Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!
In January 2011 my husband and I began a primal lifestyle cold turkey, after many years of failed attempts at other diets and changes. We experienced great success with both losing weight and health improvements and were the MDA Friday success story in July 2012.
In April of 2013, we traveled to PrimalCon in Oxnard, CA, and met Mark and a whole slew of like-minded friends. The entire trip was very empowering and invigorating (and not just because of the ice cold ocean plunge!). On the plane ride home we decided it was time to start taking control of the way we wanted to live and do something about the growing unhappiness with the location of our home.
We had recently gone through several extensive Ohio winters that seemed never ending (and this is coming from a gal that has lived in Ohio her entire life). I’m pretty sure a good bit of those feelings came from the fact that we were now healthy and active and that alone made winter feel longer and restrictive. The weather, coupled with the fact that we lived on a small lot (at an intersection of a busy road) and in a town with lots of property “rules,” started to feel like a tightening collar that chaffed a little more everyday.
In Mark’s video “Under the Yellow Light” he talks about how adopting a Primal lifestyle can then make you want to take control of other areas of your well being – this suffocating urge for space was definitely a result of our new found relationship with ourselves. We had changed our bodies – now we were ready to change our lives.
For several years we had been talking about, but always putting off, preparing our house for sale. The market wasn’t good, the weather wasn’t good, there were too many repairs to make and we couldn’t afford to do them. I’m a worrier and a planner…and I guess a procrastinator, if the first two get overwhelming. When we returned home from PrimalCon, we decided to finally move forward with the business of tackling all the things we had been putting off, whether they were easy or not. We wanted land and space, and to not feel like we were living in a fishbowl. I have always been a country girl trapped in the city. I didn’t grow up on a farm or really have any exposure to a farm, but I have always known intuitively that’s where I needed to be. I was never allowed to own an animal other than a dog, but as a child, I dreamed of owning a pet store where I could “play with and care for the animals all day” – what I didn’t realize then, but know now is that I simply wanted to be a farmer.
Naturally, the quality of our food had become a big issue since going Primal as well. Of course we tore through veggies and meat, but [we] yearned for the ability to produce our own. My husband is a chef by profession and good food has always been celebrated, savored, and enjoyed. Since my husband’s background is in the food service industry, we have more ability than some to target an area of the country where we’d like to live. We considered possibilities for his employment in Ohio all the way to the Virgin Islands (where he’d worked for years in the past). The island life was especially attractive anytime I’d had a few drinks while listening to some Kenny Chesney songs. Leaving it all with two young kids (both on the autism spectrum) and starting over down there would leave us financially strapped and probably not able to live any farmer type of life. So we set our sights on the southern states, near the coast.
When Ed got a job offer in the panhandle of Florida, it felt like the perfect opportunity. We would be able to afford a couple acres of land AND be within 35 minutes of beautiful emerald water beaches. We had never been to or knew anyone in the Florida panhandle. The three hours the kids and I spent on the beautiful beach waiting for my husband to return from the job interview was the only introduction to the area I needed. This move required me exit my comfort zone more than I ever had in my entire life. A leap of faith that this was the right move for our family. My husband and I spent three long months apart as he had to start the job right away in Florida and I had to stay in Ohio with the kids and sell the house. That separation and stress was the biggest and toughest hurdle of the whole experience.
We will have lived here on Primal Acres Farm a year this October. The farming life has been everything I hoped and more. We go to bed every night tired as hell but with a new found sense of satisfaction and wake up in the morning well rested, content, and ready to tackle it all over again. The lows, when they happen are low…but the highs are so very sweet, personal, and fulfilling that the lows fade quickly. To sit on our porch swing at night with a glass of wine and be drowned out by the sound of singing frogs rather than turning up the TV volume because we can’t hear over the traffic noise is pure bliss. We were very lucky to find a property that had been a working farm in the past and already had all the infrastructure in place – water lines run, animal pastures, and a fenced quarter acre garden where the soil had been well cared for. That allowed us to do what they say you should not, which is jump headlong into everything. We had more projects started here in the first six months than some people get around to in the first five years. Yes, a farm really does tie you down – no longer do we have the ability to run off on several trips a year like we have in the past, heck going away for one evening seems like quite the obstacle at this point. The great thing is though that we live 35 minutes from the beach. We can do the AM animal chores, milk the goat, pack some drinks, and go for an early morning swim in the ocean. Have lunch at a beach restaurant and go home feeling like we’ve escaped to a different world for just a little while.
