Monday, December 14, 2009

The Farm Formerly Known as Ostman

New South Roof! Our resident Nisse managed to hold the good weather for another week, so Tim and his crew blew through the barn's south side roof in a couple of days. Unfortunately we weren't able to document it due to our Real Job commitments during daylight hours- but it is Beautiful to see it DONE.

I agree with what Shakespeare was getting at with his "What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" comment. Fortunately for him, Mr. Shakespeare never had to deal with modern marketing issues like domain name availability.

When we decided to leave the land Ostman Farm lived on, we knew we would be leaving the name behind as well. We called the farm that in honor of John and Hilma Ostman, the land's original farmers, who ran Ostman's Dairy there from the thirties until sometime in the early sixties. We are not related to the Ostmans or their descendants except by friendship. The idea of keeping the name– even though we are now reasonably well known on the North Coast by that name– always seemed weird and just wrong to us. If we ever started a new farm, we knew would start over with a whole new identity. Possibly not the smartest marketing move, but the only one that we could live with.

Up close, the roof is incredible, but even standing twenty feet away you can smell the fresh cedar shingles. It is a wonderful scent- to me, it smells dry and safe and secure.

So here we are! New land, new farm, new barn with gorgeous new barn roof. So our new name is now.... hmmm.

Originally, when we first tried to buy this land back in the summer of 2008 and had to call it something in our business plan, we were calling it Home Farm. Simple, easy to remember, and meaningful. While trying to work out how to run our farm on land we were leasing from someone else, we had come to understand that essentially what we needed was a place to call Home. A safe place where we could put down roots, both figuratively and literally, and know that we had some say in what would happen to those roots in the future. We wanted to spend years getting to know a piece of land- how the sun moved across it, where the water went, what wildlife lived there, when the migrating birds arrived and left. I wanted to spend time building our soil, watching the plants respond year after year, and someday, hopefully late in my nineties, I wanted to just keel over while picking green beans in the sunshine. Just toss me on the compost pile, I will have died content.

I had always liked the simplicity of how in England, the Home Farm was the name given to the farm near where the local landed gentry's estate was, and was where the household would get their eggs, milk and produce from. It's almost a generic term for a farm in England. Simple. Easy to remember.

Unfortunately in this age of online marketing, no small business that wants to be even reasonably successful, farms included, can be without the obligatory website, blog, e mail list and possibly facebook page at a minimum. I don't think our farm will twitter, except in the traditional sense when the migratory song birds are moving through. But the rest of it? Working on it, as much as we are working on getting the greenhouse and the rest of our plants moved.

When you fix on a name that is so simple, and already very much out there in traditional usage, you can be pretty sure others will have gotten there before you, and such is the case. There are several Home Farms, (even the Prince of Wales has one), and on top of that, someone is squatting on the domain name. If we had an extra $40k to spend on it might be something to consider, but I would rather put any funds we have into rebuilding the farm itself.

Looking for a New Name- Tall Trees Farm?

So we now find ourselves playing a verbal game all day long. Name that Farm! We've been through some of the obvious choices. We could name it after ourselves, or a combination of our names. Retzlaff Farm? Too hard to pronounce. Coleman Farm? People will think we sell camping supplies. Retzman, or Coleoff Farm? Not quite right. Teresa's Farm? Packy's Farm? TP Farm? Definitely not. There isn't a creek running through the property to give us one of those obvious landscape feature names like 'Circle Creek Farm'. We do have a unnamed gully cutting across the pasture that runs seasonally, but 'Seasonal Gully Farm' just doesn't sound right.

What about where we are located- 202 Farm? (We are on Highway 202.) Kind of bland. 9 Mile Farm?(We are just past the 9 mile marker.) Aside from being an oddly popular word combination, (and the name of a Canadian pop band) we don't want to be confused with the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Reactor.

