Where happy birds make delicious eggs
...and happy people make beautiful art!
Troy riding Snow Duck
Troy and I like to refer to ourselves as “suburbanites turned farmers”— a fairly recent metamorphosis.
We both grew up in the same neighborhood in Herndon, Virginia. Our childhood included walks down to the pool past “cookie cutter” houses, block parties with neighbors we may or may not have actually liked, and yard chores assigned to us by our parents (perhaps so they could take pride in their property, but more likely to appease the HOA). It was the only lifestyle we knew. After getting to know each other more intimately (well after High School ended), dating, and eventually renting an apartment together, we began to repeat the cycle of our youth by purchasing a house in Sterling, Virginia with even smaller lots and an even more strict HOA. We both worked full time jobs to afford all our bills which eventually included necessities for our son, born in 2012. Before his arrival, we joked about having a moderately sized family, selling our house, and moving into the large homes in the next neighborhood over. We didn’t expect that after our son’s first birthday, we would both become completely burnt out of the lifestyle we choose. It was around that time we seriously discussed our options and thought about where we wanted to go from there.
Though our gardening experience was limited to failed attempts at growing tomatoes in pots on our back porch, we knew we wanted to develop our green thumb and become more self-sufficient. We also wanted to make some money from what we grew, if possible. We could not accomplish this goal where we were—the HOA wouldn’t even allow food-growing gardens in the front yard. This was a major hindrance for us as our house sat very far back on our tiny .14 acre lot. We also knew we never (ever, ever) wanted to have an HOA dictate our land use ever again.
After a year of exploring several states and various cities, we came to a realization. We were in love with Virginia and all of its natural beauty. We didn’t dislike the state at all—we had grown to just hate Northern Virginia and the “GO GO GO” mentality of most of the residents, including us. It felt like we were stuck in the “rat race” and we didn’t want to be in it anymore. (Need I even mention the traffic?)
A few people at both of our jobs, and my parents, suggested we check out Charlottesville. After one trip down, we were in love. Everyone we ran into was so nice. We loved the emphasis on keeping things local. We loved the art we saw all around the city. We loved the downtown mall. We loved the mountain views. We loved the city being surrounded by beautiful rolling hills and barns and pastures and livestock. We loved how nearly every restaurant we ate at boasted ingredients from nearby farms. This was the place for us!
We searched quite some time for a home down here, but nothing fit the bill quite right. After much deliberation, we decided to throw caution to the wind and move anyway. Troy quickly lined up a job, and we put our house on the market. Within two months, we had moved into a rental near Lake Monticello, Troy started his new job, and I was quickly adjusting to my new role as a stay at home Mom. I (obsessively) searched housing databases several times a day looking for a place to call home, and finally, in September of 2014, I found a house that seemed nearly perfect.
I’m sitting in my home office of said house now, typing this little intro up. It’s a cozy place that sits on nearly 9 acres right off route 250—an ideal spot for a home business as it’s easily accessible. We bought the house knowing we wanted to farm and sell product right from our own land, but at the time we had no idea what exactly we would be farming. After a couple months of deliberating, we decided on selling duck eggs. It wasn’t an easily made decision. We wanted any product we were going to sell to be of top quality. We wanted any livestock to be happy and healthy. We also wanted to get an animal we had interest in (I was opposed to chickens and have always wanted ducks since I was young; Troy was on team chicken until about the time that we moved in). We originally talked about getting “a few ducks to start” (I was thinking 12, tops!), but somehow the number of birds kept climbing until we found ourselves placing an initial order of 50 ducklings with Metzer Farms. As we already had a shed on the lot, we decided to use this as our duck house and go from there. We knew we had enough space to open up different areas of our yard to the ducks, so they were never stuck on one pasture.
The ducks have come to not only be a supplier of food, but an integral part of our success as gardeners as we use their mucked up pool water to fertilize our plants. They assist in keeping the pest bugs under control. The ducks are also helping us rehabilitate parts of the land that have been neglected by past owners.
We have already accomplished so much in the year that we’ve been living in this home. When we moved in, the only greenery surrounding the house was grass, and beyond that was woods, unusable to a gardener. No garden beds were ever even established; no landscaping was done whatsoever. The land was a blank slate begging to be utilized. In just a few short months, we prepared three garden beds (that all successfully grew us fruits and vegetables our first summer), built the entire fence around the duck house, and planted a few bushes and fruiting trees. As for the woods, Troy has decided it would best be suited for a 9-hole (to start) disc golf course, as he and I really enjoy the sport! Troy and I are so extremely excited to see how we transform this place in the coming years.
Not too many businesses are seen growing literally from the ground up. We launched our fan page and You Tube channel before we had done anything to prepare for farming, and weeks before we even had the ducks. We are excited to have friends, family, and members of our community join us as we navigate our way on this crazy path. We hope you stay with us as we transform from “suburbanites turned farmers” to “farmers turned successful entrepreneurs”.
Grab yourself a cuppa, this may take a minute.
Laura reminding Rufus who's boss