Peeper Pond Farm
A Brief History
What would eventually become Peeper Pond Farm was first conceived in late 2005, when David began considering his future retirement options. A desire to lead a simpler, healthier, more self-reliant lifestyle to better manage his cost of living along with a desire to live in his beloved Appalachian mountains led to search efforts for retirement property in the nearby Allegheny mountains of Pennsylvania, western Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. After several weekend excursions, David and Barb purchased the first 6.13 acre core Pendleton County, WV property in November 2006. A second 6.3 acre adjoining parcel was purchased nearly a decade later in April 2016, resulting in the current farm property. Both parcels had been part of the former Shreve farm in the unincorporated community of Brushy Run–where Brushy Run and Stony Creek join to form North Mill Creek–five miles north of Upper Tract and about fourteen miles south of Petersburg.
The original plan for Peeper Pond Farm in 2006 was to operate a home-based winery, as detailed in David’s memoir, Lifestyle Lost, published in 2012 by Xlibris Publishing. You may order a PDF copy of the book (see overview below) for $2.50 by e-mailing us. At that time, home-based wineries were an emerging trend in the area, and the income potential was strong. However, construction work on the house and essential outbuildings took longer than expected (because David and Barbara did most of the work on their own) and the additional time needed to begin producing marketable wine (one year to plant, five years for the vines to mature, and one additional year for the wine to age) made the income and start-up cost recovery potential less viable. By the summer of 2012, it became increasingly apparent that the craft wine-making industry was becoming highly competitive, and our wine would not be ready for sale until sometime after 2022–at least five years after our planned retirement. Consequently, our back-up plan to raise dairy goats and operate a homestead farm to minimize our cost of living became a more reasonable and viable retirement option.
With only our spare time (weekends and vacations) to build our home and farm, we began making improvements to our original property by planting an orchard in May 2007. After moving to the Keyser, WV area in 2008, we built our storage shed in 2009 and began constructing the house in April 2010. Work on the house was completed by the end of August 2015, and a garage, goat barn, and vegetable garden were added between May and July 2016. Dave and Barb began spending nights at the partially completed house in August 2013 and moved into the completed home (part-time) in April 2016. We retired from our 30+ year professional careers at the end of February 2017.
Peeper Pond Farm Trivia
- Peeper Pond Farm consists of two parcels which together comprise 12.43 acres.
- Roughly eight acres of Peeper Pond farm are forested, one acre has been improved (house, out-buildings, driveway, etc.) and the remaining +/-3.5 acres are undeveloped (open field, garden, utility line ROW, streams, and our signature Peeper Pond).
- Elevations on Peeper Pond farm range from 1,260 feet at the southeastern corner of the property (along U.S. Route 220–Petersburg Pike) to 1,380 feet near the northwestern property corner. The house sits at 1,375 feet above mean sea level.
- In an average year, the coldest mid-winter low temperatures at Peeper Pond Farm can range from -5° to +5° Fahrenheit, while the warmest mid-summer high temperatures usually top out between 85° and 95°. Our temperatures tend to run about 5 to 8 degrees cooler than Washington, DC. Periodic high summer humidity (typically less oppressive than in Washington on any given day) and strong, gusty winter winds howling down from Cave Mountain can make summer and winter temperatures less comfortable.
- Initial farming activity on Peeper Pond Farm started in June 2016 with the installation of our first two beehives and active production from our orchard, vegetable and herb garden. However, full operation was not achieved until March 2017 when our goats were acquired.
- Peeper Pond Farm is located at the base of Cave Mountain (summit elevation – 2,801 feet above mean sea level), which is part of the Monongahela National Forest and forms the eastern flank of Smoke Hole Canyon.
Our Peeper Pond Farm Intermittent Stream – May 17, 2018
About this book and its author:
Drawing upon his diverse life experiences, David Umling carries you on an engaging odyssey as he describes the two lifestyles he has lived—his childhood experiences growing up on a small family hardscrabble farm in the Appalachian Mountains and his adult professional life as a City Planner. He recounts, in loving detail, the influential experiences and traditional folkways from his upbringing (a way of life that is rapidly disappearing) and how they shaped his understanding of the life he lived and the outside world into which he transitioned. David’s childhood stories teach us of the virtues and practical benefits of the self-reliant, homespun Appalachian culture and lifestyle that nurtured him, but that he never fully realized and appreciated until later in life. The story follows his journey into adulthood and the struggles he faced adapting to life in modern society and reconciling it with the core values he internalized as a child. Through his achievements, disappointments and personal reflections, David compares and contrasts the two distinct lifestyles he has lived. His insights reveal how the lessons he learned persuaded him to pursue a simpler and more traditional lifestyle in the mountains of Pendleton County, West Virginia. In the process, he gives us an enlightening perspective on our society, how we live within it and how it ultimately defines us.