Category Archives: hobby farm life

Our Acreage Adventure!

Standard

We moved out to a farm!!!  I’m still in shock! We have been dreaming and scheming of moving to the country for YEARS and it is finally happening! I’m going to give you the reader’s digest version of our residential timeline so I can just get right into telling you how we FINALLY made our dreams of farm living a reality!

14470392_10210718290531554_4739716006585296250_n

2010 – We got married and moved in together.  It was a tiny, 2-bedroom apartment in a complex of 8 other apartments.  Too many neighbors!

 

2012 – We moved to a new two-bedroom apartment with cheaper rent.  This new apartment was actually the mother-in-law-suite side of a large house.  So we got the benefits of a large yard and basement, without all of the rent cost and maintenance of a large house.

 

2014 – We both had steady jobs and were sick of throwing our money away on rent.  After 4 years of marriage, we were ready to finally own our own home!  We purchased a three-bedroom home in town.  Even at that time we knew we wanted to live in the country, but our budget wouldn’t allow for that.  So, we settled on a starter home in town to build up some equity for our dream home on an acreage!

 

2016 – We still love our house, but really want more land and fewer neighbors.  We decided to start looking for a new house in early Spring.

 

My goal was to find the new place, list our house for sale, sell our house, and move to the new house. If you have ever gone through the process of buying and selling a house – you know that this is not an easy feat.  Our real estate agent was not optimistic, but he was willing to play along.  So, we went to look at acreages.

The other difficult part of buying and selling a house is that you can only pick from what is on the market at that very moment. You have absolutely no idea what is going to come onto the market in 6 months or even 6 days.   Things change quickly, but you can only choose from what is on the market at the current time.  Since our house wasn’t even listed yet, we were not desperate to find a house.  However, we were eager to get some land and because we didn’t have a crystal ball that showed what houses were going to come on the market – we had some moments of weakness and tried to buy a few houses that just weren’t right for us.  God was watching out for us though and prevented us from settling on the wrong house just to get out of town.

 

OUR HOUSE WISHLIST:

  • 5-10 Acres of land

  • At least 3 bedrooms

  • Relatively new updates and/or not much maintenance

  • Hard surface road commute to work

  • Gas Range

HOUSE #1:

The first house we put an offer on was a 5 bedroom house on 1.5 acres.  We got a lot of raised eyebrows on this one.  Since it is just the two of us, why would we need 5 bedrooms?  The way I saw it, I had room for a master bedroom, craft room, a guest bedroom, an office, and *hopefully someday* a nursery.  Sounded pretty great to me! It was a really funky house with a weird layout, but we thought we could make it work.  It was built on a hill with a great view right outside of town. The commute would be short, but it was on the main highway so there would be lots of traffic.  It really wasn’t the land layout we wanted, but we were eager to get out of town so we put an offer on it and the offer was accepted.  We buckled down and started to get our house ready for sale.  The same week we got our house on the market we got news that another offer had been placed on the house we wanted to buy.  The other offer didn’t have the same contingency as ours (that we needed to sell our house first) so we had 72 hours to remove the contingency or they would go with the other offer.  We knew this was a risk for the way we chose to do things, but we were still disheartened.  We said goodbye to the big house and started back at square one looking for a new house.

 

HOUSE #2

Now that our house was officially listed on the market we were much more eager to find a place.  This time we found a property with less house and more land. The second house was a one-bedroom cabin on 3.5 acres with a trout stream running through.  BIG difference between house 1 and 2 but, like I said, we could only choose from what is currently on the market.  Having the land was more important to us than having a big house.  It is a lot easier to build a bigger house or add on than to try to buy more land from your neighbors.  Farmland is precious in Iowa.  This house was also priced lower than the house we were currently living in – which made up for the half-hour commute we would now have.  We put an offer on it right away – it was priced too well to not make a move.  We knew full well that this house could get bought out from under us as well.  At the price point, it would be a desirable get-away cabin for hunters or other outdoor enthusiasts.  It took less than three days for us to get another 72-hour clause which we were again unable to remove our contingency.  So, we said good bye to house #2.

