Sometimes, it takes a little miracle to make things happen. Like two simple red balloons.
A few weeks back, we held an open house on Sunday afternoon for the sale of our little farm in Ohio. With a job move to the south, we had decided it would be hard to keep the farm, and still continue to do what we love most – creating projects, speaking, writing, and of course, finding time for travelling in our spare time.
Our goal was to keep on writing and speaking about gardening, DIY and the recipes we love, and re-create a version of our farm in the south. And yes, still travel a bit on the weekends too.
We have always been up for any adventure life brings, and we plowed ahead to start the next chapter.
Without a doubt, we loved our little Licking County, Ohio farm and everything it represented. But we just felt as though selling it was the best option.
But on that fateful Open House day – something special happened. From the beginning the day felt surreal to say the least.
The turnout was more than we ever expected. To boot, nearly every visitor we met, in one version or another, had the same thing to say. It started with :”It is so pretty out here” And ended with : “It must be really hard to sell and give up” That constant theme kept playing out to both of us , over and over.
An Amazing Story Of Two Balloons
Before the event, we had placed two red balloons on the mailbox at the driveway to mark the entrance. At the end of the day, when everyone had left, we took a little walk down to untie them. As we walked back to the house, and we’re still not sure why, we suddenly had the urge to tie a little note to the balloons and let them fly away.
We each took a balloon, and asked that whoever found them, to please let us know how far they had traveled. To finish, we signed them from our farm, and let them go.
We watched them slowly rise late in the afternoon sun, and head ever-so-slowly to the northeast with the gentle breeze. I remember joking that my balloon, which seemed a bit sluggish compared to Mary’s, might not even make it to the neighbors!
Within a few minutes, they both faded out of site, and that was that! We then talked about the farm, and what to do. We had three fair and serious offers, but couldn’t quite figure out what to do.
About 7 o’clock that night, as we were strolling through the garden, a funny thing happened. We received an email from a farmer in Millersburg, Ohio. A city about an hour or so northeast of our little farm. It also happens to be smack dab in the middle of Amish farm country. I chuckled and told Mary that it had to be her balloon if it went that far, since my balloon seemed destined for failure.
The email was short and sweet. It said, “I found your balloon while walking in my cornfields tonight – just wanted you to know it made it all the way to a Millersburg farm”. We thought at the time how ironic that it ended up at another farm. And coincidentally, so close to our friends at Weaver Barns, the folks that built our farm house.
A few days passed, and as we continued to discuss our farm sale options, another funny thing happened. By this point, we had long forgotten about the balloon project. And as I sat at my desk at work, an email came across the bottom of my screen in French. I recognized the language immediately. Although I had struggled through 4 years of French in high school, I had obviously learned enough to roughly translate that it was about our balloon. It read:
Bonjour nous avons trouvés votre ballon aujourd’hui 3 juillet 2018. Nous habitons à Métis au Québec. Un long voyage pour votre ballon. Les enfants étais bien content de le trouver.
Bonne journée, Jennifer
The miracle of Google translation helped us with the rest:
Hello we found your balloon today July 3rd 2018. We live in Métis, Quebec. A long trip for your balloon. The children were happy to find him. Have a good day, Jennifer
It was accompanied by the most incredible picture of Jennifer’s two children holding our balloon with the note. A second email followed, explaining how they had a farm as well, with 80 head of cattle, and how incredible it was to get a balloon from a farm so far away.
It was crazy to think that our other balloon had found yet another farm to call home – over 1100 miles away in Metis, Quebec!
It made us realize something for sure. Since we first started OWG, our little farm has always seemed to have a connection with folks and farms from all over.
We never imagined 8 years ago when we first started writing about gardening, DIY, recipes and of course our little farm, that the blog would grow to where it is today.
The websites and social media channels now top out at just over 47 million views a year, from a little over 230 countries the world over.
It certainly has a connection with many people, and one that we realize we just don’t want to lose.
And so we are keeping the farm. For good.
For now, we have rented out the small apartment to a full-time resident. The chickens are staying happy in their coop and have been adopted by some wonderful neighbors. And we still plan on coming back a few times a year to host some wonderful Saturday evening Farm to Table Dinners. They are simply too much fun!
As for the gardens, the little orchard and our tiny vineyard, we are in the process of looking for local garden clubs or folks who might want a place to plant and grow for next few years. We see it as a chance to share even more of the farm with everyone. Best of all, it will still be there to serve as an ongoing inspiration for us to write about for many years to come.
And someday when retirement comes, or whenever we come back from whatever crazy journey we might decide to take – it will be there for us to return to full-time.
Who knew the power of two red balloons. There were thousands of places they could have fallen, and yet, they found two farms, and sent a message back to us in the process.
Thank you to all who have followed our journey, and here is to many more years of great stories from the farm – and from wherever we might be. I guess in the end, no matter how far we travel, it will always be our Home. Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary