Click on the farm photos below to read about each section of our property and see how they have been developed over the last ten years. Scroll below these photos to read the story of how and when we moved here. Scroll all the way down for a link to the next exciting phase of development.

The 2022 garden at sunset.
The West Food Forest
The East Food Forest
The Kitchen Gardens
A picture of a big red dairy barn, open fields and white fences. It shows how the owners' farm looked when it was first purchased. Empty and with no trees or gardens.
The Farm in 2014

A 34-year career in chemical engineering has resulted in our family living in two countries, two states in Australia, eight states in the US and about 30-some different addresses. Our farm in Michigan has been home since 2014, with the exception of two years in California – so it’s been eight years in one place and may just become permanent! 

But the story of how we moved here and how we found this place bears testimony of why it is home for us.

In 2014, I interviewed for a job here in Adrian, Michigan as the plant manager for a local biodiesel facility. After spending a week interviewing and demonstrating my capabilities, I was leaving for the airport when I saw this property with a for sale sign. I pulled into the driveway and called the realtor.

After a quick introduction he told me that he’d already received three offers after placing the “for sale” sign the day before. So, I asked him to see if there were any more properties for sale that might be similar.

Three weeks later I had been hired and was back in Adrian for my first week of employment and the realtor called me to say that all the offers had been rescinded! “Wow”, I said. “What is wrong with the place?” I asked. He explained that it is old, needs a lot of work and the other buyers wanted “move in ready”. I offered to inspect it at the end of the week before flying back to Texas. I asked for three hours to do my own inspections and if everything looked good and the family liked it, we would make an offer.

This was the view of the property on the day that I inspected it before we made an offer to purchase it. A large brick home built in 1850, surrounded by barns and open fields.

Driving into the property revealed a number of incredible sights.

The house is massive and built in the Italianate style. Original wooden corbels around the roof eaves, porch pillars, brick from the 1850’s, several chimneys, original single pane sash windows, basement walls built from field stone…and that was just the outside. The inside was just as spectacular with wood floors, 12′ ceilings, plaster and lath walls and ceilings.

Without doubt, the showpiece structure of the property is the home. But the massive dairy barn rates a very close second for sheer size and classical Midwest “red barn” style.

After three hours of inspections, sharing by video with my family that was still in Texas, we took a punt and decided to call this “home” and made an offer.

The icing on the cake for us was learning that the property was owner-financed on a land contract at 5% interest. What a deal. When looking for rental properties I couldn’t find anything suitable under $1,800/month given that we have six kids and needed a LOT of bedrooms. This house completely met our needs for space and was less than $1,000/month in payments. So, we packed up our home in Texas and drove the van and a U-Haul and trailer up to Michigan and moved in.

If you scrolled down from the top for the exciting news – here it is.

In 2019 while we lived in California, we learned from our neighbors that a solar farm had been proposed and approved for the 157 acres of land surrounding our home and land. This land was currently being farmed in a continuing rotation of soybeans, corn and winter wheat. Having a solar farm as a neighbor would mean no residential development around us for the next 30 years (a positive) and no ongoing applications of chemical pesticides and animal manure fertilizers (another positive). In a two year long negotiation with the solar farm developers (two different companies), we were able to obtain 4.7 acres of land from the developer so that we could expand our property on land that they could not install solar panels on due to setback regulations. We obtained extra land and they save money on property taxes and maintenance on land they couldn’t use. A win-win. We also have a wide buffer strip around our new 7-acres and it has been planted with cover crops and wildflowers. Another positive.

We received the deed for the new land in late 2023 and have already started developing it with permaculture designs and principles.

See more about this at The Addition of 4.7 Acres.