Well, it’s Sunday and I am taking a little break from farm chores to pen a note to you all about the goings on around here. To say things have been insane has been an understatement.
With the construction going on at the farm….to say the lumber spike in prices have not been shocking, is well…..a joke. Fortunately, we have a portable saw mill and are more thankful every day for that little gem. My goodness who would have thought lumber would spike 270% in such a short period of time?
Then there is the fuel issue with the pipeline going down. We have only ten days worth of hay left from this last year’s cut (we get 1400 bales a year) and it is dwindling down to the last week or so. We are usually doing first cut by now. Then the fuel stops flowing. Panic!
Fortunately, after panicked phone calls, our hay folks inform us they will be cutting this weekend and have the fuel they need. Praise the Lord we cry. I wonder how many folks realize what no fuel means to farmers. It shuts down every step of the supply chain at once – feed inputs, farm prep (tractors), haying, and harvesting. In our case it’s the feed inputs that is the huge concern. Fortunately, we have suppliers who were prepared and it appears the operating facilities are coming back on line. But holy smokes folks. Spend a day with a farmer and hear what down fuel means to the food supply system. It might make you sit bolt upright in your chair for a moment or two.
Then there is our cow Rosie who is about to calf who keeps breaking through the fence and the mare who’s about to foal who apparently can’t eat fescue hay. (who knew?) We moved here from other parts of the country so we didn’t know mares can’t have fescue who are about to foal. We also didn’t know the mare was pregnant since last summer TWO VETS told us she didn’t take after being bred. So, low and behold she DID BREED and CANT HAVE FESCUE…. during a fuel outage which is required to cut and haul hay. I guess there is something that grows on fescue that causes mares to not drop their milk. Interesting.
But other than dealing with these issues all is well. LOL.
When we begin to feel overwhelmed here at the farm – which is usually every spring — we try and stop and focus on our progress and our blessings. Balance is the key to life they say. We have learned faith is the key however. We try to deploy both to the best of our abilities.
The great news is the tiny cabin here at the farm is proceeding along well. Our daughter sold her house and moved in early. So, she is glamping.
Here are a few shots of the tiny cabin thus far.
Other great news is we are getting the vegetable gardens (two large ones) in and all the medicinal herbs have been planted in the raised beds (twelve 10×4 foot beds).
I finally also got all the flower pots filled with the flowers for the season. This is my most cherished activity along with getting all the ferns up that make every Southern porch home in the summer.
Last, we are getting ready for lots of family coming out for the fourth of July and the decorations are going UP!! This always makes us feel festive and happy. We have big plans for the grand kids and grand nephews — swimming pool, slip and slide, slack line, inner tubing down the river, outdoor movie nights, huge tee pee to sleep in, croquet, badminton, corn hole, horse shoes, bubbles, hop scotch, frisbee and tons of other fun games we all used to play as kids and tons of cast iron cook outs harvesting food from our gardens and beef from our own freezers.
We have all the purchases and or collection of items to get all this set up on the farm. So the month of June will be the ‘get all the games, tee pees and pools set up’ month. We are still pondering the fireworks since we worry of fire hazards. My twin sister and I set a whole field on fire as kids playing with fireworks. I am pretty versed in the consequence of the town’s entire fire department engulfed in tending flames you set yourself accidentally while the parents are telling you how stupid you were. So, that is grounds for reflection at a minimum. I am not sure we all thought so much about forest or field fires back then. But these days it seems like everything is more ‘drought’ like than I remember as a kid.
We are also doing several other major projects this summer. We are putting in a solar green house all run on solar panels that will reside on the roof of the green house (and also power the house & off grid writer’s cabin). We are also building a large in ground root cellar.
Mike got ready to pour the foundations for the solar greenhouse this week as well.
As you can see behind this foundation footer system are the bee hives. I installed two new nucs this spring and they are doing great. We plan to massively increase our bee colony over the coming years.
We also re-built our grape trellises for our muscadine grapes. They are doing particularly well now on the new trellises.
We have also wanted to expand into rabbits. We have successfully created a little bunny population here that lives off the lawns and we do not have to pen them. Thus, we have free range rabbits. This is always good when your meat supply self consumes and we don’t have to provide grain or hay. Here they are just chilling by the riding ring.
We work so hard every day to make this place a well run functioning farm. We are always exhausted from beginning of January through June. I tell everyone this is the busiest time of our year. When everyone else starts getting busy for summer — it’s when we get to start having normal days. But, we wouldn’t have it any other way. What else do retired people do? I guess folks sit around or something. We aren’t sure really….but we like to work and build dreams.
For us the seed starts and garden prep start early January. Then we go immediately into lambing and kidding season. We usually are up in the mountains milling a great deal then as well. Then it is garden bed readiness, seeding pastures, milking dozens of goats and more through spring. I am also usually hatching ducklings, chicks and turkeys this time of year as well. We also raise Australian Shepherds and thus have puppies around this time too. And this year we are also expecting a calf and foal.
In 2019 my husband took on building a gorgeous horse barn he built himself including milling all the lumber from the mountains himself. I can’t believe what my husband can accomplish at 74. It is truly amazing. They say old farmers are the happiest and healthiest people. I think the fact my husband has so much to do with his mind and body every day -it keeps him so healthy and fit. At the V.A. the doctors can never believe he is 74. They think he is early 60s. I can’t even keep up with the man. He is truly inspiring to us all and the center of our lives.
Our two daughters live on the farm as well. Our youngest daughter lives in this cabin next to the horse barn. Our oldest daughter just moved into the tiny cabin I mentioned above. My husband and I feel so blessed being able to have a multi-generational farm that we can all enjoy for generations to come. That is why we work so hard. Our time is not wasted. We are building for our descendants and that is what inspires us every day.
In 2020 Mike took on building a tiny cabin with daughter Laura and milling all that flooring and interior and exterior siding himself. We helped him but still.
Now we are also taking on the green house and root cellar along with other smaller projects as the tiny cabin gets finished up.
All in all, this is an amazing life. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
I think for us, being connected to the land, being able to watch nature in all her changing beauty, to slow down time to be present, are the things we love the most. We put so much energy into our farm. If we paid others to do the work we do we’d never be able to afford the farm. We do it all with our own sweat equity. But, for all our hard work the farm gives us so much back. It gives us more than we put in really. As we watch the vast amount of birds and winged things fly around our farm, and see the beauty of changing colors and weather fronts from the big open skies….we are thankful. God is so good and we are so blessed and we appreciate every day. And we want to give back and build great things that produce value and beauty for those we love.
And that is just a quick Sunday reflection of life on our farm.
Have a great week ahead!