Since the early seventies, I had always wanted to live a Mother Earth Magazine "style" of life. I would read every page, every article, every small advertisement in each issue of Mother Earth News magazine, always looking for projects or eco-friendly changes I could make in my life.
Often times, the things I wanted to do were out of reach. I didn't have the resources to buy a farm, build my own home, plant a huge organic garden, or pursue self-sufficiency in any meaningful manner. Yet, I would absorb all the information I could glean from every issue of Mother Earth News and file the information away in my file cabinet of dreams.
When the magazine began publishing (1970), I was already primed for a natural alternate lifestyle by current societal shifts towards naturalism, communal values, and the whole "hippie movement." At 15, I was attracted to any philosophy or way of life that complimented my inner sensibilities while challenging any pressure to conform to my family's and society's expectations of me. In regard to relating to the "new" Mother Earth lifestyle, I was in the right place at the right time.
For many, many years, I dreamt of living on a farm, or at the very least, in my own rural home using self-sufficient practices such as recycling, organic gardening, and living in proximity to like-minded people. This is how I wanted to live my life. It took almost thirty years for my dream to come true.
In 2001, we bought a log cabin "in the woods" in a very rural area of the small town of Barre, Massachusetts (population 4500). On a three-acre lot garnished with huge boulders cascading down a small hillside, innumerable trees, and all the possibilities needed to realize my dream; I created "Old Dana Farmstead."
Starting with a few visiting chickens and the purchase of two dairy goats, the farm started taking on life almost immediately. We found a local Farmer's Exchange that was part feed store, part hardware store, and part co-op. When we had an excess of eggs, we started to sell eggs to the public from our own egg stand. And, at the local farmer's market, we'd sell eggs on Saturdays and eventually the egg sales became sufficient enough to pay for all the various feeds, hay, and wood shavings we needed.
At that point, things began to take off. We enjoyed the addition of more animals and began transforming the land into a hobby farm. Initially, (before the chickens and goats) a few rabbits were our only "livestock," but soon thereafter, goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, and pheasants came to live on Old Dana Farmstead. We converted a mid-sized shed into a chicken coop, and thereafter introduced 5 additional outbuildings to the property, as well as perimeter fencing.
Gardens of perennials and other landscaping features such as ponds, fountains, statues, and the use of natural features of the land were used to create a beautiful and peaceful environment. Herbs, flowers, tall trees, wild birds, local wildlife, nature, small town living, and farm life all blend together here and in so doing, made my dreams come true.
Showcasing this thirty year quest is the goal of the Old Dana Farmstead website. Here, you'll find a collection of photos and commentary about the farm's beginnings and current residents and features. The site will be updated often to reflect additions and changes to the farm. We hope you will enjoy the website and feel free to email us with comments or questions.
We'd love to hear from you!