Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

VIRGINIA IS FOR LAND LOVERS: This week HOMEGROWN chatted with new member Anita, a once-and-future homesteader who moved back to the land for love. (How’s that for a feel-good Valentine’s story?) Read more about all of the great stuff she and her husband have growing and cooking and grazing below. And don’t be shy: Post a comment and welcome Anita to the fold!

What is Meet Your Neighbors? We can spend a fair amount of time tending our online gardens, but it’s easy to forget there’s a real person behind every quiche recipe, chicken inquiry, and hoophouse design here on HOMEGROWN. Well, nuts to that! MYN gives us a chance to meet over the back fence and shake hands.

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Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on February 7, 2014 at 9:29am

Good morning, Anita! So, we have to start off by saying we love the tagline of your blog: “When you homestead life takes on a whole new meaning, meaning you take on a whole new life.” Tell us a bit about your homestead. You're in Virginia, right?

Comment by Anita Franklin on February 7, 2014 at 9:33am

Good morning Jennifer! Yes, we live in Rockingham Co. in the Shenandoah Valley of VA. We started creating our homestead in 2006 on raw land. I had done this before but my husband and never experienced owning acreage or farming. It was a huge change for him.

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on February 7, 2014 at 9:35am

It must be pretty! And what all are you growing/raising there? Is your husband adapting? Tell us about a couple of your projects—details, please!

Comment by Anita Franklin on February 7, 2014 at 9:40am

Projects? You mean when you homestead you actually have projects? LOL! Well, last year we finally got 3 more fields cross fenced for our goats, alpacas and horse. I doubled the size of our garden and am now amending the soil through the winter. We have no shortage of manure as poop happens frequently around here. I just wish I could teach them to just go poop in the garden area! It would make it a LOT easier on me not having to haul it in a wheelbarrow.

You asked about current projects: build more mobile animal shelters, a large chicken tractor, more kidding pens, more small lot fencing and more raised garden beds. I also want to do some intensive container gardening in barrel too. OH, we started a pond and hope to finish digging it out and fencing it for our geese.

I just have to share this GEM of a gardening video I recently got in the mail.  The video is called "Grow Your Own Groceries." A lady named Marjory Wildcraft turned her acreage in TX into a mostly self-sustaining homestead. I watch the GYOG videos and all I can say is WOW!  This lady had done some pretty amazing stuff and did it on a shoestring kind of budget....which is what our budget looks like.  I was so impressed, I posted a link to her site here on HOMEGROWN.  When you find a tool or info that helps you accomplish living your dream, you want to share it. We crop and critter folks gotta help each other! LOL

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on February 7, 2014 at 9:45am

Ah! The poopers. We'll come back to them in a minute. But first, just to give folks a little more context, while your husband is new to all of this, you're not: You come from a fourth-generation farming family. Did all of those generations live in Virginia? And what made you (and maybe your husband) want to get back to the land?

Comment by Anita Franklin on February 7, 2014 at 9:49am

Yes, all my family are from VA. My Dad actually ran a feed mill where he ground animal feed and sold farm seed. His father raised sheep, cattle and turkeys. When my dad and his siblings later incorporated the farm then converted to a dairy and raised Holstein cattle.

My Dad also had two farms where he raised long leg Angus on one and had a commercial chicken layer operation on the other. We worked three farms growing up between milking cows, making hay and gathering THOUSANDS of chicken eggs. All that work kept us three kids out of trouble...well sort of.  We had fun making mischief on the farm. ;-D

Brad grew up in the "burbs" in Maryland outside of Washington, DC. His mom's family were from PA and some of them had farms. Brad loved to go there in the summer to help on the farm and just enjoy the countryside.  When we found this land he had a "vision" of how great it could look with a "little work." He had NO IDEA how much work it takes to turn wild, raw land into any sort of homestead.  I grew up farming and later helped create a small homestead with my first husband. I KNOW the work, sweat, blisters and money you invest in any type of homestead endeavor. Because Brad wanted to try, I agreed to do this again. When you love someone and can help them fulfill a dream...you go with it. So, here I am doing this again...it's all good.

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on February 7, 2014 at 10:02am

Brad is lucky to have you! It sounds like you guys make a great team—and a great comedy team too, we're guessing. So, back to those fertilizers of yours: We’ve heard tell of goats and a goat shelter. And also some alpacas. (We’ve also heard something about a herd of mowers, but that’s another story.) Are you guys the island of lost toys for animals—and lawnmowers?

Comment by Anita Franklin on February 7, 2014 at 10:05am

Yes, you must have read our blog! Most of our animals were acquired from folks who didn't want them anymore. The alpacas and horse were free. Our Great Pyrenees dog was almost free as she has a blue eye and breeders don't want that trait (it occurs within purebreds occasionally). She has made an excellent livestock guardian and we don't care what color her eyes are. We got her for a working dog and had her spayed. The world has enough puppies without us making more. We promote active neuter and spay principles.

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on February 7, 2014 at 10:10am

Sounds like they’re lucky to have found you, too! We hate to say it since we’re guessing you have enough stories to keep the HOMEGROWN flock entertained for a few millennia, but we want to let you get back to the business of the day. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat, Anita. We’re so glad you're part of the HOMEGROWN flock! And other HOMEGROWN folks, please drop Anita a line and say hello!


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