Sorry that I have not posted in a while. I don’t have the internet at the farmhouse, so I’ve been writing in Word. Now I can finally transfer it all to my blog. I miss reading up on all of the blogs on my blogroll! Maybe someday I’ll get some free time to read them. Until then… intermitent posts will be all I can manage. Here’s the past couple weeks!
It’s official! We moved into the farmhouse Monday, January 4th. After a few days of packing things up, driving them to the farmhouse, then unpacking them and finding places for everything we own, this house is finally starting to feel like home. We feel very lucky and thankful to have met the couple who own the farmhouse. They seem to have a lot of the same goals and aspirations as we, including living in an intentional community and small-scale farming. However long this journey to having a homestead community takes, I’ll be happy as a pig in mud if we continue to meet people this friendly, outspoken, and motivated. I remember when I was younger I would lament over the fact that one couldn’t choose their family. It’s funny to me now, because it seems like that is exactly what we are doing when we are able to choose who we surround ourselves with.
So far I haven’t had a chance to meet any of the neighbors. It looks as if we only have 3 close neighbors, and even they are all surrounded by corn fields and woods. We are all loving this location so far. Compared to the apartment that reeked like cigarette smoke from the neighbors and was constantly bombarded by loud music and voices, this house is truly a pleasant experience. The only noises we hear are cars and trucks zooming past on the road out front, and even that isn’t very disruptive. We haven’t seen many animals either. Today I noticed a red-headed woodpecker on one of the walnut trees, and there are some rabbit tracks in the yard, but luckily I haven’t seen any deer, coyotes, or coons. My husband said he saw a cat in one of the barns, and in a way I’m somewhat glad to hear it. Although I am allergic to the furballs, a barncat would be helpful in handling rodent problems. Just so long as it doesn’t expect free board from our larder and it leaves the chickens alone.
The children are in love with the farmhouse. They have so much more room to play and run around inside, and as soon as the weather starts gearing up for spring they’ll have even more room outside. There are two big barns, both of them fairly empty. In one of them we decided to keep the center of the concrete floor cleared and let the boys have an outdoor play area to ride their bikes, kick soccer balls, and chase each other around. This just happens to be the one that the chicken coop is attached to, so it’ll be easy to keep the kids entertained while I’m cleaning the coop or tending to the birds.
Another great feature of this house is the basement. It’s very dry, doesn’t smell like most basements, keeps a constant temperature of 55-60 degrees, and has walls covered in durable shelves just the right size for food and water storage. It’s a bit dusty down there, but with a little work it will be a great pantry area. Not only is the basement great for food storage, but there is a room at the top of the basement stairs that stays just a few degrees cooler than the house. We’ve put up a few more shelves here, and they will work well for the intermediate storage, such as countertop appliances, paper products, and a couple weeks worth of canned foods. I’ll have to experiment a little to find a good place to store potatoes. I’m thinking the basement, but we’ll see. I’m so sick of taters sprouting the same week I buy them. I’d like to set up some nice crates with straw in them to keep potatoes all winter long. I also want to test a couple different ways to store carrots, onions, and apples. Yes, I’m aware that apples need to be stored completely separate from veggies. J
Thanks to the big kitchen, I’ve already started baking breads again. I LOVE homemade bread, even when it turns out hard as a rock. I haven’t been able to experiment with bread in the longest time, because we’ve been living in such cramped conditions. Tonight I am trying out two new recipes: one for French bread, and the other for a plain white sandwich bread. The boys helped me make it, and it’s rising as I type in the oven with the light on. They keep running out there to check on it and asking when they can eat it. This farm life is going to be such a wonderful experience for them. How many kids know how to grow potatoes, care for chickens, make bread, and can eat raw veggies and fruits straight from their own back yard? Gosh, I am so excited for all of us living here! I think our lives will be much better, more wholesome, and way more productive here than in yet another apartment. And this is just one step on our way to owning our own homestead. I hope the learning never stops, but I’ll be very glad when the moving does!
We don’t have internet access at the farmhouse, so my posts are now going to be dated, and will probably be far and few between. I’m hoping to kick out at least one a week to keep track of the progress we are making. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks for reading!
We have completed our first week in the farmhouse now, and the boxes still aren’t all unpacked! C’est la vie. We’ve done a bit of rearranging of furniture to give the kids more room to play inside. I can’t wait for warmer weather so we can play outside more. I’m pretty sure we won’t be inside the house much in the summer time with all the stuff to do outside. Speaking of things to do, our chickens are on their way! I called and made the order last night, Tuesday the 12th of January. They’ll arrive sometime between the 15th and 17th of February. Yay! What a great Valentine’s day present!
We ended up going with 18 Buff Orpington hens, 1 rooster, and 6 straight run Sumatras. This summer we’ll look for some local Muscovies to buy. And if we can get a pig shelter and some good fencing up, we’ll try for some pigs, too. I know I’m very repetitive for this blog, but I’m just so excited about everything! It’s all coming together. Now all that’s needed is some warmer weather.
