Grit Blogs > Cultivating a Dream

A Farm is Born

Pauline HyltonThe farm bug hit us kind of like the flu. Fast and furious.

One day, we were happy and content living in sunny Florida, running our own charter fishing business. The next minute found us purchasing plastic farm animals to set alongside the Monopoly houses on a life-sized satellite map of our property.

The trouble was the size-scale. Our plastic chickens towered above our red Monopoly hotel like a bad scene from an old Japanese Horror Show. Plus, my dog ate most of them.

Our first inquiry about farming began with the Surry County Cooperative Extension. After hanging around their lobby for over an hour like groupies, collecting pamphlets about everything from what kind of blueberries to grow, to how to keep your children safe (ours are grown), a kind agricultural agent ushered us into his office.

“We want to be farmers!” Tom and I chimed in unison, smiles plastered on our faces.

Terry pushed back his chair and smiled. “What do you want to grow?”

The question took us by surprise. I broke the silence. “Dunno. What do YOU think we should grow?”

His face registered the faintest surprise, but he recovered quickly. Giving us papers and containers, he suggested we take soil samples.

We traveled to the local tractor supply store to buy a shovel. After arriving home, Tom trekked out to our hardened red soil to scoop some for the containers. Almost an hour later, he returned.

“It took all my strength to get any dirt from the ground! I stood on the shovel and finally got about a cup of it. How are we ever going to be able to grow anything in this?”

We had no clue, but it didn’t deter us from our farm dream.

We packaged and labeled our soil samples and drove to the post office. Carefully handing over our samples like newborn babies to a babysitter, we sent them off to some government place that tells us how to grow something in soil that is so hard my very strong husband can’t hardly dig it up.

Then, we waited, kind of like a gestation period. But we both knew that a farm was born.

In the meantime, Terry had suggested attending the Sustainable Agricultural Conference in Winston-Salem. That’s a whole other story for next week.

Here’s my question:

How would you prepare your red-clay-rock-hard-soil if you were starting out? Don’t forget, we’re going natural.