When our family began this 2019 growing season we were pregnant with our second child (a 2nd little girl, due November 9th!) & had no idea this would be the year we became farmers! It has been our crazy dream for several years now to grow food on a community scale (and have the opportunity to share it with others). We simply expected it to be at least 3-5 more years before we could even legitimately start small-scale farming and make the transition from office to field. Boy, were we in for a surprise! ...
I wrote a message to a friend on Instagram this morning and it was a great summary update on us so I thought I'd post that while I work on a more in depth blog post:
Kyle parted ways with office work at the beginning of this growing season and is now working for a local organic vegetable farm and wedding venue/Airbnb (LINK). He absolutely loves it and cannot imagine going back to the office. He will stay there through the winter and into the next growing season next year when he and whoever is on his team will get about 30,000 sq feet of field to farm (they have about 15k right now). It's a beginning farm (the wedding venue is their primary business) so they are totally non-dependent on the outcome of the farm so Kyle and his crew basically get to farm totally risk free and creatively. It's an incredible opportunity! Otherwise, I'm continuing to bake our second little sour dough bun and our 3 year old is loving the idea of being a big sister! We plan on trying our hand at vegan cheese this month with the help of Miyoko's cheese making cookbook. I'm excited about that. Our garden is starting to take off and I love that people here in WNC (Western North Carolina) think that 80 degrees is hot...lol!!!! 🤣 I'll take it!
When Kyle and I initially started (earnestly) looking into uprooting and making the move from Kansas City, we had had set our sights on Oregon. When we were dating we had road-tripped and camped all over Oregon. As many others have, we found the state to be extraordinarily diverse and beautiful. It was not hard to fall in love with her.
As we talked and waited and researched and waited some more we knew we had to eventually be near the mountains and live a lifestyle closer to the wild, camping, hiking and generally being outside as much as possible (as a family).
We brain-stormed and worked out different ways we might realize our dream of living near the mountains. We knew we would be better off as a growing family if we found a job for Kyle first (especially while I was still nursing our daughter). Engineer jobs in Kyle's specialty were found to be ironically few and far between in the places we hoped to move to in Oregon so we opened up our search to the entire Pacific Northwest.
About 4 months before we chose our final destination and packed up all our belongings to make the big move, Kyle received an offer for a structural engineer position in Seattle, WA. The only catch was that we had to wait an undetermined amount of time before they could confirm the position he would be hired to. We used this time and waiting period as a catalyst to investigate both the area around Seattle and our own gut-feelings about a move there.
We found home and land prices to be quite astronomical compared to what we felt comfortable with and the general cost of living to be much higher than either of us had experienced. Looking forward to the future desire of owning our own land and homesteading one day, the cost of good land was a daunting reality that we were naturally uneasy about.
But the area is utterly gorgeous and we already knew a few friends and family members who lived out there, so we would not be utterly alone moving to this big bright promised land. We were drawn to it. It was hard not to be.
We dug deeper into our research of the area, received more details about Kyle's possible position, re-looked at our budget and our own hearts, and as we did so, we found our hearts reluctant to sign up for such a sparkling "promise"-- though we were admittedly very torn.
We had been yearning for a number of years to be in a place where we could live a more outdoor life for ourselves and our young growing daughter. We wanted more wild than Kansas City could offer. We wanted mountains and rivers and we hoped one day to have our own corner of wild land to steward.
We also felt somewhat of a time-crunch as a family. We wanted to move and set down our roots before our daughter (and possibly more kids) turned school-aged. We, ourselves, wanted to be in a slower paced, gentler living, and more wild area...and to have more of one another and time as a family.
We knew we loved the Oregon area as travelers but we weren't 100% sure it would be the same as residents (though we know it very well could have been). And we certainly weren't sure about Seattle, Washington. A place we'd never been to and mightn't be afford to even visit at that point. We just weren't sure, in our guts, if this was the right move for our family in light of all factors we could see...and many we could not.
More interestingly though, we found ourselves continually (albeit by a gentle, small unassuming voice) being drawn toward a town in Western North Carolina. Kyle's parents lived on the coast of North Carolina, but otherwise, we had no prior draw or connection.
But...there were mountains. So we kept it loosely on the list of possible destinations.
We did what we have found a proven strategy at times like these. We waited. We let it all go a bit (again) and gave our desire to move up to our family-saying, "if it's meant to happen, it will happen. If not, then it won't. We aren't going to force anything". We took this opportunity to practice patience in the midst of yearning and rest in the midst of want for action.
(In a future post I will share more of what led us to making our final decision to move to where we ended up. In the mean time...we continue to actively wait.)
We actively yearn and work hard at learning and growing and continuing our internal reflections...and we wait, doing our best to be content and joyfully patient.
Here we are, in our current home, incredibly entrusted to us by Kyle's parents, in a state that is more wild and wonderful than we ever could have hoped for and we are not surprised that we still pine and yearn.
For more time with one another, as a family and to find our own land to cultivate in a loving and careful way. This in itself is a driving motivation for much of what we aim to accomplish in keeping a homestead.
We know we still have so much to learn.
We are contentedly discontent.
