient homestead back then. Yet, like many back-to-the-landers of the day, the dream ended only ten years after it began, when the city beckoned us back.
Independence Day 1973: My family proudly
sits on Daddy's old Ferguson in
front of our beloved cherry orchard.
(I know this image is blurry, but it's a photo from my childhood that I wanted to share)
We finally own that soil! Recently, my husband and I were finally able to purchase a little patch of ground just right for planting our dream. But it won't happen overnight. We have a lot of work ahead of us. After all, the only food we can expect to harvest from our land this year is blackberries--scads of them growing wild at the edge of our pasture. Not much of a farmstead yet.
We're what you call weekend homesteaders, since we live and work in the city during the week, only coming to the farm on the week-ends. It can feel overwhelming (to say the least) when we look at all there is to do. I'm sure you've heard the proverb that if you save money little by little, you make it grow. It's no different when it comes to the work of homesteading. You grow a homestead little by little. This is the key to success.
You have to break things down. When you've got only limited chunks of time, you have to break down the work of building a farmstead into small manageable projects that fit into a single weekend. That's the key. So what will we be doing this Independence Day weekend?
I wish I could say we'll be planting cherry trees. I really wanted to plant two Bing and two Rainier trees to get us started. I wanted it to be a kind of mini declaration of Independence on Independence Day: the planting of our first fruit trees would be a statement that one day we won't be so dependent on our current industrialized food system--a system that's not sustainable. I'm a silly sentimental kinda girl. It would be super cool if the first trees we planted were cherry--in memory of my childhood cherry farm.
But it's not the right time to plant cherry trees. Fall would be better. And we aren't ready anyway. We first have to do soil tests, then develop a site plan, install an automatic watering system, build a deer fence, and the list of weekend projects goes on and on.
"Little by little," I keep telling myself. This weekend we'll just do what we can. The rest will get done in time.
How do you manage as a weekend homesteader? I'd love to hear your story.
Joy--Fearless Farm Girl,
"Farm girl: it's a verb, because it's what you do."