Don't forget to celebrate your accomplishments! (Country neighbors).We have been receiving COUNTRYSIDE for several years now and enjoy it very much. We find many articles informative, some amusing, some helpful and overall uplifting.
We are on our second homestead. My husband Tom and I have both had the dream of a "hobby farm hobby farm
a small acreage of land used by a city dweller for weekend or summer relaxation.
hobby farm malnutrition
underfeeding of livestock because of owner's ignorance of animal's needs which a small hobby farm often cannot " for years and in fact, were each on the path independently towards that goal when we got married in 1996. We had been friends for years and often talked of what we would do if we could live off the land. We each had careers in the high-tech world that required us to live within commuting distance of a major airport. And the places we lived at the time, made the commute distance seemed too far to make moving a reality. When we got married and one of us had to quit and move, we decided the time was right to find a piece of land. We wanted 10-20 acres but could only find 3.28 in our price range and within our commute distance. In the end it turned out to be a blessing because as we found out, owning a piece of land takes lots of energy and time to maintain and work.
Our little homestead was located in north central Illinois Central Illinois is a region of the U.S. state of Illinois that consists of the entire central section of the state, divided in thirds from north to south. It is an area of mostly flat prairie. , agricultural zone 5. The property was an old farmstead complete with a falling down barn; milk house that looked like a gust of wind could knock it over, an old remodeled farmhouse, and a detached 2.5 car garage. There were quite a few mature trees as a windbreak windbreak
a physical obstruction to the passage of the wind, usually in the form of a line or copse of tall bushes or low trees or a porous fence. Of very great importance in temperate climates and periods of cold, wet, windy weather. and to provide shade. The rest was all grass. We moved in October when most things had started their winter rest and survived the first winter of blowing snow Blowing snow is snow lifted from the surface by the wind, at a height of 8 feet (2 meters) or more, that will reduce visibility. Blowing snow can come from falling snow or snow that already accumulated on the ground but is picked up and blown about by strong winds. with firm resolve to plant more wind-blocking trees in the spring.
Spring finally arrived and we dug a large garden plot, ordered trees and bushes to plant for windbreaks and started tearing down the rotten half of the barn with the hope of having enough material useable to repair the better half. We talked of getting chickens and argued over goats versus pigs for our first four-legged animals. We mowed the grass, and mowed and mowed! It took over three hours every week with two mowers. We raised 25 chicks from eggs and after they were big enough, moved them to the barn. The goat party (Tom) won and I picked up two yearling yearling
an animal in its second year of age, e.g. yearling cattle, yearling filly, yearling colt.
rinderpest in wildebeeste in the Serengheti. Saanan cross does from an ad in the local paper. They too, lived in the barn and stayed confined, with the help of an electric fence
a small fenced-in enclosure with high, wooden fences, suitable for holding cattle or horses.
a management system in which range cattle are put into corrals and fed hay for a period when the environment is most full of weeds, which they happily devoured. We added four wethers to the goatherd and extended fencing to enclose about half an acre of pasture. Mowing mow 1
1. The place in a barn where hay, grain, or other feed is stored.
2. A stack of hay or other feed stored in a barn. time was cut to about 2.5 hours a week. We dug two more large garden plots and planted an orchard. Mowing time was now two hours. We found a lucrative market for our wethers and decided to get a Boer buck so we could sell meat goats. We bred the does that winter and were thrilled when both had twins the next spring--three bucks and a doe.
That spring we too were expecting so I quit my job, ended my 140-mile-a-day commute and settled into our organic produce production, raising meat goats and another 50 chicks. We also made the decision to cash in some investments and pay off the mortgage. We extended the garden again and planted more trees and bushes and extended the pasture. We were finally down to one hour of mowing. Tom only had a 15-minute commute and the time we spent working on the barn, garden and taking care of the critters brought us great joy. The demand for our wethers and chickens for both meat and eggs was greater than our supply and we had customers for our extra garden produce. We needed more goats as word of mouth advertising spread and the demand went up. We were getting concerned about having enough pasture for all the goats when our neighbor offered us a big, fenced-in pasture with mature trees for our goats if we needed it.
November of that year brought Savannah Savannah, city, United States
Savannah, city (1990 pop. 137,560), seat of Chatham co., SE Ga., a port of entry on the Savannah River near its mouth; inc. 1789. to us. We decided to wait until spring to increase the goatherd and as new parents that was a good decision. Spring added a 7/8 Boer doe with two daughters, some more wethers and two more young does of unknown origin, and more baby chicks. We learned that the company Tom worked for had been sold and they would decide what to do with his plant within the year. Fall brought breeding season Breeding season is the most suitable season usually with favorable conditions and abundant food and water when wild animals and birds (wildlife) have naturally evolved to breed to achieve the best reproductive success. for the goats, butchering for the chickens and preserving the harvest from the garden. We were very happy with two full freezers, a lot of canned goods, feed put up for the animals, and the barn remodel re·mod·el
tr.v. re·mod·eled also re·mod·elled, re·mod·el·ing also re·mod·el·ling, re·mod·els also re·mod·els
To make over in structure or style; reconstruct. complete. Wood was chopped and piled, the house and garden winterized, and the snow blower overhauled.
