We have had a few months settling in, getting used to wind, water, slope, drainage. Bugs, animals (lots of animals). We have been working to develop a big plan for planting, but really wanted to get to know things a bit first.
We have been working on the big plan - where the beehives will go, the compost pile, the coop, the cutting garden, the food garden, the fruit trees/orchard, the cane fruit, the nut trees, the medicinal gardens, the greenhouse. I have been working on and tweaking a digital plan (see above). We adopted a dog recently, and so I have been walking the perimeter in sun, rain, and snow, so some of that will change as I have walked the land so much I have a better idea of space and light and drainage.
I am trying to make gradual process in some areas, but I also want to get a lot done (without burning out my family helpers). We laid out some black tarps in the fall, planted some canes and fruit, deer-proofed the small plants - we see a dozen deer a day on our property - and then plotted out where the other beds will go and where we hope to install the high tunnel. We have many bare root and 2nd year plants coming in the spring, so we will plant as we get them! We have our starter beehives and bees will be coming this spring. We have a plan for chickens and geese, but we may ease into that as we recently got a dog and there is much work to be done to get this all started, and more coop and animal care might be too much for everyone. We shall see how we feel once the snow starts to melt!
Our goal is to create not only a permaculture farmette here with food and medicinal plants, but also educational gardens and a space for classes. By working to preserve endangered plants as we can, this space will become a botanical sanctuary, caring for pollinators, plants, and people.
We setup a large seed starting system and I have started seeds. I will share more on that later - but here is our big plan for this year.
2019 Planting Plan
Moving is one of those things that seems to take forever and then boom you are set down in a new home full of boxes. The UNpacking seems to be the hardest - finding the new right, logical, spots for the things that used to have a certain place. Getting the feel for where things will make the most sense and most natural.
We are still unpacking. I think it will be awhile longer. Last weekend we tackled the apothecary and apothecary storage areas. We installed new shelving to get more space for items and we setup several large tables in the classroom/family room/apothecary space so there can be many people there being productive. We have slowly unpacked the boys rooms, getting everything just right. A few neighbors have already dropped by to introduce themselves, including a homeschooling family on the next deadend over. Everyone has been friendly and helpful and I am not worried about Brice traveling on business during the winter knowing that if needed someone is close by.
The main draw of this house was the land, but we haven't been able to explore it since we moved. The Madison area has historic flooding and days where more than a foot of rain fell - so the mosquitoes are fierce and stepping outside, even for a moment, is a battle. Not a few mosquitoes, but literally thousands in a dark cloud. So we are awaiting the first frost, and enjoying seeing outside through our amazing and huge windows. We also have a lovely and large second story deck that seems to be above the mosquito line for the most part, so sitting outside watching the sunrise is beautiful and blood-free. The deck is where we plan to distill any autumn hydrosols before the first frost - we are planning spruce, pine, tulsi, juniper, and geranium before they are done for the season.
I had wondered about the thought vs reality of moving to a rural place. I know I have lived in tiny towns, and in small rural neighborhoods, with no streetlights and only a few distant neighbors. Everyone has been so happy and so in love with the views, the stars, the darkness, the quiet. We all stand together watching the Cooper's Hawks aerial stunts only feet away from the windows. We see the turkeys visit many times per day - dozens of them - and have found a few feathers left from some male posturing over turf. Hummingbirds visit every plant on our deck and a fox ran by along the roadside today before dodging back into the forest. The boys are both happy and content - and have been helping enthusiastically in the kitchen as we try to "catch up" (haha) on canning and preserving as we skipped most of August trying to move with less. Apples, peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, peppers and more are a breeze in our giant kitchen. I am actually enjoying leaving the open floor plan concept into a room that is a kitchen. It is near the living area and dining room but it is a distinct room. We have found ourselves spending more time together in the kitchen - and my baker G is very motivated by having the extra space.
We have big plans and so we have been sketching and thinking and planning. We hope to have a high polytunnel as well as a greenhouse or some sort of permaculture forest greenhouse for plants needing more heat. We are also laying out a food garden with deer fencing, and then are creating many medicinal microgarden areas wrapped around all of the tree areas, to create a walking natural path of medicinals and plantings.
Our fall will include planting fruit - elderberry, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, aronia. goji, and lingonberry. Fruit trees will be going in this fall as well - apple, cherry, and pawpaw.
