Time for a quarterly farm report! Let’s see what’s new, what we’ve learned and if any plans have changed.
Remember in my summer farm post that we irresponsibly let our dog get pregnant? Well, 4 of the largest puppies went after our chickens, and there were 8 fatalities. Our lesson was:
Spay And Neuter Your Pets!
It was a sad day. We invested time and money into the chickens, and I was pretty sure we wouldn’t get eggs for a while due to the stress. It messed up our chicken to rooster ratio; and roosters had to be culled.
My calm, docile roosters also became aggressive towards us for several days following the massacre. We donated all but one to a tamale maker. We have built an enormous kennel for the dogs. Now our dogs and chickens have to take turns roaming around.
A New Family Member
We homed all our accidental puppies, and kept one for Bella. Lil’ Missus looks just like her mama. (Ugly!) Homing dogs was way harder than I thought. We got Brownie and her puppy fixed, so we won’t have to worry about more accidents.
An Investment Pays Off!
We’ve been getting eggs since September. Right on time, despite our rookie mistake with the dogs. The first ones were smallish; but with practice, our cuckoo marans are laying almost a dozen big, beautiful eggs daily. We’re coming out ahead of what we’re spending on feed since eggs are so high right now, but egg production should slow down soon.
Hubby and his brother bought a used four wheeler. My nephews have two kid-sized ones, so it’s a lot of fun ripping around the property.
I’m working 3 clearings to make a really fun path for riding. It’s a lot easier trimming trees and hauling brush, because we can hook a trailer up to the quad. There is a nice natural path that just needs to be tidied up a bit. There will be lots of forks, twists, and turns so traffic laws will be in place when multiple quads are in use. I’ve actually been looking for traffic signs. Why not give the kids a head start for driving real trucks?
We remodeled the living room (which is actually a sun room addition) when we first moved in. Since then, Edson has painted our daughter’s room and is remodeling her bathroom. Her weird, shallow bathtub has been replaced with a modern shower. It’s a teeny wittle bathroom, but it’s a going to be a lot prettier now.
That leaves the dining sewing room, kitchen, laundry, pantry, and master bedroom firmly stuck in the 70’s. I’m not antsy to remodel at all.
We intend to build a house at the rear of the property. That’s a part of the reason why I don’t want to invest a lot in remodeling. But…renting this house a viable option that will pay half the mortgage, at least. Although I don’t want to share my space, I have to admit that it makes financial sense and we could really use some more manpower to keep up with the land. So since we’ll be in this house for a couple years, and probably rent it after that…I do think we need a few cosmetic updates. Sigh.
I also changed my mind about getting meat chickens this spring. Butchering chickens is a lot of work, and I can buy a whole chicken at the grocery store for less than an hour at minimum wage. I still want pigs, but just a couple for personal bacon. Ive learned it’s difficult to make money off livestock without a big operation and expensive equipment. Raising animals for meat doesn’t save money either. But you eat better, and give the animals a good life that they would not experience in most commercial operations.
I’m researching leasing the back half of my land for farming or livestock. I could make a little money and get some agricultural education if that works out. I’m not really sure where to start.
Nature Is Kicking My Butt
I’m losing the battle against the trees. We’ve already killed 2 chainsaws. Any reccomendations for a super heavy-duty chainsaw? Oh, all my pretty flower gardens got overgrown with weeds over the summer. I’m slowly working those in preparation for winter.
Lions And Tigers And…
Coyotes, oh my. A new housing edition to the East, overgrown jungle property adjoining a part of mine, and the sounds of prey animals have lured them to my farm. We’ve had 2 sightings just this week, dangerously close. They are very smart and hard to catch.
The plus side is I haven’t seen too many deer getting close. Remember, I’m still pissed at the entire deer population for eating up my pear harvest.
My winter farm report might be more interesting. Maybe I’ll have some building plans to show you. I’m debating a small ranch style home or a classic farmhouse with a wrap around porch. It’s hard to find the smaller floor plan I need. More house = more cleaning, no thanks!
