Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hmmm, starting a blog

Well, here we go...

I've been thinking about starting a blog for some time now and have finally decided to take the plunge. I'm not much of a linear-thinker, so it will probably be more stream of consciousness that an orderly description of our lives here at Blue Gate Farm, but what the heck.

A little introduction is probably in order, just in case someone other than our mothers stumble in.

Welcome to Blue Gate Farm

In April 2005 Sean and I left our professional theatre jobs in the bustling metropolis of Houston, TX and started our own little homestead on family land in rural south-central Iowa. We had lists that were pages long of all the things that we were going to do, build, create and grow. Here is where we are near the end of our 4th season: We have about 40 acres of land under our care (rented under very favorable terms from the family), about 3 acres are in rotation for our Certified Naturally Grown vegetables and herbs. With these gardens, plus our high tunnels (more about them later) we supply our small CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and our market customers at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market. We also have about 20 acres in alfalfa and the balance in pasture. Our plans include adding livestock, but so far we only have 20-some hives of bees, 50-some laying hens and our trusty farm dog, Blue (a Blue Heeler/Australian Shepherd mix.

Blue, ever watchful, surveys the pond

One of the big questions people always ask us is "Can you make a living on a little farm like that?" And our answer so far is "We think so." We are both on the farm full-time, but we do have a bit of supplemental income to help things along. Sean does a little contract website design and business consulting and I free-lance as a storyteller and American Sign Language interpreter. These activities mostly take place during the winter when life is a little more quiet here on the farm.

And as the season winds down, we are really looking forward to that time! For me it will be a winter of dyeing and spinning fiber, knitting, crocheting, baking, and woodcutting...much woodcutting! We are not totally dependant on wood for our heat, we have a supplemental wood-fired boiler (DIY) that provides heat to our sunroom (when its not sunny) and adds a little heat to our rather chilly house. Its a lot of work, and the last boiler feeding of the day (usually around 10pm) is never fun, as the boiler is in our packing shed about 100 yards from the house. But it allows us to have a toasty warm place to overwinter our tender perennials (rosemary, thyme, lemongrass and a very spoiled Meyer lemon tree) and a perfect place to start all our garden transplants for the spring and also lets us keep our house thermostat set at about 55°, not to mention providing me with good exercise all winter long. I must admit that I do wait as long as possible before starting the boiler up for the season, but as soon as the sunroom gets down into the low 40's at night, the process begins.

So that's us. Thanks for stopping in for a visit. Hopefully the next time you stop by I will have something new to share about our lives here at Blue Gate Farm.

Now off to try and get the garlic ready for planting...

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