the farmer, the grave digger, and plans of sustainability

We learned *a lot* about our land and different climate this past first summer. I didn’t realize garden zone 9 and garden zone 8b were as different as they are. When we first moved here we made a One-Year Plan… which was pretty lofty and, in retrospect, extremely comical. Now we have a Five-Year Plan based upon realistic goals and desired outcomes.

We never wanted to be “just a farm” but a homestead. Finally, we are well on our way to that level of self-sufficientcy. In the first year, we have completely stopped buying garlic, berries, a lot of fruit, jam, fruit butter, syrup, eggs, chicken meat, peas and most herbs (my cilantro didn’t grow so we bought some once). These are all things we now produce ourselves on our land and every little bit helps. We’ve hugely cut down on buying summer and winter squash, greens, onions, apples and other fruit, pumpkin and sunflower seeds which we consume *a lot* of, potatoes, beans. Plus I make our own crackers, cookies and baked goods, much of our bread and “snacks” like gluten free apple cinnamon corn bread:

There are a few things we’ll never produce ourselves but this means tiny, infrequent shopping trips (some we could grow, we just don’t really want to… at least not yet):

Things have shifted a bit though. We were both going to be farmers once we got here. But oddly, that was never the original plan but only developed once we were here. I was just going to be the farmer and Paul was going to do whatever he wanted to do (music, bow making and woodworking, car stuff…). But as universe would have it, we’re back to the original plan of me being the sole lady farmer and him doing something else. In this case, that something else is a grave digger. We needed money for the aforementioned coffee, chocolate and dish soap so he stepped up. And I’ve got the animal tending, homestead garden and farm growing, meal planning and cooking, etc. When I need help with heavy lifting, he’s on it, and all the remodeling and rebuilding is his too (though I help with taping and mudding, do the painting and design things like the kitchen). We’re an awesome team.

As far as crop selling, we’re starting small and sticking to selling herloom garlic and herbs, heirloom tomatoes and excess fruit to start, plus having a small seasonal farm stand with excess veggies, fruit, berries, herbs, garlic, eggs and such. We have a prospective buyer for our fresh culinary herbs and garlic already too, which kicks much ass, as well as a small handful of weekly egg customers in the works. (Soon we’ll have enough egg customers to coverall all chicken and duck feeding, bedding and supplimental costs with enough left over to go on a hot date each month. Heck yeah!)

Within the next five years, the plan is to never have to buy any of these things again:

Yup, that means we’re getting goats. And sheep, and meat rabbits. Plus I’ll raise 3 to 5 turkeys a year to put on the table. We’ll eat our “extra” chickens (boys and mean girls) and do a batch or two of meat birds per year. But this is all over time. This year probably will only include meat and extra chickens, and two goats. Five more ducks come in February (hatching on my birthday — imagine all the impending Pisces goodness around here!!) It’ll be a year-and-a-half before we have goat milk because “we” (which in this case actually means I) want babies. Two Nigerian Dwarf doelings to be precise. They are the best for milk, butter and cheese. Not all goat’s milk is good for drinking. These girls will taste more like cow milk than anything else. No thank you on super gamey goat milk. Been there, done that. Though really a mama already in milk and tw babies would be ideal.

Maybe in 2020 we’ll add a couple of sheep (the fella above was Gabe from our friend’s farm down the street — we loved and ate him) and some meat rabbits, then in 2021, honey bees and a miniature cow (see how I snuck that one in?). Pacing ourselves is good. Lamb is good too.

It’s amazing how much things have changed in only one year (plus 4 months) on the farm. Our love for this place and gratitude overflow more and more with every passing day. I’m so glad we spent the bulk of the first year focussing on our orchard because we won’t have as long to wait for apples, pears, plums, peaches, nectarines, cherries, persimmons, apricot, yuzu citrus, almonds, and walnuts. We also planted 18 blueberries, 3 blackberries (not as if we didn’t have enough already), 8 red raspberries and a golden raspberry. This year we’ll be adding a couple of figs, elderberries, mulberries and if we’re super lucky, a couple of Meyer’s lemons. Next year: cranberries and currants gallore!

Another part of our dream/vision is making this into a small off-grid farm community. Building a tiny house for another family or couple to live in, adding a loft dwelling above the future workshop for one of our manfriends to make his own. Sharing of the work and bounty and weekend feasts. We have that with our neighbors already, our next door family, and are thrilled to be able to expand that love one of these years.

