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The First Farm

Approaching the Year Mark

On February 28th, 2016 – Scott and I drove up our driveway for the first time.  

We (ok, I) had been looking online for a few months and finally found this farm on Craigslist. Ignoring the fact that we still had 6 months on our current lease and that Leesburg was nowhere near both of our jobs; we passed through the pine trees bordering the property and we knew there was no turning back.  


Old barns, a silo, and a windmill scattered the cow pastures. I knew this wasn’t going to end well – there was no way Scott would want to commute an hour and a half each way to work every day. There was no way we’d be able to afford this. There was no way we’d get out of our lease. We rounded the last bend to the little farm house to which the landlords refer to as “The Far Bungalow”. The house was adorable, there was already a chicken coop and a shed, plenty of room for a puppy, a garden.

I couldn’t even look at Scott. I knew what he was thinking. We couldn’t afford it. It was too far away. But then…he asked the realtor if we had access to the Potomac River, it had looked like it on a map. My ears perked up. Visions of taking the kayaks out after work danced in my head. “Yeah, there’s a gravel road that runs right up to it, all on the property so you’re good. You guys kayak?” Uh, yeah, we do. I asked if I could get chickens. “Yeah.” Goats? “Sure.” A puppy? “Sure thing.”  

Our little tour ended and we remained in polite silence. Not knowing what Scott was thinking was killing me. I HAD to live there. After leaving the realtor’s office, we went to lunch. Sitting across the table from one another, I prepared myself for the worst.  

I understood the commute would be awful for Scott. I understood it was far from our social life. I understood it was more expensive than we wanted but we could make some adjustments. He understood how bad I needed this. He understood that the pros of the place outweighed some of the cons. We both understood this was all contingent we could get out of our existing lease. We agreed we would try to move in.

On February 29th, 2016, I talked to our landlord. He said as long as someone rented our place, we were off the hook and he’d help us find someone. 6 hopeful tenants came though, each one turning it down. Until finally, on a Wednesday (one week before the farm wasn’t going to hold our spot) we got the call. Someone wanted our place! The catch? They wanted it by Saturday.

So we packed up our tiny apartment and the farm was ours on March 26th, 2016.

  

And the rest is history.

I can’t believe how much we have accomplished. We’ve upgraded some our furniture – no more college futon for us! I bought a new car – hellooooo red pickup truck. We’ve gotten chickens, turkeys, goats, rabbits, and a dog, bred the goats, butchered our own chickens and turkeys, started a huge garden, and built more fences and structures than I can even comprehend. We’ve planted 100 tulip bulbs, we’ve kayaked, we’ve hunted, we’ve thrown dinner parties, we’ve listened to coyotes surround the house in the middle of the night, and we’ve watched cows graze from our front porch.  


We have so much more coming in the next year…baby goats, more chickens, more turkeys, breeding the rabbits, honey bees, a bigger garden, more float trips, and more fishing. We’re even in the midst of planning our wedding here. The to-do list feels never ending but maybe more manageable. We started with NOTHING and we’re finally about to reach the surface. Look at how much this last year has brought. This is it, I’m really doing it. I can’t wait to see what this coming year brings. I can daydream and plan a new business, think of new animals to have, be a good wife and homemaker as well as farmer, friend and daughter/sister. I also want to sit back and appreciate what I’ve got. It seems too good to be true. My whole life, everything I’ve ever wanted, it’s here. It’s happening.


And with that I think I’m going to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather, sit on the front porch, and drink a glass of wine with my love.

Thursday Farm Thoughts

Even the chickens roll in the mud.

What a dirty girl.

 

If you’re trying to hang out with me, I can’t:

I have chores
The dog rolled in something disgusting
Something has escaped
Something is broken
Another think is broken
The house is falling apart
Something requires feeding
Something that earlier required feeding, now has to poop and I need to clean it up

 

Inventions that I think would make farming easier:

Animal birth control pills.
Seriously.  HOW is this not a thing?  You would know exactly when everything was going in to heat, making breeding schedules WAY easier.  You’d be able to let males and females live together most of the time, allowing pastures to recover.

You have to go out and feed/water/milk everything at the same time every day anyway, slipping a pill in everyone’s morning feed dish or hay would not be that complicated.

I don’t even care if you steal this idea…I just want it to happen.

 

How to make your wedding more farm-chic:

Everyone wants a rustic, barn wedding these days.  Here are a few tips from a rustic, barn dwelling gal who is in the midst of planning her own wedding…

-Instead of releasing white doves, the wedding party is going to throw white chickens at Scott and me as we walk down the aisle.

