Since moving to this farm in January, we've been outside virtually every weekday, from sun up to sundown, have worked in the cold, relentless rain during the wettest Winter on record, and are doing the same during the longest Summer dry spell this area has ever seen.
In February, we jumped into several major drainage projects spanning the North end of our property, to save the old barn and redirect water coming from the crest of the Hood Canal Watershed which our farm sits almost at the top of at 480 feet. We have another major drainage project still to tackle before the rains (hopefully) come this Fall but feel so much more settled knowing the biggest project is complete.
We've raised twenty-nine chicks to mature, laying hens, laid fencing for a large aviary and built a coop to house our flock. We've planted over a dozen apple, peach, pear, cherry, fig and hazelnut trees as well as black currant, blueberry and raspberry plants. We've germinated dozens and dozens of flower varieties from seed, started dahlia and tigridia tubers indoors and eventually planted all of these in several hundred feet of permaculture berms. We've converted our garage to a farm office and are about to explore options for renovating our historic barn.
This last week, we had 1/2 acre of our three acre pasture plowed and disced in anticipation of planting out our cut flower beds next Spring. We are picking up our BCS walk-behind tractor tomorrow evening in anticipation of working in 250 yards of compost (thank you, TILZ, for your guidance and exceptional customer service!) and dozens of bags of lime after receiving our soil sample results. We erected our small veggie hoop house, have made several batches of homemade pesto from the basil "forest" that grows in there, fermented pickles from the jungle of cucumber vines and now are eating tomatoes and peppers that have been happily growing in the warm humidity. Our meals now regularly include beans and potatoes that are coming from our raised beds, along with tomatillos, carrots, beets, squash, parsley, dill and many edible flowers. We have formally arranged two drop-off locations in North Kitsap for our extra produce so that we can ensure little is wasted and those in need are receiving the fresh vegetables that we are unable to use.
We've applied for and received our UBI, FEIN and business license with flower grower/nursery and egg handler endorsements. We've scrapped together a website. We've received documentation from the previous owners, through the "Previous Land Use Declaration," that the pasture was used exclusively for hay and never had chemicals applied.
We're now prepping a number of beds for our Fall crops of greens and brassicas, leveling the site for our greenhouse and getting psyched to rent a skid steer next week and use this plus our BCS tractor for a few days as we work the compost and prepare to plant 50 pounds of organic buckwheat seed in the 1/2 acre.
We just committed this week to co-sharing a beautiful heard of Nigerian Dwarf Goats, four does and a wether, who have worked with kids in schools, have been at the core of "goat yoga" on a farm in Gig Harbor and who will arrive at our farm in September. We are so thrilled with these newest residents of our farm and know that they will have the perfect home here as we continue to work towards our goal of making this a working farm that is kid-friendly and accessible to all.
Our eight year old son, a lover of both creatures and cooking, has perfected scrambled eggs, blueberry pancakes and fruit galettes. He is committed to his flock of chickens and not only sees to their daily basic needs but has named nearly every one and ensures that each one is held, sang or talked to and stroked before setting them loose into the run and orchard each morning. There wasn't an option on the egg handler form for "highly nurtured flock" and I'm certain that the guidelines from the American Humane Association don't include singing to chickens. Elliot will begin selling his eggs in the coming weeks. Each egg contains a whole lotta love.
We decided recently to construct a farm stand on the South end of our property, which will be open next Spring. The stand will afford us an opportunity to further share this space, build community and meaningfully engage neighbors and locals The stand will be adjacent to the chicken run, orchard and goat pen and will provide a wonderful view into the flower farm and pasture. We'll have our cut flowers, vegetables, fruit, eggs and goat cheese for sale. Our neighbors and several locals (Sherman Hill Road gets quite a bit of traffic to/from Viking Way and Clear Creek Road) have been curious about the many goings-on these many months so we decided to put our sandwich board out. For now, it simply has our name and web address on it but by next Spring we hope it will be an invitation for our community to visit us here at Kokko Farm. A fun and meaningful milestone for our family.
Last week, our friends, Linda Scibilia and Lisa Hurt, at RainbowZen Farm on Port Gamble Road, generously hosted my mom and I as they processed thirty-two meat chickens. I set the intention when moving to this farm that we would raise as much of our own food as possible and that in order to honor the life and death of any animal whose meat I ate, I needed to understand how to raise it, and kill it. I ended the life of an animal for the first time a few days ago. Over a dozen chickens, in fact. Holding their throats, using the scalpel, feeling the warm blood over my hand and smelling the life leave these creatures was intensely powerful. I'm grateful for the compassionate way in which Lisa and Linda raise their animals and the way they allowed us into their life and on their farm so that I am afforded the opportunity to intimately understand what it takes to bring chicken to our dinner table.
In addition to learning from Linda and Lisa, we have had the incredible opportunity these last seven months to meet so many farmers, growers, gardeners and community members who are genuinely interested in building community and friendships, sharing their knowledge AND enthusiasm for our efforts. My friend, Kat, having grown up in Twisp, WA and having been around livestock and animals her entire life, has coached me on several animal husbandry subjects. Her husband has lived in Poulsbo for three generations which is where the two of them currently live with their three beautiful boys. She has offered to teach me how to shoot a compound bow (something my father taught me when I was young but a skill I've not had the opportunity to practice in my adult life). Bob, who recently plowed our field with his John Deere tractor, has lived in North Kitsap (Eglon) for seventy-four years. He taught us so much about working the land with machinery and offered to continue to serve as a resource in the coming months and years. His warm and wonderful wife, Diane, shared stories of their 50+ years of living together in North Kitsap and her recipes for her favorite strawberry jam, made with Jell-O. There are so many more who we've met and who have contributed to this move being a genuinely rich and meaningful experience for all three of us.
Despite our enthusiastic pace, last night, as has been the case on several warm evenings this Summer, we paused and were joined for dinner in the garden by family and friends who generously shared in this space and in the bounty that this soil provides. And we gave thanks. Deep gratitude... The world is a crazy place right now and coming together, in celebration of diversity, community, love, friendship, resiliency and food, fills our heart and gives us hope.