Thursday, October 19, 2017

Living the Dream: Mindy's 12-Acre Farm

As dreams go, moving from a busy part of Portland with three kids to a home on 12 acres in the heart of Oregon's wine country is pretty special. That's what fellow blogger and friend Mindy, her husband and three kids just did. After an exhaustive search for the dream home and property (with the added stress of a deadline to get out of their suddenly sold home), this amazing 1906 home came into their lives. Welcome to Northrop Acres, complete with an apple orchard for hard cider, two donkeys, two turkeys, two goats, a horse, a barn, train tracks and a lot of magic. This post, in many ways, serves as a "before" for Mindy's amazing talents and hard work. Trust me, this whole landscape will be transformed in no time. You should see what she did to her old garden. It was stunning, featured in garden magazines no less. 

We recently paid a visit to their new abode, far far away from Portland in the tiny agricultural town of Amity, Oregon. Oh, and wine. This place is loaded with vineyards. Paradise.
OK, now for the tour:

Their home is so sweet with an updated kitchen and bath. We'll see the inside later.

Let's check out the property and the different structures. Facilities Manager especially coveted this barn. It's a large one, two stories and still quite functional. Their sweet dog Libby showed us all around the farm; here she leads us into the barn.

We would love to have such a structure, but alas, we are not so fortunate with our measly two-acre plot.

The train runs right through their property twice a day on weekdays. Apparently it's a ritual now to gather up all kids and critters when it's coming, just to make sure everyone is accounted for. Could you imagine? 

Facilities Manager here: Yes, dear wife, I can imagine. I spent the first 10 years of my life living in a railroad depots in central Idaho. I rode the rails even before I attended first grade. The smell of creosote ties and steel rails takes me back, way back. I envy Mindy and family their train tracks. 

At one point this was for the sheep, but it's vacant right now. It would make a great chicken coop, we think. Grapes are growing in the background on the fence.

Mindy is an amazing gardener, cook and overall home-maker. I visited her garden in Portland a couple of times, blogging about it when she had an open garden a few years ago. You can revisit that post here. She has great plans for her new garden and has dug in already. In this photograph, newly planted beds are being tended to and loaded up with a wonderful assortment of plants. She did take many wonderful plants with her from the old home, I'm happy to note. Apparently in this bed she discovered landscape fabric had been laid down some time ago. As someone who experienced the same thing in my new garden, I can understand her pain. Here's a landscaping tip: skip the landscape fabric for many reasons, please. It doesn't help anything, weeds grow all around it and under it and over it, it blocks nutrients from seeping down into the soil, it's expensive and a pain in the ass to remove.

Their new home has raised beds, a greenhouse and a chicken house, too! They have been able to harvest all manner of veggies in the short time they've lived here. What a treat to have so much space to be able to really grow veggies. As Mindy is an excellent cook, this will serve her and her family well over the years.

This is the building I covet, the greenhouse. Oh man. I can't wait to see what she does with this.

Here you can see the unusual structure and windows from the outside. More grape vines on the right.

Mindy has her own plant prison. I know this scene so well! It's comforting to realize other gardeners really do understand.

Here's a completely re-planted or newly planted area of Mindy's garden. The brick edging/path she uncovered under weeds - she had no idea it was there. What a treasure! The area to the left was composted and planted up, too. Every plant you see here, save for the established trees and shrub on the left are newly planted. It will be fun to see this fill in over the years and then change, too. I will say that in many ways, our journey with our new garden and home and Mindy's journey are parallel. We were both in the same area of Portland, both wanted land to garden, both ended up many miles from Portland with a sort of blank slate and we're both plant nuts. We have differing styles and they have a much larger family, but the basics are the same, just two years apart. I guess we did it on a small scale and they did it on a grand one fitting their awesome family. It's nice to share that with Mindy - some little experiences gardening on this level that not everyone can really understand.

Here's a signature Mindy touch - she has the best antiques and found objects in her garden.

Just a sweet scene, straight out of old memories.

