Farm

Where I Live

I’m very thankful for this view. I was up in the wee hours of the morning yesterday and thought I’d catch the light as the sun started to show. This is from my front porch. My neighbor is often on his front porch for his morning cigarette as I sit and watch the sun bring light and life to our little corner of the world. I’m pretty sure we have interrupted his morning ritual by moving in.  Kinda not sorry about it because I love hanging out on my front porch!

Family, Farm, Home, Life, Random

My Mommy and Daddy are Coming!

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My parents aren’t they cute? 🙂

My parents are coming over today 🙂 This will be the first time my dad has ever seen the farm.  So far, just my mom has seen it “in real life” *hint, hint family!* It’s a bit like Christmas maybe better because I don’t have “entertainment pressure”.  It’s just our family goofing off and doing dumb stuff together.

Plus, they are bringing me a desk! The final installment to my command center a.k.a. home office crammed in the corner of the dining room. I am a happy girl!

They are also bringing a couch so that our care group can all be seated comfortably when we get together which we do every week. AND they are bringing me leftover paint.  This is pure gold people.  You have no idea how much fun it is to mix up some leftover paint and create a gorgeous color …unless you have already tried it then maybe you do.  So I will be in the color lab soon to see what I can concoct for our recently acquired bedrooms.

We decided that since girl 1 was upstairs girl 2 ought to be as well. Now we have three kids relocated to 3 separate rooms.  Boy (and boy’s dog) have moved downstairs to the big room previously occupied by 2 girls.  Girl 1 gets the “craftroom” read: wonky room that was kinda iffy on the flooring.  Girl 2 gets the tiny room previously occupied by boy.

Everybody relocated well.  Everybody except girl 2 that is.  She is the master of messes. She is often getting distracted by a more interesting task.  Actually, it could be dish washing as long as she can avoid the task at hand a little longer!  To be fair, she is a collector and she has the smallest room so the odds aren’t in her favor.  I purposely gave her this room so she would be forced to deal with her mess on her own on a DAILY basis. No more big sis to clean up for her!

I plan to help her organize it and get it all set up then sit back and see how she does…should be interesting!  If I ever get the video figured out I’ll give you al a virtual tour.  I’m really not that tech saavy though so it may be a while…

Happy Friday 🙂

Farm, Kids, Life

What I learned from keeping critters

I write a lot about animals but the truth is there is a lot to be said.  I like most critters that are feathered or furred.  I’ll admit it can be stinky business at times.  It just kinda happens so you have to expect it. Animals are messy. Also expect the unexpected.  They will do the craziest things and get into the strangest predicaments.

I love keeping animals.  There are some obvious bonuses to the business.  Our sweet bunnies are cute, furry, cuddly, etc.  Our chickens give us eggs and have interesting personalities. Beyond that they are calming.  They are dependent on you and that is both humbling and encouraging all at once. They don’t talk back so you can say whatever is on your mind and they just go about their day.  They are always happy to see you- because you feed them.  Aside from providing our daily meat (or at least a portion of our meat) our animals teach us so much more.

Responsibility.  It’s a good word.  It gets you up in the morning and gives you a daily opportunity to look past your own needs.

Work. Positively occupying our bodies is a must.  What would we do otherwise? Answer: probably squander time on things that we shouldn’t.

Nurturing.  It’s pretty amazing to see my drama queen daughter dutifully care for her bunnies as tenderly as a loving mother.

Science and Health.  I love watching my teen son learn how to nurse a sick goat back to health and try to figure out how we should alter its diet for optimal growth.  They just don’t teach this stuff in school.

I really can’t say enough good things about farm life.  Have I convinced you yet?henneke farm SUNSETPhoto credits on this pic go to my friend Carolyn.  She captured the farm at sunset one evening when it was looking its rosy best.  Love!

 

 

Farm, Life

Gardening

I love my garden.  It is quite taken over by thistles at the edges and if you aren’t careful they might even goose you as you harvest those down low squash.  I love the magnitude of it. It is far larger than any I have ever grown before.  The size is roughly 1/4 of an acre.  I was wanting double that but simply ran out of gas in my tank when planting time rolled around.  I am thankful I did!  It was a lot of work to manage what I did plant.