-Each table will have a taxidermy groundhog posing in a scene that represents the last 4 years we’ve had together.

-Planning a spring wedding?  Get your order of chicks in and use them as table décor.  It entertains the guests as well as creates a super cute, spring time atmosphere.

-Make sure your maid of honor knows how to milk goats.

Maybe I’m kidding.  Maybe I’m not.

 

Smart Decisions I’ve Made:

I’m not getting ducks.  The thought of building yet ANOTHER infrastructure made me have second thoughts.  Then the thought of how messy ducks are made me have more thoughts.  Then the thought of having to butcher and PLUCK more birds made me decide a big fat NOPE.   I think, because I’m being so rational, I should be allowed to get an extra birthday goat this year.
We ordered seeds while it was pouring down rain for the 150th day in a row.

It felt really productive even though I was still in my pjs well after 10 am.

Dreaming of Spring

I know I’m supposed to appreciate each season but I’m ready for spring.

Has anyone else (in the northern Virginia region) felt like it has just been rainy and dark all winter?  Like the sun has literally never come out and everything is just brown and muddy 7 days a week?

Maybe I’m exaggerating, maybe I’m not.

50-shades-of-brown

I’m ready to go outside and feel the sun on my skin.

I’m ready to wear dresses and be barefoot all the time.  And then wonder why I let the chickens free range.

I’m ready for all this rabbit poop in the garden to create heaps of veggies and wonder who in the world needs 15+ squash at any given time.

I’m ready for baby goats and to take the goats on woodland adventures to eat all the leaves.

I’m ready to get chicks and turkeys.

And start the beehives.

I’m ready to get the kayaks out and drink a beer on the river.

I’m ready to take Roosevelt for a swim.

I’m ready for flowers and birds chirping and the smell of spring.

I’m ready to sleep with the windows open.

I’m ready for the sun to be out more than 9 hours a day.

I’m ready to squeeze up next to Cordelia and milk her every morning.

 

Even though I have a million things I should get squared away and finished before spring comes and brings new projects and chores – I’m still excited.  When it’s nice outside and pretty, you just want to do more.  For some reason, driving a post in to the ground in the cold and rain just doesn’t motivate me to get the entire project done.  But the thought of baby goats keeps me going.  My own baby goats. To snuggle all day every day.

Baby goats baby goats baby goats baby goats.

As I was posting this – a glimmer of blue sky peaked through the clouds…there is hope on the horizon.

Friday Farm Updates

To me, farming is:

  • The careful planning of when exactly all your animals are going to breed and then them doing it behind your back.
  • Coming up with a plan and having it blow up in your face.
  • Having two people give you absolutely polar opposite advice and just making up whatever answer you felt like doing in the first place.

New additions to the farm:

  • Meat rabbits.

They are soft and cute and I have no idea what I’m doing.

  • One of the goats is pregnant!!!!

This is the most terrifying, exciting thing that’s ever happened to me.  I’ve told work I need goat maternity leave at the end of March and they think I’m joking.  I’m so nervous that something will go wrong and I just want everyone to be happy and healthy and have what they need for the big day and the days following the birth.  I will 100% be posting 600 pictures a day of the baby goats.

Goals:

  • I am trying to make amazing food and not stress out about it. I get so frantic every night thinking dinner is taking too long or that it’s too hard and then we rush through eating it because I have 57 other things I need to do.  Wine typically helps this but I really don’t want to drink every night.  I got so many amazing cookbooks this Christmas and I want to eat everything out of them.

 

Tuesday night I made some pretty terrible salmon burgers.  Maybe it’s the dill…either way I hated them.  But then I reminded myself that I have 16 mouths to feed every night and I can’t possibly make everyone happy.

 

Have a productive weekend.  There is no time for Netflix.

Rabbits are Here!

A week and a half ago, I got rabbits.

What am I doing with these rabbits you ask?  To put it bluntly, I’m eating their babies.

Let me explain…

Rabbits have a gestation period of 30-31 days and have anywhere between 2 and 10 kits (baby rabbits) in a litter.  I’m hoping to get enough rabbit to create one meal’s worth of meat a week.  (AKA: dinner for Scott and I)  Raising meat chickens, pork and beef is not really a possibility right now and rabbits are just another option.

The plan was to build 4 rabbit houses over the course of December and buy 4 rabbits in January.  Instead, I got 4 rabbits at the end of December and didn’t build any houses.

