Updated: May 19
This April marks five years that we've been living here on our little slice of heaven in Turlock. It seems like so long yet five years is such a short amount of time over a lifetime. So much has changed, so much has happened, we've been through and grown through so many challenges and life events. I wanted to write something special to commemorate this Five Year "Home-iversary," as I call it, somewhere to jot down some of the most special, funny, hard or enraging moments we've had. And I thought it would be fun to share it on the blog.
This place, our home and 2 acres of land, was in pretty run-down condition when we bought it back in 2017. The fields and yard were completely overgrown (it was after the El Nino winter, so the grass was soooo tall). There was junk and trash just kind of everywhere in the back pasture. The pool was green, the poolhouse had termites and flood damage (from the pool overflowing into it). The house wasn't horrible but was musty with gross carpet and a horribly ugly, out-of-date kitchen, complete with a pebble-tec kitchen floor (why??). Oh! And let's not forget the homeless man camping out in one of the sheds back by the garage the first day Jude and I arrived to start moving some stuff in, while Eddie was working.
Most everyone we knew thought we were crazy to purchase this place. Even those who didn't say it, still said it non-verbally. Ha! I can't remember how many times we heard "man, this looks like a lot of work..." or "are you sure you want to deal with all this?" I guess not everyone could see the amazing potential that we saw behind the broken down chain link, yellow brick kitchen walls and overgrown corral and fields. But we did! To us it was our dream place! A 100 year old charming little home with tons of windows for natural light, a courtyard for barbecuing & outdoor dining, poolhouse/office, swimming pool, garage with attached studio apartment, corral, sheds, chicken coop already in place, plus the obvious 2 acres of total space that we had - in town!
Now, 5 years down the road, and countless birthday parties, swim parties, family get togethers and community events later....I think our family and friends understand why we fell in love with this place, especially since they have reaped the rewards of it too. I also want to mention, so many of our family and friends have helped us out tirelessly during the past 5 years, especially in those first few months when we were really doing lots of the remodeling, cleanup and work to make it livable.
My personal dream for this home and land was to have our own space to grow lots of food for us and to share with our family and friends, a place for our children to grow up running around outside all the time, being outdoors and learning about & from God's creation, and a place to host events for family and our community. We've been able to do all that and more, and I'm just so thankful for it all.
So, if you're still reading, here's a little lineup of what we've accomplished on our small little homestead/farm and some of the most memorable events that have taken place here since April 2017.
We completely remodeled our kitchen (thanks to my amazingly talented father), refinished our hardwood floors, got new carpet in the bedrooms, repainted the interior of the whole house, added in lots of new lighting fixtures, wood fixtures, and other personal touches.
We re-did the flooring in our poolhouse/office, repainted the walls also. We added in lots shelving and countertop space so I could have a dedicated workspace for my botanical & skin care products, and also have a lovely space to hold workshops/events in the future. Eddie use this as his office space for his business as well. This also became the cold space we used for storing and packaging our produce for Nourish Farm CSA boxes and produce/flower orders.
We've fixed up our back studio apartment and have had multiple people living there, its a cute little spot.
Our kitchen now
LIVESTOCK & GARDENS
We started with 4 sheep back in the fall of 2017 and have now probably raised close to 150 sheep here, in total, over that time. We just lost our last original matriarch ewe, Roo, on New Year's Eve of 2021. We have harvested, eaten and sold hundreds of pounds of lamb and mutton over the years. We have raised and harvested three Kune Kune pigs during the past few years as well. We have raised many many hens, harvested a few for eating, but mostly utilized them for all their delicious, nutrient dense eggs. We got chickens in the fall of 2017, and just had to cull our original rooster, Mr. C a couple months ago. He was a wonderful protector and great rooster for the farm. We have had 2 guinea hens, one is still alive and one was enjoyed in some guinea hen ravioli a couple years ago. We also had a milk sheep for a couple years, I only milked her for two short seasons, Bufanda was her name, but it was a wonderful experience!
