As homesteaders-in-progress, our goal is to do more things for ourselves. The primary goal is to feed ourselves with the fruits, vegetables, meats and wild edibles that we grow or gather ourselves. Toward this end, we recently spent a weekend planting fruit trees of various sorts, blueberry bushes and several varieties of grapes. Though these fruit starts are tiny in the field with their pink ribbon markers, we imagine them feeding our family someday. We see a beautiful orchard blooming in the springtime and heavy with fruit during the summer. We see a grape arbor weighted down with red, green and black clusters of fruit. We see little children eating blueberries from a hedge by the cool of the woods.
Having grown up in the nursery capital of the world, we have seen a whole lot of ornamental trees and shrubs that are grown for sale into nursery centers and home improvement stores all over the country. The proliferation of ornamentals occurs because most folks purchase these trees to beautify their yards. There is certainly nothing wrong with that desire, but we propose that you can have both beauty and bounty when you plant fruit trees and shrubs. It’s double return for the investment!
Bratcher Family Farm
Our mutual dream started in 2014 with passionate conversations about homesteading and visits to Joe’s family farm. This following childhoods reading the Foxfire Series and Little House on the Prairie which fired our young imaginations about the kind of life that was still available to us in modern times. Planting fruit trees progressed to taking a beekeeping class and ordering two hives. The following months brought many losses…most unbearably, Joe’s father, Kenneth Bratcher. But also the loss of jobs, many fruit trees, both hives and our budding relationship. However, we both clung to our lifelong mutual dream and the Lord brought us back together at the proper time. So our journey really began on January 1, 2016, when we formally began our lives together as husband and wife.
This dream of ours is possible only because of the hard work and frugality of Kenneth and Martha Jo Bratcher, who sacrificed much to purchase and develop this beautiful farm with open pastures of rich soil and woodlands filled with an abundance of hard woods and wild animals. To honor Joe’s parents and the farm, it is our top priority to steward this land and make it even better for the next generation.
The purpose of this blog is to capture our experiences in setting up our homestead, gaining new skills and making the needed preparations to establish our farm as an income-producing enterprise to support our family. We have a tentative plan for the next 5 years. The first couple of those years are focused on building a self-sustaining homestead for our family. Then we will begin looking at farm-produced revenue streams.
The cast of characters: Joe & Staci Bratcher and our 5 sons: Max, Jackson, Spencer and William Bryan, and Jack Bratcher. Max is spending this initial year at the farm as farm manager to assist us in remodeling the farmhouse, working a test garden and experimenting with chickens for both eggs and meat. William is learning about sustainable farming and construction at Farm Fifty-Eight.
We are very excited to hear about your experiences with traditional skills, homesteading and farming.