Often I find myself daydreaming of adventures, of a life different than I live now. These daydreams look very different depending on my mood… sometimes I see myself moving to France… other times I daydream of living in an old camper, just traveling cross country, exploring and hearing amazing stories of the people we would meet… but also, I daydream about moving to a small home with the bare necessities, living off the land, and creating something that I believed existed long ago. The thing these daydreams all have in common is time – time together with my family and with people, building relationships and community, creating memories of our story. Another commonality is change. Each would require a lot of change, forcing me outside of my comfort zone… and that is unbelievably difficult for me, but at the same time, I deeply desire that change on levels that I do not fully understand. I imagine myself making these changes, but find myself holding back, holding onto something…
That is what I admire so much about Molly – her bravery. She gets these ideas and just goes for them, all fear and reservations pushed aside, she dives deep and just chases her dreams. I was so excited when Molly shared her plans of her next adventure and invited me to photograph her new home, family, friends, and farm.
I first met Molly in April of 2014 while pregnant with my third baby. Molly was an apprentice with my midwife, and helped us welcome Josephine into our lives. I remember feeling so comfortable with her… peace and calmness seemed to radiate all around her. When I was having doubts during my pregnancy, she reminded me to talk to my baby, to pray aloud, and release all fear.
Flash forward 17 months later. Molly is now expecting her third baby any day. As she was in the process of completing her midwifery certification, she and her husband sold their house and moved into a little house on a hill… which used to be a chicken coop!! That was a really long time ago though, but it sounds way cooler than saying they live in a shed. Really, they converted this small building into a home for their family of four, almost five. It has a cozy living and dining room, with a bedroom… and the cutest outhouse I have ever seen! Their two boys have no toys! Okay, that’s not true, I saw a few special stuffed animals on their bed and a matchbox car. Oh, and a bow! But that’s it!
Are you wondering why in the world would anyone choose to live like this? Well, I didn’t ask them “why” because it seemed so perfectly clear to me once I arrived. Their home is peaceful, intentional, and calm. Their children are happy and free! And did I mention how beautiful this place is?!? The sky is more open, bigger and bluer than I ever remember. For miles and miles all I see is hills and green… green grass and trees. Life here is simple. It is slow-paced. And it is good.
Together with their family, Doug and Molly joined their friends, Andy and Katie, to make their dreams come true – The Hand Hewn Farm. They moved onto this beautiful property in eastern Ohio, to start a farm and raise their children. Everything these two families are doing is pure and beautiful.
Their children run wild and free… exploring nature, breathing in fresh air, swinging from the barn loft into piles of hay below. Their imaginations are exploding and they are demonstrating critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that I rarely see in such young children. They are working and learning side-by-side with their parents, about life, respect and faithfulness. They have everything they need, everything!
Just as they are raising their children with simplicity and intentionality, they are farming in the same ways. The Whartons and The Lanes are farming with a greater purpose in mind, to responsibly produce healthy food that is ecologically sound and sustainable. For years, these four people have been connected by friendship and beliefs, deeply rooted in their faith. They are choosing to live this lifestyle and farming-style out of conviction, to be good stewards of our Earth and the resources we have been given as a gift. They believe in demonstrating the best practices for our Earth, people, and animals.
Their days are long, full of hard work and dedication. They find joy and satisfaction in working together towards a common goal and purpose. No one was complaining, they all did their parts, even the children. Everyone knew exactly what to do… and they did it. They share a vision that is beautiful and united.
I remember watching Doug carrying the feed down for the pigs. It was such a long hike down this hill that lead to an open space at the bottom. I kept looking for a barn where the pigs lived. All of sudden, the children started calling, “Pigs! Here pigs!” and for minutes I waited, listening to this sound, before I finally realized that the pigs were roaming freely in the pasture. The sound I heard was the pigs running quickly for supper! I wanted to move my children out of the way, but noticed how calm and excited The Wharton and Lane Children were… the pigs rushed into the openness of the field and the children were laughing and petting and uncurling the pigs’ tails. The Whartons and The Lanes are raising their animals with great care and compassion, letting them roam freely and naturally. I loved seeing this… the children together, the animals living as they should, the two families together, all working and living in harmony, creating something beautiful.
I loved every second I spent here at The Hand Hewn Farm. I’m looking forward to visiting again soon… I could spend days there, capturing the textures, the families working and playing, the calmness of nature, and the excitement in something new… This life is lovely!