Unrest

This little farm has different seasons, as all farms do.

There is summer with all its glory. Weeding the gardens, feeding the multitude of animals, canning, milking and the list goes as long as the days are and beyond.

Summer transitions into fall.  School starts, back to work, broilers and pigs head to freezer camp.  Gardens are harvested and readied for the deep sleep of winter.  Wood is cut and split.  And the grand push to ready the Christmas season is on. Soap and lotion are made for the numerous  sale events we attend. The house is cleared out and set up for the home show in November, no small feat that.  The family calls it “hell week” and rightly so. Christmas comes and goes and we settle into winter.

Most would think that things would calm down after all that.  But stock has been depleted and more must be made for coming shows.  I never have time for spring cleaning so I winter clean.   People love to take soap and cheese making classes during the doldrums so many are booked usually on the same day the girls come into heat so I must juggle goat sex and meeting people for their class without smelling of Stanky Buck.

The later part of winter, I mean like the month of March. I rest.  Chores are at a minimum with only the goats and chickens to be done.  Milking does not occur now as the girls are dried off to give their energy to growing kids that are due in April.  Life is slower and easier.

The longer days of Spring and five, maybe six piglets will be arriving this weekend. The first batch of broilers shortly after that.  I need to start the tomato and pepper seedlings, too. Did I say that I have the whole month of March off, I guess I lied.

Last post covered how I am getting older and have decided to make some changes in where this little farm is going.  The process of change started last winter with a complete over haul of the mudroom.   Where there once was a brick hearth and wooden floors there is now laminate flooring.  The cabinetry and dated Z-brick walls were removed.  A  two bowl commercial sink that we got for $20 a few years ago was installed with some free standing stainless shelving.  A set of floor cabinets that my grandfather had made were covered with $15 lawn sale counter top. This was all in preparation of the change.

Two weeks ago, I had two different state inspectors come and do pre-inspections on the areas that we are “growing” into.  The first inspector arrived, walked into the mudroom and declared, “Well, you certainly have hobbled things together in an absolutely perfect way.”  I held in the urge to break out into a happy dance.  The home use kitchen application is filled out and pending a passing water test will be approved.  We then will be able to sell breads and pastries (not that I want to make pastries) jams, jellies and  cajeta.  Second inspector arrived.  The inspector for the creamery and dairy.  The home use kitchen area can double as a creamery. We just have to move the bathroom door, install a door between our actual kitchen and the creamery and hang a hand wash sink.  Do-able.  So happy husband is handy and willing to do these things for his crazy wife.  The dairy is the most labor intensive portion of the changes.  It will require plumbing to the barn for hot and cold water, sewer pipe, double bowl sink and an actual room built.  But once again, it is do-able with some time and quite a bit of money.  In a perfect world I would love to see all of this done by the end of the summer and you know what, I think we can do this.

So folks it has been a while since my last post. Probably over a year.  A year of questions and maybe some answers as to where this little farm and this aging farmer is going in the future.

This little farm started as a way of life.  The husband and I grew up farming in one way or another.  He worked dairy all of his teen years and a bit more.  My mom and stepdad had a few cows because they were cheap and they could make have me milk every morning before school. I grew up gardening at home and with my grandparents, who I spent every possible weekend I could with.  It was where our food came from.  I believe in farming. I believe in good food.  I believed my children needed to know where food came from.  So we kept farming.  Starting with vegetables, actually no, we started the summer before we married with pigs.  Along with my mom and stepdad we raised two pigs for our soon to be separate households.  Vegetables came the following spring.  For the past 31 years we have farmed, even when Husband and I took a break from each other, I gardened. It is in my blood, my soul.

Then I decided that I wanted goats.  As one with a farmer’s soul I knew that they had to earn their keep if I had them.  I started with an Oberhasli in milk and two Nigerian Dwarf doelings.  I milked Maddie, the Oberhasli, and everyone hated the taste of the milk.  So I made soap and sold that.  People love goat milk soap.  But my family nor I would not drink the milk and you can only make so much soap when you start. So Maddie was sold and I bought  Nubians, the bitchy Miss Olive and her doeling Lilly. I bought a buck, the infamous James with the Giant Peaches and bred the Nigerian does.  Milk was flowing and we loved the milk, (still do) and I made soap and cheese and more cheese and more soap.  More decisions were made. The Nigerians are great little goats.  Emphasis on little, everything about them is little, including teat size and milk production.  So they were sold.  And things have remained pretty much the same.  But the big questions is where does this little farm and I go from here?

