Big News - We're moving to Chimacum!

posted on

April 30, 2024

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The news I want to share with you today is so momentous for us that I hardly know where to begin.

Then, after spinning and spinning on it for ages, I realized the facts can actually be stated in one very concise sentence.

So here goes.

We’ve bought a house and are moving our family and our farm to Chimacum.

Woohooo!!!!

See, one simple sentence. Haha, Charlotte. Not so hard, after all.

But my struggle has been real because this is truly BIG news for us. And for our farm, and therefore for you. Which is why I’ve been so excited and anxious to share it with you.

Now, I know people move every day. And usually much farther than from Marrowstone Island to Chimacum. And anytime anyone becomes a home owner it is reason for rejoicing.

So why the big deal?

The honest truth is that as farmers we are intimately connected to the land we farm. From deep in the soil to the top of the tallest tree, we learn the quirks and magnificence of the land, how everything fits together, and how we can be the best stewards for our little piece of Creation.

Therefore to have our own place, that we know is ours into the future, is soul affirming. We can put down deep roots and make improvements to last.

We can dive into learning the land, and learning from the land, and know that it’s not a temporary detour but a permanent bit of earth that we can pour our hearts and souls into, without the sadness of having to walk away.

Of course, you absolutely can farm on leased land. We have successfully been doing so for a decade, and we have loved and appreciated our time on Marrowstone Island. The land has been good to us, it is where we learned to be newlyweds and farmers, and where our children have played. Our farm and our family have grown up around us here and we will take with us many special memories.

And in fact, we will always need to lease additional land - over the years our cows, independent creatures that they are, have enjoyed many different views around the county.

And there is resiliency in being able to keep your farm mobile and dynamic.

But with leased land, there is never true stability. The improvements you make may not be yours to enjoy. We have experienced firsthand the scramble to relocate due to various situations that have arisen with leases, and it’s nerve wracking to always have that uncertainty in the back of your mind when many, many beating hearts (and hungry bellies) are dependent on you.

So, despite leaving the only place we’ve known in our lives together, with this move Martin and I feel that we are finally going home.

And while I am making this announcement today, this is a project that has been in the work for many years. Perhaps you’ve already gleaned hints and allusions to this plan from various conversations with us over time.

Maybe you’re wondering why the big news today?

Because after years of planning and re-planning, visioning and dreaming, going in fits and starts, the final concrete thing is happening.

We ordered a manufactured home and just got word that it will be delivered by June!!!!!

The farm is finally going to have a home for the farmers – and soon.

Oh, my goodness.

I’ll confess to a bit of overwhelm, in addition to the excitement. A move is always big, and moving a farm is, well, hmmmm… Let’s just say, a lot to manage.

But our grounding thought that keeps us sane, is “Everything Is Coming Together.”

You see, this plan didn’t just start with Martin and I a few years back. Our Chimacum farm is a special place with a long history of love of family and dedication to the land, and we look forward to sharing it with you.

The farm began to take shape when my parents purchased it as a piece of raw land nearly three decades ago. Lovingly, bit by bit, they envisioned its future as a family farm and began to bring that vision to life. Many native trees were planted, an orchard took root, old fences came down and new ones went up. A barn, access roads, power, water, and a beautiful herd of cattle.

Together with my parents, my two brothers and I shaped the land into a vibrant, productive beef farm that, in a way, we always thought of as home. We watched the trees grow magnificently and learned the seasonality of the soil. I planted a garden that I’d harvest on my way home from work at Chimacum School, changing my heels for rubber boots. And it’s where my good friend Alba, a lovely, loving, naughty shorthorn cow, taught me to milk a cow, swear like a sailor, and see the unique being within each animal.

And then the years went by, and my younger brothers built lives in other places, and my parents decided their path also lay elsewhere.

And I met Martin. I guy with the crazy dream of raising so, so much good food for his community.

A farmer without a farm.

So as my family moved on to other pursuits, Martin and I began tending the cows and the family farm together.

But the Chimacum farm was always missing one important thing – a home for the farmers. So we built our life and our family together on Marrowstone, and continued to tend the farm in Chimacum at a distance.

Then, a few years back, my parents committed an tremendous act of love. Love for their family and the farm. They sold Martin and I the farm, not at the market rate, but at a rate that could be supported by our farm. And my brothers, too, gave great benevolence in their happy consent, which is no small thing. 

In this world of skyrocketing land prices, families are breaking up and farms are dying over who inherits the farm – or rather the money from the exorbitant sale price of the farm. When I called my brothers to ask them about buying the farm that could be their inheritance, their only stipulation was “as long as we can always come home.” Yes, it will always be home.

Our gratitude is endless. And we cherish the responsibility of tending the family farm as our own.

Over the last few years, we’ve slowly built up infrastructure, looking forward to the day when we could move the whole farm there. Not just the rather independent cows, but the pigs, chickens, and humans alike.

Now, with the house officially in production, the line has been crossed. There is no going back.

The farm in Chimacum will officially be the home farm of One Straw Ranch AND its farmers. We can begin to add new memories to this place that already has so many.

Since I was a teenager and began helping with the raw land, it has always been a captivating place for me, full of love and dreams and blood, sweat and tears (quite literally blood and tears, as I was tasked with removing most of the old rusty barbed wire fence).  I won’t even tell you about standing on top of a ladder, on top of scaffolding, on top of the truck bed, helping mom hold beams in place as dad fastened together the hay barn. Fear and triumph build strong devotion.

Later, I clearly remember the first time I took Martin to see the farm. As a Landscape Architect, and as a farmer, he sees endless possibilities all around for beautiful, bountiful production. After walking through the farm, very quietly he said quite simply that it was magical. And he wanted to be a part of it.

And it really is a magical place, as our children, now the third generation of our family to tend the farm, have discovered. Full of woods and glens and meadows, it is teaming with life and a myriad of diverse ecosystems. The “Fairy Glen” and the “Robin Hood Tree” are two of the Farmhands favorite places on the farm, and they have plans for much development of their nature playground.

As we make the farm our home, we look forward to sharing its magic with you.

Because we do not, for one minute, ever forget that you are the reason we have a thriving farm. And your ongoing, consistent support is helping us make a home for the farmers a reality. In return, it is our joy to share with you not just food for your body, but an authentic connection to the farmers who tend the land from which it came. As we finally live on the farm, day in and day out, we can’t wait to see what this little corner of Creation can provide for us together.

A few weeks back, we got word that the construction crew was scheduling to excavate for our foundation. It’s not every day you get to build a house, and the Farmhands are quite excited, so we decided to hold a family ground breaking ceremony.

Being a farm, the first thing we had to do was take down some fence and move the bull into a different field. Fender would in no way be helpful to the process, much to his disappointment.

While Farmer Martin cleared the field, the Farmhands got out their shovels and wheelbarrow and farmer Momma rounded up some special drinks.

We each helped break ground with a first shovel scoop out of what will be our family living room.

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Then we proposed toasts, and drank to the good health of our future home and our family. Cider for the Farmhands, “big kid” cider for the Farmers, of course.

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When that was done, Farmhands Eli, Vera and Grace continued the excavation until they filled their wheelbarrow.

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With that task complete, they decided it was now OK to call in the excavator to finish the job.

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With a huge hole in the ground, it’s starting to dawn on me that this is really happening. Now.

I’m sure there will be many before-and-after photos to share with you as things continue to happen over the next few weeks, but today we can officially say the move is under way.

It won’t be long until Chimacum is home. Until then, we’re going to need all the calming, steadfast, productive thoughts and prayers you can send our way :)

Everything is coming together.

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