We are thankful that Kyle has a position he actually really loves for the first time in his career, at a company that we both respect. We are thankful that we landed in a community when we first arrived that became our first true and loving friend base (a hard thing for natural introverts that just want to be at home with one another).
We are thankful to have an incredible little sanctuary of a home to live in for the next 5-6 years as we save our money and build our skill-base for our future land and farmstead.
And yet we let that ember from the fire of hope and contented discontentment burn inside us. We let it burn for a simpler life. We let it burn for a more responsibly responsive humanity. We let it burn for more time together as a family. We let it burn for a deeper connection with the sources of our food and sustenance. We yearn for heart-work as well as hard-work. And we are assured to continue to receive lots and lots of lessons in patient waiting, quite listening to the still small voice of Leading and being patient before loosing arrows of direction and destination.
Hi. This is Kyle. I don't really know how to start blog posts so I'll just start with that.In our instant gratification culture, social media is no exception. In fact it often magnifies some of humanities less than flattering characteristics. We are becoming a society where clicks matter more than content, memes are shared more than meaningful discussion, and if a video doesn't load within a couple of seconds we move on or get frustrated. To be clear I am just as guilty of this as most. I bring this up only to serve as a disclaimer. This is not what our journey will be. The Bird and The Beasts Farmstead is going to be a slow process. Like anything worth doing this is worth doing well. And often that means taking your time.
We don't have the resources to go out and buy everything it takes to build to Farmstead. We don't have the connections/friends to make this happen overnight. You won't see silky chickens running around our yard next week. You won't see baby goats bouncing around our yard this fall. One day you will. At least that is our goal. We don't have merchandise to sell, we don't have 100% organic cotton, fair-trade, t-shirts with The Bird and The Beasts Farmstead on them, nor will we. Our goal is to explore the journey of living in a more harmonious way with the Earth, living by our convictions, and becoming more independent in our every day life.
So many times we see people on social media living a life that looks like the life we wish we could live. We see people in exotic places, resting in hammocks against the most picturesque backdrops, trying the most delectable foods, with their impeccable style, not having a care in the world. Or it's more simple, people living in their tiny homes in a idyllic forest in the Pacific Northwest, or cradling their latest rescue dog, or splashing in the waves at the beach with their "tribe". (Is that the term we use now for our friends or is it still "crew"? I can't keep up). But rarely do we see how people accomplish this "ideal" life better yet the failures they had trying to reach their dream. And this is where Athena and I strive to be different. We are starting from a typical America home in Western North Carolina. We want to document the little steps it takes to accomplish this Farmstead, the tiny yarrow plants we place in flower bed, the giant rubber bucket we are using to grow a small herb garden on the back porch, plants that we lose to slugs and disease, hoops we'll have to jump through with our local jurisdiction to make sure we appease the bureaucracy, all of it. We want to share the ups and the downs, the hard work and the small victories it takes for an "average" family to create their own Farmstead. And it's going to take years. We may only keep 5 people who follow us on this journey. Shoot we may not keep anybody's attention. And that's ok. I get it. This is going to be a slow process. We hope you enjoy this journey with us as we learn and grow and share with the world.
(Left to right) | My foot print and Adi's (hard to see) at a local creek/swimming hole | One of the first pictures of the Westwood Children's Garden, a children's garden we designed and maintain at the Westwood Cohousing Community | Kyle and our daughter Adaline this year on our first ever hike in North Carolina, our new home state |
Monday of this week we should have closed on our house in Kansas City. Due to the nature of real estate that didn't happen and we find ourselves in the middle of a stressful "battle" with the buyer's agent and lender. My heart was really heavy over this last night and I had my fair share of a headache today writing an email response to a very unprofessional acting agent. However, despite all this I feel at peace. We have made this far by things falling into place in ways we could hardly imagine or ask for.
On Thanksgiving of this past year (7 months ago) we found ourselves in a hotel room with my In-Loves looking up which restaurants were still open at 8 o'clock at night during a serious winter blitz (serious for the Western North Carolina area! ;-} ). It ended up being a Chinese Place (of course, right!) and we were SO thankful for some good dirty Chinese Food that night.
We were visiting a housing community that was a cross-between a co-housing community and a standard mountain housing development. We were feeling out the air (physically and metaphorically) and checking in with our guts on whether this was where we were to move or not.
We decided not to move into that development but we did feel right about moving to the area. So on January 1st, 2018 we rolled up with the smallest U-Haul we could fit the majority of our belongings in. It was also the coldest day of the year. We had spent 3 days on the road trying to make the trip not entirely torture for our daughter (almost 2 years old at the time)... and us!
We arrived. We unpacked. We settled in as best we could. We had been fortunate to land in a wonderful co-housing community only 20 minutes from Kyle's work near downtown. The air warmed up. The flowers bloomed. We planted a garden for the children and then time came to move again. And finally actually start to feel settled. That's where we are now. Physically and emotionally we can send down roots and grow. We are in a wonderful home with some good land for gardening.
But...this isn't where we will stay forever. In fact, we know we we likely only be here for the next 5-6 years. This home is Kyle's Parents retirement home and we have the next 5-6 years to save and plan for our own land...our own farmstead...our own homestead.