Previous gardens I had needed heavy amending to the soil and I was strapped for time this year.  I had my son plow it up and furrow some rows and I planted my little heart out.  There were no soil tests and no guarantees.  It was hit or miss.  That is what I love about gardening.  There is a certain element of chance.  You can til, plant, water and weed but ultimately the Creator wakes that seed up and sends notice that it is time to grow.

Everyone around me had gardens putting out produce before I did and I wondered if my reckless gardening style had bitten me in the backside again.  And then…something wonderful happened.  The plants decided they were simply late bloomers and started to produce at their leisure.  I harvest about every third day and get new surprises every time.  The marigolds have got to be a giant breed.  They are taller than my first grade class!  No kidding guys, they are amazing.

henneke farm MARIGOLDS

I have yet to get the whole canning/preserving thing down.  (SO.MUCH.WORK.) I would have to put everything on hold for a month just to get it all done.  Since this is my first year I’m gonna give myself some leeway.  Next year, I’ll get to canning like nobody’s business!

As I get ready to put the garden to bed I can’t help but tie it into my life. (what can I say, I find double meanings in everything)

Hard work. Check.

Late bloomer. Check.

A little uncertain. Check.

In the hands of the Creator. Check.

Ok God, You made the garden bloom- what can You do with me?

 

Farm

Winter is a comin’

We woke up to a beautiful clear sky this morning.  The weather is doing one of it’s famous fooled ya acts. Some seriously cool fall temps have been switched up for a last bit of summer.  I can’t complain about that.

We get just a bit longer before we put the garden to bed and before the world turns crisp then frosty then frozen.  I’ll take it! It does however cause some issues with sniffles and sinuses.  What is it with quick weather changes that our body just can’t handle?

Anyhow, as we were trying to take advantage of the nicer working weather we went great guns last night.  We had a huge brush pile burning – burn ban lifted, yay!  We had the wood splitter running full blast.  I decided that the hens needed a freshening so to the coop I went.

Those girls can make a stink I tell you!  They were happy to get things cleaned up and it will be much easier to go collect eggs now 😉  We save the ash from the indoor fireplace for the coop. When I finish removing the yucky top layer of dust and dirt I sprinkle out the ash and rake it in. I usually top it off with a bit of ground cinnamon for scent and cleansing.  If I have it I’ll sprinkle some diamotaceous earth on the chickens and the ground.

The ladies have been slacking on the job lately and I wanted to know what was keeping those eggs in. A clean coop should help some.  If that doesn’t get them going I’m going to pull out the heat lamp to see if that helps.  Chickens can be so fickle.  Come on girls!  Mama needs eggs!

Farm, Health, Kids, Life, The Begining

Authentically me- How I happened upon blogging and farming

I began blogging in an effort to ease myself out of my introverted tendencies.  I don’t hibernate and I’m not a hermit but I do keep to myself.  Pent up ideas, emotions, thoughts, energy and opinions that never get out can eat you up if you aren’t careful.  I treasure the quiet times and the peaceful moments just as much as I do the happy gatherings and visiting friends but I was never truly myself.  As time wore on and life continued it’s demands I found myself pushing back what I really wanted to say and do in favor of what I thought I should say and do.  This is what I want to break.

I want to be authentically me. My thoughts, opinions and views.  My hopes and dreams and goals.  I  know God has a plan for each of us and I want to reach my full potential.  I wasn’t doing that.  I was waiting for some little fairy to come and tap that wand on my shoulder. Sprinkle a little pixie dust maybe.

Isn’t it amazing how we are told that we can be anything we want to be but so few of us know what it is that we really want?  Life has come full circle for me at this point.  The ideals I held in my mind were really just mirages in the distance.  They don’t ring true anymore. The true me was there underneath it all the whole time.

