Slowing down and taking the time to look back at our first full year on the farm is inspiring and encouraging; seeing how our home and farm have changed, how our lives have changed, and all that we were able to do. How often do we rush through life not taking time for refection. How much we could learn if we did.
Why I Decided to Look Back at Our First Full Year on the Farm
When there are so many things we need to do and so many things we want to do, reflecting on what has already been accomplished can be hard, especially for me. I’ve never been good at taking enough time to look back and see what all we’ve been able to do. I tend to jump ahead to the next thing on the list.
How often does it seem like things never change when you stare at them close up? When you get caught in the day to day grind? But when you take the time to reflect and take a broader look, life suddenly seems more enjoyable. Taking time to reflect back on the year has helped me to also take time to be thankful and grateful for everything I have.
Our First Full Year on the Farm in Review
This last year consisted of several house projects, garden and farm projects, and additions to our life in the form of animals.
One of the first project we did to the farmhouse was to open up a wall between the kitchen and dining room (originally a formal living room). This allowed light come into our very dark kitchen. The dining room was very closed off from the rest of the house making it difficult to use.
Although we started this project in the fall, it didn’t get finished until January. There was a lot of sanding, priming and painting to do. The ceiling, walls, all the trim and the floor (since we ripped out the gold shag carpet and are living on subfloors right now).
Eventually, we couldn’t take the dark paneling in the living room anymore. We started working on painting it in the spring but stalled there. The walls were primed for months before we finally got to painting them in November. Like the dining room, the ceiling and trim also needed paint too. We still aren’t finished but it’s close. It’s on the list to be finished in 2020. Stay tuned for pictures when it’s complete.
My top priority when moving to the farm was to start prepping for my dream large garden. I wanted to try a different style of gardening called Back to Eden. I wrote about that here and here if you are interested.
Our field was full of corn when we purchased the farm and as soon as it was harvested (which was quite late in the season) we started prepping for the garden. We hauled a lot of compost and wood chips out to the field one wheelbarrow at a time. It was a lot of work.
We planned to get a fence around the garden in the spring. When we finally got around to contacting the company we wanted to use they didn’t have availability until June or July. I decided to plant anyway and use our electric chicken fence to protect all my plant babies. This severely limited my growing space but maybe that was good thing.
We finally were able to get the fence installed in July. During the waiting period, I decided to follow my gut and make the garden bigger! I’m so glad I did. I ended up with a 90×60 foot garden and I love it. The size is not at all intimidating to me. Maybe it should be.
Even though my garden was small this year, I did still thoroughly enjoy it. We had so many beautiful veggies and flowers. It was quite glorious for several months.
More Wood Chips
We needed to add more wood chips to finish out the garden but because the size of the garden increased so much we ended up needing a ton more!
I was able to get some from a tree cutting crew that was going down our street trimming back the branches from the wires. I got up my courage to ask them for the wood chips. They were more than willing to give them to me. I had to put an end to the wood chip drops when I caught them in the act of dropping a 4th very large load in our field. The field that our farmer was going to be planting in just days. They were quite disappointed that I put an end to their easy wood chip drop. But believe it or not, we actually needed more than they gave us. I couldn’t believe it! We had our hands full moving all those wood chips before the farmer planted our hay seed though.
Our year ended the same way it began, by hauling wood chips to the garden. We enlisted the help of my cousin, who casually suggested a tractor would make the job a lot easier… Although we agree, it’s not in the budget right now.
In the spring, we hired a farmer to plant spring oats as a cover crop and green manure. Fall is the best time to plant hay, which is what we wanted to grow, so we needed something to tide us over until then. The oats looked beautiful and green until the heat of summer came which dried them out right away.
Then we hired the farmer again to till under the oats and plant hay that we will hopefully be able to sell this coming year. It should continue to produce for many years as well. Some of it will also be turned into pastures as the years go by and as we add more animals to our little farm.
This fall we had no less than 10 trees taken down. They were all old pines that were long past their prime. They needed to come down. It left the front of our property quite bare and I’m looking forward to planting something new there this spring to replace the bare spots and give us a bit more privacy from the road. But it did give us all the extra wood chips we needed to finish the garden. Pictured below are some of the trees we had taken down.
In the spring, we started construction on our chicken run with plans to move a coop and a flock of chickens from a friend’s house.
Moving the coop was no easy task. It took nine men and a few hours. Most of the difficulty came because of a fence that had been installed after the chicken coop was put in her yard. In order to move it, the coop needed to go out the back, through the woods and around the shed to the waiting trailer. We are so thankful for all the friends that helped us with this project. We couldn’t have done it without them.
Catching and moving the chicken was the easiest part of the whole project. One of the chickens was so relaxed on the journey to her new home she even laid an egg in her cardboard box.
Cats and Dogs
We also experienced a really sad loss to our family this spring and on our anniversary no less. Ellie, our almost 8 year old Germans Shepherd and our first baby, started acting really off the night before. I was awake most of the night trying to figure out what was wrong. I ended up taking her to the vet at four in the morning only to find out she had a twisted bowel… With a six to ten thousand dollar price tag on the surgery and with no guarantee of the outcome, we made the hard decision to put her down. It was awful!
Grief led us (mostly me) to pursue finding a breeder in our area who had longhaired German Shepherd puppies. And within a few weeks we had our very expensive Turkish imported longhaired German Shepherd puppy Penny. I don’t regret the money we spent at all. She has helped heal the giant hole in our hearts.
But believe me, raising a puppy with young kids is not for the faint of heart. I was faint of heart many times in this process. She is turning out to be a wonderful family and farm dog though.
We added some other farm babies to our life by adopting three little kittens. They are so fun and the girls love them. Teddy, Tommy and Mabel will be outside cats in the spring but for now they roam the basement and sneak upstairs whenever they possibly can.
Our First Full Year on the Farm Is Complete
Looking back has brought back joys and sorrows and memories that might have been easily forgotten had I not taken the time to reflect. It’s good to see life as it is and remember all that took place.
One thing I feel led to do is try and not get frustrated by what seems to be a lack of progress. Things get done eventually. Maybe not as quickly as I hope but they do get done. If I spend less time frustrated over the seeming lack of progress, I can enjoy all that we have and we’ve done.
I hope to continue doing this review each year. It will be fun to see where our lives go as we continue exploring farm life and learn all that goes into creating a little homestead.
Our Second Full Year on the Farm Is Starting
I hope to do a post on all the plans we have for the farm this year. It’s going to involve more gardening, more chickens in the form of chicks and maybe ducks (I really want ducks), perhaps bees? and hopefully lots more beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Say tuned!