I’ve been meaning to keep you updated on the progress here at the farm. I feel like a post blog needs a finished product to show, and the truth is farm work is never really finished. So maybe that’s why I haven’t kept up with writing about farm stuff. But there are lots of wonderful goings on here, and I can’t wait to share with you.
Peaches are my life this week. I have at least 20 lbs to can, courtesy of my uncle’s peach tree. My freezer is chalk full of blackberries, squash, and other goodies so I need to process all the peaches. All the peaches! My house smells amazing, you should all be jealous. I’m making peach syrup, jam, preserves, pie filling, and just regular old canned peaches like you buy in the store. Except they are so much yummier. And opening a jar of summer peaches in January? That’s heaven.
We are free ranging our chickens now, it helps keep the grounds bug and pest free and keeps our cuckoo marans happy. I made a rookie mistake and didn’t get chicken wire up around my tomatoes and they ate a bunch of them.
Cuckoo marans are a very docile breed and even the roosters are friendly. We’ve culled lots of roosters but still have 5. We only need one so we’re keeping an eye out to see who is our keeper. I wish I knew who ate my tomatoes, because he’d be first to go. At this point the boys will only taste good in tamales and dumplings…the meat is tough after 16 weeks. I’d love to give them away but everyone out here has too many roosters right now.
We expect eggs in September, I’m so excited. I’ve read that we should put golf balls in their nesters to train them where to lay. I do not want my farm fresh eggs being laid in random bushes, especially since my chicks won’t get broody and give me babies for at least another year.
Next spring I’m buying 50 silkies, (which are great egg layers) and they are also very broody. That means they will sit on eggs and hatch them, even my marans eggs. I’m also going to get 50 broilers, which grow large quickly. They will be my meat chickens. I shouldn’t have to buy chickens after that. I just have to keep my egg layers in the coop, and the baby mamas can free range with the roosters.
We almost bought a pig the other day. It was a great price for gilts, but in the end we decided to wait. If we buy a pig now; the benefit is it will get big in winter. We wouldn’t have as much stinky pig smell and flies. The drawback is that when its all big and hungry mid- winter; we wouldn’t have all this fresh produce scrap. I have enough land to put my big stinky pig far away and save money on feed by buying later. I think it’s a better choice for us to hold off a little longer.
Cattle is still a far away plan. I started small with chickens and need to make sure I can keep pigs before I even think about it. Fencing is a huge cost, and I don’t know how much pasture cows need. I need my cattle to be mostly grass fed because feed will eat a hole in me. I will not run one of those operations with hungry looking cows grazing around. So that’s on the back burner until I’m a whole lot more knowledgable with more cushion in the bank.
My dog had puppies so we are finding homes for them. They just got their first round of shots. And Brownie gets fixed…poor thing. I’m slightly petrified that my husband and daughter will want to keep more than one puppy. Brownie is a great farm dog…I hope it’s genetic. I can’t afford any puppies stressing out my chickens or digging up gardens. I think hubby is forgetting that puppies chew everything. He’s totally enamoured with the cuteness. Sigh. Btw this is the ugly puppy, it’s Bellas favorite. Several of them are gray with blue eyes…gorgeous.
Cheerleading…oh my gosh I’m loving my daughter in cheer. Bella has practice twice a week, and games every Saturday until November. Her games are on all corners of this earth, we’ll be burning diesel this fall.
Bella is getting good though! She asked me to buy her a mat and she’s been working her butt off. Hubby found a free trampoline (not the big, big kind but not a tiny one either) for her to work on her high kicks. I’ve even let her slack some on chores, because she doesn’t usually take extra cirriculars so seriously. Maybe she just prefers working out to hauling compost…but she seems to be absolutely thriving and making tons of friends.
School starts soon and we will have our first autumn in our new house. I’m bubbling over with happy a little right now, just thinking about all the leaves changing color. I don’t want summer to end at all, but I’m excited to see what the next season holds. Until next time!
We hit the 2 month mark living on our farm. Spring has come and it’s planting season. I haven’t really got to the hard part yet, and I’m already feeling it.