We also have plans to plant endangered woodland medicinals along the woods on the east side of the property. I brought many plants with me, but we are also planting a lot more. This will include mushroom log spawning as well as black cohosh, solomon's seal, valerian, goldenseal, and several more - all on their way as bare roots. I have seeds for fall planting going in for nettles, lady's mantle, woodruff, hawthorn, evening primrose, skullcap uva ursi, lobelia, motherwort, osha, mugwort, and more. We are staking out our composting area and getting a trailer addition for our ride on mower to haul garden waste as we get things in ground, cleared, and beds made so they can rest over winter. My goal is to have this land as a United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary as well as an educational garden and medicinal herb minifarm.
This was a perfect time of year to move here as it gives us some time to prep for next spring now, but also time to get to know the land, the slopes, the weather, the wildlife, the drainage, and then winds. It isn't overwhelming feeling like we have to do everything NOW, but can work to prep for next spring. I am excited to be able to grow a significant amount of medicinal herbs here - for my use, class use, and to donate to HWB. I feel lucky to be here.
One reason we were motivated to move was the loss of the views at our last home. We started at the edge of a field with views for miles and ended up surrounded by homes and people with no view but lawns and fences. Our new living room has floor to ceiling windows facing west and I am happy to say we have spent almost every night at the windows or on the deck looking out as the sun sets over the fields and hills. We have our piece of the sky back.
If you follow me on facebook or instagram you likely already know the news. We are moving! We have been in this home for 3 years, but we have always had in the back of our mind that we would move again for the right property. Acres. With high speed internet. Rural, but accessible to the airport for my husband who travels on business. We have always felt uncomfortable with people right there when we are in the garden. We are lucky that we actually have great neighbors that we love to chat with, but it still feels like a fishbowl.
From February to June this year we had constant issues with my older son's health. The mast cells are wreaking havoc and his body is reacting and responding to everything. Over a few months he had a biopsy, 2 MRIs, a few scopes, a dozen blood draws, and an urgent care visit. We have some answers and we have been making changes via foods and herbs to support him ongoing - but all of that pretty much reinforced the idea that we need a place where we can settle in for the long haul and where we can just work together as a family. A home that works for us now, and will work for us with adult child or children still living at home. We found one home that was amazing and after a hectic week we discovered the owner used an open house to push an existing accepted offer - and we just wasted time even trying.
About a week after that we were in a small town 40 minutes east and I half heartedly mentioned a house I saw that was nearby - should we drive by? We drove past and immediately called the realtor for a showing the next day. We have been wary of homes that have been lived in since mu son and I react to everything people have used in the home - cleaners, detergents, plug-ins, air fresheners, you name it. But we were in the house for an hour without any reaction. It was spotless, well maintained (anal retentively, almost, which is good). The only house you can *see* when standing anywhere on the property is almost a mile away (there are closer neighbors, but there is a large wooded area of pines, so we cannot see them). Glorious. We put in an offer before we had even listed our house and it was accepted.
We had a frantic week of packing half of everything we own to stage the house for the realty photographer and an open house. The house was listed on that Thursday and on Sunday the open house happened. On Wednesday we had an offer and our house was sold (we have amazing realtor team too). I am not much of a woo person, but I have always felt if something is too hard it wasn't meant to happen. This came together perfectly because it is what we need at this time.
We had high speed internet tested - and it is indeed high speed. The well was tested and it is deep and clean. We had the house inspected and it is not only beautiful, but in great condition. While I can't wait to update the kitchen cabinets and light fixtures throughout the house (a little country for me), it has real wood floors, floor to ceiling windows in the living room with views for miles (literally). It also has a full lower level that can be used as classroom (!!) and business space now and will be a perfect an A apartment if he needs it in the future.
We only have a month to now pack and move. A month or so is plenty of time to make big plans. We want chickens. Greenhouses. Extensive medicinal herb gardens and integrated layered permaculture systems throughout. There is a forest side - perfect for medicinal woodland plants, and plenty of flat space for serious expansion of growing. The property also already has fruit trees, restored grasses and prairie areas, and it is on a road with only 3 other homes, next door to horses. It is also zoned rural so no HOA. Plenty of room to grow food and herbs and have fresh air and sunshine.
Being in this home for a few years has been a good step for us, but we are ready to make the move to better match our lifestyle and to make a better day to day for all of us. We have been waiting and working for many years wanting big open skies, huge views, green rolling hills, and land of our own. It is time.
I am a certified aromatherapist, herbalist, organic gardener, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled boys in south central Wisconsin.