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In case you're wondering where I've been, it's been a little crazy around here. I've got a list of blog topics about a mile long and no time to cover them. My son had his first birthday party. We had a backyard playdate. School is rapidly approaching. And we just returned from a trip to Minnesota complete with gorgeous vacation house on Lake Pepin. Not to mention that I'd planned to write something up about how much I hate these new "dine-in" movie theaters with the recliner seats and food service button. No, no, no.

Oh, and did I mention that I have a triathlon in about 3 weeks? It's been like that.

The most immediate time suck has actually been something from pretty far out in left field. We're submitting a competitive proposal to lease farmland in a national park in Ohio. Which is both exhilarating and frightening. Don't get too excited for us because I've read that last time they had an RFP each farm had about 20 proposals. (Not to say they wouldn't select beginning farmers. They did last time. And I feel like we have a lot to offer so it's not completely unthinkable we could win the chance to negotiate first.) There are only 2 available this time and one farm is pretty awkward from a logistics point of view--strange access points for the field, no barn, across from a police station and a river. Actually they both are quite unusual. The other farm has a fairly nice 4 bedroom farmhouse, barn, and 12 acres with pond, but the water for the house is drawn from a cistern that has to be refilled by water truck.

So we're spending our spare time filling out budgets, business plans, and answering questions about the sustainability of our operation. They want to know about marketing, your agricultural practices, and what changes you'd want to make to the property. I'm from Ohio, but not from the part of the state that the park is in, which has me scrambling to figure out the supporting network. Other than this amazing opportunity to take part in rural conservation, the Buckeye state hasn't been super high on our list of possibilities so I'm much more familiar with the current climate of, say, shearers and breeders in Wisconsin. It's been a crash course in learning Ohio farmers market rules, etc.. (You don't need an egg license like you do in IL, but you do have to have a temporary food service license.)

The proposals are due next month and we won't find out until late in 2015, but in my experience of searching for farm property it's been pretty rare to find this level of disclosure and information about a potential location for us. It's actually fantastic to have all the relevant information at our fingertips. They even offered to take photos! Usually that's like pulling teeth. It only makes sense that we try. Much like the job search for me, it's one of those times when it doesn't hurt and could end up being life-changing. I'm sure you'll hear much more about the opportunity if we win.

The trip we just arrived home from was fantastic. It was a family reunion, of sorts, though you can't really reunite with people you've never met. The Mama's brother's family was in from Nebraska and they have 4 kids of various ages--3 of them boys. So it was pretty rough and tumble. We came home from the beach needing bandages and there was touch football in Grandma's side yard.

We stayed in an amazing vacation house within walking distance of downtown Lake City, the marina, the walking path, the beach. The Mississippi River/Lake Pepin was 1 block away and I could sit at a stool and look through the kitchen window watching the boats roll with the waves. I'd wake up in the morning and make myself a pot of coffee to sip on the enclosed front porch. Then Grandma was nice enough to come over and watch the kids so Mama and me could go walking along the river. Most of the path is elevated on the low bluffs with great views of the higher bluffs on both sides. During our 4 miles, the second morning we watched turkey vultures circling while a bald eagle swooped out of the sky to snatch a fish. It carried it to the beach to eat while the turkey vultures waited for scraps. It was amazing.

The house itself was recently renovated so it had the comforts we don't at home--like air conditioning and a dish washer. It's really a fairly small cottage so the master bedroom was downstairs and the kids got to sleep upstairs with their own bathroom. The bathroom on the first floor they loved more though because it was pass-through with a door to the bedroom and a door to the dining/kitchen area. The owners had the tv wired for Netflix so we could watch our shows in the evening. We're planning on staying again for the annual bike tour in 2016.

School starts in 2 weeks plus some of my family has been trying to squeeze in a visit and we're throwing around the idea of going to the Michigan Wool Festival again. We just got the kindergarten info in the mail yesterday about when class lists will be posted, when we can meet the teacher, and when the first open house and curriculum night is. I can't even begin to digest this whole "my son needs to put lunch money in his account" thing.