 

HOUSE #3

At this point, it seemed that the market had spoken – we were not going to find a house before we sold ours.  We changed our strategy and decided to wait until our house had sold before we put an offer on another one.  We had a lot of showings and really good feedback on our listing, but no serious offers.  Our eyes were still on the market and what was available, but we didn’t want to get our hearts broken again by losing out on yet another house.  All through the summer we showed our house and we remained patient that it would sell.  Once fall started to creep closer we got less patient.  We decided that if our house hadn’t sold by the end of September/early October we were going to take it off the market until Spring and then try again.

Thankfully, we actually had some friends who were interested in our house.  They had expressed interest even before we started looking but weren’t in the position to buy right at that time.  7 months had passed since we originally started talking about selling our house and getting out in the country and a lot had changed since then.  Our friends were now in a position to buy and we were even more ready to sell!  We accepted their offer and they were very gracious in giving us until the end of the year to find a new house!

House #3 was owned by another friend of ours who owns a lot of real estate in the area.  It was a little bit of a jog, however…. It was at least a half an hour commute for us and could be longer with weather conditions.  The house had two bedrooms and lots of potential for more in the unfinished basement.  Hub-hub was in love with the land and all that the 5 acre property had to offer with a pond, outbuildings, and woods for hunting. Our realtor went back and forth with their realtor for weeks trying to hash out the details.  We could never agree on the terms, so we said goodbye to house #3.

 

 

House #4

At this point we were feeling very discouraged.  Our goal was to move in the summer time and winter was now fast approaching.  It had now been 8 months since we started this process and lots of things had changed.  Hub-hub was offered a promotion at work, our house was sold, I was approaching my one-year anniversary at my job, and we had made 8 months of mortgage payments since our last talk with the bank.  We decided to go visit the bank and see if we could increase our budget at all so we could expand our search for acreages in the area.  The bank said yes!

With our newly widened search options, we set out to find our dream acreage!  We went to look at a few properties but only one was right for us.  Our new acreage is 10 minutes from town, on a hard surface road.  We only have 100 yards of gravel to travel to our driveway, so traffic is minimal on our road.  We have outbuildings and fencing already set up for animals and with 5.4 acres we should be able to get a nice little hobby farm going in no time! The house itself has been recently remodeled and all the rooms are large! It has three bedrooms and two baths.  We are in love and so relieved to finally have an acreage to call our own!

img_4068

It has been quite the journey and I still have to pinch myself to remind me that this is all real!  Hub-hub and I feel so blessed to call this little chunk of land our own and are counting down the days until Spring so we can get some roots in the ground and animals in the pastures!   Thank you to all who have said prayers for us as we made plans to make this move.  We are so fortunate to have been able to find our dream property and are so grateful for all the support we received from friends and family!

 

Next Up: I’m hosting my very first family Christmas on the farm!!!!

Thanks for visiting!

 

The Essentialist Movement is my personal journey towards health and happiness that I hope will inspire you too!

Would you like to get more from The Essentialist Movement?

“Like” me on Facebook – The Essentialist Movement

Follow me on Instagram – @theessetialistmovement

Send us an email – theessentialistmovement@gmail.com

2016 Garden Recap – The Flood and The Resilient Resistance

Standard
2016 Garden Recap  – The Flood and The Resilient Resistance
14798848_10210899346857849_1196437020_n

The peaceful prairie next to our community garden plot!

We live in an absolutely outstanding community in Northeast Iowa.  Decorah is home to some pretty great programs, businesses, and ideas.  The program we came to know and love this summer was their Community Garden Program!  For $40 and a $20 clean-up deposit, we secured a 24 foot X 24 foot plot for the summer that the Parks and Recreation department kept supplied with water and mulch!  To top it all off, this was the first year they added an 8 foot fence to keep deer out!  We were very excited to have a satellite garden that would allow us to have a space to put all our plants while still listing our house for sale (more on our acreage search later!).  It gave us a place to hang out while our house was being shown and the dogs loved to visit the big, open prairie right next door!  It was so peaceful!