We’ll also be potentially offering retreats and workshops for natural building (cob, earth bag, etc.), permaculture and vermiculture, homesteading, chicken and duck and goat keeping, bow making and archery, art, music and shamanic retreats, wild edible and foraging classes, etc. It would be fantastic if that could fund our solar. Let me rephrase: It *will* be fantastic when we’ve earned enough to fund our solar endeavors. How long could it possibly take to save up $30k? 😘

Advertisements

planting a homestead, growing a farm

I couldn’t possibly tell you how many things we’ve started in the gardens and greenhouse, but it’s a lot. We’re starting with a more “homestead approach” and planting all we know we’ll eat, and adding to that to branch out into full fledged farm over the next year or couple. I guess currently we could be considered tomato, pea and garlic farmers as that’s what we have enough of started to sell, so far. And orchardist offerings, of course. 

The first meandering bed is growing, nicely lined with fallen logs and limbs, and more gifted from the creek. The paths will eventually be lined with wood chips (oh how we dream of owning a wood chipper!!) and access is easy on each side. In the wider spots I’ve put stepping stones for ease of harvesting so I don’t have to step in the soil or squish things. I say “I” only because there will be no lack of ease for my tall fellas — little ladies tend to have short arms, and I’m not even 5’2″. It may not be the best utilization of garden space but I love it!! Next year we’ll add another heap of organic compost and another log to raise them up a bit more, holding them together with an earthen mixture such as is used in cob or strawbale construction. This is 75% planted already with lettuce, a few varieties of kale, peas, raddishes, carrots, onions and spring garlic, plus borage, dill (next to a blank spot for future cucumbers), marigolds and soon, nasturtiums, etc. It’s still funny to me how tall these look in person and how shallow in photos, but you’ll see… it’ll be great!

Lots of things are sprouting and growing… peas, kale, chamomile, onions, thyme, tarragon, basil and tomatoes. I only just planted cucumbers and dill so those will be soon, and the rest to follow. Hopefully our eight dozen peppers sprout soon — I have big plans for those babies. I’ll take photos when I don’t have to use a magnifying glass to do so. In the meantime, here’s one of our massive pears in bloom. We’ll have a good 872 pounds of Bartlett. We trimmed all the dead junk out of both (And the old apples) and are all so very happy. 

Things outside of the food gardens are blossoming like crazy too. We had one visible bud on this tree a couple of days ago and now it’s covered in big pink blossoms. It’s a Camellia Japonica and it sure is pretty! I dont think the flowers fall off immediately like our other Camellia. It’s funny… I keep talking about making a space inspired by The Secret Garden but it’s starting to become that all on its own. I can’t wait to have the cabin done so we can rebuild the main house into a woodsy faerie house. It’s already in the perfect setting for it. ♡

Part of our inspiration comes from this Jacob Witzling pacific northwest tiny house… or really his building style in general. He’s amazing!! We don’t really have the funds to do the whole house in such stunning wood, but we’ll be thrilled to at least have the front and garage look similar upon approach. I don’t care if the rest is ten different kinds of recycled siding painted a lovely hue of “wood”.

I spent the evening at the creek last night as the sun was starting to set and it lit the trees ablaze with brilliant light. It’s a wonder we get anything done around here with so much stunning beauty to get lost in at all times.

On the way back up to the house, what did I spy but a Fairy Slipper Orchid! And then I noticed they’re actually everywhere along the path. These are and have always been one of my very favorite flowers, along with trilliums. We apparent have those too, but I haven’t yet happened upon any. Regardless, I’m buying and planting some one of these days.

The orchard is almost officially complete. We received a few more trees and have only two apples and a persimmon to plant this week, then the orchard is done… until we get two fig trees and four meyer lemons. The above photo is of a Sweetheart Cherry. Isn’t she beautiful! 

I’ve been juggling between planting several varieties of lavender and rosemary around the periphery of the garden, sowing seeds in the garden and planting a kazillion things in the greenhouse while the husb has been working on the cabin. I’m refraining from posting pictures so we can do a full unveiling but the kitchen has been 100% gutted (drywall, insulation, cabinets, sink and all), sill plate replaced, some structural bits replaced, and new concrete floors ground and ready to seal once the living room floor is done. He rocks!

