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Meet the Farmer!

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

Who am I? Why is it so easy to write about almost any other topic or person than it is yourself? I never want to come across as boastful or proud, but I also don't want to come across as a victim or martyr. So how do you talk about yourself and stay somewhere in the middle?

Let's start with the basics and then ease our way into the rest. For my sake and yours. First off, I am a Christian, a believer and a follower of Jesus. I was saved as a teenager, fell off into the world and lots of lostness. Suffered, lost, failed and did it all on a repetitive cycle for many years. The last several I have really gotten back on track and walked through and healed a lot of hurts and lessons and landed on solid ground with my faith firm and my trust completely in a Father that never gave up on me, saved me from the world and myself more times than I can count and has given me a sense of peace that can only be supernatural. I know that many that come across my things aren't believers, and while I will always pray for them, I will never condemn them. We can all still be friends, and I can still love you, I hope you can too.

Next, I am a wife and a mom, a granddaughter, daughter and sister, aunt and friend. Lots of hats there! I've been with my husband for 6 years and we have a blended family of his and mine which makes up the whole of Rafter 8 Farm. While our age difference is a solid 9.5 years, I tell him all the time he couldn't have kept up with me when I was his age. I might be what some call a workaholic...I prefer to think of myself as productive and energetic with a strong work ethic (blame it on my grandpa). Our kids range from 23 to 6, and we have recently added in our first daughter in love! And I currently am blessed to have 5 generations of my family alive and well!

Family is huge for me, even though since starting this farm the amount of available time I have to visit everyone is limited greatly. We are spread out from Alaska, to Michigan, to all over Texas! And we have them from just a few months old to 90 years young! That's almost 100-year span and a very rare thing these days. I know I am blessed, and I have tried to make sure I pass on those values to my kids.

Taking my love for family and putting it into building this market farm and the community that surrounds it has been huge! I have lived all over this state, never really let myself establish roots anywhere and was what most would call a husband really thought I was one when we met, hahaha. Then we found this place. It was a disaster, and that's putting it lightly. You can see the beginnings on our YouTube channel under the Moving to Our New Farm playlist. This unloved, untended, junk covered, overgrown piece of land stole my heart on a cold, nasty snowmaggedon day in February of 2021! I had no idea what was to come!

We moved on to the property in June of 2021 in a camper and full of hope and dreams and excitement. Then we learned...we learned that we could make all the plans we want, but God's plans are what ultimately play out. We learned that not all relationships endure every season. We learned that community is vital to this lifestyle. And I learned that God knows what He's doing far better than I do. Lots of hard lessons. Lots of loss. Lots of stress and worry and fear. But God.

We lost relationships that we thought were solid. We had to let go of jobs we thought would carry us through. We walked away from material things and extra expenses that were draining us. We walked away from a lifestyle and habits and crutches that we had grown accustomed to. We traded every bit of those things for what we have now, and it was the smartest thing we ever did. Because what we gained was so much more abundant than we would have ever dreamed of.

We gained a church family that has been nothing short of prayers answered. We gained friendships that are nothing short of prayers answered. We are surrounded by a community of love and encouragement and the best cheerleaders you could ask for. We gained a level of faith that is nothing short of God given. We gained a closeness in our home that we would have never achieved without all those things!

So how does all of this lead to the farm we are building? Get to the good stuff Amanda...I know I know; I can go off on a rabbit trail sometimes. But it does all tie back together in this amazing little package that could have only been orchestrated by God himself.

In the chaos and the healing, I learned that my health matters and that without it everything around me fails epically. I learned that my base knowledge of how messed up our food system is, was only the tip of the iceberg. It went way deeper! I realized that in order to get myself healthy and keep me functioning to serve those around me I needed to take control of our food. It's the base line for all else you do. I suffer from autoimmune disease, Rheumatoid and Psoriatic Arthritis to be exact. And although from the outside for the most part you don't see any evidence of this, the inside of my body is fighting a war like no other. I suffer from severe joint pain, swelling, inflammation throughout my whole body that can make me look pregnant, skin irritations and somedays even not being able to walk because my feet are on fire and feel like I'm walking on needles. Hard to keep up when you can't even make it to the toilet on your own. Hard to keep up with everyday tasks when you are too exhausted to even wash your hair or brush your teeth. Hard to want to do anything when you are an active person that is now battling mild depression. In all the things that I've endured and gone through, the never-ending cycle of stress related flare ups I was having was probably the worst I had ever felt. So, it was time to find a permanent solution.

This is when I really dug into building this farm into a farm...a regenerative market farm to be exact. I wanted to be as natural as possible, as organic as possible and as back to basics as possible. Growing and raising our own foods and animals. Processing and preserving these things on farm, with as little stress on the animal as possible. Taking it back to the way it was intended to be long before I came along. I needed to heal my body from the inside out, and that started with what I was feeding it. And while we are just now in our first full growing season for the gardens, we are in our second season of raising our own on farm animals for harvesting. The difference just being able to have a meat source that wasn't pumped full of things I can't pronounce was all the example I needed to know I was going full force into this! And I knew I needed to share that!