Olney Farm? Olney is the name of the area we live in- not a legal town with it's own post office and such, but there is The Olney Store (with the Big O Saloon next door), and the Olney Grange already out there. Would the Olney Farm be unique enough? Apparently not. There is already an Olney Farm- a fifth generation pony breeding farm located in Maryland that has the domain name nicely tied up.

We love wildlife- what about naming it after some bird or animal that lives here (that we are not planning on driving away). Packy is very stuck on Kinglet Farm, because during all this freezing weather, we had little kinglets flying into our enclosed porch looking for warmth, and banging on all the windows trying to pick bug remnants out of the frozen cobwebs. But to me that is way too close to Kingfisher Farm, the legendary organic farm that Jeff Trenary runs down in Nehalem.

Olney Elk are bold as brass and take no crap from anyone.
We are going to need some serious fencing if we are
going to be good neighbours...

40 Elk Farm? We've now met the herd, and they are a somewhat daunting prospect as neighbours. But will people think we raise elk for meat? We'd love it if some beavers would take up residence down in our seasonal gully, so what about Welcome Beaver Farm? Yeah, get your minds out of the gutter. See? This isn't easy. Plus we run the risk of alienating all the University of Oregon Duck fans. The Beaver-Duck rivalry in Oregon is fierce, best not to wade into those waters. Wildlife names can be tricky. We haven't hit on one that is just IT.

Plants? We have a lone apple tree (possibly crab apple) on the property from an earlier agricultural time, so I thought about Wild Apple Farm, which I like and of course Packy doesn't. However, it's irrelevant, because the domain name takes you to a weather site in Maine. (?!? More squatters, I think.) I kind of like the idea of using the word 'wild', so what about Wild Roots Farm? taken. Wildroot? taken. Wild Life Farm? Takes you to a family website with lots of photos of their travels.

Packy liked the idea of naming the farm after our newly discovered Nisse, in hope that it will continue to do good work on our behalf, but guess what? Nisse Farm? Taken.

I thought about a comment someone made to us when we described all that was going on with our farm. "You sure do have your hands full!" "Hmm", I thought. "Hands Full Farm?" Already taken. But not Full Hands Farm, so that's still on the table, although Packy isn't keen on it. He might be persuaded if things get desperate.

Full Belly, Full Moon, Full Harvest, Open Hands, Four Hands, Many Hands, Clapping Hands, Wild Moon, Harvest Moon, Wild Harvest... taken, taken, taken.

It's a good thing we've never had kids. They probably would have spent the first 18 years of their lives being known as ' Hey You' or 'Number Three'.

How is it that we can immediately come up with snappy names for our cats, but not for our farm??

Got any Farm Name thoughts? You may as well toss in your two cents. Maybe we can figure out a prize for the winning suggestion.

Even if we don't have a new name, we have a New Barn Roof.
In late December on the North Oregon Coast, that is even better.


  1. How about a name related to the barn or even the roof: "New Roof Farm" or "Old Barn Farm"?

  2. As another option (and here I go all map-geeky) how about using your Township and Range or Lat/Lon as part of the name? Like clubs or restaurants with names like "49 West". I don't know what yours are, but I'm sure we could find out.

  3. 46° 05' N
    123° 45' W

    I'll try to track down your T&R later


  4. Section S11 T7N R9W
    Meridian Willamette
    State Oregon
    Source USFS

    Didn't take long!


  5. Thanks Andy! It is so cool to have a cartographer in the family. So, 46 North Farm? Or 123 West Farm? Hmm... kind of promising. We will add it to the list, and see where the dart lands.


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  7. The barn roof is looking spiffy! It looks so fresh and sturdy - and the second photo captures that image perfectly. Good job on getting those shingles attached up there.

  8. I can see where your dilemma came from! How DOES one name a farm anyway? Hmmm. I think I would have suggested Cedar Roof Farm, just because I really like your cedar shingles, haha! Have you named your farm by now? If you have, what have you christened it as?