Farm Progress - Gotta Start Somewhere

Last December, I bought the farm.

Clearly I mean this in the literal, not euphemistic, sense. In fact, I've spent some time pondering why the phrase "bought the farm" means "to die", but I digress.

According to the legal survey, my farm is "12 acres, more or less", meaning the surveyor measure off 12.006 acres and called it good. It has a cute farm house I love living in, 6 strong outbuildings, a grove of trees on the north and west sides, and 4.6 acres of ground formerly planted in a corn-soybean rotation that now has grass seeds sprouting in it.

The couple that owned it previously have both passed on, but their legacy lives on in the apple trees, raspberry bushes, rhubarb patch, daffodils and grape hyacinth that I now enjoy - as well as the surprises that keep popping out of the ground as the weather improves.

Even as I bought my new home, I thought about whether I could call it a farm. I live in northeast Nebraska, where a "farm" is usually much bigger than 12 acres and a "farmer" is typically a 59-year-old white man who grows corn and soybeans and/or raises cattle for a living. Folks around here would call my place "an acreage".

That doesn't seem to fit either though, because my ambitions are to grow enough food to feed myself and others in my community. Isn't that what a farm does? In any case, I'll call it a farm even if there are those who would object.

Though my farm lacks a proper name, it is home to twenty-seven 4-week-old chickens who belong to 10 or 11 different breeds. Arrow the English Shepherd and Clementine the Cat struggle for space in the house, though Arrow also comes outside to protect us from the mortal danger posed by passing cars and garter snakes. Gustavo the Turtle has yet to poke her head into the yard, but will enjoy digging holes in the dirt as soon as it's warm enough.

The garden has been tilled, and already the peas, onions, kale and broccoli are making their debut. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and a host of other seedlings await the correct soil temperature in the room upstairs with a big south-facing window. Asparagus crowns went in last weekend, and 175 of the 250 tree seedlings we ordered from our local conservation district are in the ground.

I've already learned a lot about farming in the few months I've been here, like how to drive our 1960's Farmall 460 tractor and the proper distance to stand from a chain saw being operated by someone else (Answer: if there's sawdust in my eyes, I'm too close). I've found that grain bins look an awful lot like space capsules on the inside and that baby chicks are only adorably cute for the first week.

We've been busy.

I have big plans for this farm. And who knows? Maybe by the end of this year, my farm will have grown enough to warrant a name.