The crisp cool air is settling in here in the Smokies. Wood burning stoves are active as smoke and fog (it’s hard to tell as they look the same) nestle across the valley floors. The leaves are beginning to turn though only in the early fall color varieties. This morning I have the wood cook stove burning here at the farm. I plan to make homemade zucchini bread from our zucchini from this summer after I write this blog. We had a huge batch in our garden which I froze and my husband loves zucchini bread. It’s 3am. I know – it’s crazy. Sometimes I can’t sleep as the farm and all its activities make me restless, but in a good way. Mike and I love this way of life. It is simple. It is beautiful. It is peaceful. And, yes – it is hard work.
As we have learned recently, lots of folks don’t like the hard work a farm takes. The fact you mow your own lawn versus hire someone, or you let sheep graze the grass simply because they need the nutrients and that’s the right thing to do on a farm are somewhat hard concepts for city folks to grasp. I find that shocking in a way. I guess I never realized how different farm life is versus city life. In the urban lifestyle world you pay for your experiences and you hire laborers to do your work for you. We do all our work ourselves. We make a majority of our furniture ourselves. And, we grow most of our food ourselves. That’s just plain normal for us. But not for many, I guess. That was a surprise to me.
I raised my daughter this way, on a farm. I would never have done it any other way. And when she has kids I hope for the grandkids to be here too. She learned hard work. The concepts that animals get fed before we do and when it’s haying season you make it top priority, are all things she intuitively knows. She also knows you don’t just stand around watching people work, you volunteer and chip in. This way of life teaches kids discipline, work ethic, determination, lessons of life and loss, and most importantly instills confidence and greater sense than simply ‘self’.
So, Mike and I have realized that this is absolutely okay and wonderful for us. There is no need trying to explain this life or try and teach others who lack the motivation or desire to ‘get dirty’ and ‘work’ the farm. It’s perfectly fine if folks who live a lifestyle life of comfort and ease don’t aspire to such in the dirt activities. What matters is that we love it and we will do this until we no longer walk this earth. Mike and I were up at our mill milling logs yesterday with the crisp autumn air and baby blue skies filling our senses. I told him then that this was the ideal date he and I could share in; just him and I and the bears, surrounded by thousands of acres of wilderness, doing things by hand and bringing home about $400 dollars worth of high value red oak for all our building projects.
Meanwhile, fall has been busy and it is about time for us to start settling down and relaxing a bit more.
Since our huge family reunion we had this July we’ve been busy trying to catch up at the farm. I am not sure how much folks realize how much things grow here in the Smoky mountains. You literally have weeds that get ten feet tall. I kid you not. So for us, stopping all farm maintenance even for a brief period of time requires significant catch up. But, in August we loaded 900 plus bales of hay in the barn for winter, fixed fence, built a root cellar and green house and preserved over 1500 pounds of food from our gardens for our root cellar alone.
We have been up milling in the mountains quite a bit as well to get flooring, siding and building construction materials for our root cellar, green house, mini barn over hangs and overhangs off our shop for wood storage.
We are also completing a tiny cabin we are building on our property which will be an offered Smoky Mountain AirBnB starting fall of 2022. This has been a wonderful project for us and we’ve loved every minute of it.
As September came around we finished the final build phases of the root cellar and I stuffed it with 500 pounds of potatoes and 600 pounds of squash. September is also muscadine grape season, so I was picking regularly and turning it into canned juice and muscadine jelly. In September we made huge progress on on our solar powered greenhouse which will power a majority of our house in the near future as well.
And alas, it is now October. The wood stove is burning, the frozen vegetables from the summer are coming out for baking and life is good. Today we are putting in fence in the woods around a large swath of our mini barn for it to be a future large corral for our cows after Rosie goes to the butcher in November. I plan to move some of my temperature sensitive plants into our green house we are about to enclose for the winter. And, I intend to relax a bit and simply sit by the fire and contemplate a very busy and very productive year.
I have not been blogging much this year due to how many things we have been going on but I hope to do better this fall. Thank you for following our blog and you can also follow us on instagram at hibarranchinthesmokies.
Here are a few photos of the last few months progress.