More lovely blossoms of the week. I am over the moon with all of the spring beauty. It’s like christmas every day, waking up and rushing outside to see what’s new. I found out that a large portion of our muster bulbs are Lucifer flowers. They’re gorgeous. Devilishly beautiful? I have no idea why they’re called that. We also have an abundance of uncommon daffodils, hyacinth, regular irises and bearded iris. Or so we shall see.

Another project underway is the chicken house rebuild. This is a screenshot of the Eco Paint colors I narrowed it down to because my girls need a pretty house. The interior and trim will be egg blue and the exterior will either be wood nymph or glass bottle. Really, I’d like to incorporate all colors (and more) but this zero voc, no chip, eco and pet friendly paint is not cheap ($73/gallon!). So I may just have to get Lowe’s zero voc exterior paint and color match (~$30/gallon). We are 100% ready for the girls’ arrival in three weeks except for their house and I couldn’t be more excited. Well, and except for their massive outdoor area too, though they’ll be free range ladies much of the time. And they’ll be inside babies so we have plenty of time.

We also got a load of 8′ peeler cores (and helped our neighbors pick up three more loads). I want to use them as fence posts for the massive chicken run because that would be much lovlier than ugly metal t-posts. Yes, I know they will need to be replaced and aren’t the most efficient option, but… in this particular case I don’t care. 

We’ve done and experienced a lot more than that this past week but that’s all I can think of off the top of my head. I’m chicken distracted (that’s a real affliction). Our little rainbow flock is starting out with three each of the following: Black Australorp, Golden Laced Wyandotte, Partridge Cochin, Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, Buff Orpington and Delaware. I’ll still need to get (3 each) Amaricauna, Cream Legbar and Oliver Eggers but that’s a secret (husb “authorized” me to get 12 to start). I got the 1 and the 2 confused — it’s called chicken math. Oh, and a couple of roos. ♡ Shhh.

busy in the sun

Since the snow has melted and things have started to warm up, we’ve become quite the busy bees. Yesterday we finally got the greenhouse UV cover on our little hoop house (it’s not really that “little” — it’s 10×24′, which should be more than plenty for now).

The whole family pitched in and we got it done yesterday. We also have enough cover for a whole second greenhouse next year which is also exciting. We love not having to buy more supplies for our projects. 

It’ll be all tight and smooth on the ends once we get the doors built and attached. We have a few too many ideas on what we’ll be doing for doors but no solid plan yet. We’ll get that figured out in the next day or two and get everything complete within the next week or so. Excited!! We even dig trenches along the sides which we’ll line and fill with gravel so the rain runoff doesn’t flood stuff.

I also discovered yesterday that we have a flowering quince! The day before we discovered a hydrangea. Every time I decided what I want to buy from the seasonal nursery down the street that we haven’t been to yet, I find that particular plant growing here already or we’re gifted it out of the blue. Apples, plums, raspberries, bamboo, bluberries, dogwood, hellebore, daffodils, apricot, japanese maple, irises, hydrangea, quince… I really want to support local businesses but I’m running out of ideas on what to go there for. I’m sure I’ll be inspired the minute I get there though.

I discovered this yesterday too, growing and blooming off the back porch of my art and healing space. There’s so much beauty around here!

And a lot of work. ♡ Shovel compost, haul it, unshovel it, spread it. Repeat. Until the wheel in the cart breaks. Oops! We got way better fat wheels though and Paul fixed it all up tough and sturdy. (And then the mower drive belt broke, but we’ll have that fixed by this weekend.)

The last of the flame weeding got done too (and blackberry bramble burning in unison). See what happens when the sun comes out? We bust ass.

With the alternating crazy rains and lovely warm sun, things are growing like crazy. The garlic is huge.

The plums, nectarines, peaches, cherries, pears, almond and apricot are all budding and blooming. 

Even our super old lichen covered pear trees are going crazy with buds. This place is going to look so magical when all of these trees really start blooming, holy cow!

And really it already is magical. I try to go on a long walk every day, or at least a shorter one on days we’re super busy. The sun filtering through the trees and illuminating the ferns and moss is one of my favorite sights (especially when the gnomes and faeries come out to play).

