Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful and beautiful Christmas.

I’ve been trying to think of things to write about, but not much is going on around here. Here’s a December recap…

-We brought our 27 chickens home on November 27th. We got our first egg on December 12th. We are now getting about 3-5 eggs every day and that number is slowly rising. I imagine that in the Spring, we will have 12 – 20 eggs every day. I’m really looking forward to it. Farm fresh eggs are so much better than store bought.

-We had a nasty ice storm that caused us to lose power for 4 days. This was a great opportunity to spend time together as a family, but it was also really hard and made me realize how important it is to be prepared for different situations that could arise in this area.

-We have 15 fruit trees planted. They all survived the ice storm, but 2 of them are leaning at a 45 degree angle and need to be supported. We’re planning on doing that this weekend. I also need to repot my lime tree.

-We have had no babies yet from our rabbits this season. I think our buck might not be doing his job correctly. I’m not sure what is going on. I’m going to give our older doe a week to see if she kindles after her Thanksgiving week breeding, then we are going to reassess the rabbits. We’ve put a lot of time and money into feeding them over the last 6 months and I really hope that it wasn’t in vain.

-I made lye soap for the first time. It took 2.5 hours to stir it. I think I will invest in a immersion blender. The soap is currently curing and we should be able to start using in it early January. I hope it was worth it.

-I found a fantastic, easy laundry soap recipe. It’s ten times easier than the one I had been using, and quite a bit cheaper as well. It costs me less than $1.50 to make 10 gallons. That’s less than $0.15 per gallon. Crazy. I’ll write up a post on it after I give it a good trial period. I can tell it gets clothes clean, but I want to make sure it doesn’t dull colors or anything like that.

I hope everyone is having a lovely December, and I hope that you all have a very blessed Christmas!

We got the power….

Due to a recent ice storm, we were without power for four days. We feel very blessed that we had running water, a propane heater, a propane camping stove, wood for the fireplace, and plenty of blankets and food. It wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, it was just very cold. The house temperature stayed between 38-50 degrees for the first day, then we dusted off the propane heater and we kept the house at about 55 degrees. With 2-3 layers of clothing, a few pairs of socks, and a hat, it was downright toasty in here.

I did lose a lot of food from our fridge and freezers, but it could have been worse. I feel very blessed to live in an area where the neighbors check on each other and look out for each other. We had a neighbor ask us if we wanted to bunk with them since their power had been restored before ours. We also found out another neighbor had no way to heat up water, so we brought them hot water and food at regular intervals so they could enjoy their instant coffee and warm up with hot cocoa or ramen.

Have I mentioned that I love living here?

There’s been rumors that another ice storm is expected in a week and a half. I hope it never materializes, but I’ve already replenished our firewood, propane, food, and water stash – just in case.

 

 

Twelve weeks later

We’ve been at the property 11 weeks and 5 days now. It’s been an interesting journey so far. I think I am finally over the transition period. I did not realize it at the time, but I think I was a little bit depressed. I woke up a week ago and felt more like myself than I have since before we sold our old house. We had a lot of life changes happening at once, and it was a little overwhelming. Now that we’ve gotten past the shock and awe of moving here, I’m ready to dig in and get some real projects going.

I think my DH and kids felt the same way. We managed to get quite a bit done this past week. We planted 4 more fruit trees, so now we’ve reached our goal of planting 12 trees this fall. We’ve planted 2 yellow delicious apples, 2 red delicious apples, 2 Bartlett pear, 2 plums, 2 belle of Georgia peaches, and 2 Lisbon lemon trees in our orchard area. I also bought a Mexican Key Lime tree that I have hanging out by the front door so I can sneak it inside if the temps drop below 30F.

It doesn’t look like much now, but this Orchard will be loaded with fruit within a few years. You can see all 12 trees in this picture. They are planted 25′ apart from each other.

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Our sweet dog, Hugo, has finally proven himself to be a great farm dog. He loves the fact that he doesn’t have to be on a lead anymore. He is very protective of us, but he is quick to befriend people that we welcome on the property. He’s a great dog. I really love the Transylvanian Hound breed.

