Farming from Scratch, Year Six


I can’t believe I just typed year six. You’d think I’d be better at this by now! Okay, maybe I’m a little better! I’m actually willing to call myself a farmer now. That’s progress!

Let’s start with a look back at how I did with last year’s farm goals:

1) GET MY COWS PREGNANT! Have mercy!

Check! Well, I got one of them pregnant! Dumplin! Dumplin! Dumplin!

2) Start at least a small garden here and plant fruit trees.

Check! Okay, half-check really. Fruit trees got planted–two dozen! But no vegetable garden last year.

3) Get back on my feet financially. This goal included selling a book.

CHECK! Sold a book, and am doing much better all around.

4) Think about getting bees.

Check! I thought about it! Several times! Even went to a beekeeping class.

5) Fencing repairs and additions.

Check! Wow, did I get a lot of fencing done last year. It was a fencing palooza around here.

6) Learn to use power tools.


It was a good year! I did get a lot of other stuff done besides what was on my goals list, including learning to ride a horse and, with your help, getting the studio turned into a health department-approved kitchen.

And now I have a brand new year–to start fresh, to dream again, to believe that all is possible!

Sixth Year Farm Goals:

1) More sheep!

I’m headed in a sheepish direction here. I’ve got new lambs coming in the spring (Tunis sheep) and am serious about getting a good flock going and marketing lamb. (Am going to a workshop in a couple weeks to learn more about marketing farm meat.)

2) A vegetable garden! I mean it! It’s happening this year. It better.
Will explain more detail about my plan to integrate it into the deck when the works starts.

3) Hold more workshops on the farm (retreat 2013 info coming soon) and contemplate another book. I’m NOT sure about this at the moment. More than anything, I want to get my work/writing life balanced better this year, and if that means NOT doing another book, then that’s okay. Writing this website is my primary focus, and I worked so much on other projects last year that the website fell to the wayside sometimes, which I do not like. I want work balanced with time to enjoy life.

I’m ready for that!

4) Think about bees again?

My friend Sarah checking out a top bar hive at beekeeping class we attended together.

Or more chickens or ducks or geese? I’m not sure. I shall think about it all. See, I always like to give myself an easy one…… Success is assured!

5) More shelters in the pastures. Right now, other than the barn and the goat house, there are no shelters. I want horse and cow shelters in the pastures. First one is going up this month!

I don’t like the horses getting rained on in the field. My sweet sugary Shortcake deserves better.

6) Seriously, really, truly learn to drive the tractor. I’ve played around a little, but I want to really learn to drive it and overcome my fear of it this year!

I can do it!

Maybe! I might need some encouragement.

Hello, 2013!

Go back in time:
Farming from Scratch, Year One
Farming from Scratch, Year Two
Farming from Scratch, Year Three
Farming from Scratch, Year Four
Farming from Scratch, Year Five


  1. Darlene in North GA says:

    Sounds like good goals to me! And like they say;”You’ve come a long way, baby!”

    Your Nemesis, the tractor, can be conquered. I know there’s a sad family history behind your fears. I can’t imagine your family’s pain. And to prevent it from happening again, they instilled a fear in you to keep you “safe”. You’re no longer a little kid, nor are you irresponsible nor a substance abuser – things that can precipitate disaster with ANY piece of equipment, especially ones that have high-powered motors in or attached to them. You have a good head on your shoulders and use it. So your fears can be faced and overcome SAFELY. There are going to be some heart-pounding moments as you do this. Just take a deep breath, calm yourself and tell yourself you CAN do it. Have people teach you not only how to drive it (the mechanics of it), but how to bush hog the inclines on your property and when to NOT bush hog them because there’s no safe way to do it. Have them give you all the safety tips they know. It may not hurt to write them down and commit them to memory. The first few times you take the tractor out to use it, or the first time you try a new skill on it, have someone there watching so that if you do need help, they can call instructions to you. And don’t let your kids do what a friend of mine like to do – take a length of bailing twine, wrap it around his hand a time or two and use the PTO (Power Take-off) to snap it. It saved him from having to get his knife out to cut it. Worked great, even though anyone who saw him do it had a duck fit about him doing it. Worked REALLY well – until the day it snagged instead of snapped and he lost part of his arm. It was TOTALLY his fault and he knew it.

    And for those whom may not know what a PTO is, it’s PTO is a coupling that spins as the tractor is turned on. He said his had a bolt coming out of it and that’s what he always aimed at to cut the twin. As I understand it from him, the PTO is used to power other pieces of farm equipment that are attached to it and need power to run – diskers, harrowers, etc. Normally, people are wise enough not to do what this young man did. But…he chose to ignore the safety rules and suffered for it – sort of like playing Russian Roulette with a gun. Not the gun’s fault if, betting that the chamber is empty, you’ve put a loaded gun to your head and pulled the trigger. You are older and wiser.

    So chose to not be afraid of a piece of equipment, but learn to master it, one step at a time. I mean, you had to be able to parallel park a car, and you had to maneuver it to get it into a parking space. At first, it was scarey. But you can do that NOW, can’t you? This is just like driving a car, only bigger and more maneuverable. Practice, practice, practice. And, by the way, it doesn’t have a brain of it’s own like your horses and cows do! So whatever it is that you “tell” it to do, it will do. It won’t just do something on its own! lol (And you won’t have to chase it down to put a halter on it. :devil2: 😉 )

  2. Darlene in North GA says:

    Oh, and first safety rule about power equipment of any kind – be it tractor or saw, – TIE UP YOUR HAIR. If it gets caught in the working part, it really can pull the hair and part of your face off! (I’ve seen pictures of people whom have gotten caught by their hair and it really did pull part of the scalp and most of their face off.) So get it tied up and then either stuff it down inside your shirt, if it’s long enough, or put it in a bun. A ponytail alone won’t work because the majority of the hair is still loose. By-the-way, ditto for working with fire. Hair on its own is quite flammable. Hair with “product” in it – conditioners, hair sprays, etc are even more so. That’s why all the pictures you see of pioneer women (-the rich), show them keeping their hair contained close to their heads!

