Karma Acres Farm

Celebrating the Art of Living Well, Country Style!

Archive for the category “Life around the Farm”

A Good Year

Today marks our one-year anniversary at Karma Acres Farm, and it’s hard to believe the year has passed so quickly!  As I look back on all we have done and all the wonderful people and experiences of the past year, I am overcome with a sense of gratitude.  I am so grateful to the farm for all it has given us this first year.

Who knew there would be a blueberry and pear harvest of the magnitude it was during our first year?  or that the bees would love the flowers available to them so much they would make honey so good it would cause a friend to declare “it tastes like flowers in a jar!” or that we would be eating home-grown lettuce and strawberries in January?

Who knew we would meet such a wonderful group of people in Callahan and help get a new Callahan Farmer’s Market started there? (And most importantly, who knew we would ride on a 4th of July parade float with Miss Delilah Shepperd, the Market’s miniature pot-bellied pig mascot??)  I certainly did not, nor did I know that we would be lucky enough to share all this with each other, nine dogs, and three wee donkeys!

And finally, who knew we would meet all of the wonderful people we have met here (you know who you are!)?  I am so grateful to all of you for your interest and support of our farm adventure.  I have learned so much from all of you, and appreciate reading your posts and ideas so much.  Thank you for being part of our first year at Karma Acres Farm!

“I never had any other desire so strong, and so like to covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and large garden…”  – Abraham Cowley, “The Garden,” 1666

Bird Hour

Our funky little house at Karma Acres Farm sits well off the road, and has a huge thicket of overgrown azaleas , blueberry bushes, vines, and small magnolia, holly, and oak trees in front.  This thicket grows amongst the old, tall pines we have for privacy, and we have left this area pretty much untouched so far.   It is here that Freebird lives (see previous Note) and, because of the dense vegetation, has escaped predation so far.  Even our little hunter dachshund-mix, Maggie, has not been able to find him in the thicket.

The house has a screened porch, overlooking this thicket, which we dearly love.  When we first saw the property, the porch was nearly engulfed by azaleas.  Most people who plant them never think about how large they get in maturity, and often plant them right up next to the house.    One of the first things we did was remove those closest to the porch, and have now created a small yard that we have fenced, and are keeping mowed, surrounding the house.  This gives some open space between the thicket and the porch.   Because I wanted a true, old-fashioned, southern porch,  I have outfitted it with antique wicker furniture that I got at an estate sale many years ago – the old, sturdy kind that weighs a ton, including a sofa long enough to lie down on and, of course, a rocker!  I have been carting this furniture around for years, waiting for the day there would be a Karma Acres Farm.  Now, it is perfect for the little bird-watching porch that overlooks the numerous birdfeeders we have placed in the front yard.  Comfort rules for both pets and people, since the dogs love to hang out with us there as well.

We have been enjoying a parade of birds at our feeders almost from day one.   All during our house rehab, we kept the birdfeeders filled, trying to not be too distracted by all the birds that were stopping by.  Now that the rehab work is mostly finished, we finally moved our birdbaths in this weekend, and are calling this front area the “bird spa”.    There is a nearly constant panorama of bird activity.  I remember reading that birds are as attracted to water as they are to food, and have found this to be the case everywhere I have lived.  With the addition of water,  we get both seed-eaters and non-seed eating birds visiting this area.  In the spring we had, literally, hundreds of gold finch and cedar waxwings migrating through.  Right now, the cardinals, blue jays, titmice, wrens, towhees, mockingbirds and hummingbirds are all coming to visit in droves.   Parents bring their ratty-looking bird-children to the easy pickings of the feeders.  The thicket provides them cover and protection, and they venture into our open area for food, water and baths.  We get the benefit of a constantly changing view of bird activity from the porch.

Early morning and late afternoon are the most active times.  Now that our rehab work is mostly done, we are taking to the porch around 5 PM each afternoon, glass of wine in hand,  to enjoy “Bird Hour”  We start many mornings with coffee on the same porch to watch the sun come up over the big oak tree and blueberry orchard.  This is an epecially busy time for the hummers to tank up after a long night.  Our view is up close and personal, and much better than any television show if you ask me!

Years ago, I visited Birdsong Nature Center in Thomasville, Georgia, and enjoyed their “Bird Window”, and I also loved the bird-watching porch at the Asa Wright Nature Center in Trinidad.   I vowed that someday I would replicate many of the ideas from these fabulous spots, and so far I am pleased with the results of our efforts.  We hope to have Karma Acres Farm become an official Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation, and to continue to add plantings for birds, butterflies and bees.   I am excited for the fall bird migration to begin, and look forward to seeing lots of fall warblers…and then painted and indigo bunting in the spring…

Cheers!

(All photos taken from my chair on the porch on Friday afternoon as the sun went down…)

Pug at Bird Hour.

Dogs enjoy birdwatching too.

How We Got Our Name

The road home.

My husband and I had been actively looking for a farm for long time (I had been looking all my life, but that is another story).  Our criteria were that it had to be at least five acres, have a house or mobile home that was rehab-able, and be within driving distance to Jacksonville where my parents/grandmother live, and I grew up.  My husband is a realtor, so he would find and send me the latest listings in the surrounding rural areas, and I would check them out.  Almost a year went by, and I nearly wore out my truck driving miles and miles down dirt roads looking at every property in our price range in multiple counties.  We looked all over Clay County, and put in offers on several properties, but the drive into Jacksonville is just horrendous, and it is probably good that our offers were never accepted.  It was a roller coaster, wondering if we would ever find “The Place”.

We never really looked in Nassau County, thinking that much of the area is low-lying, but since we do have friends and family who live there, we started to consider it.  The drive into town is much better, so we started looking more seriously.  We made offers on a couple of places, but again, none were accepted.

Then we found “The Place”.  The property was just the right size, great location (a little low-lying, but not bad), great price, and best of all, near the Four Creeks State Forest, where I could horseback ride, my heart’s desire.  I fell in love.

Unfortunately, the property was a bank-owned foreclosure, which meant that we would have to put in a bid along with other people and the bank would decide, based on the best offer.   We put in our bid, and I was so excited.  I just loved the place, and most of all the prospect of riding a few blocks into the 10,000 acre State Forest.  I was busy making plans for all the renovations and what we would do first.  I had my heart set on the place, certain that we would get it.

We lost the bid.  I was devastated, inconsolable, distraught in a way that really surprised me.  I had fallen in love and it didn’t work out.  I told my friends and they tried their best to make me feel better.  My friend Pat wrote in an email: “I know it sounds trite, but Karma has something better in store for you”.   Ha – I think not.

But the next day, my dear husband, always the optimist, said “Let’s keep looking, something else will come along”.

“No, I’m tired, I am never going to find it.  There is no farm in the world for me.  Forget it.”

“Let me see if anything else has come on the market in that area,”

“No, there won’t be anything; it took us months to find the one we didn’t get”

He checked anyway.

“There is a brand new listing, just came on the market today, and it is in the same area, more land, high and dry, and even closer to the Forest”.

No way.

It was Sunday night, and we couldn’t go see the property until the next morning.  Instead, we had to be content with doing all our research on-line, looking at aerial photos and maps on the Property Appraiser website.  First we noticed that, in addition to the address on Cook Drive, the property had frontage on two other streets.  It was hard to see the names on the on-line map.

“I think one is Marsh Road” I said, “The other looks like Karmal, but it hard to read.”

“Wait”, my dear husband said, looking more closely, “It’s Karma Lane!”…karma, not karmel.

We just looked at each other and started laughing, knowing wiithout even seeing it, that we had found our farm.

Some things are just meant to be.

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