Truth is- I don’t want a career. I want to be a farmer.  I want to dig the cold damp earth of spring and to pull weeds under the hot sun.  I want to cultivate things of the earth so it can in turn feed my body and spirit.  I want the open air and the seasons hot/cool/mild/freezing.  I want to feel alive and grounded and to know that the animals around me are serving their purpose.  I want to appreciate the bounty that is around me and thank the God above me for not only providing it but for allowing my body to be fully active in the work.  This is the real me that I never knew.

I probably wouldn’t have discovered this fact if my kids had not become involved in 4H.  The daily work with my son’s first goat set something stirring in me. I became almost more attached to that animal than he did.  We both grieved on sale day.  We will grieve every sale day.

I know that our farm is small and we are very inexperienced.  We have a couple strikes against us there.  There are even more in our favor.  Strength and our family and the blessing of God upon our home. I am so thankful for the opportunity given to us!

Farm

My dog is a thief

Our hound recently found the freedom of the doggie door.  Since then she is quite content to come and go as she pleases during the day. This was a fine arrangement.  At least, it was at first.  Now we are wondering.

I was fixing dinner the other night and noticed my utensil jar on counter held nary a one.  No spatulas, no wooden spoons. Hmmm… I scouted through the dirty dishes and managed to find a workable substitute that I scrubbed up.

I came downstairs yesterday and found old oatmeal scattered like confetti over the counter top and floor.  None of the kids were the culprit this time. I knew it was the pooch but where did she stash the evidence?  In this case it was the old ice cream tub we use to hold kitchen scraps.  (which we feed to the chickens)

My gaze happened to wander to her place of choice. The back yard. There was an assortment of kitchen items.  All having been in contact with food. Thief!

My question is- how did she get that tub through the doggie door? Animals are amazing!

Farm

Animals

We are currently housing 9 rabbits, 20 chickens and 1 dog.  We will soon acquire 1 cat and 2-4 goats. And possibly a few horses.  And let’s not forget the five humans that also reside here.  That brings the total body count to 35.  Possible growth…nearly half that.  It’s gettin’ real people!

A while back we tried our hand at horse boarding.  It was interesting to say the least.  Our first big mistake was not knowing what the heck we were doing.  Our second was poor communication.  Oh my land and my stars! We were in hot soup there for a bit as I contemplated retiring to Arizona early in life…alone.  All’s well that ends well though and we were left with zero boarders for a while.  That was ok by me.  We have new prospective customers again and will hopefully have a better go around this time.

Our goat pen is empty at the moment as they were sold at the county fair.  New baby goats will be purchased around February and we will see them frolicking about as spring peeks around the corner.  If you have never spent time with a baby goat,  you don’t know what you are missing! Seriously, it’s impossible not to be happy watching them.

We had a dear, sweet kitty not long ago.  Unfortunately she was allergic to the sedative given at the vets. We brought her in to get spayed and she never came home 😦 We now need a new kitty.  Female, preferably with shots and spayed if you happen to have and extra 🙂

Seventeen of our meat birds made their way to freezer camp this summer and that was a good thing.  They were getting kind of cranky and would peck mercilessly at you every time you came near.  Also, they are cruel hearted animals.  True story:  while I was plucking feathers from one of the newly departed two of his fellow inmates began to peck his droopy little head.  Cruel, cruel chickens.

My hens are also a bit pecky.  They learned this behavior from the naughty meat birds.  They will attack your feet in feverish pecks but will slow to a more curious pace when you brush them away. I was hoping they would not be swayed by bad influences. Those silly hens have no judgement.  Oh well, my batch of birdies gives me eggs so I guess I can deal with them being little peckers!

Our lovely pooch is a beautiful (large) hound dog.  She is sleek and black and tan.  And mouthy!  We love her and now that she is enrolled in doggy 4H we are loving that even more.  Now to train her to stay out of the trash! I am taking any and all suggestions!

Oh, horses.  This place was made for horses.  I’m sure the original owner had several.  We love them and they are so beautiful.  We can’t actually afford them but are glad to house them as they add to the scenery and also to the income.  It’s kinda cool that way.

