Susan and donkeys for About page

Welcome to the middle of nowhere. Are you sure you've thought this through?

When my (now former) husband and I started telling people that we had traded our vintage Italian convertible for a '69 pickup truck and intended to move from the Northern California wine country to the wilds of Missouri, our announcement was met with various responses.

These were usually along the lines of, Are you completely out of your minds? That's east of here isn't it? What will you do for culture? and I don't think they have an ocean out there. The real pessimists stated flatly, You won't last a year.

The short version:
I'm a former cultured California chick happily turned manure mucking Missouri farmgirl. Twenty-five years ago I moved sight unseen to the middle of nowhere and have almost never looked back.

The extended version:
At least once in their lives, nearly everyone dreams of giving it all up and moving to the country. Few people are crazy enough to actually do it. I'm one of those few.

In 1994, when I was in my mid-twenties, I sold my successful little bakery cafe, packed up numerous boxes of books and vintage treasures acquired during years as a part time antiques dealer, and waved goodbye to my native California.

Armed with a very basic knowledge of gardening, an overenthusiastic sense of adventure, lots of naiveté, and a budget much too small to afford my quaint New England dream farm, I dragged four cats, a large dog, and my equally greenhorn husband (who has since escaped back to civilization) to a 280-acre, 140-year-old 'rustic' homestead in the middle of nowhere.

Within a few months we had acquired two cows, 33 sheep, and a llama. We put in an orchard, and I planted 11,000 square feet of organic heirloom vegetables, flowers, and herbs—all started from seed. I became cook, gardener, shepherd, farmhand, vet, surrogate mom, wildlife expert, sheep midwife, and animal undertaker.

My prep school education and graphic design background were useless. It was a complete lifestyle change as I went from attending restaurant openings, wine tastings, and art gallery receptions to working the rural fire dept's BBQ booth at the annual crafts fair and munching fried pies at country auctions made by little old ladies from the church.

I made ludicrous attempts to maintain some semblance of a refined lifestyle in a place where squirrel is considered food and newly acquainted dinner hosts once remarked that they were, "thrilled to be able to serve you pork ribs, since no one else we know has enough teeth to eat them."

There were Keith Haring serigraphs on the wall and blackleg vaccines in the fridge. I think I still may be the only person in three counties who grows arugula.

In 2000, I moved to an even more remote, 240-acre farm that I share with several dozen sheep, a flock of 21 laying hens (headed by 12-year-old Whitey, who plans to become the World's Oldest Chicken RIP dear Whitey!), two extremely loud roosters (that thing about them only crowing at dawn is a lie), two livestock guardian dogs, one mostly retired English/Australian Shepherd stock dog, two beagles, five farm cats, seven very entertaining donkeys, and one really well fed hunky farmguy.

We live in an old falling down house that we fondly refer to as The Shack (because it really is one) After 8½ years of working on it, we've finally moved into our new house (which still isn't quite done), and my life revolves around food. For several years I wrote about my organic heirloom garden and greenhouse at In My Kitchen Garden.

Some of my favorite posts are from the Friday Farm Fix series I started a few years ago, which gives you an idea of what's going on around the farm and the garden. The first 20 of the Friday Farm Fix posts are here, and there are more here.

Oh, and as for eating squirrel, if you roll it in flour and pan fry it—preferably in homemade lard—it's actually pretty darn tasty. But just when I think I've finally crossed over, the local furniture store runs an ad in the weekly paper for camo covered sofas and recliners. So far I've resisted.

If you'd like to learn a little more about my taste in things like music and movies, you can check out my Blogger profile. And I talk more about farm life on my Frequently Asked Farmgirl Questions page.

Welcome to the farm!


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