People shake their heads at us – You mean you bought a farm and you’ve never lived on one? Nope. Have you ever raised (insert – goats, chickens, turkeys, bees, rabbits, etc.) before? Nope. Have you ever had more than an 8×10 garden before? No… but we have all that now and more. We are learning by doing and living and having a damn good time figuring it out together. As Joel Salatin likes to say, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly the first time.” People are so afraid to try new things these days for fear of screwing them up – it’s so sad! You have to get out there and do, and fall, and fail, and stand back up and try again. Unlike me and bowling, you usually do get better the second round. I am good with animals, but it seems that neither my husband nor I was born with a green thumb. So we are experiencing a large learning curve when it comes to gardening on a larger scale and what does well in Florida vs. the way we use to grow things in Ohio. It is amazing what you can learn using Youtube and Google and I am currently enrolled in a local gardening class. Several times a day I look up how to videos or plant identification or post questions on homesteading forums. I am always amazed and grateful that others share their knowledge so freely.
The goal is to eventually start selling enough things produced here on the farm that my husband can “retire” and stay home and work the farm. Hopefully his professional cooking and butchering skills can come into play by hosting classes for local folks and some other business ideas we are rolling around with. As it is right now, our weekends and evenings are overfilled with projects that require two people and his to-do list is always a mile long. I really wish I could afford to hire him on full time 🙂 One farm blogger I love wrote, “Sometimes I dream it’s Sunday and I wake up in a condo and the only thing I have to do is make coffee” – I totally get that now. As a child I thought, “Who wouldn’t want to live on a farm?!” But after my first couple days cleaning the chicken coop, I said to myself, “Yeah, I can see how this wouldn’t be for everyone.” The farm is a tough playground – no longer do I get to go to kickboxing class three times a week, but I feel like I walk miles everyday from one side of the farm to the other. The constant bruises on my legs, lack of fingernails, and scratches on my arms make me feel like a 10-year-old tomboy again. I lift 50 pound bags of feed instead of gym weights and feel like I sweat off quite a bit squatting in the garden. To workout after a day of working on the farm feels…very… laughable. We go to bed exhausted and sore but with a good sense of accomplishment. I’m glad I’ve never been one who enjoyed nightlife and party socializing, because socially, it’s isolating, mostly just by the sheer time it takes up. By the time chores are done for the evening and all animals have been wrangled away, a movie on Netflix seems like WAY too much of a commitment before bed.
The family is doing very well here. My youngest son (who cried the first night we moved in because there were frogs on the window screens) is now chasing around chickens and participating in 4H projects. My older son (who is moderately autistic) is thriving with homeschooling and getting outside more than he did living in the city. He loves the beach and finds the ocean waves very calming and will stay out in them for hours. We gave up some conveniences and luxuries that we had living in a high tax suburb, but the ability to have a backyard bonfire, talk in outdoor voices outdoors, and own noisy animals is very freeing.
So, what I have learned so far is that farming is not for the weak, lazy, or squeamish (all biggies!). It’s a life lesson filled journey and an adventure where you pick up all kinds of interesting travelers along the way. Like the beat up day old chick I had to save from the bin at the feed store that now walks on her elbows and has another chicken as a bodyguard, the horse with ligament disease in his back legs that can’t be ridden which makes for an expensive lawn ornament, and the turkey named “Lucky” that has been pardoned from Thanksgiving and follows me everywhere like a puppy. Every single one of them serves a purpose and teaches you something. The people we have met so far have been wonderfully helpful and kind. Each sharing with us their knowledge and expertise to make our lives easier. Amazing how finding like-minded people can make you feel so much less crazy. Primal living has changed our lives in so many positive ways I can’t even fathom where we’d be right now had we not taken those first steps toward change. I am truly blessed and grateful that I am on this path today.