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We started work on a chicken coop over the weekend as well. We were trying to wait until we could get the materials really cheaply, but we weren’t having much luck. On Friday, I stopped by Home Depot to check out their cull wood, and they had an entire cart full. I ended up spending $80 on enough wood to build the frame and nesting boxes for our coop. The entire project has cost us $270 so far. I’m expecting that it will cost us $500 by the time we are finished.

We are making a 3 sided coop. It’s 8′ x 16.5′  with two rows of nesting boxes. Here is the first row of nesting boxes. The little one in the picture had a pocket full of screws that he would hand us one at a time whenever we needed it. What a great helper.

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The steps are from the back door of our double wide, they aren’t staying in the coop. We just borrowed them for a little while. They are much sturdy than a ladder on our uneven soil.

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Here’s an outside shot of the coop, so you can see the framing better.  We have the metal roof started in this picture and if you look closely, you can see the second row of nesting boxes along the back wall.

 

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Here’s a better shot of where we stopped last night. It took us about a day and a half to get to this point. Some of our cull wood is bent, and we didn’t have plans. We are just eyeballing everything and hoping that it works out. (ha)  On the back of the coop, we are building an easy access door for egg collection. Also, the spot underneath the nesting boxes is going to be for storage that is accessed from the back of the coop. We are going to use the leftover wire from the rabbit hutches on the floor of the coop and then put wire around the outside of the coop as well. We’re also going to dig about 10 inches down around the perimeter of the coop and make a wire barrier from any animals that try to dig under the coop. We’ll make a door using scrap wood,  staples, wire, and a few hinges. Then, we’ll be ready for chickens.

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It’s fun to see how our projects change the landscape of the property. The coop doesn’t look very big next to the barn. We positioned the coop so that we could easily walk to it when we are doing our daily animal chores. It’s also positioned to give plenty of shade in the afternoon sun and also give plenty of protection from our strong winds. I hope we can get it finished pretty soon. I cannot wait to have fresh eggs every day.

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I was having problems with the amount of mud we accumulate on our shoes. I’ve been making everyone take their shoes off on the small porch area before they came inside. It helped to prevent mud from getting in the house, but it was an eyesore to see a pile of muddy shoes on our small entry porch. I had a great idea yesterday. We have a few dozen old pallets, so I decided to put one of them to good use. Eventually, we’ll have a large front porch and I’ll have more options, but this solution works for now and it’s free!

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We’ve got a lot going on this week. I want to finish the coop, paint the coop, paint the doghouse, buy some chickens, get signed up for insurance at DH’s new job so we can cancel our gap insurance, make a few batches of lye soap, plan my Thanksgiving menu, and get started making some Christmas presents. What do you all have planned this week?

 

We are home

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Have I mentioned that I love this place? There is so much to catch up on, that I’m not sure where to begin. I guess I’ll do a quick recap of the last few weeks, then I can go into more detail later.

We have wonderful neighbors. They came over and tilled our garden for us! The garden is much bigger than our last garden. If I had to guess, I would say it is about 1500 – 2000 square feet. The barn in the picture is 3000 square feet, so that should give you an idea of how big the garden area is. We put the garden next to the barn, so we could have easy access to water, once we set up our water catchment system. If you look at the left hand side of the barn, you can see that we started implementing our water catchment, we just need to find a water barrel or tote that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (at the feed store, they are $180 for 275 gallons, yikes!).

I planted a ton of things, lots of herbs, spinach, kale, swiss chard, lettuce, carrots, onions, strawberries, collard greens, and everything else I had seeds for. I used all of the Spring/Fall seeds that I had. Every single one of them. And I still have 1 row that’s completely empty. How do you like the flour I used to mark my rows?  I couldn’t find the string and nails I usually use, so I had to improvise. I think it worked out rather well.

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The neighbors are older than my parents, and it’s hard for them to plant their garden, so after they tilled our garden with their tractor, I offered our knees and backs and volunteered to plant all of their seeds in their fall garden. It took the kids and I about 2.5 hours to plant their seeds. It was SO worth it. We were treated with homemade ice cream and stories about what this place looked like before we moved in. It’s nice to feel like our neighbors are also going to be great friends. It’s also nice to know that we have other people living out here that are looking out for us and rooting for us.