November was Savannah's first birthday and we received the notice that Tom's plant would be shut down and be moved to Pennsylvania. He was not offered a job with the move.
We were in a relatively good position having no debt but didn't feel like we could live off three acres indefinitely. November also brought a job possibility at the company Tom had worked for before we got married, the only problem was that it was in Washington State, 2,000 miles away. Tom applied, got the job and within a month we had to find homes for nine goats, 15 chickens, a guinea, a cat and two freezers full of food, plus all the flammable liquids that the moving company wouldn't move. Throw a Christmas trip to southern Pennsylvania in there and we were busy!
We are now living in western Washington
Western Washington is a region of the United States defined as that part of Washington west of the Cascade Mountains. , on 13 acres, in a doublewide dou·ble·wide
Two mobile homes, each 24 feet in width, bolted together as a single unit and used as a permanent residence.
dou , 30-plus-year-old mobile home. When we moved in, there was an old chicken coop COOP
See Banks for Cooperatives (COOP). engulfed in blackberry brambles, a garage with a roof that leaked like a sieve and about nine acres of impenetrable im·pen·e·tra·ble
1. Impossible to penetrate or enter: an impenetrable fortress.
2. Impossible to understand; incomprehensible: impenetrable jargon. woods behind the house. The house had been inhabited with animals that were not cleaned up after, a roof that leaked and a rotted porch. We have been hard at work cleaning the place up and have two pigs who are working on next years' garden patch, eight goats who have worked miracles on the back yard and the blackberry brambles, 25 chickens, 14 ducks, a turkey and three cats. The garden this year was nothing to talk about but with the compost in the making, next year will be better. It will take time to learn about growing things (especially warm weather crops) here. We were blessed with four mature fruit trees and a mess of raspberry raspberry, name for several thorny shrubs of the genus Rubus of the family Rosaceae (rose family) and for their fruit (see bramble).
Any of many species of fruit-bearing bushes of the genus Rubus in the rose family. plants as well as about four acres of cleared pasture where we were able to get a good cutting of hay.
I was very sad at first to leave the place we had put so much sweat equity Sweat Equity
The equity that is created in a company or some other asset as a direct result of hard work by the owner(s).
For example, rebuilding the engine on your 1968 Mustang to increase its value. , dreams and planning into. Now we are starting all over and I realize we are so much richer in knowledge than before. We sat down the day after we closed on the property and each made a one-year, two-year and five-year plan Five-Year Plan, Soviet economic practice of planning to augment agricultural and industrial output by designated quotas for a limited period of usually five years. . We then compared the plans, argued and came to a consensus on the plan and have been working on it now for seven months. One thing you can count on is that nothing ever goes as planned on a homestead! Priorities change as time goes on and things get shifted around. We do like having a written plan to go back to when all the fires are put out and animals in their proper places with the fences intact, and feed and watering systems working.
We are once again facing a hurdle. Tom will lose his job in January, but now we feel we could live off the land if necessary. We have stayed out of debt and been using Tom's wages to get this place fixed up, including building a barn/shed. The roofs have been replaced, as has rotten wood, buildings cleaned and painted, sheds built for the animals and a great milk stand and goat feeder compliments of plans from COUNTRYSIDE. We will be using the plan for a plastic greenhouse to extend our growing season growing season, period during which plant growth takes place. In temperate climates the growing season is limited by seasonal changes in temperature and is defined as the period between the last killing frost of spring and the first killing frost of autumn, at which and as winter approaches, once again; we will butcher, breed, preserve, chop wood, and make ready for what is to come.
Update: It is now many months later and this did not get sent. The garden is great and the greenhouse a success. Two llamas, a dog and 14 baby goats have been added to the critter count. We again have more demand than supply for our goats, chickens and eggs. Things that have gone wrong include three goats and several chickens being killed by coyotes, our pig not getting pregnant after three tries and losing most of our hay to a leaky leak·y
adj. leak·i·er, leak·i·est
Permitting leaks or leakage: a leaky roof; a leaky defense system.
Adj. 1. tarp over the haystack! We now have the barn/ shed that houses the hay and birthing pens for the goats, and two guard llamas. Tom was not laid off and we continue to dream and plan for our future on our homestead.
My only word of wisdom is to put your plan and dreams on paper. Put it in a form of simple steps. Work through the steps and celebrate the accomplishment of each step! This is what keeps you motivated and on course. When you get down, or something goes wrong, look at your list and remember what went right and continue on. Start small and take baby steps. Soon you will be running!