Our 28 Hours at Maple Valley Off Grid Farm!

Oct 2, 2010 | French Farmhouse Design, From France to the Farm, Full Time Family, Homesteading | 30 comments

Pour your wine… or raw milk. This is a doozy.

Were do I begin?
It was a mere 28 hours, but it was wonderful.
But let me start at the beginning…
A little while after I first began blogging I learned of a fellow blogger named Homemaker Ang – well, with a name like that she couldn’t be too bad could she?
Sometimes I still find myself vexed that she thought of such an adorable name first. (In real life I answer to “Ang” too… Hubby doesn’t call me Parisienne Farmgirl… though if he’s really miffed at me he WILL call me “Princess” and then the fur flies). But back in the day Ang had this blog that, well, I am not being dramatic… it rocked my world and dare I say was a PROFOUND influence on the woman I am just a few years later. I longed to hear the stuff she was writing about and I didn’t even know it. But soon after discovering her I found myself laughing my but off (sorry) and then standing up and screaming “hallelujah!”
I read about a woman’s heart for homemaking & the Lord and realized I wanted that… really wanted that. She inspired me to take it to the next level if you will, to re-investigate Homeschooling as I had been terribly turned off to it by my own experience… she opened my eyes to how a large family can function without TOTAL chaos and buttloads of backtalk, she posted hilarious jokes about “Cankles” and taught me to realize (as someone who was a product of one of the biggest mega churches in the country) that my family IS MY MINISTRY and that anything else that causes stress to that ministry is probably out of balance in my life. I could go on and on…
…and then one day we got brave and exchanged phone numbers online and had that first awkward call that bloggers sometimes do… but we TOTALLY clicked... and then we got the invitation to visit their hobby farm for a weekend and it was awesome… and then I got word that they were selling their incredible “Eclectic Culture Farm” and moving “off the grid” and I thought, no, not Ang, but honestly, while others thought she was crazy and wondered “what was she was doing to her children??” – I supported her. And I do NOT mean that boastfully, I just mean, in the little time I new this woman I could see she was the real deal. A heart for God, her husband and her family. A real person, not a holier-than-thou Christian robotron… you know what I am talking about… but someone who could crack a good joke and then have the moral conviction to set an example for her daughters by doing things like choosing not to wear a bikini. Now, I am a bikini girl myself, but that REALLY impressed me… are you getting the picture?
Now, to be this kind of woman, you have to be lead by a Godly man and to be this kind of couple, to be this kind of family… well, again, I think you are getting the picture.
So they did it. For adventure, for a simple life, and to cherish the family in a way that has been lost in this modern culture of “go, go, go” they went off grid and since the day they did we have wanted to go visit them.
Two years later we got that chance and these are our memories:
Just like his Momma, my boy craves those wide open spaces.
From one Ang to another: Here is how you run your wood burning stove (i.e.: Here is how to not freeze tonight). When you stay at MVOGF you get your own, private, UBER CHARMING cottage and you will get a lesson in “how to stay warm.”
You will also get a lesson in pumping water from your own little rustic kitchen. Our chickens got the hang of it.
We “helped” with milking at dusk. Aidan sat right down to that Jersey… I was so proud of him… He said on the way there that if Laura could milk a cow then he sure could… my regular little Almonzo.


Look, I am Parisienne Farmgirl. That means the Eiffel Tower literally brings tears to my eyes, and so does an old barn. You can’t beat this view.
My old apron I picked up at the market a few weeks ago… and our babies on our hips. Hilarious. At least we weren’t barefoot!
We ate like kings. Everything off the “Back 40” as they are living off the land. Now, I joke when I call my backyard Garden/Potager the “Back 40.” But they really have 40 acres. Wait ’til you see it!