I have a day job.  I work in education, an amazing job for farmers. I mean, you get your summers off and that is when the down and dirty farming of gardens, hog and bird raising happens.  But I work in special education. I have chosen to work with the tough students. The ones that break your heart with their emotional and behavioral needs.  The ones that require a body that my almost 50 year old carcass can’t always bend to. I  I feel that I am not fulfilling the daily requirements of my needy job and that kills me.  But my family also needs insurance and over half of my paycheck goes toward that. So I have done the work that pays the insurance for almost 15 years but I want to be a farmer.  A Farmer, with a capital F.

So there are decisions that are being made that will change the face of the farm and myself.  Please stay tuned as I walk you through the process of change.

 

Middle son’s boyfriend, Cody, made this adorable video of things on the farm.  I think you all will love it. 

One really cannot say that it has sprung as of yet.  We are still running the wood stove as the nights are down into the 20’s and wind is raw and damp.  We will not be running it much longer weather or not…we are down to the last few sticks left in the woodshed.

Rhubarb is up, strawberries are uncovered, raspberries are staked and the flower beds are all raked off.  The massive amount of dirt has been raked from the edges of the lawn.  Winter sand accumulates quickly with a winter like this year.  Thankfully we purchased an old Ford bucket tractor. It is perfect!

Oh, and we have babies.  The first set of twins were born Sunday morning.  I had just climbed into the shower after getting up every two hours to check on Lilly’s progress.  FH called me and said to get my butt out to the barn.  Sure enough, with no help needed Lilly birthed a buckling and doeling.  We will be keeping the doeling. She is the darker one.  Her name is Stellaluna.

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Monday vacation ended…

Olive was looking like she would go anytime.  Once again, the check ins began.  Around 10p.m. I fed the babies before bed.  Olive was ready to go.  10:30 still ready.  11 even more ready.  11:30 first baby, 12 second baby and 12:30 third baby and a huge one at that.  By the time they were all cleaned up and in the house (the barn was too cold) it was 2 a.m.  I was up at 4 for chores.

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The little one “whispering” in her brother’s ear is the other doeling we are keeping. Her name is Pippi Longstocking.

Ahh, spring…may the peepers lull me to sleep until the 7th when Fern is due.

Heart Warming

Some kids just know exactly the right things to say.

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This made my day!

A few Sundays ago it was balmy out, so that may have been quite a few Sundays ago.  I did the usual morning chores and opened the barn door to the pasture for the girls.  There was no grass to nibble on, the ground was covered with snow, but there was a delightful Christmas tree for them to munch on.  And the sun was out.  They like to bask in the sun.  Well, three of them like to bask.  Beezus, the youngest Nigerian would much rather take a walk about.  A walk about the barn yard, not within the confines of the pasture.  She will shoot the electric fence every chance she gets.  It has been cold and she has an extremely warm, fuzzy coat that does not conduct electricity well.  So she was out, I went over and put her in.  You must understand that our farm is cut in half by a road.  It is a country road but well traveled and traveled a bit to quickly for a small goat or any other animal to be wondering on the sides of it.  I waited a few minutes and she seemed to have joined the others nibbling away at the tree, so I thought.

I came in the house and started a batch of soap.  Soap cannot be left unattended so when I saw Beezus, once again, wondering in the driveway I asked the husband to go put her in.  No worries he headed right over and I continued soap making.  Husband comes back in shaking his head.  I, of course asked what was up.  “Well,” he says, “it’s a damn good thing no cars just went by.”  “Why was she in the road?”  He continued, “No, I scooped her up under my arm and when I did her hooves got caught in my pajama bottoms and there I was with a goat under my arm and my pants around my ankles.”

Now you know why farmers and their husbands should wear overalls.

Happiness Happens

Musings on making the best of life.

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