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Showing posts with label intro to the grovestead. Show all posts
Showing posts with label intro to the grovestead. Show all posts

the first snowfall

We got about two inches, which clearly necessitated the use of the new tractor with snow plow implement. Rory announced our purchase of this kubota tractor over on his blog and we're pretty excited about it. It's the same tractor we've been able to use over the past two years, when we've needed it. Our good friends had it and used it mostly for snow removal in town. But he was looking for a covered cab, leaving this baby for sale. Rory has named it Kubota Tractor Groves.

On Sunday afternoon we realized we needed a home for Kubota so Rory went to Menards and bought the grey thing pictured below. It was supposed to go on the side of the house, but the land was too sloped there. So now we have this little beauty right on the side of our driveway, keeping sweet Kubota Tractor snug and dry. It also has become a favorite hang out for Ivar and Elsie, and the cat family. I have named this structure Functional Eyesore Groves. I am quite tempted to paint it red and trim it out in white.

But look at this happy, handsome man. He stayed up on Sunday night until 2 in the morning building this cozy shelter for his new baby. Welcome to the family Kubota Tractor and Functional Eyesore.

two years at the grovestead

At the end of July we hit our two year mark at The Grovestead. We were between vacations and I didn't have time to write about it, but I have reflected on this milestone quite a bit. My sister has always said that two years is the magic number for a new place to feel like home. And I would fully agree. It took both years to get here.

And just like one year ago, I am having trouble processing what was the greatest change: was it going from one kid to two kids? the actual lifestyle change from the city to the country? surviving two of the longest, coldest winters ever?

I'm not sure.

There are still moments when I rub my eye balls and shake my head that this is my life. Like the week I was looking all over for the bathroom scale, only to find it out in the garage being used to weigh potatoes. Strangely, I hadn't thought to look in the garage. Or the night Rory was away in Wisconsin and I found myself awake at 3:30, worrying that the chicks didn't have enough water. So I went outside on a very dark night, by myself, with a flashlight between my legs, pouring water into their water feeder. It was a moment I'll never forget because I was proud of myself for taking on the responsibility. And because it was dark and spooky outside. Becoming the keeper of the honeybees is another "who have I become?" adventure. But a good one. I feel stretched and surprised and so empowered by learning something so completely new.

This move was a really good one for us. It's full of adjustments and challenges too, but overall we are living a dreamy life. One night in particular comes to mind, that sort of sums up our new lifestyle. The night before we left for Family Bible Camp, we were at a friend's birthday party for their kids. We were eating homemade doughnuts and pasta salad and Rory and I started telling each other what all needed to get done before we could leave in the morning: we needed to buy chicken feed, I needed to check on the bees, we desperately needed to mow the lawn, the beets needed to be pulled and maybe the potatoes and the apple trees had to be watered. Not to mention packing up the family for the week. We looked at each other and then checked the time on our phones and realized we had to bust a move. We had actual farm chores that had to get done before the sun went down.

But five hours later we had the car all packed up. We had worked like a machine, taking turns with the kids while one parent did something outdoors, the other cleaned and packed inside. Eventually the kids were in bed and on that starry night, Rory brought our tallest ladder so we could climb up on our roof to watch a lightening storm moving our direction. There was no moon that night and it was so dark except for the lightening illuminating the clouds in front of us and the milky way stretched out above us.

There were fireflies blinking in the woods and I remember really having it sink in that we are living a rich and full life. Even though hours before while tending to our animals and land, laundry and children, I was wondering what we had gotten ourselves into.

That evening seems to sum it up our transition to the country the very best. Our life here on this hobby farm is a mixed bag. There are moments that feel demanding and exhausting followed by moments that feel absolutely perfect and incredibly blessed.

And what I'm finding is that the blessed moments outweigh the frustrating ones. I'm excited to be here for a good, long time.

our organic garden

I'm all for keeping it real on this blog, and I'm about to do just that. Our garden is abundant this year in cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes and sweet peas. And depending on how I take the pictures, you might just think our garden is well tended. And it sort of is. It gets watered. It was planted. You know, the basics.

But it turns out there is a lot going on at this little hobby farm. And weeding just never seems to be at the top of the list. Which means that our garden is also abundant in weeds. As in, they are out of control.

Tonight we will have 40 relatives here to visit our little farm. The farming relatives. The ones who all have huge gardens and green thumbs and years and years of expertise. And we're going to have to show them our weeds. I have this feeling some of these relatives might just grab a pair of gloves and start pulling. Which would be awesome and embarrassing at the same time.

