A safe haven

By Laura Conner Massengale

A safe haven
These 30 acres hold the hopes and dreams of a very grateful North Carolina family.

Welcome back to the homestead! This summer has been full of sunshine and adventure. I fill the warm days with as much fun, family and friends as I can fit in.

Living in a neighborhood has been a new experience for me and my four-legged crew. Although I miss the quiet mornings of the old homestead, it has made my heart smile to see all of the neighborhood kids laughing and playing every day. It has been such a pleasure to live a few houses down from my sister, and her joyful brood of four. Knowing there are friendly neighbors nearby has been a welcome change in this season of my life.

With such limited land around my new house, I decided on a cinder block garden for this growing season. The project was fun and inexpensive. I made my garden just big enough for my little family. I have tomatoes, broccoli, squash, onions and okra. Even though my garden was substantially smaller than gardens of the past, I still enjoyed the reward of tending to seedlings and watching them grow into something that nourished me and my loved ones.

The summer has brought even more development on the farm in Orange County. The barn construction is under way, and with each passing day our smiles grow bigger. We are slowly adding more fun features to the farm. We now have a work truck, pedal boat, four-wheeler, tractor implements, picnic tables and — thanks to hours and hours of my Daddy’s hard work — clear paths to walk through.

This summer holds special memories of two very important visitors. My grandparents, Fred and Lil Conner, came to walk the grounds. This whole dream began with my grandfather’s parents and their humble beginnings as Chapel Hill dairy farmers in 1929 (where University Mall is). Without my grandparents’ hard work, determination and commitment throughout their 69 years of marriage, none of our farm dreams would have been possible.

I have been spending quite a bit of time brainstorming various options for building my future farm house. Since it is just me, Raffi the rabbit, Oliver the indoor pig, and Peanut the dog now, the financial aspect of building and overseeing a home by myself is a bit overwhelming. Despite this emotion, my excitement about being surrounded by my parents, sister, brother-in-law and nieces and nephews on acres and acres of beautiful farmland make it worth facing this task as a single woman.

I have spent many hours in the quiet of the farm. It is a safe haven from the chaos of my nursing job in the emergency room, the busyness of appointments and errands, and the financial stress of the day-to-day. My favorite thing to do is pedal our little boat into the middle of the pond, slip my shoes off and drift among the quiet waters. My senses are overloaded with the wonders of the farm.

I hear the splashes of the baby mallard ducks that have taken up residence on the pond. I smell the sweet scent of honeysuckle that fills the air. I see the clouds drifting lazily up above me, and I feel the quiet breeze whispering through my red hair.

These 30 acres contain old cedar trees, streams and wild flowers, but most importantly, these 30 acres hold the hopes and dreams of a very grateful North Carolina family.

About the Author

Laura Conner Massengale and her husband, Gabe, are members of Piedmont EMC and live in Orange County. From time to time we will publish her reports on their homesteading adventures. Follow Laura's blog at homesteadredhead.com

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