We planted six fruit trees. Two red delicious apple, two yellow delicious apple, and two Bartlett pears. The red and yellow delicious will pollinate each other. We had to buy two 150′ water hoses in order to keep them watered. We spent about two days trying to tote water to them before we decided that the hoses would be a good investment. Right now, there is a trash bag with holes poked at the bottom, filled with water and attached to each tree. The 4 year old and I spend about 15 minutes each morning filling up the trash bags with water and they slow release all day long. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but the trees are all 25′ apart from each other. Eventually, I’d like an entire fruit tree orchard. I’ll be very happy if we can plant another 6 trees this fall, then 12 more in the spring. We’ll see how that goes. I’m sorry for the cruddy picture, I’ll get some better ones at some point.

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I found some free goats on Craigslist, and DH and the teens went to round them up and bring them home.  They are very skittish around people. One of them went into our freezer. The other three are starting to become friendlier. We now have a 2 year old nanny, and a 7 month old (unrelated) buckling and doeling. Yes, we are crazy and brought them home tied up in the bed of DH’s truck. Luckily, we didn’t have to drive very far with them like this.

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The main problem with free goats is that we were not prepared for them at all. We have a metal barn, and a cattle pen that is meant for loading and unloading cattle. We adapted what we had to what we needed by using things we found. We had 42 pallets and we used metal hangers to tie them around our cattle pen. It’s pretty ugly, but it works for now.

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Here are the goaties trying to figure out how to escape. Uh, I mean, enjoying their new home.

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This is the friendly one of the bunch. She is a sweetie.

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We got our barn cats last weekend, they have to spend two weeks in a holding cell before we can let them wander around. Their names are Marla and Monty and they were found wandering around Moore, OK after the tornado that devastated the town back in May. They seem to be very timid and fearful. I’m bribing them with cat treats and canned food. I hope they decide to stick around once they are released. I don’t have a picture of them yet, they keep hiding whenever they hear the click of my camera. Silly kitties. I’m getting another batch of water kefir and another batch of composting worms next week. We should also have a litter of rabbits next Wednesday. There is always more to do, we just have to pace ourselves so we don’t get overwhelmed. My farm chores take about 30 minutes a day right now, once the garden starts growing, it will increase by an hour or two each day. It’s manageable right now, but I could see how it could easily get out of control. It really is worth it though – we are home!

 

We have internet!

After almost a month, we are back online. Yay! I have a lot to report. We’ve been very busy on the homestead. We planted six fruit trees, started a large fall garden, acquired two barn cats, acquired four pygmy goats, slaughtered a goat, started to set up a rain water catchment system, and unpacked (almost) all of our boxes. We’ve only been living here for 20 days, so I’d say that we are making really good progress.

I have pictures and tons of fun things to blog about, but they are going to have to wait. Right now, we are going to go fishing and enjoy the sunset.

Life here is better than anything I could have imagined. I love this place.

Home

We officially moved to our new property last Wednesday, August 28th. It’s going to take another week or two until we get internet set up, so I apologize for the lack of posts.

Even with all of the headaches and hassles, making the move from the city to the country has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

I will post a better update as soon as I can.

The more you do, the more there is to do…

Have you ever noticed that the more you do, the more you find that there is to do? Eventually, your list spirals out of control until you are working from sunup to sundown at full speed towards a self imposed deadline that seems impossible to meet.

That has been the story of my April. It was non-stop with cleaning, packing, decluttering, repairing, gardening, and taking care of kids.

On a bright note – we did finish our to-do list. The house is offically ready to sell.

I’ve got oil based paint in my hair that won’t come out. My leg has a bruise the size of my palm and I have no idea how it got there. My blisters have blisters. I’m exhausted. The only reason I am still awake is because I currently lack the energy to get up and walk the short distance to my bed. Isn’t that sad?

The realtor thinks the house will sell quickly. He is confident that we will get multiple offers within a few weeks. I hope he is right, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

There are so many variables to this path we are on, and the stress of the unknown is starting to chip away at my postitivity.

I’m not sure how all of this is going to work out, but I know why we are doing this. It’s been our goal for a long time. I have to keep having Faith that it will all work out.