So I scoured the town and started buying up as many little green things and seed packets as I could get my hands on.  Seriously, come spring time, I CANNOT leave a grocery or hardware store without adding just one (or five) more little green things to my collection of plants. There is ALWAYS room for one more tomato plant and I definitely NEED three varieties of basil! 😉

14686295_10210899346617843_1205516109_n

Gardening is always an experiment.  I am still working to figure out which plants I like to start from seedlings and which I prefer to start from seed.  Luckily for me, we have some great resources in Decorah to get any and all combinations!  For seeds, no one compares to our lovely Seed Savers Exchange.  For seedlings, I LOVE the Oneota Co-op, the Winneshiek Farmer’s Market, and River Root Farms!  One sunny day in early Spring we got to work on starting seeds and re-potting seedlings.  As my plant collection continued to grow in the one sunny window available, we kept visiting the new garden plot hoping the frost would end so we could FINALLY get some roots in the ground!

In May we did get those roots in the ground and the garden flourished!  It was an awesome rain/sun alternating pattern for gardening all through out June and July.  Even though water was supplied at our garden plot, we didn’t have to use it as much as we should have.  It would rain every few days and then the sun would come out for a few days.  The plants were loving it and everything was growing beautifully!

We did keep a few pepper and tomato plants at the house for easy access.  As the season progressed, continued to visit the garden to check and see what new vegetables were ready to harvest.  Having such a large garden plot really allowed us to grow a TON of nutritious veggies that we loved finding new ways to prepare.

It was so wonderful to be providing food for ourselves!  Now that we had a bigger garden plot to grow more veggies than ever before, we felt we were ready to dive into the world of canning.  We invested in a bunch of jars, a water bath canner, a pressure canner, and some fun new attachments for my Kitchenaid mixer. For things that are better frozen, we purchased a vacuum sealer saver system.  We were ready to go!  To get our feet wet, we got some peaches in July and canned some as slices and made some jam.  It didn’t take much – we were hooked!  Now we just needed the rest of our veggies to finish ripening and we were on our way to a pantry full of home grown goodies all year round!

And then this happened………..

14825802_10210899255335561_1637260222_n14825643_10210899255415563_1250087046_n14799016_10210899255375562_536606776_n14643111_10210899255455564_1598613133_n

In the early night hours of August 24, 2016 our area received over 8 inches of rain.  The normally tame Upper Iowa River rose 10 feet, pouring over its banks into the surrounding low lying areas – which included the beautiful prairie and our garden.  You can see the outline and the tips of the 8 foot tall fence peaking out above the water.  The garden was almost totally gone.  Many people lost their homes due to extensive flood damage and water pouring into their basement.  One man even lost his life after his car got swept away in the raging water.  Our little corner of Northeast Iowa was not very pretty for quite a few weeks as more rain and flooding continued to ravage our area for weeks after the first major flood!  Here is a video that shows a better perspective of just how devastating the water damage was.

 

14825542_10210899257175607_1490518010_n

Thankfully, the flooded river has since pulled itself back to below its banks and flows much slower now.  This past Wednesday I went to the garden to get it cleaned up for the season. The fence had been torn apart by the river and so I followed the deer tracks to find what once was a thriving, growing garden had turned into a graveyard of rotting, disfigured, and dead vegetable remains.  But God has a beautiful way of ensuring that there is always hope for the future.  As I walked up to the dark ghosts of the sunflower plants that had once bloomed over this  magnificent garden space, I pulled one down to reveal a full head of seeds!  I immediately retrieved a bag from my car and set to work harvesting the seeds to grow a whole sunflower patch next spring.

14793737_10210899256135581_2131635001_n

This summer my garden taught me a lot about love and loss, about preparing for the storms of the future, and believing in the hope of new life through God’s promises.  I am so thankful that my family was safe and I am so proud of our little community and how once again we have banded together to help one another.  Decorah truly is a wonderful place to live!

 

Thanks for visiting!

