I am changing the premise of this blog. I’ve had so many folks talk to me about the day to day happenings on the farm, what it requires to actually…well…farm. So I decided to post journal entries. I hope you will come along and experience the joy and the heartache of taking care of animals, the land and yourself as we try to etch out a living.
This morning is the perfect time to begin; it is storming up a blaze outside. That’s ok; we need the rain.
We purchased this “farm” four years ago this fall. It was abandoned, neglected and overgrown with weeds as tall as my 5’1” head. The fields had been in hay for years; making gardens there has proven to take great commitment and resolve.
The house and outbuildings were in such bad shape the appraiser wouldn’t even include them in the appraisal. Good news for our bank account; bad news for housing ourselves and the animals.
When we began searching for a farm we had a list of things we wanted. Flat driveway. Paved road. Trees and rocks and hills good for goats, fields for hay, creek, pond. An old house for my herb doings. A trailer pad for our living quarters. YES, we found it. It had everything on our check list and it was within a few miles of two of our children.
So here we are…four years later. FarmBoy Gary reworked the old house for my herb business and classes. He measured and nailed and caulked the old out buildings into useable chicken houses and implement storage. We purchased a small barn (red, of course) to house and milk the goats.
I have about 80 chickens, 3 roosters among them. Check out my rooster story “Game of Thrones” at www.nanaearth.weebly.com
My small Saanen dairy herd is growing. I have two fresh now –Daisy and Button--and two –Polly and Becky--due to kid the last of June/first of July. One little doe, Betty, is not healthy enough yet to breed. Polly, Becky and Betty were rescue goats I bought from the lady who rescued them. They are small compared to Daisy and Button (mother/daughter) but Polly and Becky snapped right out of it. Betty is still very skinny, too skinny. I continue to treat her with healthy concoctions of my own making. She’ll come along.
I was supposed to have a tour this morning, but as I mentioned it is storming. Normally I do tours on Wednesdays but this is a faithful group who come once a year and also have me speak to their group annually.
I am in the process of cleaning out the barn. Last fall I tried a new system of layering. Instead of taking out the soiled straw daily you put clean straw over the top. This creates an insulating layer that actually creates its own heat during the winter. It worked great. Till spring.
I started with the loft. The 4 ft high loft in its tallest center. The sides slop to—I don’t know—maybe 2 feet high. WHAT A JOB. I hoed and raked and shoveled and sweated—all while bent over in a most uncomfortable position. In my wildest dream I thought I could clean the whole barn in the morning and clean the chicken house (where I practiced the same layering technique) in the afternoon. Dream on.
After pulling and pushing and grunting to get a layer at a time loose I still had to throw it over the railing, get it into the wheelbarrow and push/pull it out the compost area. I worked three hours and was so tired and hot and dizzy I had to quit. The sun glared down on that tin roof merely an inch from my head and proceeded to bake me. I didn’t have a thermometer in there but I figured I was done. And, I didn’t smell too good either.
I worked three days @ three hours each day and I have the loft done and one stall. I still have another stall and the loafing area to do. And, the chicken house. To be continued. But, that compost pile is growing nicely.
The rain is pouring down; good, the gardens need it. It isn’t growing great with hot temps one day and cold the next. Down in this valley it’s much colder; we had a freeze a couple weeks ago and lost every warm weather plant in the garden. The loss of the tomatoes broke my heart but I pressed on and replanted what I had left in my little greenhouse (Sprout). FarmBoy Gary unaware that I had planted new ones came in one day all excited and said, “Elizabeth, your tomatoes came back!”
“Really?” I said. “That’s quite a feat considering I pulled them and threw them in the compost.”