I read this post from The Easy Homestead; and found myself relating to several of the authors sentiments. She talks about the hard days. I’m pretty sure I’m not even to the hard part yet! I hope I’m as tough as I think I am.
I have callouses on my hands. I scrub the dirt from under my fingernails before I cook. I have plants in the greenhouse that need tilled ground, and I’m not as strong as I want to be. I dig and pull roots until my spine burns. Just today, I spent 3 hours tilling a spot for my peas, only to realize they will have to be planted under the trellis instead, to climb.
Stupid, ugly peas.
I have 33 chickens that Google is helping me raise. One has a broken leg, and I had to wipe my daughters tears and tell her we will do all we can to make sure it lives. The other day, the feed store was closed so I stalked a mill truck and begged for a heat lamp when I had one break. I mean, I begged. That’s not something I’m inclined to do. But lives were at stake. Or at least, future dinners.
I can see my family as a sitcom. The clueless mom who knows nothing about running a farm; but buys a farm nonetheless. City raised daughter, who keeps naming the dang groceries. (I mean chickens.) And always loving husband, who goes along with his wife’s craziness; and is actually the only one adept enough to live there. Hilarity ensues.
Farmers coined the saying, “you can break a man’s back, but you can’t break his spirit.” They say that because it breaks your back, y’all. And even though I’m so busy I’m dizzy, I am smiling. Here’s why.
20 Reasons Why I Love Living On A Farm
1. My daughter is safer here.
We bought our first house when I got pregnant with Bella, but the neighborhood declined. There were home invasions, gang and drug type stuff, and creepers. Maybe I’m just a wuss because I grew up in a quiet sleepy little town.
Here there’s one way in and one way out, and it takes a lot of fuel to get here. You need lots of gas money and really good tires to come visit me. I just don’t see bad guys going to all that trouble…ha!
2. We aren’t that into TV.
This is primarily because I do not have cable. Or turn the TVs on. I dont even know how to get local channels, because I had digital cable as long as I can remember. Our expensive Internet provider (who we shall refer to as HickNet) is very stingy with gigs and we can’t watch a glitch free movie if we tried. We ration our internet for the important things, like what to do if your chicken breaks it’s leg.
3. The stars are bright.
You can see them all, millions of them. It’s real easy to pick out the constellations. I missed stars.
4. Someday, I might never have to shop at Wal-mart again.
You know, once I have chickens, beef, milk, veggies & fruit. I can get a lot of things here in town. I have infinite hope.
5. Building character.
I’ve noticed that my generation does not understand what earning means. It means you deserve compensation because you performed a service that is worthy. That’s a little different than just showing up.
Work builds character. These kids are learning to drive a tractor just as fast as their foot can reach the pedal. We get to put tools in their hands, literally and figuratively. Right now they play at it, and quit when they get bored. But the minute one of them steps up, I’ll get to put a paycheck in those hands. I could probably employ an army of middle school and high school kids each summer. Giving kids and opportunity to earn gives them self reliance and self worth.
6. I can have any dang animals I want.
Legally, I can have just about anything. I could probably get away with having a tiger, unless the law found out. As long as the tiger didn’t eat someone, nobody would know. I don’t really need a tiger. But I’m not opposed to peacocks.
7. I have a cowbell.
Seriously, I wanted one my whole life.
8. I could walk around naked.
I would never in my life feel the need to walk around naked. Trust me. But you know, it’s sort of nice having privacy. I was able to smell what the neighbors cooked for breakfast in the city.
*In case you’re a creeper with lots of gas money, please note that you will be highly disappointed if you were hoping to catch a glimpse of a naked fat gurl. Also, see below.
9. I have my own gun range.
Hubby and I are excellent marksmen, and so are the children in my life who are mature enough to safely train. (Not playing, creeper.)
All joking aside, guns have a different use on a farm way out in the boonies. This is a different world than the one we left. I don’t feel the need to carry a weapon, except maybe at dark if I were way in the back of the property. You know, in case I surprise a coyote. A weapon is mostly for guarding the farm animals against predator animals. I am trained to defend my life against a target attacking me, I’m no hunter. So I’m thinking about trading a couple handguns in for a rifle.
