I learned quickly that Ben and Hana Yoder’s decision to buy 100 acres of land and a red barn was one thing, but to live the dream of owning their own farm was something else altogether. I didn’t grow up on a farm, but it was already clear to me how much work was involved to get it going and Terry and I would do everything we could–short of farming the land ourselves!!–to make it possible for these hardworking young people to make a success of this new farm of theirs. My main job in all this was to cheer them on from my porch!
Within two months of signing the contract, Ben and his friends had built a cabin behind the barn, where his farmer friends could live. Together, they’d laid the foundation for the new house on the other side of the barn from us. This gave us both privacy, while it was still close enough to tractor shed and co-op pick up to make it an easy trip to and from the house. By spring, Ben and his friends had raised the roof. They spent the summer traveling back and forth between farms — harvesting vegetables and managing co-op pickup in Garrett County, building high tunnels, planting raspberries, and fruit trees, electrifying, plumbing, insulating and sheet rocking their new house here.
By August they’d moved all the cows, sheep, pigs and chickens over from Garrett County. In July, the Yoders and their new baby Rosie moved to our little guest cottage, where Hana made dinner for the farm crew every night. How she did this I haven’t a clue. But Hana is remarkable in many ways.
By October 2017—almost a year to the day we signed the contract with the Yoders and signed the contract and shook hands on the deal– they were in. One hundred acres of our farm land was now theirs We’d found a way to make it affordable enough for them to buy. We’d continue to live there. We’d be their most devoted co-op members, and their closest neighbors.
A couple of retired people, lucky enough to have a lot of land they didn’t need, can now stroll to a red barn just a stone’s throw from their house for food and conversation at the co-op. Family visits and birthday parties for Rosie, and her little brother, Henry. Walk the property with Ben, drink smoothies at Clatter with Hana and the kids.
On a Wednesday in August 2021, what do I see through my windows? From the kitchen – the cows and sheep. From the living room, a field of potatoes and three dozen gobblers making a racket. From the front door, sunflowers, and sweet corn. An orchard of young fruit trees and berry bushes. And from my study window. The Red Barn. The buzz of all that activity . The tractors coming and going, the co-op full of people, laughing kids, barking dogs.
In two weeks we’ll be back in Portugal, having left our house, cottage and two pups in the care of our friends on Savage Mountain, knowing that the farm we’ve loved for 13 years is producing a ton of healthy, delicious food for families in three counties. Knowing, too, that our decision to get Cory Twigg and his crew back on the job in 2015 was one of the best decisions we ever made.
To modify the famous line from the baseball movie “Field of Dreams”:
We rebuilt it . . . and they came.
Adorei e mais uma vez vi que têm um bom coração!
Que bom tanta gente ter trabalho!
Bjs grandes saudades cá vos espero!
Muito obrigada, Ines, pelo teu adorável comentário. Sim, as pessoas da fazenda trabalham muito. E eles são bons amigos para nós.
Estou com muita vontade de voltar a Portugal em breve, para poder voltar a vê-lo. Também encontrarei muitas coisas sobre o que escrever em teu país! Grandes abraços, Jerri
Thank you for sharing this lovely story. I finally had time to read it. You and Terri have given a young family a future they dreamed of having. Your caring and generous way inspires me to follow in your footsteps.
My mother, Lynn, was born and raised on a farm in northwest Iowa. I loved visiting my grandfather’s farm; even the smells. Lynn became a painter and particularly enjoyed painting barns. In the mid-west red wooden barns are now far and few between; metal has taken over. Thanks for rebuilding your red barn!
Hope to see you again before you leave.
Dear Sue, I’m so happy to hear about the farm in Iowa where your mother grew up. We’ve lived very different kinds of lives than the hardworking farmers and yet our appreciation and respect for them — and what they do — is tremendous. We have a sticker on our refrigerator that says “No Farms, No Food” – and while grocery stores may have “food” it’s nothing like farm fresh. How lucky we both are to have these young people here producing this food for us — and the Farmers Markets in Cumberland, Frostburg, and Berkeley Springs at which it is available for sale. Thank you for your generous spirit, Sue, and your kindness. Maybe we can find a way to get together one more time before we leave!!
This is such a lovely story.
Thanks so much for reading, Patricia. I look forward to catching you up on Portugal soon, too!
I’m so glad you documented this – what a great story and truly an adventurous journey for all of you.
And now you’re on to the next chapter in your Portugal adventure. Bon voyage!!
I look forward to your next blog post!
Thank you so much, Paige! Documenting this story has been a source of real joy for me. And it’s thanks to your daughter and son-in-law this is all possible. You have to be very proud of them! And thanks for reading and commenting on the posts. It means so much for me . . . encouragement to keep writing!! I hope to have a couple of posts in the works over the next few weeks . . . unless our return to Portugal occupies more writing time than I anticipate! Stay safe and be well, Paige.
Jerri – Although I’ve heard parts of this story, this is the first I’ve gotten the whole story. So happy for all of you and that is such a successful venture. We’re happy you found Ben and Hana – or they found you – and that we can enjoy the bounty of their farm.
Thank you, Betsey–yes we all feel happy (and very lucky) to have found each other! And the best part is that the community at large – is so involved in all things Savage Mountain Farm. It makes my heart sing!
What a wonderful story of my niece and her awesome family! Thank you so much for giving of your heart and your generosity! Hana and Ben are the hardest working people I know! Thanks again for sharing this wonderful story!
Dear Laine, Thank you so much for your message. Your niece and her family are among the finest people I know. It is a privilege to be part of their lives. All the best, Jerri