In 2014 My lovely wife and partner of 25 years and I are building a very small organic farm in Northern Michigan. The kids have successfully moved out and now it’s time for us. Oh, and our little dog, too. This is a down-sizing for us, and a chance to completely change our lifestyle. My wife and I are both self-employed so with that freedom from the corporate machine already in place, this move is possible.
More than a home in our minds, this project incorporates many things we feel are sorely needed in this world; less corporate dependence and a significant improvement in the quality of our food and environment. We will be rebuilding the soil of a 125 year old Cherry Orchard, which became a failed Apple Orchard and we will be using fantastically simple, fast, and inexpensive methods to introduce fertility to this very sandy soil. We’ll be growing our own food, generating our own energy, and hopefully encouraging someone else to consider the value of the message. My wife named the project the Serenity Farm. I guess if a fellow is free to pursue Happiness, then he can pursue Serenity also.
The house theme changed direction when we purchased a large amount of recovered old growth Adirondack Black Cherry. These 100+ year old beautiful giants were illegally chopped down and stolen from the land of my dear and best friend. Narrow-minded, uncaring criminals with hard hats. The overall devastation left in their thieving wake reminds one of the indiscriminate and equally uncaring devastation of war. Some of the logs were thankfully recovered by the New York State Police and were then milled, kiln dried, and shipped to us here in Michigan. From the sad assault of my friend’s land came the Cherry wood theme of our house.
The house faces south, with a great slope for crops. The soil is very sandy and poor, but we’ll be incorporating organic soil building methods, in addition to building raised beds with specially-built soil. While we respect the hard-working farmer, we will be utilizing simpler no-till methods. Lowest cost, highest quality. I’m a bit of a self-professed amateur soil scientist, and lazy, so this method best suits me.
Seems that any nice roof should collect rainwater. Why pump it from the ground and risk Calcium buildup from the hard well water? We’ll be starting with a 2000 gallon cistern. It’s above ground under a raised porch, so gravity will send water downhill to drippers. Clean rain water for free.
We plan to raise Honeybees maybe in 2015. We love the Raw Honey and the health benefits, and human industry treats them so poorly. So seems like a good thing to do. Plus they’re so cute.
Alternative energy is a significant investment in all of this, with a spectacular financial return in hard cash. Yes, Solar and Geothermal Energy are both excellent investments now. Prices are dropping fast so don’t listen to old news on the topic.
A large Solar Array is planned to produce most of our electric needs. Some power will be sold to the local Utility Company. The Array will be in a ﬁeld away from the house.
We’re also installing a Geothermal system with radiant floor heating, and ducted cooling. Careful selection of the radiant flooring system was needed to ensure the safety and stability of the Cherry Floor. The sandy soil is quite moist a few feet down, so the wet sand will be an excellent conductor for the Geothermal Field. We decided on a electric (induction) stove, so no propane at all. Pretty happy about that. Backup generator will be diesel.
The wood burning Rumford Fireplace was considered high tech at the turn of the Century due to its efficient ability to heat a living space. So we’re including one of those as well. Not as green as some things, but balance in life is good.
We want to use local builders, designers and suppliers whenever possible. We think it’s important to offer your business to those in your neighborhood. There’s a great bunch of talent we’ve already been fortunate enough to meet.