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The wintry weather is finally thawing in West Michigan, and I, for one, could not be happier. After living in southern West Virginia for the past three years, I found that I grossly underestimated what a real Michigan winter feels like. While we’re getting reports of blooming daffodils at the Knob House, the view outside my home office window still has several inches of snow. Sooner than we anticipate, it will be time to tackle the tasks of spring. And trust me, we are eager to get started. Chicks, Chicks, and Keets Anyone who met us in West Virginia knows our weakness is collecting animals. For that reason, I consider it a tremendous achievement that we moved to our Michigan farmhouse with just five pets to our name (two dogs and three parakeets) and lasted three months before we added more. But that streak was never meant to last, so a few weeks ago Ian put in a mail order for ten Speckled Sussex chicks. We’ve never ordered livestock through the mail before, but all the cutesy farm blogs I’ve read over the years convinced me it was worth a try. Unfortunately for us, our tiny chicks weathered some tribulations […]

The post Slogging Towards Spring: Chicks, Plants and Home Decor appeared first on First Roots Farm.

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One month already in our new home? To me it’s felt more like six months… or just six days. From my experience, every move that I’ve made from one stage of life to another made me appreciate the part I’d just left a little more than before. That pattern’s stayed true since moving to our farm property. We’ve looked forward to owning our own space for so many months that some parts were inevitably going to be a letdown. I knew this subconsciously and reminded myself to keep my expectation realistic in the months leading up to the move. But for some bizarre reason, the fear of becoming disappointed made me more inclined to seek out and name the ways I would be. For instance, around this time a year ago (after we first closed on the property), I became borderline obsessive about researching soil quality and scared myself with statistics that ‘proved’ our naturally sandy soil was a disaster in the works. I spent hours pouring through research in an attempt to convince Ian we’d made a terrible financial decision and that all of our dreams were dashed before we even began- never mind that we had no concrete […]

The post Moving to the Farmhouse: The First Month appeared first on First Roots Farm.

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After counting down for months (sixteen if you’re curious) since the official closing date, this past weekend was when the magic happened. We finally moved into our little Michigan farmhouse. Like a lot of things I eagerly anticipate for a year or more, it went a little better in my mind. ….. Saturday December 1 was the big day. Despite waking up with a wicked head cold, I jumped into work mode with Ian in the early hours, packing up the last remnants of living with my parents for four months into the closest available bags. A process we expected to take half an hour took closer to three, as we kept finding hidden caches of possessions we had conveniently forgotten we owned. But after stripping my childhood bedroom bare, we finished packing both the truck and the family van to the point of being road hazards and made the 40 minute trip to Allegan. Walking into the house for the first time after a year away was sort of surreal…and chilly. It was surreal because I was finally in a place I’ve stalked on Zillow dozens of times since we closed on it, and seeing it as it was […]

The post Moving Into the Farmhouse: Week One appeared first on First Roots Farm.

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We were driving back from church last spring, contentedly filling the long car ride home with aimless chatter. “You know,” Ian told me, “one of the first things I want to do when we move to Michigan is to remove that giant tree from our backyard. It’s leaning too close to the roof for comfort.” As is my nature, I promptly tried to talk him down from this expensive endeavor. The tree was massive, and it would take some seriously specialized cuts to bring it down safely. It would cost us thousands of dollars to remove that wood from the property, and what I really wanted was to spend that money bringing some in- in the form of hardwood floors. Jump forward just an hour later, and I got the kind of phone call that everyone dreads. “Lydia,” my dad began, “I have some bad news.” It was a rainy spring in Michigan, and the saturated sandy soil at our property had proved to be too much for this bloated boxwood elder. Our renters told us they heard an ear-splitting crash and walked outside to see the backyard suddenly transformed beyond recognition. The tree had seemingly collapsed in place, crashing […]

The post The Fallen Tree Disaster that Almost Was appeared first on First Roots Farm.

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The calendar tells me that it’s been over a month since we moved off the mountain, but that can’t be right. I’m still struggling to set up a new work routine, and my suitcase isn’t close to unpacked. That’s primarily because we’re in a state of limbo right now. We’ve temporarily moved into my parent’s house and are waiting for our renter’s one-year lease to expire in early December before we make the official move to our farm property. So for the meantime, I’m reacquainting myself with city life. After three years of living in relative seclusion on the ridge, it’s the little things that catch me off guard. Traffic noises are disarming, and I’m rediscovering the powers of Pandora and YouTube with an unlimited internet connection. I’ve made mental friends with our mailman, who is my new personal hero for delivering my Amazon prime packages directly to the front door (no more driving 35 minutes to the post office!). And, just last week, I made the delightful realization that I can satisfy any sugar craving with a four-block walk to the dollar store, rather than waiting for the weekly post-church shopping trip. And as the weeks pass in alarming […]

The post What REALLY Happened During Our Last Weeks in West Virginia appeared first on First Roots Farm.