So as long as the farming relatives get to see the true state of our garden, I thought I'd share it with you too.

So there it is. Our dirty laundry. Or in this case, our weedy garden.

july at the grovestead

And I'm back! We just returned from family bible camp and had an awesome time. I had planned on blogging while up at camp, but as it turns out camp has its own wonderful pace and I only got my laptop out one time. Which might just be reason number 6,793 why I love family bible camp so much.

But it also meant I went a whole week without blogging! Which is a very rare occurrence for me.

This month flew by and I have a whole lot of posts still left in my head so I thought I'd close this month with a bit of a photo dump. We're in full on summertime here at the grovestead. Lots of animals, flowers, produce, sunshine and weeds. Our chickens are growing, our children are growing, and our garden is growing.

It's a happy season and we're happily soaking it all in.

the city mice went to the country/ why we moved

In 2009, Rory planted tomato, green pepper and basil seeds in three pots on the porch of our apartment in Nebraska. I don't believe I would have ever thought those little seeds would be magical, but looking back, they sort of were. They set a new course for us. Because when we ate our own food...our own tomatoes on our BLT's, our own basil on bruschetta, we got really excited. I mean, really excited.

At the same time, we had good friends who had just made a bold move to California to purchase their own land with dreams of one day planting an olive orchard and maybe raising some animals. We happened to be in the area when they were looking for their new place and the hunt sort of got into our blood. Rory came home and began looking at topographical maps of Minnesota and taking road trips to scope out parts of the state.

It was all a far off dream though. Nothing that was going to happen very quickly in our minds.

Just before we had Ivar we moved back into our home on a tenth of an acre in Minneapolis and Rory began to draw up plans for his first garden. He spent the winter reading books, working and reworking the garden grid, planting a few seeds as starts in the window sill.

That winter he decided to take the month of May off as a sabbatical of sorts. He would check his email in the morning, but decided not to do any programming or computer related projects for the month. He was tired of technology and excited to start digging in the dirt.

He built his raised beds, mixed the soil, planted his seeds and began to unwind a bit. Taking the time away from his all-consuming company was a really, really good move.

That first harvest of veggies and berries was pure joy. Turns out Rory could grow things. And build things. And I started stretching my own self...finding new recipes for eggplants, canning tomatoes and making our own spaghetti sauce. This little pastime was becoming a really fun lifestyle. And we loved being outside so much.

Winter came and Rory began to modify his garden plans, staked out a third plot for more produce and suddenly half of our backyard was gardens.

Something began to shift in me during this first year of gardening. And it had to do with my husband. As Ivar and I sat out on a blanket watching Daddo, I saw Rory grow happier as he was fully engaged in something that was life giving and disconnected from his laptop. When you work for yourself it is quite easy to work all the time. And when you work from home it is nearly impossible to "leave the office." But this garden was helping.

Rory was transforming into his best version. I loved it. He was less worried. Less anxious. And he looked really good with a tan. Really good.

We continued to look at different parts of Minnesota for property. But we really didn't think the move would happen any time soon. Mostly I liked the romantic notion of a Sunday afternoon drive while we looked for properties. They were lovely mini roadtrips, with soulful conversation, dreaming together, wondering what our future would hold. Rory nearly got mauled by a farm dog on one vacant lot he was scoping out (clearly I would have been great help, able to document his mauling with my camera if need be).

I had a picture in my head of what rural home might work for us though. It was a picture of my Grandma Bredberg's farm with the yellow house. It had a big garden, a nice grove of trees with a long lane. Whenever I pictured this move, I imagined us moving there. I even inquired to my uncle about us moving there...but it was sold long ago, and the woman living there isn't moving anytime soon.

While in California on our first Ivar-less vacation, we talked more about what we hoped to get out of such a move. We started making dreams for our new life on a hobby farm. And then we got practical and specific. We sat down and we each made a list of what exactly we were looking for in a future place. My list had to do with the house (an attached garage, a kitchen that could fit a table, carpet in the living room, 3 bedrooms...) Rory's list had to do with the property (how many acres, part wooded, part tillable...) I added to my list that I would like neighbors close by and Rory tried once again to explain to me what rural meant.

Eventually we found the listing for this house. The pictures were few and left a lot out. But the description nearly perfectly matched the lists we had just shared with each other. Rory checked it out and loved the property. But he didn't know what I'd think.