  3. DebbieO says:

    Retreat??? Please let me know what kind and when!

  4. Glenda says:

    Suzanne, you can master that tractor! Anyone who has accomplished what you have in six years, can learn that tractor.

    Darlene, has given you some good advice; you don’t anything flapping the breeze whether it be hair or shirts or anything else. I usually ended up tying my shirt around my waist and sitting on the tail if I was wearing one over a tee shirt.

    The other thing is driving on sloped areas….that can come later but be sure to get advice about that.

    You don’t want anything on that farm that you can’t handle or know who to call if you can’t fix it.

  5. mschrief says:

    Hopefully that new book will be a cookbook!!! Have my fingers crossed!

    Also, really like the idea of raising lamb for commercial sale. It is so bleeding expensive in the store..! I don’t know why more people don’t raise them if they have land. It has to be a moneymaker!

    Will be keeping an eye on your dreams this year!


  6. ivyjean says:

    You have put your intention out into the universe, now it’s up to you. What a wonderful year you have ahead of you. Keep up the great work!

  7. denisejdesign says:

    Suzanne, I just wanted to thank you. I just recently discovered your blog. I am a former country girl trapped in the suburbia trench. I’m desperate to climb out. Your blogs help me dream of my future on a alpaca farm in northern Michigan. My husband will retire in March of 2015 (who’s counting?). We’re going to run away to the farm then, in the meantime I’ll have to live the farm life vicariously through you. I’m looking forward to reading your book.
    Thanks for your posts. They give me hope and a smile.

  8. Sue, a Florida Farm Girl says:

    Suzanne, you have done a remarkable job over the years. You’ve learned a whole lot, shared so much with all of us, and have inspired a lot of folks to follow their dreams, too. Good luck to you in the coming year and much success!!

  9. FujiQ says:

    You are the reason we have chickens, which I think they are hilarious and useful. You are also the reason I decided to try cheese from our goat milk. So far, no luck on hard cheeses from their skimpy milk – but that’s okay, I found a wonderful goat cheese recipe that just uses lemon juice. So thank you for putting yourself out there! I think continuing blogging is another thing to celebrate – I don’t think people realize how difficult it can be to keep up with a production of this scope. And, uh, I don’t know if you are religious or not, but don’t forget to give credit to the big guy! 🙂

  10. pugwaggin says:

    Suzanne, you have some wonderful goals. I am no expert on farming. I do know you need to keep you hair up (no ponytail unless it is up) and no loose clothing. Best wishes! I am looking forward to seeing all of the changes in September at the retreat. Can’t wait to get that info.

  11. Leah says:

    You’ve done really well; accomplished a lot this yr! I’m excited about the book too. You look good on that tractor, lol!!!!!!

  12. Jaya says:

    Hi Suzanne!
    Wow, you’ve accomplished such a lot. I used to live in the country and had to finish building a house… power tools are easy, just like using kitchen appliances. There are steps, and you need to know them. Know the steps, easy.
    After all, if men can use them…? I used to be a bit reluctant, but now able to use any tool you can name, including welders.
    I’ll tell you, ‘you tube’ is a great resource for visual instructions, ( who’d a thunk it?) and you can get an idea of how much a tool will kick, and all the little handy hints.
    As for the Tractor Thing…. you ain’t no quitter, girl! You’ll get there in your own good time.

    You da best! :sheepjump:

  13. Dennis says:

    You are coming right along.I love my tractor!Mine has a front end loader and being 56 i can’t lift huge things any more,but i can with my tractor.We have thought about bee’s for years .My wife and i went to the class’s and everything.I guess we will just keep on thinking.Our small farm already has about all i can keep up with. Remember doing to much is not much fun.I get over loaded now and then so i sale off some of the chickens and animals or put them in the freezer.This year i have been able to keep up with the feed expense buy raising and selling and trading my chickens.That is a big deal as high as feed is.Like you i like to try different things on the farm and see how it goes.

  14. IowaCowgirl says:

    “4) Think about getting bees.
    Check! I thought about it! Several times! Even went to a beekeeping class.”

    Your #4 reminded me: Did you ever receive the bee suits, gloves and hats I sent you last year???..just wondering…

  15. ibpallets (Sharon B.) says:

    Suzanne, you can do it! You will overcome your fear and and you’re a step ahead most, because you already respect/fear its power.

    I drive our tractor, but the clutch wears out my leg/thigh after about an hour on it. LOL

    Can’t wait for the retreat information- You have three women here who are ready to sign up

  16. SuzieQ says:

    A cookbook would be great, but I really want one with all the animals featured and their stories…I LOVE when you give us photos/videos of them!! :sheep: :sheepjump: :cowsleep:

  17. alosyu says:

    Suzanne, Your goals sound ambitious and fun and I look forward to reading of your progress during the year. Just remember, when you think of expanding the number of animals on your farm, that in a year and a half, when Morgan is off to college, you will be the only one there to do all the chores and care for the animals. Please, don’t over-extend yourself.
    Happy New Year No. 6 !!

    I didn’t really mean for this to sound like such a downer, but I want you to be successful and happy.

  18. cmashorty says:

    For your garden, you might want to try square foot gardening. We have been farming 38 years and I think that it is the most revolutionary thing we have tried. It makes a big difference in time spent in the garden, water used ( a big concern here) and the reduced waste of seeds.

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