Our Farm Story – The New Farm
In the early part of 2006 our landlord, Montgomery County, in a new lease negotiation stated that the rent amount on our new lease would be increased by 2300%. They gave us the offer that we could restore the barn and do some other improvements to the property on a dollar for dollar exchange. This rent amount was for a farm in Montgomery County's Agricultural Reserve, an area set aside to preserve farms from urbanization. The rent was much more than what we could make with the farm. Despite newspaper articles, letters written by seven different citizens groups, and appeals by many individuals, Montgomery County refused to budge on the rent amount. We started looking for another farm. Each morning we would search 20-25 newspapers and online classifieds. We looked in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania for a farm to rent. For months we looked and could not find anything that fit our needs. We were offered five different places where the owners really wanted us to rent from them, but in each situation there was something significant that did not fit our needs. We could find farmland, but no house to go with it. And we found houses without farmland. We felt God had called us to farm and we were to continue farming, but it seemed impossible. Each time we turned down an offer, we would ask ourselves, "Now what"? We had just cut off all hope.
In August, two weeks before we had to move, we had to ask Montgomery County for a month's extension because we still had not found a place. They granted the extension. We set a date that if we did not find another farm by then we would sell off all the chickens and remaining livestock and close down the farm. We were discouraged. But God had not forsaken us. He had a big surprise for us.
A day and a half before we were going to sell off our remaining chickens and livestock and prepare to close down the farm we were contacted by the Director of Land and Property Management with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). They had seen the before and after pictures of the house we had fixed up for Montgomery County. They had a house and farmland that they wanted us to be the curators for under their Curatorship Program.
The house is a historic two story four bedroom house. Part of the house is a two story log cabin built around 1850. The main part of the house was added around 1900. The house was in fair condition and had been sitting empty for about a year. It needed lead paint abatement work before we would be able to move in. It is part of the 2100 acre Monocacy Natural Resources Management Area and adjoins the Sugarloaf Mountain property. The purpose of the Natural Resources Management Area is to preserve the agricultural and natural resources of the property. Our farm fits nicely into the goals for the use of the property.
Our discouragement now changed to great excitement. We knew in our hearts that this was what we'd been waiting for. We felt this was the place God had for us.
As curators of the property, we will be restoring the house over the next seven years and then maintain it as long as we live here. It includes a lifetime occupancy for as long as either Cathy or I live! There is twice as much pasture as we had at our first farm. Plus the layout of the pastures are much better suited for us than at the other farm. We have been able to set up a much more efficient operation.
DNR asked Montgomery County to extend our lease until the end of the year (2006). Montgomery County consented. For three months we spent every available minute, except Sundays, fixing up the house and setting up the farm. On December 20, 2006 Governor Ehrlich, Maryland's Comptroller, and the Treasurer approved our curatorship lease. We moved just before the end of the year.
So where is this farm after we had looked high and low in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania? It was right under our noses! It is located eight miles from our first farm just over the line into Frederick County. It is a better location as it is closer to Interstate 270.
We feel like some of our questions have been clearly answered. "Are we to continue farming?" Yes! "Are pasture raised meats and eggs important enough for us to go to the extra work to produce them?" Yes!
Several months after we moved I asked the children if they missed our old farm. For most of them that was the only home that they remembered. They all said that they did not miss the other farm. They liked this house and farm so much better. We find it amazing, because they had all loved the other farm. However, the setting here is much more secluded and peaceful and beautiful. We think you will enjoy this farm too.
Why did we have to wait to find this farm?
Isaiah 30:18 And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
Isaiah 64:4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.
What if we had not waited, and had taken one of the other five situations offered to us? There were a number of coincidences for each situation that made them look like they were God's provision, but we knew down deep in our hearts that they weren't. It would have made it easier at the time. But we would have missed out on such a great blessing. We would have been much further from our customers, our expenses and delivery costs would be much higher, and our farm setup would not be nearly as ideal. Waiting on the Lord was one of the most difficult things we had to do. It was a real trying of our faith, but it was really worth it!