Farmers Without a Farm | Pt. 1

People frequently use the words Determination and Perseverance to describe a recent Grad, or an accomplished Athlete. I would use these words to describe Kevin Jackson, who feels he is called to farm and is going to make it happen, despite the hurdles in his path.

We came back to Michigan, choosing Leelanau county to make our home, knowing that we’d face some challenges to get our farm started. The bigger picture goal is to have land, pasture, outbuildings and the farm – that can be passed down to the next generation – giving them a business/homestead to get a start in a life on their own, beyond what we’ve been given. Bringing back animals from Kentucky, we’re kind of doing this thing backwards. We literally have a farm (the livestock) without a farm (barn/land/home). Read the previous post about moving from KY to MI and why. 

“We’re farmers without a farm.”

Step 1.

Secure a rental home to live in while we build our business plan and search for the ideal property.

Once the property is found we can put in an offer and complete the USDA Agricultural Farm Loan through their office in Traverse City to purchase. But in the mean time, we need to still live somewhere. Thanksgiving weekend, we moved back into the rental house we’ve called home for the last four years on Hlavka Rd. in Maple City, MI.

Step 2.

Secure a barn through the winter.

The barn we were able to use all winter long was off-the grid, and a half mile snowshoe hike away. We were at least fortunate enough to discover that barn did indeed have water (wouldn’t have stopped Jackson though) an old gravity fed well. All winter long Jackson literally hauled hay, 50 lb bags of feed and sometimes even Abraham, on a sled from the house to the barn…twice a day.

“No guts, No Glory.”

Step 3.

Ok, so our rental home SOLD.

Find new rental that’s in the area to stay close to our barn, in our monthly budget, that’s clean and not a mobile home.

Step 4.

Oh. If finding a new home location isn’t enough work, now we have to move barns/farm again! Ok. Deep breaths.

When we moved our farm into it this past winter the property owner was not interested in selling. Now we’re being asked to move everyone out. The property and barn you see pictured here, nestled in what we lovingly refer to as Hlavka Mountain, is now listed on the market for sale at a premium price.

Step 5.

Find a property and barn in the “Bohemian Rd” valley that can be leased long term, that we can reliably operate the farm business out of host our animals year round and allow us to store equipment, hay, feed, etc.

Next Post:

“Farmers without a farm | Hay Season” 

KY to MI

KY was a great adventure, full of new terrain (literally and figuratively), plenty of character building (don’t think I was ever going to get use to no cell phone service for a radius of 10 miles or the poisonous snakes) and got a few more tools in the tool belt (literally). Kentucky launched us into the next chapter…back to Northern Michigan.

IMG_1220

Kentucky provided humbling experiences, living among history of our great country’s’ beginnings. There were rock walls on the property that were built by slaves, muck boots became a required piece of apparel, copperheads and rattlers could be lurking near by, seasonal swarms of lady beetles, and stepping in a cow pie on the way to your car door – were all commonplace. All of this provided perspective, acceptance, strength and growth.

IMG_6040 Jackson station at Gusty Branch

We had a great opportunity to work and live in the same place. Jackson got to work on a historic replica of a Toll House, located in central KY, about an hour and half south of Lexington, in the rocky, hilly hollars. A gorgeous home built down the creek, .5 mile up a nob and back into the woods. He acquired tools of the trade, on-site education and became quite the craftsman. He did everything from finish plumbing and electrical, to creating his own trim, bead board and solid wood doors.

IMG_8651 Jackson wood working; processing wood paneling

If the job itself didn’t keep him busy enough, he also started a farm. The job-site property was set on hundreds of acres, providing the chance to start what Jackson has been waiting to start for years. If not now, never? Right?! So it was. Farming, here we come! We raise hair sheep, goats, turkeys, cows and pigs. Fencing mishaps, runaway goats, disappearing turkeys, and plenty of births provided more than a few stories along the way.

IMG_1206 raising hair sheep

Oh, and we got pregnant and had a baby too!

One of our biggest life lessons Ky provided was “you can’t do it all.” It’s better to invest your time and resources into a few things and do it really well, rather than be eager to achieve, spreading yourself too thin. So, we downsized and re-prioritized.

While we built friendships, two church families, gained experience (and some farm animals), we decided at the end of the day what’s really important to us: investing in sustainability for our  future generation and being close to family/community – in a place we feel like home.

Leelanau County, here we come!

moving back to MI_truck gusty branch KY_IMG_1584

 

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