Talisman

talisman

My farm is a wondrous and enchanting place that has fast become my magical talisman. Like a romantic fantasy-land come to life, complete with bewitching fawna, otherworldly creatures and an energy running through it that both captivates and mesmerizes. She is beautiful, so vibrant and full of life. With every caress of wind on my skin, every soothing rain shower, each misty morning and the constant trilling song of crickets, She has seduced me.

Maine’s Bigelow Mountain Range lies just outside my backdoor, and Black Hill looms out the front. Runamuk’s forever-farm lays in a valley that Gilman Stream runs through on it’s way to meet the scenic Carrabassett River─maybe a mile away as the crow flies. Numerous white-tailed deer and a flock of wild turkeys frequent the back field, and I’ve seen turkey vultures, eagles, hawks and a variety of songbirds on the property too. This part of Maine is decidedly more rural than the southern and eastern part of the state; vast swaths of wilderness still exist here and it makes my heart sing to be immersed in such a wonderland.

As a single woman, the sense of permanence and security that comes with home-ownership is tremendously liberating. I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted from me; finally I have the chance to be the master of my own life, Queen of my own empire. I have been waiting my whole life for this chance, and now that it’s here I am giving myself over to it wholeheartedly.

talisman

Something has shifted inside me─the old sense of sad longing has gone, replaced by nothing more than simple, unadulterated happiness. What’s more, my confidence level has been boosted. I accomplished this monumental thing, and while I had help along the way, it’s my name and mine alone on that FSA mortgage. Happy + Confident: that’s a powerful combination that I fully intend to make use of. Watch out world! Here comes Sam!

I’m Writing a Book!

It’s been a month since my last post. Life is a little hectic; I feel as though I am always running from one project or activity to the next (that’s not a complaint-I absolutely love having projects to do). Not only am I busy settling Runamuk in here: establishing next year’s garden, building compost bins, setting up work-spaces, and constructing a winter chicken coop. I’m also working on─not 1, but 3 books!

That’s right! I’m super inspired, and with my talisman and this newfound sense of security I’m more motivated and determined than ever to take the next step as a writer. This fall is all about cranking out the words, so if you see me posting a little less, know that everything is going well; I’m just dedicating more time to writing these stories that I want to share with the world.

And because I know you’re curious lol, I’ll even tell you what I’m working on….

Book #1: Memoirs of a Landless Farmer

At first I was apprehensive about the idea of writing a memoir─no one wants to come off as conceited. Yet this is the story I’m most inspired to write and it’s my own story of how I became a farmer and the journey my life took to make my own dream of farm-ownership come true. You may have followed the blog the whole way, but this book will be much more in depth and personal. I’ve been reviewing my old journals (I knew I kept them all these years for a reason!!!) and mapping out the storyline, researching how to write a good memoir and how to make it really meaningful and compelling for readers.

old journals
My old journals─spanning 1997, when I was a senior in high school─to the present day. What a long strange trip it’s been!

It’s definitely scary to think about sharing the full story behind some of my experiences and to reveal how they shaped my farming journey. I’ll be brave though, and put it into words because I truly believe this story will inspire others to either: a) follow my lead and take up an agrarian lifestyle in some form or fashion, or b) follow their hearts to pursue their dreams in spite of the obstacles in their way. Both of which I believe we need more of in this world.

The ultimate goal for this book is to have it professionally published by Chelsea Green, an American publishing company which specializes in non-fiction books on progressive politics and sustainable living. I’m planning to have the first draft of this manuscript finished by New Years’.

Book #2: How to Buy a Farm With the FSA

After going through the process of buying a farm using the FSA’s loan programs for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, it only makes sense that I should share that experience and all that I learned through that process. In hopes of helping other beginning farmers find their way to farm-ownership, this will be a non-fiction, how-to eBook covering topics like:

  • Benefits & disadvantages of working with the FSA.
  • Building your income from farming (in order to justify investment in real estate).
  • Preparations: recordkeeping, taxes, writing a business plan, etc.
  • The Farm-Search: things to consider and look for in your potential farm-property.
  • Making an Offer: getting the landowner on-board.
  • Working with the FSA: the loan application, forms, and the lengthy process.

This one won’t be finished til sometime next year. It will be available as an eBook for purchase at Amazon.com, and here on the Runamuk website as well.

Note: I’m looking for a few farmers who have also purchased their farms using the FSA’s farm-loan programs. If you or someone you know went that route and would like to be interviewed to be included in this book, feel free to reach out to me by email or by direct message on social media.

Book #3: Farmer-Smut Story

Long-time followers might remember the “So You Think You Can Write” contest I entered back in 2014. If you’re new here─I was a top 25 finalist is Harlequin’s international writing competition that year, but because my father died in the midst of the competition I didn’t finish the manuscript and I definitely didn’t win the prize. *If you’re interested you can check out the story of “Sheep in the Garden & a Writing Contest” here.