More Mindy touches. I wonder what these containers were?

More of the garden circle bed with the raised beds and greenhouse in the background. These four trees were here, they are Olea 'Arbequina' (olives) - exactly what I have...four of them, too. What a coincidence! It seems these are a few years old and were also laden with fruit. Mine have come back from the dead but are nowhere near this tall yet. 

The picture perfect dining room window.

This tree...just so much personality. Right outside of their dining room window.

Now for the critters: Meet the kindest turkey ever, Leonard and his shy girlfriend Delilah. Oh, he talked and talked and talked. He loves the kids and apparently follows them around. I didn't think I could adore a turkey, but I do. Apparently he used to be "Lena" but . . .well, he's a Leonard, after all. Leonard makes the softest cooing sounds, it's like a bird lullaby.

Doesn't it look like he's hamming it up for the camera?

Jackson the donkey.

Elsa the donkey.

Pride the horse.

Black Goat and White Goat. Yes, those are their names. Maybe we should have a "name the goat" contest! There is also a barn cat named Oscar, although we did not meet him this day. He, well - she, had an eye issue and when he was taken into the vet they discovered Oscar is a she. There are also barn owls who are unnamed, Leroy Jenkins Brown (their orange cat that moved with them), Libby the dog, Daisy the tortoise and Birdy Bird the parakeet. Yup, that's a farm.

On to the apple orchard. These are dwarf apple trees, the fruit is used to make hard cider. A cider company called Art + Science harvests them and makes small batches of hard cider. I'm going to have to seek it out and try it!

Apparently they have several varieties of trees, not just one.

Facilities Manager estimates the orchard at a couple of acres. I really have no idea, but it could be.

Looks like they had orchard mason bees at one point. Maybe they'll have them again, they are fantastic for early pollination. Many farmers rely on them, as honey bees tend to be active later in the season when it's warmed up considerably. Orchard bees are active when it's much cooler and are therefore invaluable for food production.

The edge of the orchard with the barn in the distance.

The Art + Science label.

Here's the art part - apparently every batch gets its own special nature-related artwork. I like this company! Plus, I have to support my friends, right? OK, off to buy cider I go.

The house and garage from a distance in the sheep area.

I love this! Tiny corn against a bright red barn.

Now some of the outlying property. Theirs goes to the oak smack in the middle of the row of trees in the distance.

Here we are at the oak looking back to the property through the grasses.

I think this is a pretty special tree. For some reason Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood comes to mind.

Here's a second oak, their property goes off into the distance.

Happiness. I asked the kids if they liked their new school and their new home, they all said they love it. That's wonderful news, as it can be difficult to move - and this was no subtle just-down-the-street kind of move. These are country kids now, free to run and play and explore, as kids should be able to.

Country life....I love it!

How about a brief look at the home.

This is in the mudroom, Mindy is so talented at displays.

The front porch gets the autumnal treatment, of course!

Mindy is especially fond of donkeys and is, I believe, thrilled to have a couple as new family members. The farm came with all these critters, it's really amazing that just about everything on her "want" list for a home is all here. The donkeys are a bonus.

Ha ha...Mindy humor!

Here's another interior scene demonstrating Mindy's talents at making a house a home.

Their bathroom is so sweet, complete with a claw-foot tub and modern sink.

The side of the home with a fire pit and picnic bench - great places for family and friends to gather and watch the train rumble along.

It feels like a vacation home.

Check out these original floors upstairs - and those nails which are hard to see in this photo. Pure character, this house.

Another of Mindy's great Halloween touches!

For me, this image captures what being here feels like. It's nature, it's freedom, it's kids being able to be kids. I feel like a big kid here on our two-acre plot, close to nature. How wonderful these children will be able to know nature, to smell the grass, to play with their animal friends and have adventures to shape whom they become as adults. We are so thrilled for Mindy and her wonderful family, what an amazing example of all the stars aligning to make this dream come true.

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens! As always, thank you for reading and happy gardening!