10. I can build a mudslide.
Or anything else we want. Like quad ramps or a whole playground. Limitless options.
11. It’s beautiful.
Everyday in spring, something new is blossoming. This property was a homestead before Oklahoma was a state. Most of the original structures are gone, but there are generations of plants and bushes and flowers to see. It seems like each day I wake up this month, I see a new splash of color!
12. Who needs to work out anymore?
Not that I ever worked out. But if I were in the habit of working out, I’d definitely stop now. I have aching muscles that I didn’t know existed in the human body.
13. The nature.
I very rarely walk to the back of my property without seeing wildlife. I’ve seen deer and wild turkey, but I hear there are lots more critters around here. Mostly the carnivore sort.
And birds! I feed them, because this place came equipped with a bajillion bird feeders. I have cardinals and bluejays, those are the only 2 species I recognize so far. But I’m going to save up some gigs to look it up.
14. The quiet.
My daughter was actually scared of the quiet at first. I remember feeling that way when I went to college in a big city, after growing up in a little town. Laying awake at night hearing cars, sirens, people…
It took a little getting used to for her. I sat down with her one day after she had been having trouble sleeping. I told her there’s actually a quite lot of noise if you pay attention. The birds, crickets, trees rustling, and distant farm animals. I told her when I was her age I could tell if there was bad weather coming just by listening. She hasn’t had any trouble since.
15. The people.
Remember in the beginning of this post when I told you I begged a mill truck driver to help me find a heat lamp for my chicken flock? The nearest farm supply outside of my town is 2 hours round trip. I guess in a small community, if you don’t have a heat lamp to sell, you call a buddy who can loan one to a strange beggar woman with a truckload of muddy kids.
See, I thought one of the reasons I wanted to move away from the city was to be more self sufficient. Live off the land, all that. But in a way, people rely on each other more in the country. It’s not a bad thing though. That’s how you make friends! Help me out with a heat lamp, I’ll give you some of nicely cultivated, ready to put in the ground (God forsaken) pea plants. We’re all ready to lend a hand to anyone in need, because we never know when we might be in a tough spot.
16. We are NEVER bored.
At least, I’m never bored. The kids have learned real quick not to get bored. There’s plenty of work to do, so if you can’t entertain yourself I will make you use of your abundant time.
Hubby and I go on dates on our own property. That might sound corny, but there is nothing more romantic than sipping a bottle glass of wine, sitting on the tailgate and watching the sun go down.
Yes, I know that sounds like a country song. Where do you think we got the idea?!
18. Food tastes better.
This summer we will get to eat our own produce. That’s not new; I grew a little and canned a lot when we lived in the city. There’s no doubt that I’m ruined for store bought tomatoes and fruit. It’s more than that, though.
I think it’s because you bust your butt all day, and you’re just so happy to sit down. Also, you’re STARVING, because you spent 6 hours tilling peas instead of 3. My theory is that one feels they have earned their meal, and that tastes amazing.
19. I feel closer to God here.
I love designer bags, clothing, fancy furniture I can’t afford, basically I covet nice things. Being away from the city slows me down and makes me realize what’s important. I’m materialistic, I admit it. But living here helps. I’m also more conscience of my time, which makes me feel like a better person in general. I am more present for my family. I get it now, what “You are the salt and the light” means. I’m learning to slow down, and just live.
20. My kid thinks I’m awesome.
Bella loves her school. (Remember, the old one was pretty rough!) Her first week, she noticed some things that warmed my heart. She said kids don’t care if you wear Jordans. She went on about how the kids aren’t teased and shunned. I also know that peer pressure and bullying happen everywhere, but that’s how she feels in this moment. And in a class with 13 kids, she gets all the extra math help she needs.
I can’t believe it took me this long to give my daughter what I never appreciated growing up. You grow up and move away, only to miss the very things you took for granted. Except my daughter has lived both worlds so she understands more than I did. Not that city living is bad. But city living in a not so nice area wasn’t great.