Yup! I write fictional romance stories. Not just any romance─but agricultural and environmentally themed romance. My girlfriends and I have laughingly dubbed this the “Farmer-Smut” genre.

That aspect of my writing life has been sitting on the back burner while I’ve been focused on gaining farm-ownership these last few years. Now that I have some stability in my life, and this amazing muse in the form of my very own farm to inspire me─the ideas and possibilities are flowing and I am once again inspired to write about love and farming, nature and environmental stewardship.

It’s always been a fantasy of mine to have one of my romance stories published by Harlequin. 70% of romance stories are now sold as eBooks, so I’m leaning towards self-publishing in electronic format initially, in hopes that my story will get picked up later on by a professional publishing house like Harlequin, who wants to put it into print. I plan to have a manuscript ready within the next 2 years.

Check Back Soon!

Right now it’s the farm that’s taking up the majority of my time, but I’ve managed to make time for writing by burning the candle at both ends: up by 3:30 or 4 each day most days, and working til 10 or 11 writing at night. I’m really excited about publishing my first book, but I definitely have some articles in the works for the blog. I intend to bring back the Winter Growing Challenge too, so check back here soon! Jf you’re really missing me however (that’s really sweet of you by the way), you should follow our Instagram feed. I’ve been making a point to post there daily, sometimes multiple times a day, with glimpses into what #farmlife looks like at Runamuk now that we have a #foreverfarm home. Check it out!

Thanks so much for following along! I hope you’ll continue to join me on this new leg of our farming-journey! Be sure to subscribe to receive the latest posts from Runamuk directly to your in-box!

Swinging Bridge Farm

619 middle rd

Last week there was a new listing at Realtor.com that immediately sparked my interest. We’d already seen the farmhouse during one of our drive-bys to see in person other properties on this same road in New Portland. It seems, in my area, and with my commitment to stay within my kid’s school district, the only community giving up farmland right now is New Portland.

When we saw the place earlier this year it appeared to be vacant, but the old farmhouse with the wooden sign above the door reading “Swinging Bridge Farm” peaked our curiosity, and we recognized it immediately when the property popped up on our daily inspection of current real estate listings.

Swinging Bridge Farm Old FarmhouseNamed for the wire bridge that was built in 1840 to cross the Carrabassett River just north of New Portland, the classic cape-style farmhouse was built in 1880, and has not been remodeled or updated yet. This might be a deterrent to most, but it is exactly what I have been looking for. I want something with history and character, and I can’t afford the beautified old farmhouses that have been renovated with modern conveniences. Besides, a farmhouse still in need of updating allows me to do the remodeling to suit my own particular taste. I can do it my way.

I was dismayed though to see the house was only listed with 4 acres─a dealbreaker for me as a farmer with lofty aspirations for a conservation farm.

But Paul is very good at sleuthing out information online and he found in the New Portland tax registry that the house is attached to a much larger chunk of acreage, and that it’s currently managed by a Land Trust. I asked Leah to contact the seller’s agent to ask whether they might consider selling the old house with the larger chunk of land that it sits on, and if they would be able to work with the long drawn-out process that is FSA financing.

That was on Friday.

It was a long suspenseful weekend lol, but yesterday Leah forwarded me the selling agent’s response: “They are willing to sell the entire parcel and understand the time issues.”

This is huge. I mean: HUGE.

Right out the gate with this property I’ve overcome 2 big obstacles: the time-line issue (for which I thought I would have to write a love letter and sell my soul to convince someone to wait 5-6 months for a sale) and the housing/acreage situation.

I was at Johnny’s when I got the message and it was all I could do to get through the call I was on before I ran through the building with my megaphone leaping joyfully and shouting the news for all to hear.

leaping with joy…..okay, so I didn’t have a megaphone, and it wouldn’t have been appreciated had I gone through the entire office building shouting─but I did share (rather exuberantly) the news with a number of coworkers lol.

The sellers admitted that the house isn’t perfect and that it’s going to need some work, but I had fully expected that─and welcome it. The property has not been farmed in a long, long time, and whatever fields there once were have grown up into forest. At this point there’s only a few acres open to begin cultivating on, but that’s enough to get started and Paul has intentions of utilizing silvopasture methods to open up the land.

We’re going to see it Friday. Which, coincidentally, is the same day Runamuk’s FarmRaiser campaign is scheduled to launch.

Could it be? Are the stars finally aligning for me and for Runamuk?

With the agreement from the seller for the entire parcel and their willingness to work with me on the timeline, I feel as though the first big hurdle is already overcome. Yet there is a level of suspense and anticipation that is palpable, I won’t breathe easy until the online listing says “Pending”. And then there will be other hurdles following in succession to overcome in acquiring the financing. This is the beginning of a long road to farm-ownership, I know, but it’s the first step, and a momentous one.

Be sure to share with friends to spread the word about our upcoming campaign! And local readers should mark their calendars for the big Runamuk FarmRaiser Party on October 1st! Stay tuned for more updates coming soon! new list