Carrie's Corner: Home on the Farm

Carrie Stambaugh, Managing Editor

    In the last few years, I’ve come to the realization that I’m a “farm girl.” It’s like they say, you can take a person out of a place but you can’t take the place out of the person…  
    When I was three, my parents moved our family to a small farm, of which my father had become caretaker. By the time I was five, I was collecting eggs from the chicken house and helping my dad with all sorts of farm chores.     Eventually, we added ducks, goats, pigs and rabbits along with acres of sweet corn and a large vegetable garden. We also had an orchard packed with grapes, strawberries and large apple trees.
    We grew, raised and preserved a sizeable percentage of what we ate, and I was responsible for doing my share. I was often in the field picking corn before 7 a.m. swim practice or rushing home afterward to milk goats, and my hens earned me many blue ribbons from the fair each year.
    Then when I was 17, the man who owned the farm died and his son evicted us. We moved into a small suburban house in the same school district, on a busy corner with a yard that was too small for a garden.
    Life went on, as it does. I graduated high school, went away to college, and settled into a career in Ashland; but my farm girl habits wouldn’t go away. As a college student; I started growing tomatoes in pots on my apartment balcony and added raised vegetable beds to every available space in my Ashland yard after Carl and I married.
    As the years passed and we made actual plans – not just dreams – for growing old together, we concluded that I needed a farm. I am simply happiest when I’m “playing in the dirt,” my husband insists.  We also spend countless hours cooking together, and one of our greatest joys is creating dishes from homegrown foods.
    So, we started looking. What we ultimately found can only be described as a gift from God. He put all the right people in our life at the right time to make it happen – our Ashland neighbors Pam and Galen Vallance, who introduced us to John and Lynne Pavur, who eventually sold us our little slice of paradise in Elliott County. The farm and the little cabin in the woods, not to mention the more than dozen waterfalls on the property, were simply more than we dared to dream. It has plenty of sunny space that I’ve turned into a sprawling garden, and there was an established orchard, to which I’ve now added a dozen more trees. There are also acres upon acres of deep woods to hike in, which led to our newest hobby - foraging for edible wild mushrooms.
    Now, I fantasize about becoming a farm-to-table bed and breakfast with an adventure twist. Instead of staying in a main house, our guests would sleep in tents on platforms or in one of the old-style log cabins we dream of building near several of our waterfalls. For breakfast, we could serve fresh eggs from our chickens, with toast and a spread of homemade orchard preserves, for example. At the heart of this dream is sharing the land and the satisfaction I get from growing food and feeding it to my family and friends – and neighbors – and my entire community!  
    Every day now, I rise to the crows of my roosters. After I’ve opened the door to the chicken house (my flock free-ranges), I take a stroll through my garden and orchard to inspect and admire my ripening fruits and vegetables. Then, as I sit on the porch and sip my coffee, watching the sunrise over the trees, I thank God that I’m back where I’m supposed to be: Home on my own little farm.