Archive for February 25th, 2012

Forever Or a Day, with Questions

Feb
25


It has been three months since I wrote this post, shocking everyone over their morning coffee on Thanksgiving. (Trust me, that post was a surprise to me, too. I just knew about it a few weeks before you did.) Since I moved in here, I’m not sure I’ve gone two weeks without some disaster or another. Septic, plumbing, power, furnace, missing beloved animal! (Some of those things cropped up more than once!) In spite of it all, my love for this little old house and this farm has not dimmed, and the one thing that has been steady in all these ups and downs has been your support, most amazingly with the Kickstarter project. Thank you again and again!!!!

Since I’ve been here, I’ve started on the fencing that needs done here (more to come in the spring), hauled in all kinds of hay, put a book together, painted most of the downstairs, almost completely unpacked, planned the studio project and almost finished putting together a Food Establishment Plan, started planning gardens and more fencing, brought in a new dog and a new cat, and started going to beekeeping class and signed up for a master gardener class. (And this coming Wednesday is the all-day agritourism workshop in Morgantown.) I would think there were at least three other people involved in all this activity, but I can never find them when it’s time to do the dishes.

Somtimes it feels like I’ve been here forever, then other times it feels like I’ve only been here for a day because it’s all a blur of activity. I’ve only ever seen one season here! I haven’t lived here long enough to see the grass grow.

There is so much potential on this farm, and so much work to do–and I want to do it. This weekend, Weston is home, and with his muscle power, I’m going to start moving some of the boxes I still have stored in the studio. It will still be several weeks before work actually starts over there, but I need to clear the decks. I’ll be finishing up my Food Establishment Plan and by the time works begins in earnest, starting to lay out my gardens and getting out in the woods to mark some nature trails. (I’ll plant some ramps while I’m at it. Hey, at least I know what I’m doing now!)

What is the best way to mark trails? Any suggestions? These trails are relatively clear–old four-wheeler tracks–but they can go in a few different directions and I want to lay out some planned hikes with some kind of markers. Go this way if you want to see this, go that way if you want to see that, and provide a sheet with a trail map.

Another question–I’m planning to do raised beds. (There are no established gardens here other than the flower beds around the house.) Those of you who do raised beds–tell me about yours, and what size you find the most functional and workable?

Another pressing issue on my mind is the matter of my cows. Who are not pregnant! There are three options. They all come with a price, nothing is free, and they all involve a certain amount of (worthwhile) hassle.

1. I can get a bull. Bulls are readily available! And once I have one, I’m set. He will do his job and I can stop worrying about managing my cows’ love lives.

2. AI. (Artificial insemination.) I had a line on someone who does AI here, but I can’t get them to call me back. I know AI is readily available and a go-to idea in many areas, but it’s just not that readily available here, so setting this up has been a problem I’ve tangled with for months and still gotten nowhere. While it sounds appealing, if you can’t make it happen, you can’t make it happen. So far, I haven’t been able to make it happen.

3. Send the girls away to another farm for a few months. Farms with cows are readily available! I can do this, though I don’t like the idea of sending the girls away for a few months. What if they get out? What if they are wandering down the road somewhere? I would be worrying about them constantly. (There’s no such thing as a perfect farm with perfect fencing. Everybody’s cows get out sometimes, and my cows would be on an unfamiliar farm, possibly looking for home.) The opposite of this is to rent a bull to come here, but that is actually a little trickier as I would have to personally manage the bull if he got out and be responsible for his behavior. I’ll be setting up electric fencing in the upper pastures this spring, but I’m not sure about testing out the pastures and fencing right away on an unfamiliar bull. (This same issue applies to buying a bull, of course.)

Sending the girls away for a few months is probably the easiest thing to do, but it comes with a lot of worry. I’m real attached to my cows. I’m not sure I can withstand another missing animal episode right now.

I have a beekeeping class today, and will also be getting started clearing out the studio, so I may be a little scarce this weekend, but I look forward to reading your comments!

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....






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