I love shadows because shadows mean sun, of course. After weeks of gray, it’s so rejuvenating and welcome.

Another amazing discovery was this stunning crystal I received from the nature spirits on my birthday. I was on a long walk and was told that my gift was on the path I was traversing. A voice said “turn around, you passed it,” so I retraced my steps. When I was told to stop and look down, there it was! It was a beautiful day that started with thick heavy snow that immediately melted, and was replaced with sunshine and that soft fluffy rain that tickles your cheeks and makes you smile.

It was on the path diagonal from this stunning spot in the creek. The waterfall are re-emerging too. Spring is in the air!

This was our cloudiest day all week, and clear blue skies the past two days (but I was too busy to get good shots). The rains return tomorrow but I don’t mind because we’re cruising into down to get chick supplies. 
We’re going to have babies next month!! 

(Photo credit: mypetchicken.com) They’re going to live inside for awhile but we need to get our butts in gear and re-roof the coop, replace the missing walls, put up fencing and build laying boxes. They’ll be our free range farm and forest girls and I couldn’t be more excited! We just need to get a few blue and/or green egg layers and our little rainbow flock of layers will be complete. Next year, or maybe the year after, we’ll build a separate area for meat birds, but one step at a time.

We have lots more to share (like the progress on the cabin kitchen) but I have to make breakfast and get back outside while it’s still nice.

flame weeding, dirt digging and healthy snacks

Last Saturday we got a torch and propane tank to flame weed the tarped garden area that needs a bit of extra love (probably should have done that in autumn). Carbon holds four times its volume in water so is a great addition to the garden, fyi. We will never use chemicals of any sort anywhere in our gardens or homes and since our very fertile organic hay farm came with some pesky weeds, this feels like the best option to us, especially being on a timeline (if our savings account was bigger, we’d probably just continue the occultation process another half year and we’d be good but that’s not really an option).

After a few rounds of holy fire, the garden area actually now looks like a garden area which is pretty exciting. This is just phase one (of many).

It still totally cracks me up how tiny that “little” 3000sf patch looks amid the rest of the yard, which is really no small garden area in the grand scheme of things. 

On Tuesday, our organic compost arrived. It was steaming in the morning frost (the night before got down to 21 degrees).

It was cold enough to kiss our windows with frosty little smooches. It’ll be that cold and colder this week. Yikes!

Call me batshitcrazy if you must, but a square garden is boring. So, the first square (which is actually a rectangle) is the beginning of the leaf shape our garden will eventually be. The above photo was actually originally designed for a smaller greens garden so ignore the labels, and the longer flowing shape. Ours will be more like a popular or cottonwood leaf. I’ll doodle it up for you shortly.

We started marking out the center path and some of the side paths with meandering stakes and twigs already. Probably hard to see in the photo, but you get the idea.

Broad forking is butt kicking work for a little lass like me. My arms (and back and shoulders and neck and legs) are feeling it. It’s awesome — I’m starting to develop back muscles. You can come on over and try it if you’re longing for back muscles too.

Dirt and sunshine: the stuff that dreams are made of. That’s been our week.

We’ve also been spending time harvesting some of our bamboo to make trellises and such once dried. I do love that we have so much bamboo growing here! We use a lot of it in the gardens.

All this work is hungry making. We are big healthy smackers. Healthy snacks are stupid expensive… like the flax crackers I used to buy. At $6 a tiny bag that could be eaten in two days, plus my pumpkin and sunflower seed additions, plus my daily chocolate intake… yeah, stupid expensive. So I make our own crackers and snacks now. Above, flax, pumpkin seed and sunflower seed crackers with lots of savory and mildly spicy herbs and spices.

These were an experiment that turned out to be pure bliss. Golden flax, sunflower seeds, five spice, cinnamon and dried cranberries. Ohmygoshyum! It’s like a desert cracker.

I don’t measure stuff so would be despised if I started a food blog but here’s the gist… measure one cup of brown, golden (or both) of flax seeds. Put it in a big bowl. Add a cuppa water. Add salt and whatever herbs and spices you want (garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, cumin, cayenne, five spice, cloves, whatever). Once you think you’ve added enough, add some more (flax really needs a lot of seasoning). Let sit 20-30 minutes. It’ll be like a slick dough or thick glob (usage of the word “glob” is further proof that I should never start a food blog). Toss in a handful of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, raisins, dried apple bits, etc. if desired. Mix again. Add a bit more salt. Spread on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Toss in a preheated 200 degree oven, bake for an hour and a half. Flip (you may want to put a second piece of parchment on top and fold the two edges together to assist in such large flippage). Bake another hour and a half. Beep. Pull them out, let them cool, break ’em up and eat. Yum. If you like precision and fine lines, score them before baking. I like random shapes and sizes just fine, personally. 