We had some setbacks and struggles during 2022 that we weren't expecting. These things changed the timeline and plans we had. But that year also taught us just how we needed to be approaching this thing. It also showed me a huge lesson in community and food resources. There were times when I had no idea how I was going to feed my family. There were times when all we had was processed food that inevitably caused me pain and severe flares. There were times when we didn't have $2 to our name. But every single time God provided. He used those around us, most who had no idea what we were going through, none knew to what extent it was at. He used resources that were meant for others that just happened to have enough left over to land in our laps. He built our faith and trust one example at a time, one friendship at a time, one blessing at a time. And I am forever grateful for just how it all played out. Because it put me on another path, that led me to digging into market gardening and feeding my local community, to becoming the resource.

If the only thing that God saved was this farm, then there must be a reason for it. If He took away the job, I thought I was going to have, there must be another one he had in mind for me. And if both of these things happened at the same time, they must be pieced together somehow. God doesn't work in coincidences. I'll never forget the awkwardness in me saying for the very first time to my husband, "I'm going to be a farmer!" I couldn't even say it to him first, I told my daughter, she's used to me declaring often random things like this and would just go with it...she has also inherited this trait. To my surprise they both said, "I think that's a great idea!" And that was all the conformation I needed! God pointed me there by closing every other door, my family was on board, I could help bring in additional income...and I was ready to jump in headfirst! But God...(get used to this, He does this to me a lot!)

Remember the only having $2 to our name and almost losing everything. We were still in the midst of this season. And now I know why. There is a little channel I watch, you may have heard of her, Roots and Refuge Farm...IYKYK! "Turn your waiting room into a classroom." I'm more of a learn on the fly kind of gal, and this venture is not one you really want to dive headfirst in to with that life motto. It can get expensive. It can get overwhelming. It can get ahead of you way before you are ready. And had God jumped us from a season of lack to a season of abundance as fast as I was jumping into building this farm and 2+ acres of market gardens, we would have suffered from every single one of those. So, I sat down, and I started learning. I got outside and started planning and plotting and laying things out and then re-laying them out. And I did this over and over and over, soaking up all the knowledge I could get my hands on. Until God opened the door for my husband to get back to work in a field, he has years of experience in. Which in turn has allowed us to get back on our feet financially. Which has allowed me to really start putting all of this together and be ready for our first full market season this year! Almost a year later, I will finally be bringing in that income I thought I would be bringing in upon my "I'm a farmer" declaration. Not exactly a short-term plan there...

After going through a season of truly having to depend on the grace of God to feed my family, it also created a desire to establish a way for Him to use me as a way to answer the prayers of others. We all know that we are in a political and governmental mess right now. We all know that inflation is detrimental to most families, especially as the SNAP benefits start declining. And now I know what it's like to wonder where the money is going to come from to pay the bills and put food on the table to feed my family. In going through that season, it has given me the heart for an outreach ministry to help. This is where the Soil to Soul Outreach was birthed. I have a separate blog post on the outreach, so I won't go into depth here. But the gist of it is to feed families that are struggling with good locally grown, nutrition packed food! The local food pantries and church donations around the holidays are great at the core, but the food isn't always exactly healthy. And healthy food should be within reach of everyone!

How do you lose control of you? You end up on the never-ending cycle of having to depend on the government to feed you. There is not a lot we won't do when we are looking into the face of your hungry 5-year-old child. You end up on benefits to help out, which often leads to buying cheap, processed garbage...that makes you feel like garbage...that leads to not having the desire to get off the hamster wheel...that leads to you going round and round and round and getting nowhere but unhealthier and more dependent. I want to help stop that.

So, there is your long-winded summary of me...your farmer! I may have lost some of you by now, but for those that made it this for THANK YOU! This farm is about more than just me and my family. It's a representation of every single person that poured into us over the last couple of years. It is a representation of every lesson we learned, and every blessing God bestowed upon us. It is so much more than dirt and tomatoes. And every seed sown has been prayed over and asked to bless so many more than I could ever do on my own.

I want to feed my family. I want to feed my community. I want to feed those that are praying prayers no one knows about. I want to feed those that haven't even said the prayer yet because they don't believe anyone is actually up there listening or caring about little 'ol them.

If you would like to get involved with anything we are doing, please reach out. If you would like to support the work, we are doing donations are being accepted for the outreach. If you can't financially give but want to support us, you can follow us on all the social medias and YouTube.

Now let's go grow something amazing!

May the soil be fertile, the harvest be bountiful, and the farmer never grow weary.

Eph. 3:20-21

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