Sunday, February 28, 2016

We Bought the Farm! (well... we're trying to anyway)

Over the past 5 years my love of landscaping and gardening has bloomed into a full-blown passion for farming, complete with fertilizer bunnies and chicken wrangling (many in the farm-world say, chickens are the gateway drug to farming). In the many hours I have spent digging in the dirt, wrestling weeds, building fences and chicken coops, and falling in love with my chickens and Potager Cottage, I have discovered that it is in those moments that I am the most at peace with myself.

Along this same journey has been my husband, and creative cohort, Klee. He has appreciated the calm of sitting outside, listening to chicken clucks and watching our food grow, but his discoveries have been in his own creative endeavors. For years he has been studying the art of fermentation and food preservation, developing flavors and textures in sauerkrauts, pickles, jams, kvass, and vinegars. We even started our business, Spoiled Rotten Vinegar, a cottage industry, for the production and sale of his products. And, this year, with great pride, I witnessed Klee accept a Good Food Award, at the hands of Alice Waters, Nell Newman, and Carlo Petrini, for his elegantly developed, Blackstrap vinegar.

As Klee and I have been honing our individual skills and growing in our Potager Cottage and Spoiled Rotten Vinegar endeavors, we have been feeling the need to expand our cottage farm into a thriving business with a commercial kitchen in order to produce Klee's vinegars and culinary creations on a larger scale. We have faced repeated obstacles as we've reached out beyond our comfort zones, some that have knocked us down hard and left us feeling defeated. We even accepted defeat a few (or ten) times. But, the defeat never lasted, because we both felt the push in our core, in that place of your being that is the most honest, and the most driven, because it is who you are. So, we continued digging in the dirt, brewing vinegars in our closet, and searching with open hearts for our place.

Then the Good Food Awards affirmed Klee's skill and the value of his products, to us and to the greater culinary market. Suddenly, the demand for Spoiled Rotten Vinegar stretched far beyond our capability in this little rented cottage... and just as far beyond the capacity of our pocket book. In exasperation I voiced my frustration with our need to expand and our lack of options on Facebook, and the Universe (God, karma, fate, good fortune, whatever you're comfortable with) answered back through the voice of a distant friend.

It started as a long-shot idea in our friend's heart, and somehow, has evolved into a series of wide open doors. Every barrier that we imagined would prevent us from progressing further has disintegrated without resistance. The path has been carved out in such a way that it almost seems ungrateful (or even defiant) for us not to walk down it. With equal parts giddiness and panic, Klee and I have decided to take the steps forward.

In a few weeks we will be loading up a (another) moving truck and driving eight hours north to a six-acre farm in Eugene, Oregon. We will be moving into a 1973 farm house (that needs some love), which we will be renting only as long as it takes for us to acquire a loan to make the property our very own homestead! Our own home that we can spend the rest of our days loving and cultivating, a safe haven for our children. Sitting on the property are several outbuildings, including a very large barn, which we refer to as the future Spoiled Rotten Vinegar headquarters! It's almost too much to believe. And it's scary, because you know, things could go wrong. If you think too long and hard (especially at night) you could conceive of all kinds of potential problems and pitfalls. But, when presented with a string of open doors, you walk through them. That's what life is about. So, we're doing it, together. We're... going scared.

Future Potager Cottage
Future Spoiled Rotten Vinegar Headquarters
Future Front Door View