We started with a semi-small kitchen garden and then expanded to our market gardens in 2019. We have grown thousands of pounds of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers on less than a tenth of an acre of growing space over the past 4 years. It really is amazing how much food (produce & meat) you can grow on such a small space. The beauty of your own food and the amazing flavor of food grown in healthy soil with your own two hands, just cannot be beat.
We've had countless meals that we call an "all farm meal," where everything on our plate was raised on our land. It's a beautiful and fulfilling feeling. Trying to find the balance between the Bermuda grass, gophers, and other pests has been our biggest challenge, but one of my biggest achievements, I think, is each year the amount of ladybugs and pollinators I see on our farm increases soooo much. This is such an amazing sign of a healthy environment and a testament to have a diverse and pesticide free farm.
Like I mentioned earlier, something I really love is planning and hosting community events. I had hosted a few small events for Sunkissed Botanics at our previous houses that we rented, but never had enough space to invite many people. With all the space we now had, my imagination went wild with the other businesses I wanted to collaborate with and the offerings I wanted to share with potential guests and customers.
The first two events I planned and hosted were called The Sunkissed Exchange. I invited other local women makers to come together to sell their goods. The first event I had 4 other women and the second event there were eight vendors total! We provided fresh, beautiful, homemade refreshments, a chance to visit our gardens and even a fun facial bar!
Then, once we started Nourish Farm, we hosted multiple Open Farm events, a couple farm work days and even had a Natural Home Cleaners Workshop, where everyone left with three homemade and non-toxic home cleaning products. I always felt so blessed and grateful when I would walk around during the events seeing people I knew and loved, and people I didn't know enjoying themselves, socializing and just having a good time.
I also started holding monthly women's circles in August 2021. These have been some of my favorite times out in the garden. Women from all walks of life have joined these circles to share, listen, cry and laugh together. We sit on blankets out by the garden, sip herbal tea, get to know each other and share/discuss a different topic each month. I have met so many new, amazing women through these circles and made wonderful friendships.
Here's some photos from events we've had here at the farm.
Our sweet farm dog, Cosmo, has been here with us since she was just 8 weeks old. I thought she deserved a spot in this lineup. She's so sweet, loving and eager to please. She is amazing & patient with our boys and all kids, and when she actually does bark, you know that person is probably up to no good.
SOME LAST THOUGHTS & EXTRA SPECIAL MOMENTS THAT HAVE HAPPENED HERE
This home is a safe and positive space for my family as well our extended family and friends. I want our home to be somewhere where others feel welcomed, as well as somewhere that my family and myself feel that we can escape to and feel relaxed and at peace. I feel this way every time we come home from somewhere and always hope my children and husband feel the same way. From family dinners out in the courtyard, to family game nights, to having family friends over or hosting birthday parties or 4th of July parties - these walls, the trees, the grass and the animals have seen so much laughter, hugs, good conversations and delicious food consumed.
Our second child, whom I miscarried, left us at this home. Our third child, was born on the floor of our bedroom in this home. We hosted Thanksgiving the week after my grandmother died, here at this home, and there were many tears shed that day. So many business ideas and life ideas have been dreamed up here. So many animals have been born here and loved here. So many animals have given their life and lost their life here. Blood, life-giving blood, has been shed on the soil many times. Prayers have been said for healing, for patience, for strength and wisdom.
I'm sure all our neighbors around the field behind our house think we're crazy with all the yelling we've done at animals in the wrong places, Cosmo chasing the sheep when she shouldn't, chickens getting into the garden and scratching up freshly sown seeds, the pigs breaking into the garden and destroying almost all the crops, and all the "Juuuuuude, where are you??"'s or "Mommyyyyyyyy where are you???"'s.
I'm thankful everyday for what God has given us here and provided us to work with here. Putting energy and tears and sweat into this place is the most fulfilling work I've ever done. Knowing that I'm nourishing myself and my family with the food we grow and raise and with the way that we live our life here is so rewarding. I'm so excited to see what the future holds for us and our little farm family.