This week's post is about my cousin Ben McMurray's farm, Hill Valley Farm, in Petoskey, Michigan. But first, let's introduce the main player.
Benny was my favorite playmate when I was young. We would climb trees, swing in the hammock, play cowboys, attempt to fish, or spend hours walking to the general store for the chance to walk home with brown bags bursting with candy.
You might know him from many of his other endeavors, such as Chief Nut at BNuts, where the motto is, "Life is Short, BNuts!"
Or perhaps you follow his incredible athletic endeavors on his blog, Riding With the Wind. Ben has completed two full Iron Man competitions in Kona, Hawaii, and countless other marathons, half-marathons, and triathlons.
Here he is, last year, at the Boyne City Triathlon.
Ben's favorite part of any race is the snack at the end.
But today is about Hill Valley Farm. Suffice to say, the place has come a LONG way. The previous property owner was a hoarder of epic proportions...
These are jars of hair, annotated, since 1984--just to give you a framework. That's 30 years of hair. This photo was taken in the pole barn, which I'm fairly certain was purchased for the sole purpose of holding more stuff.
There was a second house on the property that was also filled with items and beyond condemned. The basement alone was filled with car tires.
I believe Ben added the baby doll head--though the head was on site!
There were about 200 of these "cheese" spread boxes.
A small shed contained nothing but Fresca bottles.
The first order of business was obviously a bon fire... which things occasionally exploded from.
Friends who helped were given their pick of the treasure.
All in all Ben filled a 30 yard dumpster several times over, had several pickup loads of recycling and lots and lots of bon fires. In total: 13,000 lbs of scrap metal was turned in. Thirteen THOUSAND pounds!
I asked Ben what his top three creepy finds were: #1 hair #2 purse of syringes #3 visual drug identification kit.
After many (and many) months of work, things started to shape up nicely.
New growth began.
Over a year and a half later, here's what things look like now:
Ben invited the fire dept to use the condemned home as a controlled burn practice. This is all that remains. A "future root cellar," he tells me.
After I pulled in the driveway I learned that his 34 chickens love to nestle under any car that comes in. Freaks.
Here is farmer Ben. That's my Aunt Laurie (his mom) helping in the background.
And that crazy looking thing in his right hand is a white crested black polish chicken.
Have a closer look...
There is also lettuce and KALE and cukes and all kinds of other things but these were the prettiest ones.
Hill Valley Farm's description reads:
"Once an overgrown and neglected property, the landscape at Hill Valley has been transformed into a beautiful hobby farm, with a focus on sustainability and getting back to good old country living."
I would say that goal has been accomplished.
That's all folks!