I’ve started back into sewing, too. I got my sewing machine table set up in the living room where I can sew and keep an eye on the kids. I’ve made some more warm pajama pants for the boys, and I’m getting ready to start on fixing my husband’s childhood quilt. The edges on it are all worn to the point where the batting is coming out and tearing. I’ll just be putting a new edge all the way around. Hopefully that will extend its life a bit longer. I still have to finish the boys’ jean quilts, too. I’m making them big enough that they will fit on a full-size bed. I’ve made lots of little blankets, and the boys just keep growing right out of them, so hopefully they will never grow out of the jean ones.
The boys and I made some more bread yesterday, and it turned out a lot better when I split the dough into two loaves. J We ended up with a HUGE loaf the last time… wouldn’t even fit in the toaster or in sandwich bags. The boys absolutely love playing in the kitchen with me. When the bread is rising, they check on it every couple of minutes and excitedly squeal “It’s getting bigger!” every time. I have to keep the oven light on the entire time it’s rising and baking, just so they can see it. Goofy kids. Every time I start cooking anything, they start pushing their chairs up next to me so they can climb up and “help.” They didn’t get to do this in the apartment because the kitchen was so small I just kept it blocked off with a gate.
My husband has been socking away scrap lumber since we found out we were going to be coming to the farmhouse. He’ll probably use most of it to build up a wood-working shop, but I’m going to steal some to finish up the chicken coop. He already cleared out all of the awkward cabinetry along the one wall, except for two cabinets near the end to keep feed and supplies in. Now the coop just needs a good scrub-down, a coat of white-wash (lyme and water mixed to a paint consistency), some roosts, and a nesting box. I’ll probably start construction of the nesting boxes one of these times that we go out to play in the barn. I’m sure the boy’s would love to help me with that, too. They are such good little helpers.
Well, I’m needed elsewhere now. I hope to be able to go into town soon so I can actually post these entries on the blog. Toodles!
The weather is finally starting to warm up a bit, and the snow has stopped falling. So guess what happens? We all get sick. The boys and I are all stuffed up in the head and our noses are running like open faucets. I was hoping to be able to use this warm weather to spend some quality time outside in the barn and chicken coop working on nesting boxes and planting tables. But no… I’m plastered to the couch surrounded by snotty Kleenexes and whiney boys.
Whether or not I feel better soon, I’d really like to get those done. My husband seems to be impervious to all of the sickness in the house. (He’s always telling me there’s a reason he has a strong immune system: doesn’t rinse food off before eating it, doesn’t wash his hands, etc. Maybe he’s onto something?) Anyway, maybe if he is feeling up to it he can get a start on them. I hate having to lean on him for this, since he already works so hard during the day, but we won’t be able to get the seeds started early if we don’t have tables and flats to grow them on.
I’d like to get the tomatoes and peppers started by Valentine’s day. I ended up cancelling my onion seed order because it’s so much easier to just buy bunches or sets to plant, so I don’t have to worry about starting onions now at least. Other things we should start early include eggplant, cukes, pumpkins, some herbs, sunflowers, and perhaps some beans. Instead of paying $3 for a small packet of widely available beans like white northern, pinto, and black turtle, I’ve decided to try to sprout some from my dried bean collection in the pantry. Hopefully it works. If not, well that’s only one year wasted and next year I’ll fork out the dough for the seed store seeds. I’m pretty confident it’ll work, though.
Speaking of ordering, I just renewed our subscription to the best magazine ever: Backwoods Home. We’ve been getting it for 3 years now, and it’s only getting better with every issue. In case you haven’t heard of it, please check it out here: http://www.backwoodshome.com. They have a lot of online articles, as well as blogs and other exclusive content on their webpage. While you’re there, take a gander at the blog of my idol – Jackie Clay. She, as well as Dorothy Ainsworth, make me feel like anything is possible, and they have no qualms about sharing their knowledge with the world. Jackie is a homesteading woman who knows about 99% of everything to do with owning and working land. She is truly an inspiration to any woman who wants to become more self-sufficient.
Monday, Jan 25
Ok, I am finally able to post these few blogs online, since we’re visiting family with internet access. A lot has happened just in the last week. I’ve been sick. The kids have been sick. The kids are just about over their colds, but mine is hanging on in my lungs. I don’t know why that happens every time. Guess it’s my luck. Anyway, the seeds should be showing up any day now. We just got the worms for vermicomposting today. The chickens should be here just after Valentine’s day. My husband has been busy building with all of the scrap lumber he has collected. So far he’s built an 8-nest nesting box for the biddies, a large bin for the worms in the basement, and four lighted tables for starting seeds indoors. He’s also been working on the workshop, getting it all straightened out and in order. It’s looking pretty good. I’m sure that’s where he’ll spend a lot of time this summer.
I just got out yesterday when it was up in the 40’s to finish cleaning out the chicken coop. I hooked up two very long hoses to make it all the way out to the coop, then powerwashed the crap out of the walls, ceiling, storage cupboards, and floors. I was COVERED in liquefied chicken poo when it was over, and had to shower in a bathroom that my husband had just spent the morning scraping caulk and recaulking. Poor guy. I don’t think it affected the caulk, but we’ll see. I might have to go back and redo it for him, because I’d feel pretty guilty if I messed his fine job up.
Well, I’m off. I don’t want to sit here on the computer when I could be visiting. Toodles!