From JOHN DEPEW
The cabin is built intelligently, bermed halfway up the first floor on three sides, and wood heated. We cut our own wood in the state park, and I have no intention of ever heating any other way, just as I have no interest in living in any town or city, whatever size.
The reason why I do not yet farm is simple: Land. The price of land here has doubled in the last ten years, which I suppose is about the average across the nation. Farmland in this great Jeffersonian grid currently sells for around $2000/acre, which is great compared to almost anywhere else in the country, until you realize that essentially the smallest parcel you are likely to find for sale is 80 acres. Usually 160, a quarter section. The moment you are able to shoot or photograph a large whitetail buck on said land, count on the price going to $3000, since the rich non-resident hunters are eager to buy good wooded land and let it grow up into a huge brush heap so that they can be sure to shoot a deer the one weekend a year they’re in the county. For that matter, a pretty good chunk of the farmland in the county is owned by non-residents too, who in turn lease it to farmers who do live here. We all know why this is frustrating, no need to thresh it out here.
We are young, and we are working hard and saving money, and I have my eye on a piece of land about 5 miles down the road from the small town where my wife’s parents live, and where we both work. At home, the cabin, we have a small garden with all the typical garden vegetables (minus sweet corn, since I don’t feel like fighting the deer and raccoons), and in a couple of months, I will be planting a patch of barley to over-winter. I brew my own beer during the winter months so this crop will get used in 2012. We eat a lot of fish out of the lake, both of my own catching by trotline and fishing pole, and from our retired DWP fisheries biologist landlord, neighbor, and friend. He spends about 60% of his time hunting and fishing, the other 40% gardening, and frequently stops by with tomatoes, beans, and fish in the summer, berries in the fall, and Canada geese in the winter. We eat well.
My wife is the grand-daughter of one of the early Wheat geneticists, and she has worked at the company he founded for the past 9 years. We are both actively interested and involved in wheat breeding, and our goal is to start breeding heirloom wheat varieties, along with other types of vegetables for the hot, dry climate and our local soil conditions. We know of no organic vegetable breeders or seed companies in our area, and we feel that localized, adapted seed is a needed component of a good gardening community.
For now, though, we’re limited to about one city lot, with restrictions on livestock due to neighborhood covenants, so we do the best we can with what we have and try to thoroughly enjoy it while also looking ahead to land ownership and the opportunity to expand somewhat into what might truly be called ‘farming.’