Friday, June 27, 2014

Transforming our Farm

I'm already losing track of what we've done here so far in the month since we officially got our keys...let's see..

-wallpaper out of the master bedroom
-painted the master bedroom, kitchen, and still need a coat in the living room
-put in a new toilet, sink, cabinet in the bathroom (and filled in a big gap in the laminate under the old vanity)

Before (with new toilet, though):


-cleaned...cleaned, cleaned and cleaned some more
-repaired the dishwasher (rats had chewed through the hoses and it was leaking into the basement)
-cleared the basement and workshop of most of the junk

-tilled the garden by pig  - they got it down from waist high vegetation in some parts to a nice workable area

-made a chicken coop out of one of the 3 sided stall shelters

This now has hardware cloth sealing all the gaps and 6 roosts in it - it's a bit small for 28 birds, but we'll eventually expand it and since they're only in there overnight it's ok.

Transporting the chickens in my car. That's Speckles in the front. I still think about and miss her at lot :( She was a special chicken.

-set up the aquaponics next to the pond/swamp
I need an updated photo, but this is where the aquaponics is now. The grass isn't as lush as we'd like altogether so we've added a sheep pasture seed mix to most of the pasture. It's raining today so that should help it germinate.

Dogs in the pond.

My dad watching Zoey in the pond. They visited a month ago and are coming back this weekend - I think they'll see a big difference!

-removed a giant bin full of junk

-cleaned, cleaned, cleaned
-set up 2 big garden beds, 5 smaller ones and a bunch of veggies in big pots

The first garden bed we put in - my aunt and uncle visited that weekend and helped us a ton!

-cleaned up the side of the house and planted raspberries, blueberries and strawberries (thanks to Erika and Jess, my work crew last weekend)


During...we were on the outside working, and that's a chicken inside on the window seat. Chickens haven't quite learned to stay outside, yet...

Erika and Jess hard at work while I take photos:


-started cleaning up the front yard and planted grapes, transplanted lavendar and put in some potted hostas (again, thanks Erika!)
-cleaned, cleaned, cleaned
-emptied out the shed next to the house and put in our 1000 gallon cistern (still have to get it set up - waiting on a quote from an electrician)
-cut a hole in wall of said shed to fit the cistern in
I think there is more...but this is one of the rare moments when I've sat down long enough to even write here, and I can't think of everything that we've done so far. It has definitely been fun, though. It's the kind of work where you can see a lot of progress. Some projects are more time-consuming/frustrating than others, but for the most part we are happy with how we're getting things done and getting closer to the potential we see in our farm.

So tired!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Joys of the Internetz

I've had the wind taken out of my blogging sails lately with some less than positive feedback on what I've written here. I had no idea that anything in this farming journal could be made controversial...but let's just say "abusive", "trashing", "defaming" and "attacking" were all thrown at me along with being told that I'm degrading myself . See what I mean when I say the joy of writing here has been marred, just slightly? I've been keeping this blog as a way for others (mostly family and friends) to get enjoyment from reading about our adventures in farming. To those who have not been getting enjoyment from reading this, close your browser windows and move along - simple as that :)

Back to the intended writing...

We are now fully moved in! The house is a disaster zone and it will take us some time to get unpacked but at least all of our things are in one place. We've had a couple of not so great things happen in the last 2 weeks: 2 of our chickens were eaten by a raccoon (we are pretty sure - judging by the chest/crop being eaten, only one bird each of 2 nights and the size of holes we accidentally left in the eaves of the coop). This would be sad but not devastating..except that one of those chickens was Speckles. Our wonderful Speckles - the Speckles who chased off ravens, came over to eat from our hands and be picked up, and was the best hen ever. 
Speckles getting her bumblefoot treated. 

Checking out her spiffy bandage.

Cleaning up ZH.

Only Mother Clucker is left out of the original 4 oldies. She has a whole lotta chickens to boss around.