In absolutely no hurry, he brought me to see the place five days later. And I kid you not, I was sold before we even turned into the drive. The Oak Trees had me at Hello. Theyhadmeathello.

I loved the town, I loved that it was a dirt road with neighbors (neighbors!). I loved the location to our families (we could have ended up a lot farther away) and I loved the house: an old 1890's farm house that was kept in great condition with lots of love and care. I loved everything about the place.

As I saw each room for the very first time I was already figuring out where to put our furniture, deciding which room would be Ivar's, which room would be the nursery. 

Forty eight hours later, this house in the country was ours. 

We moved out here with no agenda. We're not going all organic. We're not going off-grid. We're not building a bomb shelter. Our hope for this move was based around our kids wanting to raise our family with more room to run around. And we wanted a bigger backyard to plant our garden.

It's a bigger back yard, that's for sure.

So here we are. It has almost been six months and we continue to love our new life out here. And wait until you see Rory's sketches for his next garden. I believe we may have to get our hands on a tractor. I'll keep you posted. 

no cow farm

While driving back and forth last week between my folks' place and our new place we kept talking about what we should name our new 10 acres. We have been calling it "the farm" but knew there was something more clever and perfect for our new home.

It turns out all of the nice tree and Groves combo names have already been taken by suburbs or middle schools: Maple Grove, Oak Groves, Cedar Park...

When we would tell Ivar we needed to get in the car to go to the farm he would get very excited. But then when we got to the farm the first thing he would do is inspect each building and announce, "no cow. no cow."

He thought we were going to Jake and Louie's farm. The one with cows and tractors and Ida and Stella.

He still looks for the cows each morning and night as we take our family walks around our new property. His neck stretches ahead of his body, hopeful that maybe that little red barn has a moo in it. And then he lets us know, "no cow. no cow."

So for now, we're No Cow Farm. A farm that is hopeful to one day have chickens and maybe bees, certainly a huge garden and fruit trees. And perhaps one day a cow. 

country roads

We’re moving from 1/8 acre to 10 acres. It used to be a farm, but the barn and silo have been torn down and it hasn’t had animals for over 40 years. It is part wooded, part corn field rented to the neighboring farmer and a whole lot of lawn to mow. (We got the riding mower in our purchase agreement!)

The farm house was built in 1890 and is in impressive shape, considering its age. The owners we are purchasing the house from have lived in this house for the last 40 years, raising their kids, hosting all of the family gatherings out on the front lawn.

Rory has been looking for a rural property for a bit over three years now. When we lived in Nebraska, he would take weekend trips back to Minnesota and scout out the areas he loved the most. He brought me along to see some of these properties and I humored him. I knew he was serious about this dream, but I didn’t really see it happening anytime soon.

We knew when we got pregnant with baby #2 that we would either have to finish our basement and put another bedroom in down there, or find a new home. And after pricing out the basement remodel and then realizing that the basement would just be the start, we decided we probably would have to move…because everything else started to feel a bit cramped when we envisioned another kiddo running around in here.

So we kept looking. Not really expecting to find anything, but hopeful.

We didn’t tell anyone we were looking though. This was mostly because we didn’t know if it would take three months or three years to find what we were looking for. The house hunt felt very casual, very non-committal.

So we took our road trips, visited properties and kept this fun little conversation between the two of us. And strangely, as Rory continued to tell of his dreams for this rural life, I started to feel some of my own dreams come to life as well. I began to envision my days. In February we found a house that we loved.  It had a huge porch and a big sun room. I could see myself living there, content and really happy. That property ended up falling through because of crazy zoning stuff beyond our control, but I told Rory after that visit, “something big just happened. I just became un-tethered.” And from that moment on, I was fully on board with this house hunt. His dream had become my dream too.

I think this is such a crazy and amazing part of marriage: the birth of dreams. It’s amazing, because usually a dream is birthed in one partner.  But to watch this dream grow into our dream might have been one of the cooler things to behold in our marriage.

When we first drove onto the property, we let Ivar out and he quickly ran opposite of the house. We just watched him as we caught up with our realtor. He was giggling and stumbling, and kept turning around to see when we were going to tell him to come back. But we never did. He was free to run in any direction he wanted.

And in that instant, I wanted to live there.  I envisioned a whole lot of our future days running around that yard, exploring the woods and raising our kids with a big garden, forts in the woods and a gravel road.

The next day we bought the place. A week later we sold our place. That felt crazy and wonderful. And now we are due to have a baby in one week, and to move the week after that. Which also feels quite crazy and wonderful...