One of the first things that we learned was the very important lesson of making time to relax.
The solar oven cooks it's first fair, banana applesauce bread!
Our 580 D backhoe is worth its weight in gold
Raising the shower tower of wind power. Just the two of us and our backhoe.
|The tower stands thirty five feet tall to catch the wind and the passive solar heated water drum in the middle warms
up to about eighty degrees (in August) and washes us well at the end of a long days work at Straight Creek Farm.
Our early summer garden with one of the three bottom fields in the background.
September 16, 2012
In August of 2007, my husband and I left the city life behind and moved out to our off grid 63 acre farm in south
central Ohio. The city house was on the market for just over a year and finally, and very thankfully, sold in the
spring of 2008. In August of 2009 we stopped commuting back to our city jobs, and are now making our living
in the country. I am a trial attorney, and have hung out a shingle for a virtual law office in nearby Georgetown,
Ohio. Feel free to visit my attorney web site at straightcreeklaw.com. Greg is a mechanical designer and is
building our solar, wind and hydro electric systems, as well as he will build our greenhouse, chicken tractor,
earth oven, outside summer kitchen, and of course, he will continue to keep up with our bee hives and
general farm work. Our goal is to live simply and simply live in the country, thankful that we no longer have to
drive into the hustle and bustle of Cincinnati, and can simply enjoy the serenity of Straight Creek, about fifty
miles east, but worlds away, from the city.
We bought the land in the spring of 2003, after two years of serious looking in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
We fell in love with Straight Creek as soon as we set foot on it. It sits at the end of a two mile gravel road.
Only one property lies beyond ours, and a half mile of creek flows through our land. It is a good sized creek.
When the water is high there would be no living way to get across it, and the lake that the creek flows out of is
stocked with blue gill, bass and crappie, so our creek is likewise stocked. We have one deep, tree lined,
ledge rimmed, fishing hole. When we bought the land, we did not know that we had inherited a wonderful
treasure, a ninety year old fisherman who asked if he could continue to fish his favorite hole. Of course we
said yes, and we came to consider him a dear friend. He passed away in his sleep, at the age of 93, three
days after his last visit to the creek. We miss him, but as we pass by his favorite spot we smile and are glad
to have known him.
We no longer lease our nine tillable acres of bottom land to neighboring farmer and friend, Jeremy, who has
planted corn, winter wheat, soy beans and tobacco. We helped Jeremy with field prep over the years
including plowing, discing and tilling the nine acres with the 1957 Ford tractor that we bought with the farm.
Jeremy taught us to how to plant and harvest, and in the spring of 2010 we will take over all but three acres,
having acquired the appropriate planters and harvesters. We plan to be as sustainable as possible, learning
as we go.
And each year I have planted a garden and each year I have learned more than I ever imagined this city lady
could even begin to comprehend. I have read every bit of printed information I can get my hands on,
especially savoring each Countryside Magazine, but I know that I still have a life time of learning ahead of me.
I have surrounded my garden with CD’s, soap, and wind chimes that hang from the surrounding trees. I have
planted summer squash around the whole outside of the garden (the deer don’t seem to like the squash), but
still, I seem to be feeding most of what I grow to the local critters. This past summer I even put wire cages
around individual plants. When a patch of sunflowers was about seven feet tall, I took the cage off, only to find
that the local deer know how to stand on their hind legs! I have also put solar lights all over the garden,
thinking that the lights would keep the critters at bay. My husband says that I have just provided them with
lighting so that they can see what they eat as they eat it.
And speaking of solar, we have no electric or phone lines running near our land, although we were able to tap
into a county water line that runs the length of our gravel road. The closest neighbors are six tenths of a mile
away to either side, so it would cost a pretty penny to run electric or phone lines. The phone company said
that it would cost about $6,000 to run a phone line, and then we would have telephone poles along our lovely
road. The electric company said that it could cost as much as $30,000 for them to run the electric. So we now
live with fairly consistent cell phone reception, four solar panels and a wind generator! A propane fridge
keeps our food cool and we cook over a propane stove, the wood stove, a solar oven, or the fire pit, and we
hope to build an earth oven soon.
We also learned to love the prettiest outhouse in the county. We built it in the city and then hauled it out to the
farm. Our farm neighbors thought that we had gone out to the store and bought it. It had a green tin roof and
cedar siding to match the cabin that we also built. The cabin is small, three hundred and eighty eight square
feet, with an eight foot wide front porch and a large deck. During the summer we live on the front porch and
deck, sitting in either one of two Amish built rocking chairs or on the Amish built porch swing. But it seems
that we rarely sit still. The garden needs watering or weeding. The fence rows along the fields need clearing
so the sun light can get through to the edges of the fields. The ten bee hives need tending. In our first
season of bee keeping, we harvested one hundred and sixty 12 ounce jars of wonderful, light Straight Creek
honey. The 2009 season resulted in about eight gallons over two harvests, spring and summer. And as
soon as we learned how sticky a honey harvest can be, we built a sugar shed, a miniature version of our
cabin, and a larger version of the outhouse. It too has cedar siding and a green, standing seam tin roof. And
we have done it all ourselves, much on weekends over the first few years.
So over the past nine years I have learned how to plow a field, build a cabin, live with solar and wind
generated electric, bathe under a passive solar heated shower tower, tend to bee hives and harvest the
honey, plant a garden, cook my own home grown produce over a wood fire, bake applesauce bread in a solar
oven, and harvest black walnuts, among a few of our Straight Creek adventures. We plan to share all of our
adventures with you at our web site, so visit us often and you can learn right along with us.