I’m five spice obsessed right now after having accidentally grabbed that instead of the cinnamon for my ginger hibiscus cranberry tea a couple of weeks ago. That’s the happy accident that inspired my five spice and cranberry flax crackers. This week I’m making gluten free cheese crackers for the guys (they taste like clean and wholesome goldfish crackers), granola and chewy granola bars. And maybe some kale chips, dark chocolate and shredded coconut chunks, and cinnamon spice roasted pumpkin seeds. That’ll be plenty for a month of healthy mid-day and late-night snacking, and it’s all cheap to make yourself. Bam. Our $300/mo snack bill reduced to $30 at most.

Oh! Look what beautiful and sweet creation I awoke to on Valentine’s Day. I love my sweet and thoughtful man!! He said “flowers die, rocks are forever.” Truth. I’ve been working on moving this to my meditation garden. 

Back to the garden… it’ll be closer in shape to this stout little leaf. Closer paths, probably so there’s ever tromping through the actual beds but you get the idea — this is just a rough sketch for the purpose of visual explanation. It’ll be flowing, organic and beautiful, and will allow room for my mandala garden in the south side of it.

We won’t be starting the mandala one for a year or two, and haven’t decided if it will be all picking flower a mix of flowers, herbs, veggies and berries, but it will be colorful and stunningly beautiful. 

trails, a big window and a tiny orchard

We’ve been so carefree lately, enjoying the winter and slowing down. Hardly anything has progressed in the cabin and we’re totally okay with that. Winter is the time of quiet, relaxing and rejuvenation, and we’re growing quite adept at it.

We’ve spent a ton of time walking the trails we knew of…

…and discovering or creating new ones that didn’t previously exist to us.

We’ve spent a lot of time at the creek, in the forest and just wandering whilst planning our far-in-the-future cob guest houses, our bigger personal tiny cob house with rocket stove, the retreat meeting/community yurt, our complex of tree houses and other fun things (like a dock with floating platforms for meditation and watery naps).

We’ve also gotten a bit of work done too. A little bit at least. The texturing of the walls in the bathroom is done and looks freaking amazing (thanks to my freaking amazing husband), and are ready to prime and paint as soon as the last bits dry. We’ve been waiting a week for that, but we’re used to waiting. This is a bad photo so I’ll take another after we paint. Excited!

The rotten window frame was worse than we thought but was a much quicker process to fix than anticipated. The first photo is looking under the window to the front patio, through the missing wall. You just never know what can arise from removing bits of load bearing walls but again, awesome husband banged it out quickly and flawlessly. I think we’re doing the next one tomorrow. Or the day after. 

Our tree order was delivered today. Hello instant mini-orchard!! We got 3 honeycrisp, 3 granny smith and a liberty apple, two kinds of plums, a couple of pear varieties, two types of cherries, two kinds of nectarines and an almond tree for the guys. Lots of impending yummies! 

Most are potted trees so we have time to plant them, but six were bare root so that was our today and will also be our tomorrow project. More than likely, I’ll dig and plant while the husband remodels and repairs.

Here is a granny smith, right on the hill that used to be covered in scotch broom.

And here is a honeycrisp right up the hill from granny. They’re great companions, you know. Honeycrisps aren’t self-fertile so need a pollination partner, so granny to the rescue. They’re two of my all time favorites so definitely a perfect pairing in my eyes.

We added a nice rock border with the stones we dug up (this hill is pretty rocky in places), and I think it looks awesome! I’m sure I’ll have to enlarge it eventually but for now it’s perfect. I’ll be planting lavender, sage, rosemary and other aromatics on the hill to keep the deer away from the baby leaves and eventual fruit. They hate walking through “smelly plants” because it messes with their ability to scent preditors. Plus lavender et al are so much more lovely to look at than fencing. ♡

Tomorrow’s planting will be the four remaining bare root apples, and the almond which will go near the walnut that we started from a nut from the hundred year old tree at our old house. The rest will go near the existing gravenstein apple and two bartlet pears, making it a true little orchard. Next year we’ll add three meyer lemons, a couple of miniature kiwis (yep, they grow here), a hazel nut tree and then we’ll move back into expanding our berry varieties. Baby steps. (The picture above is a cherry tree budding at night.)

