by Chris Campbell
In Scotland, many moons ago, a nickname was used for the more… “wry-mouthed” (AKA, smarta**)… of the Scots…
They would call them “cam buel.” “Cam” meaning crooked and “buel” meaning mouth.
Then, along came a waggish clan chief who took his sardonic wit as a source of pride. So proud was he, in fact, he took the nickname (which was hardly ever used as a term of endearment) on as a surname. And, thus, a family was created — the Campbells.
And, indeed, their mouths are as crooked as ever.
Crooked Mouth Farm
Fast-forward to 2018, zooming into a tiny town in the middle of Nowheresville, Ohio — up pops Crooked Mouth Farm. (Just closed on it three days ago.) Right now, it’s little more than a welcome log, 2 acres and an idea — that EVERYTHING you need can be found on top of the dirt in your own backyard.
There’s a grander vision…This idea, perhaps in the far future, will propagate throughout the lands — “CROOKED FARMS.”
Crooked Tail… Crooked Teeth… Crooked Spine… whatever. And, the modest farm in Ohio will be like the tiny Starbucks in Seattle. A historic landmark. The beginning. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. (Hey, a man can dream.) getting ahead of myself. (Hey, a man can dream.)
The First Principle…
One of the many goals of the farm is to show how anyone can utilize less than two acres and make a living. (And, why they should begin ASAP.)
It’s also to show anyone how they can live a more self-reliant, sustainable lifestyle — with good, fulfilling work.
The first principle: Kill the “lawn.” Those days are over.
Every square inch of your land can be used for something. It’ll take a lot of time and work, of course. But, I’ve found plenty of people excited about this vision. And, if you start, too, help will always be on the way. The grander the vision, the bigger the hands. Here are just a few ideas in the Crooked Mouth vision…
Camps and Tiny Housers
First, we’ll be open to visitors. Maybe even starting in Spring. A room will open up in the house for Airbnbers. And then, we’ll have a spot for a tiny home and a “glamping” experience. (Another reason to do this: If people want to help on the farm, there will always be plenty of free beds.)
Tiny houses, if you don’t know, are all the rage. If you have one, you can rent it on several sites… Airbnb, TryItTiny, VRBO, TinyHouseListings, and more. We’re starting with a vardo (see: gypsy wagon) that’ll sit on the farm — amongst the goats and, perhaps, alpacas. (We’ll fix it up in the meantime.)
Further, anyone with a little bit of land can rent out a camping spot on Hipcamp. So, we’ll build a couple spots to camp on the farm, too. One, we plan, will be in an old fort bed we’re building out to be an (extra tiny) “cabin” on a tree mezzanine.
“Did you hear about that farm with the lavender-flavored snails?” There are lots of small farms around me. And, of course, they’re all struggling to compete with the big boys. Don’t compete. Be different. Being small and nimble is an advantage. Make the slow-moving big boxers constantly play catch up with the ever-changing tastes.
The trick is, then, getting a sense of what the market wants. And what it’s open to.How? I’ll ask.
In a couple of weeks, for example, a chef will move in for the winter to teach me the ins and outs of what chefs want from local farms. Trendy stuff… weird, exotic things. Like snails that taste like sage (because that’s all you fed them). Interesting microgreens. Quail eggs. Rare/seasonal mushrooms. Stuff like that.
Talented individuals will be invited to give small workshops in Crooked Mouth Lab, a barn located in the back of the farm. (Which we’ll expand to a bigger barn later… just have to build it first.) Learn everything from bitcoin to woodworking to butchering to blacksmithing…
The classes will focus on how ANYONE can begin living a self-reliant, sustainable lifestyle. (Ex. Why Quails Are Better Than Chickens 101)
Keep Your Day-Job/Invest Wisely
With rural areas getting faster and faster Internet connections, remote workers (SEE: HALO-FI… Fire your ISP for “$7 Internet” — and make a killing), more than ever, can work from anywhere in the U.S. Meaning, digital nomads and creatives can do their full-time jobs from the farm — not having to worry about depending solely on what the farm provides to stay afloat. The opportunities to make money online are nearly endless — we’ll go through no shortage of them in future episodes.
It’s no small feat…But, build out a space that’s beautiful enough, even if it’s small, and people will be tripping over themselves to have their intimate weddings or kid’s birthday bash there. (As an aside, schools, too, can get involved, kids can get in the dirt — learn where REAL food comes from.)
Climb in the treehouse. Hang out in the gypsy wagon. Drink wine in the barn. Pet the pigs, alpacas and crack up over the fainting goats.
And tell everyone you meet about that one time at Crooked Mouth Farm. And how it inspired you to start your own small homestead. And explain how little “leisure” farms are becoming the spark to a wildfire — and creating a mass-resurgence of self-sufficiency in America. Not out of fear, though. Because it’s fun.
That, at least, is the vision.
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