For those of you that have been following my farming journey, there has been an underlying facet that I have not really talked about. For the past three years, I have been working anywhere from 1-3 weeks at a time (with 1-3 weeks off and at home) on a major oil spill in Louisiana (let's just call it "the spill"). I'm not going to say which oil spill it is, but I think you can figure it out. See, my education is in wildlife management and environmental science, and I have been working on oil spills since before I finished grad school in 2006. When "the spill" happened in 2010 I dropped everything and went to work on it full time. Dropping everything for a temporary position equates to a turning point in your life and that's when I decided that when the spill was over I would start a farm. Well, the spill response went on longer than I anticipated so I ended up starting the farm while I was still traveling back and forth between Ohio and Louisiana.
You might say I planned the entire farm while I was working in Louisiana. We had long van rides (1-1/2 to 3 hours) to our field sites and I took advantage of that downtime to read books on various aspects of farming, draw up building plans, plan plantings, etc. I'm the kind of person who can't stop thinking so you better believe I wasn't going to waste those hours in New Orleans traffic or on the long road to Venice, LA doing nothing! And this was how I started my long distance farming...
My husband, Wes Kroninger, is a great guy and a great husband. He was very supportive throughout this entire endeavor. Beginning with the day that I proposed to him that we move back to Ohio (from Long Beach, CA just blocks from the Pacific Ocean!) where I could start a farm (the farm I had dreamed of having since I was a teenager) and he could start a photography studio (an endeavor that he couldn't afford in southern California). To my surprise he said yes without hesitation. I guess he knows me well enough to know that I had a plan. So we started looking for land in Ohio and, thanks to the internet, it was easy to do from both home (California) and work (Louisiana). And, when I found the farm that seemed like the one, I was able to research the soils, schools, demographics, economy, crime in the area - you name it - all from the comfort of wherever my laptop and I happened to be. So in May 2011, in between rotations to Louisiana, we flew to Ohio for an alpaca show and at the same time went to see the property that is now Root Down Acres, LLC. And since we only had but 1 week to make all this happen before we had to fly back to California, you better believe we made it happen fast!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Long Distance Farming blog post to read more about my exciting journey to becoming a farmer.