 

The Essentialist Movement is my personal journey towards health and happiness that I hope will inspire you too!

Would you like to get more from The Essentialist Movement?

“Like” me on Facebook – The Essentialist Movement

Follow me on Instagram – @theessetialistmovement

Send us an email – theessentialistmovement@gmail.com

Hobby Farm Life – Introduction to the Gardens

Standard

We have now lived in our first home for one year.  We absolutely LOVE home ownership and are thrilled to be out of our cramped apartment.  One of my favorite parts about owning a house is finally feeling like I can put down some roots (both literally and figuratively)!  Last summer we were pretty swamped with the unpacking process and didn’t get much done in the way of a garden.  THIS YEAR, however, is a completely different story!  It seems as though every time I go to the farmer’s market or our local Co-op I bring home another little plant *or two*.  I love Springtime!

I have to be very creative when it comes to finding places to put my plants.  We have a very small lot and two dogs – which equals not a lot of garden space.  Our house/yard contains 6 different garden patches *so far*.

THE WINDOW HERB GARDEN

11390316_413849422134945_4980560066085191772_n

Before it got warm enough to plant outside I was already itching to get planting.  I had seen this really neat idea on Pinterest for a hanging herb garden and I set out to convince Hub-Hub to let me construct this in our living room.  Then I started looking at the prices of curtain rods! This was going to be a major focal point for our living room and would interfere with a lot of the natural light and I just couldn’t justify spending $30 EACH for the curtain rods I wanted.  COMPROMISE: we took a long bench we ALREADY owned and put all our new little herbs pots on it along with our existing house plants. Voila!

THE JUNK GARDEN

11392815_413852312134656_4382479301794105123_n

I have a heard time getting rid of things that I believe can be upcycled into usable things.  When we bought our house it came with a few such items that the previous owner had neglected.  I used an old bench, tires, a pallet, an old fire pit, an aluminum cooking tray, and a plastic tub to plant all sorts of veggies.

The first weekend in May, while Hub-Hub was away for the weekend, I got to work turning a few of these discarded items into mini raised beds.  A few weeks later we got some edging and mulch to define the area and keep the weeds out.  Then last weekend I got a fence up to keep the deer and rabbits out.    In the junk garden I am growing carrots, green beans, summer squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, beets, celery, tomatoes, lettuce, kale, eggplant, sage, peppermint, and chives.

THE NOT-A-FLOWER BED

10606414_413851482134739_8368147213024465971_n

There used to be flowers in this bed.  But with the great southern exposure, I just needed the space for veggies.  I did move a few of the flowers to new homes.  I hope to get more flowers planted next year for the butterflies and bees but this year’s budget only called for veggies.  This bed is very protected from wind by the house so I planted broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and corn.

THE BERRY PATCH

10422253_413852628801291_7506912557608641712_n

Let me tell you, this bed looks SO MUCH better now that we got it edged in and mulched this week.  The tullips bulbs we planted last year were beautiful this spring and I hope this lily flowers make an appearance soon.  This years addition to this bed has been two blueberry bushes and a raspberry bush!  I cannot WAIT for fresh fruit!

THE PIE BED

11407142_413852878801266_6541702035637729353_n

In this bed we planted strawberries and rhubarb – which, coincidentally, is my favorite pie to make! We’ll see if we get enough this year to make a pie.

DECK GARDENS

11406990_413854212134466_7208887286706831351_n 11390332_413851798801374_7223805137028548_n

Both my front and side decks are full of plants.  I figure if I keep my plants in pots off the ground and close to the house the deer will know to stay away… right?  On the deck I upcyled and old school desk (also left here by the previous owners) into a potted plant holder.  With the staggered levels all the plants can share in the sunshine.

I am absolutely IN LOVE with my gardens. 🙂  Additionally, here are some articles about how digging around in the soil is actually very good for your health!  I know I seem to do a lot better with my anxiety on days when I get out in the sunshine and dirt!

Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy 

It’s in the Dirt! Bacteria in soil may make us happier, smarter

Soil Bacteria Work In Similar Way To Antidepressants