Jim and I, along with our two feisty canine companions headed out to the great Midwestern mitten this past week to scope out some potential farm properties and to get a feel for the area. It was quite a lot of driving. We headed out Sunday for the first eight and a half hour leg of our journey. We arrived in Michigan and promptly drove another two hours to look at a nearby property. It was Amish built and the craftsmanship was impressive. Delicate latches, wood floors made from native trees, a unique layout, and a screened in porch. Things were looking pretty good until we got out to the field with a shovel. Let me just say, the soil between the rocks was seemed ideal. And the generously sized lake stones, many larger than both my fists, we beautiful. So that one was out.
On to the next one. Along the way we saw fields and fields of corn stubble, rolling hills, some of what Michigan swamp looks like, and the most exciting, a flock of yet to be identified long legged birds (cranes?). We glance a group of them standing in a field and I almost went off the road. Luckily, we got another chance to check them out as the flew overhead at our next destination. The sounded like chickens and the flew like Canadian geese. The property was beautiful too. 17 acres, with about 7 open, 2 for the house and barn, and 8 for the woods. The house was lovely. Small and manageable with a porch that looked out over the land. We saw the neighbors out and walked over, which took about a minute, to say hello. They were friendly and cloaked us in orange for our walk through the property. The field was recently plowed and looked promising, fine grained, relatively rock free, dark, and level. It rose off toward the back of the property. Jim and I set out to walk the boundary and collect a soil sample or two and when we got to the top of the hill, we were surprised by what we saw. The land looked as though it had a knobby kneed giant laying under the surface. As we walked back along the edge, I knew in my heart it would not be the place. But we took the walk anyway, all the way to the back of the field and then into the woods. There were club mosses and ferns, oaks and cedars. It was lush and refreshing and when we broke the treeline and headed back toward the house I was sad to go. Hopefully soon I get the privilege of getting to know some woods like those.
A property like the second one makes a person waffle. We want to move. We want to get set up with what we are doing, where we will be. I start to ask questions like "Do we really need as much acreage as we think we do?" and "Could we alter our farm plan to fit the property?" I just keep trying to remind myself that a year of preparation and careful selection can mean a lifetime of enjoyment and ease. Why set ourselves up to struggle with rocks or hills, or poor drainage? Why pick a place embedded in an area with a prominent natural gas drilling industry underway? For now, we will wait.
There is an increasing possibility that we will be residing in the Garden state for another year of growing. While the decision hasn't been made yet, it is imminent. In the meantime, we will carry on with the planning. Selecting seeds, putting in orders, preparing. And for this week, harvesting the delicious vegetables that the universe has left for us in this most warmest of Decembers. Enjoy them while they last!!!!