The next not so great thing was that suddenly our water ran out of the cistern under the deck. We had a weekend of panicking thinking our well had run dry (the bad luck of that happening within a week of moving in!!) and had to have a truck load of water brought in while we waited for the water guys to check things out today. Luckily (well, kinda), it was the pump that wasn't working. With a new pump and a nice big 1000 gallon cistern to collect the water (it's a slow well, but that's fine as long as you have a big storage tank to collect all the water the well produces all day and overnight) we should be back in business by the end of the week. 

The amount of stuff left behind on the property is massive. In a way it's overwhelming, but it also means that when we're building something and say "I need _______", that thing can usually be found after a quick lap around the property. Lumber, tools, water barrels,'s all there, along with some cool and questionable artwork and a few long dead chickens.

I promise to post some photos soon! I've been taking lots but haven't had the time to do anything with them.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me!

You know what would be a fantastic way to spend my birthday morning?? Moving pigs to our new farm!

...said nobody ever. Except for me, while feeling giddy and optimistic after a bottle of wine while we were out for my birthday dinner last night. We are going to borrow a horse trailer for moving the sheep and goats but we wanted to get a head start with the pigs so they could dig up our new garden area.

This is how the pig move went in my head (sound familiar? Reference: "how the lamb move went in my head" vs. "me chasing dogs chasing cows chasing lambs and a dropped popsicle" post from summer 2013):
1. Feed pigs
2. While pigs are eating, Jody and Nathan each grab a pig, easily lift it onto to truck and into a dog crate
3. Repeat with next two pigs.
4. Drive pigs to new farm
5. Put pigs in new eventual (extremely overgrown) garden area to till it, piggy style.

This is what actually happened:
1. Feed pigs
2. Nathan attempts to grab pig. Pig scream/squeals and runs away. All pigs panic. 
3. Nathan attempts to grab another pig. Pig scream/squeals and runs away. All pigs panic.
4. Nathan get the idea. Repeat. And repeat again.
5. Nathan and Jody manage to catch one pig together. I'm not sure why that expression about 'greased pigs' even needs the grease part. Pigs are slippery enough ungreased. They are also all muscle. 150 lbs of muscle. By flipping her over, they manage to get her onto the back of the truck and into a crate. Jody manages to hit her head on the barn - twice - and then get her hand squished and then get kicked in the throat. Also, poor stressed out piggy squished her butt right against the latch to the kennel at the exact moment that we had to close the door and squeezed a very large stinky pig poop aimed with perfect precision on Nathan's hand.
6. Nathan and Jody turn around and realize the other 3 pigs have stepped neatly through the electric (turned off) wires and are making a run for the orchard.
7. Nathan and Jody alternate between chasing, calling, pleading, bribing and begging and manage to get the pigs back into their little barn. Jody blocks them in with a board while Nathan runs to get another dog crate (the pigs were bigger than we had thought and wouldn't fit into one of the crates we'd brought). 
8. While Nathan is gone, Jody notices the crated pig pushing herself against the front and top of her crate. Those 150 lbs of muscle effortlessly pop the top and door off the kennel, and the pig is standing uncaged in the truck. 
9. Jody runs to put top and side back on kennel and sits on it to hold it down. Meanwhile, the pigs in the barn knock the board down, run out at full speed, through the wires and into the orchard. Again. 
10. New plan of pigs in an xpen in the truck is put into place. 
11. Nathan and Jody manage to catch each of the pigs without killing themselves. Barely.
12. The rest of the pig move goes according to plan (somehow). 

We both ended up covered in mud, pig poop, cuts and bruises but it was all worth it to see some very happy pigs. My phone isn't cooperating, so photos to come.

Our move to the new farm is going well so far, considering. When we got there for the key handover on Wednesday the house was .... I don't even know how to describe it. It was literally like an episode of hoarders. It was worse than when we saw the house before the homeowner had started packing. Long story short, we have a junk removal service and cleaners coming on Monday and we're cleaning, painting and getting rid of as much junk as possible...all while trying to make sure we have secure spots for all of the animals. Chicken coop is done (photos soon), pigs are obviously there now and everything else is getting there. Phew!! It feels so amazing to have our own farm.  The bad part about all the junk is...obvious...but the good part is that as we're putting everything together we're finding tons of useful farm-y things.