A buggy. Amish style.
I wish I would have taken a better photograph but the lighting was all over the place with the brilliant sun. See the car in the background???
If you can’t make it in the dark you can light one of these to take to the outhouse, if you’re a wimp!
But really, in the middle of the night I “had to go” and while I was out there I glanced around for coyotes and then enjoyed a BRILLIANT display of stars. Oh-my-gosh … the world should have to turn the lights out at night, it was so gorgeous.
Still no words.
‘Member that old poster from the 80s:
“You Been Farmin’ long?”
This is Betty. The dear that is as smitten with Maple Valley as we are. Yes, she comes right up to the house… you may have seen her as a fawn on Ang’s website.
A peak into the greenhouse.
 Why does terra cotta en masse make me giddy????
Probably for the same reason barns do.
An old (useable) manure spreader.
Got poop?
LeeLee and her momma.
MV has so many options from week long courses for learning to live off grid to just staying in the cottage and eating one meal with the family at their table.
A view up towards the farm from the very far corner of the back forty.
MV is like any other farm I have been to in that someone is ALWAYS coming or going. In one day during our visit SIX different cars pulled in the driveway for various reasons. Someone trying to unload a cat, cousins, and this old farmer “Eugene” who wanted to sell his old sewing machine.
So here we are.
We took like 35 photographs just to come up with this. It was so sad (Anne, you’re not the only one I can’t take a picture with). It got to the point where I was crying from laughing so hard because we looked so stupid.
This is the best one out of the 35.
And the four of us:
Left to right: The Gentle Giant, Homemaker Ang, Parisienne Farmgirl & Big Daddy.
If you want to know what my favorite time our of very short visit was- it was after dinner… all the sudden like popcorn kids jumped up and cleared the table (while Mom sat, can I get an “amen”??) and then they all grabbed hymnals and plunked them down all over the table and with squirming babies and tired adults we sang hymns together. I think my Grandpa would have cried. They do this every night.
I was so disappointed cause you know I love to sing and there I was all sniffy and gnarly from the hay in the barn. The “Parisienne” of this Farmgirl does not have enough exposure to hay and I was a wheezing mess during “Victory in Jesus” – I was trying to harmonize and catch my breath and the same time, I was so disappointed.
Funny, Nordstrom doesn’t make me sneeze! 🙂
So, forgive me if I have glamorized this family. They have their struggles, tantrums and bad days just like the rest of us but I really, really respect them. Can you tell? They are a fantastic example for couples like Joel and I with small children, they are a great inspiration for those of us who desire to do something radical in order to live out their dreams while at the same time living for Jesus.
I know a lot of you girls are within a couple hundred miles of Maple Valley Off Grid Farm (we drove over 500 miles round trip for just a 28 hour visit) and so from our family to yours – we HIGHLY recommend it.
Thank you Matt, Ang and Brood for a wonderful time!!! Can’t wait to see you again!
Oh, and I know you girls are dying to know…
The outhouses aren’t really that bad!



  1. Sherry and Russ Sutherby

    You nailed it ~ I, too, have been to MVOGF several times now and your beautiful photos captured the essence of the farm and lovely folks. Leaving is always difficult ~ even when you are going home to your own farm. Glad you didn’t mind the outhouse…they are under-rated. I love ours. 🙂

  2. Olde Tyme Marketplace

    wow~ what a post! i couldn’t get enough! thank you so much for sharing your entire experience. i loved the whole story and the pictures. you have such a great way with words!
    I always love my visit to your blog.

  3. Teresa

    Okay, I was wrong NOT Inn Serendipity but wonderful nonetheless!!!! I must say I can imagine 40 acres because I see it all the time in Arizona…Everytime I drive down the road….miles and miles of farmland…with a mountain backdrop that goes on for miles. Being “out” here has really gotten me in touch with nature.
    Looks like you had a great time, outhouse and all! What a great way to raise kids….if I could only turn back the clock…sigh…

  4. Renata

    Thanks for sharing your photos – we can only visit by computer since we live half a world away, but I sure would have loved to be there with you!
    Beautiful pictures -thanks!

  5. Ann at eightacresofeden

    A visit to Ang and family at MVOGF has now officially moved a lot higher up my dream to do list. I wish it was in Australia – I would drive interstate to go and stay there just for one night, to have just one meal with them and experience it for real. It’s not so much the farm (look I have friends up the road who live off grid) but the people and you have captured their life beautifully in your photographs. I have been following Ang’s adventures right from the start – always remember her boy hugging the microwave!
    I have always admired their decision – their courage and faith. They have inspired me so much and I have a wood fired stove installed in my home now because of Ang. She has no idea of how many lives they have impacted. Hope I get to thank her one day and of course if I do I’ll come and visit the Parisienne Farm Girl too!

  6. Sherri

    Sounds like a good time had by all! I love all the pictures! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Musings From A French Cottage

    Wow! Sounds like an amazing experience. Thank you for sharing it with us. The photos are beautiful and I love the way you write about it. Have a great weekend!

