Into the Fire, Again?  

Posted by Dave in

OK, if any of you are still out there, here is an update. I have looked at all the half written notes and unpublished posts and decided it was time to salve my conscience about not writing. Although this is the fifth time in nearly as many weeks that I have tried to post. With any luck, I may actually make it.

A lot has happened in the past few months...

My beautiful fiance is now my beautiful wife. My two noisy children have been joined by a noisy niece and a great sister in law, and a grown stepson. We have all moved to a big old farm house with a remaining half dozen acres split evenly between scrubby woods and overgrown pasture. My kids are still adjusting to climbing down from the mountain to the network of deep valleys and rolling hills, and neighbors whose houses we can actually see. My new wife, sister in law and niece are trying to adjust to what they perceive as rural... and I still can't get used to cooking appropriate quantities.

From my quiet cabin in the mountains I could reach several quaint small towns and several minor cities in about the same half hour drive. I had choices whenever I needed supplies, and I guess I was spoiled. My new home, though rural, is only 5 minutes from a small city. Unfortunately, it is depressed, a leftover from the rust belt. Too rural to have caught the economic rise of the 1980's, yet too urban to have benefited from large factory type agriculture. I have to travel nearly the same half hour to get hardware or clothing or any of the myriad things one discovers lacking or lost whenever changing households.

An unplanned surgery and a whole lot of illness has challenged us as we adjust to our new life, and just yesterday we found out that the plans we had for our rural acreage are on hold due to some zoning issues. We are, like much of this rural township zoned residential despite the agricultural background of the area and of the area and a dearth of fresh produce. As a child, I remember making special trips to this area (from our quite rural area) to get the apples and other fruit this area was famous for. Now, there are two fruit farms remaining, but they seem to be much smaller and less known than they were formerly.

Raw milk is almost unheard of. A few inquiries have led to blank stares or non-commital shrugs. In fact the only nearby feed store says that there are not even any dairy operations of any sort in this end of the county. Still, I am searching.

In fact my best leads so far has come from a friend who runs the produce department of a large chain grocery store that caters to "foodies". I drive my half hour several times a week for their selection of "seasonal" veggies that really come from somewhere beyond the equator. During a chance conversation, he mentioned a farm that sells local, hormone free beef and other meats. He had a faraway dreamy look, and could give no ral directions there, but I promise, I will seek it out and let you know.

On the home front, I am thinking of dubbing our new home the "Back-Yard Farm". I am in the beginning stages of applying for variances to allow light agricuture on our acreage. Much of our land is nearly 1/4 mile from any neighbors, and yet as zoned is legal only for dogs or cats. Chickens are prohibited as well as the sale of any extra eggs or produce. If we can't get our variance we are paying taxes on land that is essentially useless to us. Its my own fault, of course. But in our haste, I trusted the real estate agent - fool move.

Still we are forging ahead with planting both gardens and fruit trees. I just tilled an asparagus bed despite dire warnings from my doctor, and to everyone's suprise but mine, I feel better from the work. I seldom get sick, but I frequently need patching up...

To anyone who is left out there, Thank You. I really hope to keep you posted, and get some new recipes going, but my new Brady Bunch sized family has gotten me a bit off my game. As soon as I figure out my wife's camera and how to upload, I promise a few before and after pictures too.

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