We need to get motivated and creative to get the greenhouse built within the next couple/few weeks. My dream greenhouse is $8k so totally not happening (it’s glass and not practical and honestly nothing I’d actually ever buy, don’t worry). We don’t need anything fancy but will hopefully have a little something put together for our veggie starts by mid-February at the very very latest. In the meantime, our garlic is growing like crazy! The picture above looks like a small piece of grass but it’s about a 4″ garlic top.

This is our new/current favorite place to relax after rock and crystal hunting. It’s so peaceful and lovely to watch the trees reflect upon the water, right across from the waterfalls. I don’t think this part of the creek even exists in summer. Such a treat! (As is the steelhead our neighbor caught, smoked and shared with us from just below this area.) As always, there’s so much to love and discover around here. 

the purge of the scotch broom

There’s so much beauty around here but scotch broom is just not part of it. Usually I’m not a hater of plants but I just don’t like it much. 

Let me rephrase. I don’t like it at any other time of year than this. The pods, when they’re all dry and brittle, look awesome. But I don’t like how invasive it is and it doesn’t seem to serve much of a purpose to me. We had way, way, way too much of it on the property… and now we have less. I did have a before photo but I just lost over 1,200 pictures on my phone so now I don’t.

Just envision this space full of Scotch broom. Now see that it’s so much more open and beautiful. This gives us so much extra space to plant more apple trees and other things. A lot of our trees are so old they’re starting to enter their final phases of life. Like our over fifty year old pear trees or hundred-year-old apples. Of course we won’t be getting rid of any of those but we can introduce some new companions.

This whole area is clear now too, and the second apple tree (of four) and two plums that we’d discovered when we moved here are finally free. Of course these are old and covered in lichhen, but they still produce and we’ll get them all squared away to produce more soon.

Here’s the first scotch broom mountain (future burn pile or possible hugelkultur berm but the latter is probably not the best idea). Finn kicked butt helping, as usual.

We will keep a bit of broom for the goats, but make sure it’s kept under control because we can’t cohabitate otherwise. I’m just not a scotch broom girl. It’s a good nitrogen fixer, but you can’t eat it, so I’ll replace it with something more beneficial to us, and our animals.

Speaking of animals, the pup wanted to pose by the pile too. So stinking cute!

garlic, rosemary, roof progress and food

I think it’s only been a few days since our last post but we’ve gotten so much done it feels like a lot longer.

The first garlic bed… prepped, ammended, planted and covered up all cozy and nice for the winter with an organic hay blanket. I’m a little OCD with garlic and lay it out perfectly spaced in symmetrical rows before planting (though you can’t really tell by the angle of the picture). I’m the same with tomatoes but everything else is fairly willy-nilly. Anyway, the rest of the garlic will be planted this week as well.

This fuzzy fellow helped with yesterday’s planting. 

My very firm plan of “nothing but heirloom varieties in the first 3000sf garden area” was immediately shot down by this lovely lady. Miss rosemary demanded that I plant her here. Technically though, I guess she’s outside of the official area and on the edge. 

Garlic is the only plant I know of it doesn’t like rocks intermixed but thankfully rosemary loves them. Try this: plant two rosemary plants right next to each other. Put one right into the earth and with the other throw in a couple handfuls of pea gravel or small rocks. See which one grows faster. In my experience, the one with stones doubles in size compared to the other within the first year.

We received the most amazingly beautiful of gift! She’s stunningly gorgeous and over 6 feet tall already. Maybe even pushing 7. Our beautiful neighbor and we were talking about dogwood trees a few weeks ago. I mentioned that that was the first tree Finn wanted to plant on our property because it was the first tree I had planted with my stepfather when I was young. He said he would keep an eye out for one for us because for every one good dogwood variety, there are 10 not good varieties in his decades of nursery owner experience. 