You see, Scott and I WERE going to build everything.  Then Christmas came along. I said no worries, I’ll order some online.

They never came.  At one point I got an email saying, “Sorry, just not gonna happen, here’s your money.”  I ordered more.  ONE has come.  Let’s just say it’s a little cozy in there.

rabbit-tractor

I’m going to move it every day so they get some new grass and aren’t sitting on top of their poop all day.  They’re currently in the garden eating the weeds and fertilizing.  Win – win.

What do they eat? Apparently the verdict is all over the place.  One person says if they eat any vegetables, they die.  The other says they can eat a little of this and a little of that.  Others say they can be totally sustainable if you have grass and weeds and veggie scraps.  I have a hard time believing they can’t eat any grass/weeds/veggies, but I’m no expert so I’m giving them a little bit of everything.  Some food, some hay, some veggies.  I don’t know if I’m “filling them up” yet or if they’re just little beggars.  There’s a real chance they’re just spilling everything as soon as I walk out the door.  Note to self: when all houses are here, adhere feed bowls to walls.

I also can’t stand the idea of things spending their whole life in the same coop/field/pen/whatever.  The chickens get to go out and explore during any daylight hours that I’m home.  The goats get to run around the woods and open fields on weekends when I’m home.  I figured I’d do the same for the rabbits.  The garden their tractor is in is all fenced in to keep um…rabbits OUT so I figured if they were already inside it would keep them in as well.  They.loved.it.  They loved running around and chasing each other and eating all the weeds from the summer.  (Garden got a bit neglected at the end)

Either way, this is a super fun project and totally new to me.  They are so soft and fuzzy and I love playing with them.

It’s 2017

Happy New Year!

For the last 6 months or so since I started this, many of my friends/family/coworkers have been telling me I should start a blog.  For some reason I always smiled and agreed but never told anyone I actually did it.

I’m not really sure why I didn’t tell anyone.  I guess I just assume no one really cares what I have to say.

But anyways…hello friends and family….if you’re reading this…

This is a blog about the weird farming/homesteading stuff that I do.  And we’ve just crossed the threshold of 2017…so it’s going to get a lot weirder.

I guess let me start this out by addressing a few common misconceptions so that we’re all clear and communicating effectively.

Dream Crushers:

Me for the last 21 years: “I want to be a farmer when I grow up.”

Everyone: “You can’t.”

Me for the last 21 years: *I can*

Cows = Farm. Farm = Cows:

Me: “I live on a farm.”

Person: “Do you have cows?”

Me: “No I have (insert animals here).”

Person: *looks sad and confused* “Why don’t you have any cows?”

Me: “Because I have (insert animals here).”

Person: “When will you get a cow?”

Me: “Sometime.”

Person: “But why don’t you have one now?”

Me: *gives up*

I Have Nipples, Can You Milk Me?:

Person: “Do you milk your goats?”

Me: “Not, yet, they have to get pregnant and give birth first.”

Person: *blank stare* “I didn’t know they had to get pregnant to produce milk.”

Me: “Yep….just like a human.”

Person: *blank stare*

Me: (If female) “Do you produce milk?”

Person: (If not currently lactating) “No.”

Me: “Right.  And when would you start producing milk?”

Person: “Well I’ve never had a baby.”

Me: “Right. Just like the goats.”

Person: *blank stare*

Me: *gives up*

Winter is Coming:

What happens to your animals in the winter?

What happens to you in the winter?

*blank stare*

*gives up*

Biological Clock is Ticking:

I thought chickens have an unlimited amount of eggs.

(if female) You have a limited amount of eggs.

I don’t have eggs.

Yes you do.

*blank stare*

Winner Winner Turkey Dinner:

Oooo did you eat your turkeys yet??

Yep, pretty tasty!

Ew, you killed them??

Yep….pretty hard to eat when they’re alive.

Human Milk:

It seems wrong to feed that pig cow’s milk.  Actually it’s really sick…forcing it to drink another species’ milk.  I’m getting really upset over this.

Oh, do you still drink human milk, Mr. Adult Man?

Where Do Babies Come From?:

If pigs don’t have vaginas where do their babies come from?

Well, on the first quarter moon of each solstice, a bunch of baby animals pop out of the ground.

Children Can’t Survive:

Where will you live and what will you do with the animals when you have kids?

Now obviously I’ve never read a parenting book, but I was totally unaware that I had to move locations upon the arrival of a human child and that they weren’t capable of being near other animals.