I guess I could include the wildlife around here too while I’m at it.  We have seen several deer in our back field and have had snakes in the woodshed.  It is reported to me (by my son) that there is even an owl in the barn.  I plan on collecting some pellets if there is.  We dissected them at school as a kid and it might be interesting as a show and tell item.

The birds were singing some kind of mass chorus yesterday as we received our first good dose of rain in a while.  I’m not sure if they were rejoicing over the worms that had come to the surface or what but it was amazing.  I have never heard anything like it.  It was as if every bird in the world was singing at the same time.

Some of our more pesky visitors include squirrels.  While cute, these little rodents can be quite destructive.  Thankfully we don’t have much of a problem with them.  Other than the way they like to taunt the dog!

Well, that just about rounds out the whole cast around here!  Happy farming!

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DIY, Farm

Homesteading

IMG_20140727_114443_599-001The writing prompt today was homesteading.  I often have too much on my mind to bother changing course but this one I can make an exception for.

When we bought our farm the whole drive for me was to provide 50% of our food.  I wanted healthy veggies from the garden and hormone free meat.  Chickens are terrific source for both eggs and protein.  Not to mention, they are quite fun little critters and no farm could be complete without a crowing rooster in the background.

The garden did it’s duty this year and we have been getting our fiber in.  If I had more skills and time I could preserve every last bit of it but I’ve only been at this farming business less than a year.  I am in awe of all the off gridders who make it work day in and day out.  I know they still purchase goods but to provide so much of your own food source is wonderful.

I get a thrill with every zuchinni I pick and every egg I gather.  Right now, we have enough eggs to begin selling off the excess.  I may can up a batch of pickled eggs with some as well.   (they are awesome canned with homegrown jalepenos!)  I have jams and soups lining my shelves as well as pre-made lunches for the kids.

My dirty little secret is frozen burritos.  It’s how I get out the door with the kids in decent time.  In an effort to cut down on burrito consumption for school lunches I canned up a “meal in a jar”.   Now, my kids can grab a mason jar filled with veggies, beans and meat for a hearty school lunch.  *bonus* If they don’t eat it, it won’t spoil in the car four days later.  Not that we have ever had that  happen before….

I actually love the burritos and I will still buy them.  They just don’t love us back.  We will see if a better meal makes a better school year.

Farm, Home

First year on the farm

Here on the farm the approach of fall and winter are kind of a big deal.  You’ve got garden produce to pick and process by whatever means.  Animal homes to cold proof so when the weather is foul your livestock is warm and snug.  Equipment to put up and equipment to get out – and tune ups for both!

Aaahhhh!  The list goes on.  All this on top of your regular dailies like feeding animals and keeping things clean.

We chose this life because it was important to know that what we were eating was, in fact actual food.  A variety of health problems (every one of us!) prompted healthier choices for all.  The farm just made sense.  Grow your own and help yourself.

There are plenty of “what was I thinking” aspects to this way of life.  For example, we both work outside the home.  Yeah, so no one ever said that a farm is a full time job and then some.  Add in an old farmhouse needing a remodel and three kids with schedules of their own to keep and you’ve got and interesting mix brewing.

This has been a struggle for us.  We are both workaholics but the pace is brutal sometimes.  I have taken to planning day trips and even have an overnighter in the works for the hubs and I.  Anything to get away for a breath and not be constantly faced with all the to dos.

That being said, we have accomplished so much in less that one year of living here.  Already we have established laying hens and get well over a dozen eggs a day.  We have contributed to our pantry with home canned items. I just learned to can in June so in 3 short months I was able to put by a fair amount.  It won’t last all year but I won’t beat myself up over that.

My husband was able to replace all the old piping to the outdoor water bibs – a big deal! He has also worked on our kitchen remodel *YAY* and is nearly finished replacing all the floors in the house!

Together we added 17 meat birds to the freezer that were raised from day old chicks.

The children raised goats for the local fair and should be getting their sale checks soon.

All in all, we have been busy!