Tucked in the hollow of a logged-off foothill, the place is in the middle of a neatly mowed field, with all the backyard farming amenities—fenced veggie garden, chicken coop and run, berry patch, and orchard trees—any homesteader could ever want. If you’ve read this blog before, you might be thinking, “Wait—from what I can tell, you’re already raising fruit trees and berries, veggies and chickens.” Okay, that’s all true. It’s just that this property is so picturesque and tidy I can’t help but wish there was some kind of homesteady fairy dust that could transform Berryridge Farm into a similarly charming spot.
This isn’t the first time I’ve felt a bit of homesteader jealousy. There’s a couple who live about five miles from us, who I call “The Boomer Homesteaders Down the Road.” With their stick-built home, cute mini-barn, hoop house and tractor, their little farm looks all-pro. Although they started an egg operation that apparently ended badly, they now have a U-Pick raspberry patch and a plot of sweet corn they’ll be selling—all within a few years of moving to the Foothills.
This new homestead, though, has the mini-farm beat by a mile. Owned by a sweet couple named Stu and Margo, retirees who sold their home in the Big City to move out here, the place has a manufactured home, like John and I have. But there the resemblance ends. Since I ride by the homestead on my bike every day, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to gaze longingly at it. Stu and Margo’s house not only has a steel roof and a beautiful deck, but flower boxes are perched on the deck railings, with more flowers in hanging baskets, and three patio tables protected by sun umbrellas create a perfect summer lounging spot.
Their chicken coop and shed are expertly constructed with real wood, the exteriors all stained a lovely golden brown so they match. The propane tank is even surrounded by matching fence so it doesn’t mar the place’s bucolic vibe, accented by a nearby antique cultivator parked among the wild daisies; everything neat, tidy and organized. If that isn’t enough to envy, just this month brought the homesteader’s pièce de resistance: a HUGE barn.
The framing and roof are already in, and it is a beaut. As I rode by today, all I could think was, Stu and Margo must have made a killing on their city home to afford a barn like this one. But then, I thought, Wait a sec—you’re sort of comparing apples and oranges. They've had two grown sons helping them build their infrastructure, and helping maintain the place. And from what I can tell, one son is building the barn too.
|Hummingbird visiting the bee balm|
Here at Berryridge Farm, John built our coop and sheds by himself, and even if Hardie-plank siding and wood scraps aren’t pretty, the sheds are sturdy and serviceable. John and I don’t have a neatly mowed field, but surrounded by woods, we have privacy in spades. And instead of being cooped up in a small run, like Stu and Margo’s hens, our flock has two orchard spaces and a big patch of woods John and I cleared for them to scratch in.
And though I wish we had more time and energy to keep the weeds and brush from taking over Berryridge Farm (a battle we pretty much lost after an intense scourge or two from Mother Nature, which I talk about in Little Farm Homegrown) if truth be told, I wouldn’t change one inch of our place. Especially at this time of year, when the hummingbirds are zipping around our four bee balm patches. It’s a sight that always convinces me that we live in the loveliest place on earth.
Speaking of my new homesteading book…if you’d like a look at Little Farm Homegrown, here’s a brief sample, and you can find more about both Little Farm books at my website. And a quick heads up: Kobo Books has selected Little Farm Homegrown for "Beach Reads, a special promotion, this week in Canada!