Bella went from not being allowed to play in the front yard to 16 acres of freedom. Of course, I still get a little nervous when I can’t see her. But hey, I have the cowbell!
Right off historical Route 66 sits the Big Round Barn in Arcadia Oklahoma. It almost fell to ruins, but Luke Robison & the Over The Hill Gang restored it it it’s former glory in 1992.
In my last post about The Big Round Barn, I showed you some old farm equipment, an outhouse, and the beautiful barn loft which was built to host dances. I fully intend on going to one soon!
Today let’s take a look downstairs. There’s a gift shop and lots of antiques to look at.
The Big Round Barn is full of treasures that give us a peek into another time. Fun fact: it was built round in an attempt to make it more tornado proof. I haven’t heard of any research to back up this theory…but it’s still standing.
I’m not exactly sure what this piece of equipment is above. A loom? A giant pencil sharpener? (Just kidding) Any idea, guys?
A canning kettle, or boiler as they are sometimes called; is oblong shaped to fit a wood cookstove. They accomodate about ten 2 quart jars. They were made of copper and had wooden handles.
This early 1900’s wooden ice chest is the one of the oldest I’ve seen made by Frigidaire. It was a less expensive alternative to the full sized “ice box”, and could travel more easily. I’m sure they had some version of a tailgate party even then…
And here’s a refrigerator before electricity. It’s called an icebox because chunks of ice were placed into the bottom. Ice was harvested from lakes and ponds in winter and placed in an ice house. The “ice man” would deliver it to homes in a wagon. Later, clean ice was produced year round in industrial plants, and delivered the same way. It looks like this ice box may have had the hardware replaced. I’d sure love to display one of these in my house someday!
I’d like to have one of these grinding stones too. The wheel is called a millstone, and they were used to sharpen tools and knives. Its made out of natural stone and if you find the complete rig, it usually works as good as the day it was built. Lots of collectors use these old millstones in their gardens. I think I’d put mine in my sewing room and have sharp pins and scissors for the rest of my life.
As soon as I get a chance, I’ll tell you about our trip to the Tres Suenos Winery & Vineyard. There are so many things to do in Oklahoma off Route 66.
We plan to put an offer down on the farm this week. Fingers crossed we can make a deal!!
I did some sightseeing this weekend and wanted to give you a tour of the Big Round Barn on Historical Route 66. You can see more photos and read about the Big Round Barn’s history at ArcadiaRoundBarn.com. The old photos and restoration process are beautiful.
photo credit to Arcadia Historical Society
We’ve listed our house in the city and the place we want is minutes from here. We got an offer this weekend and we went for a Sunday drive to mull it over. I’ll tell you about while I show you iPhone pics of some interesting things at The Big Round Barn.
It’s really scary to sell our house without being sure that we’ll get the farm we want. There will be a period of time in between selling our house and buying our new house where I’m not sure where we’ll live.
Sometimes I wonder if we’re crazy to uproot our lives. Construction is heading this direction, so it makes sense financially. We’ve been feeling like we want a slower, simpler life. Tired of the hustle and bustle.
I can’t wait for my little girl to be in a classroom with 15 kids or less.
And you know, the airs smells different outside the city. It’s so fresh and clean! I’m also trying to be funny; because I’m about to show you photos of a restored outhouse.
Now we climb upstairs and go inside The Big Round Barn. This is the ceiling:
Hubby had to sit down and admire that for a minute.
As a craftsman, you’d have to appreciate how it was constructed. Green wood was soaked and placed into special jigs at the sawmill that was built just for putting up this barn.
It reminds me of the old adage, “Anything worth having is worth waiting for.”
Anything worth having is also worth working for.
Here is a framed photo of the Big Round Barn on Historic Route 66 before the restoration:
I’m so glad someone thought it was important and beautiful. I still have the downstairs museum and gift shop to show you, but I’ll save it for another day. It’s been harder to sew lately, and I might need an excuse to come say hello if I have to pack up my sewing machine.