Over 40 years ago we moved from Minneapolis to central Minnesota with a group of like-minded people set on learning how to feed and shelter ourselves and reclaim the a more basic and real life-style than the one with which we had grown up. We didn't know much about country life, but we did know that the path modern agriculture was on was causing some serious problems for the health of the planet. So we would garden organically. With Rodale's Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening in one hand, we set about turning over and fertilizing what must have been about an acre of land. Fortunately, there were 25 or 30 of us, mostly in our 20s, so the work went fairly fast. We shoveled and hauled manure. We spread a variety of rock minerals. We removed scrub and weeds and finally had a decent seed-bed. The locals watched, driving by slowly to see what the hippies were up to, probably not expecting much to come from our efforts. But to everyone's amazement, including our own, the garden was a resounding success.We fed ourselves for a couple of years out of that garden and along the way acquired some goats, a cow and some chickens. Although, Mary Kay and I, and everyone else for that matter, eventually left what was called the Georgeville Commune, we have carried the fruits of that experience throughout our lives. And for Mary Kay and me, life in the city would be never more than a temporary necessity until we could return again to the country.
For 12 years, from 1974 to 86, we owned a 40 acre coulee farm in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin and dove into all aspects of homestead farming. We had chickens, ducks, guinea hens, rabbits, a pig or two, a herd of 12 or so Toggenburg dairy goats, and eventually around 40 white-faced sheep of various breeds. And we planted over 400 apple trees and kept bees to pollinate the trees and the garden. We made hay for the ruminants and grew some corn and oats for feed. Our collection of old farm machinery occupied a sizable section of the farm yard. Fortunately, I had a day job for most of our time teaching high school English and social studies, which helped pay for our agricultural ventures. We never made much money from our farm work, but we ate well, kept healthy and raised our 3 children surrounded by the natural world.
Sometimes we are still amazed that we left all that, but in 1986 we set off to California to pursue the path of becoming Waldorf school teachers and to give our children a chance to experience what seemed to us to be the most wholesome of school experiences. For the next 20 years we lived in the cities, first in Sacramento and then in Minneapolis, working in the Waldorf School movement.
Along the way in 1995 we purchased a fiber arts business called Earthsong Fibers, which slowly developed into a steady small business, which at first Mary Kay tended mostly by herself. I helped by developing a web site and getting out a print catalog that we used to produce. providing the labor power for transporting bins of products to fairs and events at which we sold our goods. In 2006 I finished our online store and, with the the increasing work on the farm, we have drawn back from carting our wares to fairs.
We purchased our current farm in Polk County Wisconsin in 1998. We spent summers and weekends here fixing it up and planting apple trees again and, of course a big garden. Finally, in 2005 I retired from teaching and we were able to move to the country again on a permanent basis. Since then we've been busy recreating our homestead dreams and tending Earthsong Fibers.