 

So there you have it.  Some frequently asked questions and answers so that you don’t have to ask me these things.  I might even start a youtube channel.  My longest friend thinks I should do a farming and beauty channel where I incorporate farming in to my overall look and style.  She may be on to something.

Thanks for reading.  Thanks for listening. Thanks for sticking by my weirdness.

It’s Time

What a sunrise.

I think I’ve decided I’m going to give myself a year.

A year to pay off debts

To be financially “comfortable”

Put some more money in to savings

Get in to a groove of joint checking (I’m getting married in 198 days people!)

Get in to a groove of doubling the amount of animals we have while also BREEDING THEM (breeding your animals takes it to a whole new level, I tell you what)

Refining a better organic, non GMO, sustainable, cost effective system with what we grow, raise and purchase

And make a little money off the farm.

And then I’m going to make a change.  Whether that be cutting down to part time hours at my current job, finding another part time job, working from home, whatever.  It isn’t time to decide that yet, but I know I need to make a change if I want to grow the farm.  I want to do it gradually.  I think that’s what’s best for Scott and me.  There, I said it; my fiancé’s name is Scott!  With less than 200 days until the wedding, it is best you start getting to know him too.

It’s exciting and scary at the same time.  I had a little chat with all the animals this morning to let them know we were all in this together.  We were all working towards “The Good Life” together.  Not that they understood a word I said.  Well…sometimes I think Roosevelt does.

Speaking of which – he and I had a long talk this morning about how he was going to stay out of his crate all day today while Scott and I were at work.  And that I really don’t want him to destroy the house.  Because it’s better for all of us.  And that if he MUST do something bad, I’d rather him just sleep on the furniture.

Anyways.  Here’s to dreams.  Here’s to plans.  Here’s to doing what makes your heart sing.

 

And P.S. Roosevelt only chewed up one pen.  A little inky but much better than I had anticipated.

I Live for the Weekends

I love waking up early (ok, not early early, not as early as I do during the week), seeing the sun come up, hearing the animals start rustling around and getting outside.  I love sitting down to a cup of tea, not enjoying it at my desk.

I love letting all the chickens loose to roam and peck and run and stretch their wings.  Letting the goats out to find all the best grass, leaves and shrubs still left in the woods.  Roosevelt knowing he has an ENTIRE day with us and won’t have to stay inside or go in his crate.

I love changing the bedding in the goat’s shed and the chicken coop.  Knowing they have a fresh, clean place to hang out for the rest of the week is so satisfying.  I love accomplishing big tasks.  Like moving ALL the hay I had already stacked.  Creating an entire new field for the goats to have a rotation system. Building rabbit houses so I can GET SOME RABBITS!

Deciding to take a break from farm-work and walk down to the river with the dog.  Or go inside and read a book.  Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard.  My heart skips a beat just thinking about that book.  I wish there were 1,000 books just like it.  Anyone have any recommendations?  Winter is coming and I’d like to be prepared and let farming inspiration wash over me.

Cooking and enjoying dinner.  Early.

Putting my jammies on early and watching a movie snuggled up on the couch with Farm Fiancé.  Maybe a glass of wine.  Or two. And all over again the next day.

I love this.  I love being a part of the fields and woods and rivers.  Feeling the sun, the wind, the cold.  Immersing myself in the animals.  Letting the rest of the world slip farther away and just BEING.

Rainy Morning Thoughts

I want it all.

I want 1,000 animals running around.

I want to grow and raise all of our own food and the animal’s food.  I want to make everything from scratch and never have to go to a grocery store again!

I want a constant supply of baby animals.

I don’t have any money.

We have so much debt to pay off.

Why are bills so expensive?

Spending whole days making bread and canning would be awesome.

I could just be home all.the.time.

Roosevelt (the pup) would have so much run around time.

I need my job because of those sweet sweet benefits.

I really want to have 40 goats.

I want to be an artisan cheese maker that is rugged, classy and beautiful at the same time.

Could I give up everything for the farm?

Yes, I probably could.

Could Farm Fiancé?

Not so sure.

How do I do it all?

I want to wear coveralls by day.

I want to travel….and bring all the goats with me.

I want to have 16 puppies.

You thought 2016 was going to be The Year?  Well 2017 is going to be THE Year.

The book “Gaining Ground” by Forrest Pritchard is probably the best, most inspirational book ever written in the history of the universe.  And that’s probably what got me going on this tangent.

Thank you for reading.

 

 

Kelsey

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