That gives us many days to learn how to homestead right here and now. And to do so in a way that is consistent with our core values. It feels like many days...and then also not many at all! We have 6 years at most to learn how to farm; how to rescue and care for animals on a homestead that doesn't depend on them for food; how to grow, can and preserve our food; how to build fences and grind our own flour, how to manage a solar and/or wind system and everything else a good vegan homesteader will need to learn.
The point for us in this moment is to take one small step at a time. Together. To not get overwhelmed and to stay close to what inspires us to continue. Each other. We want to homestead primarily so that we can reduce our dependency on a system saturated in consumption of resources. We do this to have more time with one another and less dependency on hours that Kyle (or I, when I am working) has to stay away from home to earn our sustenance. Herein is the core of our dreams and goals. This is the reason we are learning to homestead-right-where-we-are.
#veganicfarming #veganicgardening#veganhomesteading #veganhomesteaders#permaculture #veganpermaculture#veganfarmers #vegangardeners#northcarolina #appalachia #foodforests#earthstewatdship #earthcare #peoplecare#fairshare #veganfamilies #simpleliving#kitchengarden #perrenials #annuals#herbgardens #flowergardens #foodgardens#biodynamics #smokeymountaingardeners #morningchores #homesteadchores#veganashville #ashevillevegan
As the first blog we will start by introducing ourselves a bit.
KYLE & I:
I (Athena) am a registered nurse by formal education. My career as a nurse specializes in Palliative and Hospice Care. In January of this year (2018) our family packed up our lives and moved from Kansas City to the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina on the coldest day of this year. Since we moved to this beautiful state I have been a professional stay-at-home dragon trainer (i.e. a parent). I am currently self-studying all things homesteading, organic gardening, plant-based farming, Permaculture, and simple & kind living. I tend to run a nuanced line on various social, religious and political that can make "both sides" of standard-issue camps feel uncomfortable. This is what it is. I honestly feel that it is the most authentic way for me way to live. I'm not contentious at all. Usually, quite the opposite. I just favor the allowance of nuances that can make more "black & white" people frustrated. I don't like to be put in a box and I don't like to see others put in boxes. On that note, I stopped eating flesh, eggs and animal milks October 2012 and try to always be learning and digging deeper. I'd say I'm unorthodox in much of my core orthodoxy and methodology--for example, I typically don't talk about that fact that me and my family are plant-based eaters or rooted in a Jesus-based faith unless expressly asked about it. Though that is hard when you are publicly writing about your deepest motivations in life, I promise will not make those isolating topics if I can at all help it. I stay deeply rooted in core ethics of kindness and passionate loving stewardship of creation, its current inhabitants and our collective future. I don't typically like or feel it necessary to broadcast myself in labels (but I get that this is sometimes unavoidable). I guess believe more in being than talking about being. So, hello!
Kyle. My amazing partner and husband. This man is handsome, intelligent, strong, deep-hearted, an extroverted introvert, not unusually outspoken but absolutely has something to say if one is only willing to quite down and listen (and be glad they did!). He is intensely "deep-watered" (and usually much more "steady" and "cool-headed" than I), our super-hero, an amazing husband and incredible daddy (& he can embarrass me later in one of his own blogs). He is a structural engineer by week-day career and a kindred-hearted, inspiring, world-saver by nights and weekends (really all the time but who's counting hours here...okay maybe we are...we want less office-job hours!! More home-based work!!). His journey toward living a life of simplicity and eventually also his own plant-based journey and now our homesteading journey (I would say...since I'm the one writing this blog) started when he and his sister used to play for hours in a magical plot of woods behind their house in South Carolina as kids. He has an intrinsic understanding and respect for his deep soul-healing need for a connection with nature. Nature and the earth with all its animals, bugs and natural-life has been a place of connection and restoration for our family since the beginning of our Story. He has always been a man who values simplicity and places of sanctuary. When we met we connected on the deepest levels of imagination, child-hood nostalgia, memories of beloved books and core-level desires to be authentic, non-hypocritical, simple human beings and "neighbors" wherever we are.
Together with our daughter and our five wonderful middle-aged and senior dogs (plus all our resident spiders, garden snakes, bush-bunnies and other wild creatures) are pursuing this life of simple, kind, light, loving, green-growing, stuff building, and always learning homesteading-right-where-we-are!
#veganicfarming#veganicgardening #veganhomesteading #veganhomesteaders#permaculture #veganpermaculture#veganfarmers #vegangardeners#northcarolina#appalachia #foodforests#earthstewatdship #earthcare #peoplecare#fairshare #veganfamilies #simpleliving#kitchengarden #perrenials #annuals#herbgardens #flowergardens #foodgardens#biodynamics #smokeymountaingardeners #morningchores #homesteadchores#veganashville #ashevillevegan
Kyle and Athena
Welcome to our Farmstead Journal. We warmly invite you to read along as we share the day-to-day successes and road-bumps we encounter as we learn organic farming, pursue our search for our own land and our passion for homesteading, plant-based/"veganic" eating and growing, simplicity and our continual journey of learning and growing as a family!