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We stopped at Walmart today. It was a quick trip. With less than two weeks left on the mountain, there’s nothing we can pretend we need. As it is, it will take every day we have left to work through our stores of lentils, garden-grown beets and tomatoes, and the last stray cans of corn and tuna. So we dashed in and grabbed the luxury goods we came for (flavored licorice and frozen jalapeño poppers). And only once back in the parking lot was I struck with how different this grocery trip was from the first one we took in this state. Almost three years ago, we made our first stop together at a West Virginia Walmart. Then, fresh from our honeymoon and depleted from nine hours of driving, we were faced with the daunting task of buying groceries for our newly formed family of two. I remember walking dizzying circles around that store, fretting about whether I should impress Ian by buying the whole wheat flour and attempt to bake homemade bread, or just give in to my inclinations and get the half-off cinnamon rolls to cover the next few meals. I remember us stressing together about prices per […]

The post Coming to Terms with Endings in West Virginia appeared first on First Roots Farm.

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It’s been months in the making, but Ian and I finally found a new way to be different than most millennials and bought our first house. Except it’s not just a house, it’s a real, honest to goodness, fulfills-every-childhood-dream-I’ve-ever-had farmhouse. We own this barn now. Is this real life?! As of last Wednesday, we are the proud owners of 33.5 acres in Allegan County, Michigan. Half of the land is wooded, a quarter is fenced pasture land, and the last quarter is open fields where corn and other crops were grown in decades past. The land was once a forty-acre parcel, but the northeastern corner was carved out for a small cemetery. Traversing the wooded half of the lot are two small streams, and the property comes with a big red barn, four horse stalls, and a smattering of small outbuildings without an immediately apparent purpose. Goat barns? Future chicken coops? Everything seems possible at this stage. Horses are neat, but in a year I envision this pasture with a few dairy goats or alpaca instead. The view from one of the six (!!!) horse pastures. Inside the main barn. One of the two small streams on the property. Centered […]

The post Our Big News: We Bought a Farm! appeared first on First Roots Farm.

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Hey everyone! Did you think you’d never hear from me again? It really hasn’t been too long since my last post. Just since…. May. Whoops. I blame three things for my major blog absence these past three months:  Working so hard to bring my freelancing business to the next level that the idea of spending even more time in front of a computer screen made me want to puke. 2. Gorgeous weather, a jam-packed summer camp schedule, and enough traveling to keep me constantly out of a routine. 3. The anticipation of sharing some BIG news that’s still not quite ready. I’ve been sitting on this story for months, and it’s almost time to go public with it. So stay tuned. Nonetheless, the cooler weather is getting me back into a contemplative mood, and I’m ready to start blogging again. But first, I need to share the kind of news I never wanted to write about. We lost our dog, Aldo, this summer. This is an ever-present risk of having our two dogs live a semi-wild life up here on the mountain, but it still completely blindsided me when it happened last month. For our second anniversary, Ian and I decided to […]

The post Love, Loss and a Pint-Sized Puppy appeared first on First Roots Farm.

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At this point, I feel like I have ample proof that not only is freelance writing NOT an internet scam, it's a perfectly viable employment opportunity for anyone that wants to work from home- no matter their previous experience.

The post Your Freelance Writing Questions, Answered appeared first on First Roots Farm.

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Trust me, I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true. Last year, our homestead garden was entirely my responsibility. While I relied on Ian to run the over-sized tiller to turn up the thick clay we were pretending was good garden soil, the planning, planting and maintenance of the space was completely up to me. And it was a disaster. I started out well enough. Seeds were started in our greenhouse in the early spring and throughout April and May I managed to keep the weeds at bay and coax out some impressive-looking boc choy and broccoli. Falsely inflated with undeserved confidence, I’d breezed over Ian’s requests to plant my seedlings in careful, straight rows (how boring is that?!) and instead placed my plants where ever I saw fit. I also dismissed the idea of keeping a garden log or even recording what was in each section, telling Ian that “I could easily remember it all”. Early in the season I crowded my transplants into corners with the expectation of needing massive free spaces for unspecified future plants later in the season, but by the middle of summer I became so overwhelmed with the big gaps that I direct sowed all the […]

The post Ian Was Right. Don’t Make Me Say it Again. appeared first on First Roots Farm.

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