This one is the most beautiful dogwoods I’ve ever seen! She’s so healthy and I already know exactly where she’s going. We’re planting her at the property line near cabin 5 (the main house) so when we come out the front door it’s one of the first things we see. Right next to it is where we’re building our outdoor community picnic space with the grill/bbq area. I thought that would be pretty perfect because my stepfather not only loved gardening and dogwoods but grilling and barbecuing. It will be our first tribute to him and his life on this property. We miss him so much! 

This morning, Paul started the tear-off of the main roof of cabin one while awaiting The arrival of our friends Brandon and Jake (the last tear-off was just the addition).

I made breakfast while he did that (he didn’t marry a roof girl). It became a wee lesson. Finn somehow didn’t realize the huge difference between store bought eggs and fresh-laid yesterday eggs. The rest laid won in color and taste, he said. Maybe he’ll become a farm kid afterall.

It was all hands on deck for the guys. It was requested I prepare them oatmeal for lunch. Of course I couldn’t feed them just oatmeal… so I made it with apples, cranberries, cinnamon and other goodies and offered the toppings of sunflower seeds, brown sugar, pumpkin seeds, flax meal, milk, molasses, more diced apple and nuts. 

All layers of roofing materials have been removed and most of the sheathing has been replaced in the back. Obviously you can’t see it in this picture but that’s what they’re working on here. I’ll post the big reveal tomorrow. 

And it was back to the kitchen for me. ♡ I started a huge pot of beef stew in the slow cooker. You can’t come over to our house without being fed. If you’re helping out with anything at all, fed becomes potentially over-fed. I’m making pear cobbler next, and maybe “thank you brownies” to send home with the fellas.

Things are looking pretty around here, still changing colors.

Off to separate more garlic for planting tomorrow and Monday. (You want to separate them a day or two before you plant them, just as an fyi.) This is an heirloom hard neck variety called Chesnok Red which is in the purple stripe family. It’s a supper rich and yummy garlic and great for storing. 

planning and decisions 

We have a lot to decide upon as we build, create, and plant our farm. Before we moved here I drew about a half million layouts but now that we’re here, plans are being tweaked as we observe animal trails, water flow, sun vs shade, wind patterns, etc.

This was going to be made into a chicken coop (though I couldn’t decide if the layers or breeders would reside here) but now we’ve decided that it will be a tiny house for two wee goats. But that’ll be awhile. 

We’ll build two chicken coops in the spring, before we get goats, but at least we now have a plan. They’ll be mid-field on the westernmost edge, parallel with the neighboring chickens. He wants to build a chicken tunnels between the flocks.

Below the hens a bit will be the irrigation pond (and ducks and geese, but that may not be until spring of 2019 as we have plenty else to do and we’re just three humans). The slope to the lower fields will offer some amazing gravity-feed power to the water flow.

The property used to have a sixth cabin (actually more, but it was divided into three parcels once upon a time). These are the remnants of cabin six, from behind. This was going to be for goats but now it’s going to be one of the seed starting areas until we get our big greenhouse (awesome all day southern exposure!), and eventually we’ll get water and a sink in there for a processing area. You know, washing the dirt off the carrots and such.

This is the front side. This used to be the third bedroom of this cabin and it’s far more sturdy than it may appear. (Those doors are awesome and I can’t wait to reuse them!)

The whole area in front of it is the old concrete foundation and originally we planned to put a blacksmithing area there but we decided that it’s too close to neighbors. We only have the two close neighbors but they certainly don’t need to constantly hear the banging and tippy tapping of metal being pounded. 

In front of that is the old living room area, complete with huge fireplace. We’ve decided to make this into an outdoor oven and grill area, and build a simple roof over it for a covered community picnic and potluck area. Obviously this one will be awhile as we have five cabins to fix up first, chicken coops to build, a goat house to refurbish, a  livestock guardian dog house to build, a root cellar and pond to create and four million things to plant first (etc).

Oh, and that apple tree we found the other day is almost unburied. Once that’s done, we’ll trim her dead and mossy under branches to help her to thrive. 

welcome to our little slice of paradise

We bought the most stunningly amazing acerage with five old logging cabins and the most gorgeous land we ever could have imagined. Follow us on our journey of cabin rehab and turning an organic hay farm into a sustainable oasis of fruit, veggies, berries, nuts, and culinary and medicinal herbs.