    God Bless,

  8. Anne Marie

    where do i start? pictures are so amazing – and I got right in the feel of it while reading this post…I really like this post!! I even had to go back and read parts of it again…….i totally love that picture of you and Ange in front of the barn…def. my favorite.

    i hope this brings some more to her farm…it looks amazing…

  9. Farmchick

    Thank you so much for posting this. I really admire their lifestyle.

  10. Farmgirl Cyn

    Yup…these are the two Ang’s I know and love.
    Very real, down to earth, puttin’ God 1st, their men 2nd, and their families 3rd. Ministry comes 4th…as it should be.
    I am so glad you love Homemaker Ang. She truly, truly is one of my best friends.
    I was weeping from the git go.
    And my fav pic is you mama’s with the babies on your hips! You are two of the best redneck women I know!

  11. Stephanie

    This is beautiful. I loved hearing all about it. And the picture of that deer is just the best! I love deer but to get one that close to you is unheard of.

  12. Alice

    Wonderful! I was lucky enough to grow up out in the country living a simple life (though nothing even close to this). I wish everyone could experience it at least once in their lifetime–and not just for a day or two.

    Since I live in Kansas she is not too far from me, but I doubt I could get hubby and our kids to agree to go there (two of our kids are in college). Plus, I’ve got a thing about outhouses–and it’s not a good thing either. Not sure I could hack that one.

    Thanks for a wonderful post. I’m more than a little envious that this family was able to make this big change.

  13. Joannah

    What a great experience! I would love to do that sometime. HMA has become a friend of mine, too. She’s a sweetheart, and she’s got mad skillz. 😉

  14. Renee

    Looking at these pictures make me GIDDY! We are about an hour from them, and a friend and I will be attending a class there in mid-Oct.!!! Can’t wait, Thank you for the wonderful preview.

  15. Deanna

    Enjoyed this post!!!
    Very good experience to have and thankful you shared.

  16. Sarah at myyellowhouse

    I knew I would be taken with this! I think I read this post 5 times -it looks like a wonderful experience and a truly beautiful family.
    I went to her blog and loved everything about her life and beliefs. Thank you for sharing it all with us. I learned a lot and didn’t even get the pleasure of visiting the farm!


  17. A Tale of Two Cities

    What an awesome experience for you and your family. I’m sure your photos only gave us a glimpse of the sprit of MVOGF, but I was truly moved by what you shared. I have a feeling you could truly be shaped by this weekend and all you experienced.

    A big thank you for sharing!

  18. SK

    lol about the outhouses! 😉

  19. cityfarmer

    late last summer when we visited there, the cottage was just evolving …

    the minute we stepped out of the car HMA asked, ” do you want to take a tour?”

    We walked the back forty and I caught a glimpse of all of these vistas … her imaginations ran wild from the first moment!
    I can only imagine the chickens and their glee.
    Hymn time would have been my favorite memory

    lasting memories, to be sure

  20. Sandra

    Men and women after God’s own heart; does it get any better? Yes, raising their children to go thou and do likewise. So glad you enjoyed your visit, it looks like a fine time was had by all.
    Hymn singing…there are several hymnals all over this house and my studio…there’s nothing better than “taking it to the Lord in prayer”.
    Say, does that feller still have that sewing machine for sale? I’m interested…-smile-.

  21. Mustang Girl for Jesus...

    Parisienne!! 🙂 We had a wonderful time with your family 🙂 Thanks for this nice post!

  22. * French Farmhouse 425 *

    Does she live in Maple Valley WA? That is pretty close to where I live..just curious.. Hugs,Rachel 😉

  23. Homemaker Ang


    I am humbled at your perspective of our farm… We truly love and cherish each moment of our life here that God has blessed us with…

    I only have one regret… I didn’t drive you in my buggy…

    Come again friend! SOON!

  24. Terry

    Wonderful photos-delightful! Aren’t good mentors the cats PJ’s? If you think barn addiction is good just wait for stainless steel milk buckets!

  25. Raymonde

    I am absolutely no farmgirl but your post put a longing in my heart, I guess it is for a slower pace of life and firm friendships.

    Your photos are beautiful. It is lovely to see your “chicken” growing up!

    J’aime toujours m’arrêter ici.

    Bonne journée! Bises


  26. Camille

    So happy to have found this wonderful blog of yours… lovely images and anecdotes. Off to explore some more 🙂 Paris in Pink

  27. Noël McNeil

    I know I’m a few years late in commenting, but this pictures are beautiful and I loved reading about your wonderful time. Your blog is as inspiring to me as hers was to you. Lord bless!


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