A Long Blog Gap and a World Wide Pandemic

A world-wide Pandemic, who would have imagined this!  Building supplies increased nearly tenfold.  Factories closed.  Appliances, door and windows, and generally all building supplies, have taken, in some cases, eighteen months to arrive. 

Fortunately, I had committed to my team, and they to me, to a year of work, so plumbing, electric, foundation work and some brick work was finished! 

We had a local wood mill use the trees from the property to create shelving and custom cut the same type of joists, and siding they made in 1864.  One of my neighbors owns an antique building supply company who has graciously supplied old glass for the windows.  Plaster work continues, and I live in a constant state of dust and debris.  Although it’s been close to two years since closing, the lack of closets, and no need for dressy clothing, has kept us living partially in boxes.  My red Birkenstock clogs, and green rubber boots have become the new normal.  I have central air – YAY!  And the pool us running, of all the plumbing we expected not to work, the darn thing fired up and ran.  Well…  after pumping out the swampy rot, patching, painting and a few months of grading and repair.

I cut my own hair.  No one noticed.

I may have forgotten how to put on makeup, and use a curling iron, but I have wicked trowel skills.  I even have a flexible trowel to plaster columns.

Last year the pandemic kept me from ordering my saffron corms, and this spring, my distributor was infected with Covid.  Thankfully he recovered and I have 55,000 bulbs showing up at the end of August, with my first harvest expected in late October or early November.  EXCITED. SCARED.  The planning part is fun and easy, now it’s actually happening.  The unfortunate part is that I’m turning 60 this year and I should have done this a little closer to 40.  Bursitis.  Heel spurs.  UGH

We have removed over 35 trees, and I hope to finally plant the vegetable garden next spring.  Our permaculture process of smothering the part of the hay field and layering chips and compost should be perfect for 22!  Can you believe it.  One happy thing – I ordered 10 oak trees pre-inoculated with white Italian truffle spore, which are planted and thriving in the south east field.  Can we wait 4-5 years to harvest?  I guess we have to.

The first two bee hives are up and busy…  like bees.  Another fabulous neighbor to the rescue!  LOL.  None of the lavender or echinacea I planted last year survived, but the monarda by the pond is doing well.  Still have to figure out when or if I get any honey this year, but looking forward to the honey next year after our first saffron bloom.

More soon!

And so it begins!

March 5, 2020

Almost a year has passed. We settled on the Farm In Orange, aka “Old Manse”, on November 15, 2019. Christmas blew by us, and the weekends have been wholly consumed with packing the cars and driving back and forth! The house in northern Virginia sadly and slowly empties, getting ready for closing in late April. Almost two decades of memories bulldozed over, all my plantings silently begging me to take them to the farm. Will I get used to the hour and a half commute? Bittersweet moments.

I love the slow seduction of winding roads and the sweetness of fresh country air.

Our graceful old home is sadly in need of so much renovation! As we peel back the rotting plaster we find severed sewer pipes, rotting lathe, earthquake damage, dozens of layers of paint that have completely sealed up the windows (in one way a blessing in disguise, no drafty gaps and the other side – no ventilation)! The porte cochere doesn’t actually have any connected beams or joists.

Oh MY!!

My midnight jaunts with a little Woodford Reserve out on the balcony above, to lay and star gaze, have luckily not caused any cave-ins! So much to do. The attention deficit disorder has reared it’s pesky head. I have picked a corner in which to focus and start plastering.


Before and after in my corner…

Soon we attend our first farm equipment auction – I am pining for spring, the earth, and fresh green shoots poking their heads up through my dark red Davidson clay loam!

more here from Jordan Hoffman on the fabulous benefits of Northern Piedmont soils!
our lush green fields

the search has ended

May 15, 2019

Saturday mornings when everyone is sleeping in, and all is quiet, I immerse myself in Zillow exploring the valleys and rolling hills of Virginia.  You would find me looking into barns, researching used tractors reading up on green manures, dreaming of the day that it would become reality.   The reality of taking all the efforts and lessons learned from planting every square inch of my suburban yard to a sustainable farm.  Somewhere that my dog eared copy of Gaia’s garden can lay peacefully on a shelf, in well deserved retirement, where it can gaze across green lush acres, the results of the content graciously given from it’s pages. 

I was lured by carefully crafted photographs and well written descriptions of perfectly restored southern estates, only to find the land had the wrong slope or that the rail road bounded the longest length of the property (not the peaceful destination of my imagination), and even worse,  that there was no water.  On one of these jaunts, my sister and I decided to stop by a vacant property  that was conveniently along the way.  As we rounded a stretch of ancient boxwoods the beautiful green  fields unfolded in front of us presenting a gradual southwest facing slope gently rolling up from a sparkling lake fed by two springs.  Absolute Perfection.  The land grabbed my heart.  An offer has been made, a website started, and this week The Farm in Orange is legally born.