Year Three of making a farm from nothing has begun! Can we still call ourselves new farmers? (I think so. I still feel new. And I’m still dumb! I think that fulfills the qualifications.)
Our farm isn’t new, though. Our farm is old and wise and it frequently laughs at us. This 40-acre property, grown-over and long-dormant when we bought it, was once a vibrant, active farm, full of crops and pastures and life. Abandoned for at least 60 years as any kind of working operation, we were left not so much as a tumbled fence post to reclaim.
Our first-year farm goals included humble basics–build a farmhouse, start a small chicken flock and goat herd, establish a gardening space. I dreamed about fencing in the meadow bottom, but that was a goal far too big for a first-year farm.
1) Fence in the meadow bottom. Check! See our fencing party!
Jack and the sheep have a home.
2) Continue to improve the garden and plant fruit trees. Check! We have all kinds of young fruit trees–apple, peach, pear, cherry, and plum–planted (and most of them survived!). We also planted grapes (Muscadine, Niagra, and Concord), and I’m excited to see how they will do.
While our garden did perform better than the first year (helped by a couple tons of compost and proper tilling), it’s still a work in progress. Even so, I kept plenty busy putting away food thanks to free produce from the farmers market. I canned, froze, and dehydrated like a crazy person. I’ve never put up so much food in my life.
3) Get pigs. Check!
If you haven’t seen the ridiculous “Picking Up a Piglet” video, you simply must go here.
4) More chickens!!!! CHECK!!!!!
I was hoping for regular egg production, too. Up until recently, they haven’t lifted a feather in that regard. For the past month or so, they’ve been laying about four eggs a day. Let’s see….. 40 chickens. Four eggs a day. Yep, we’re doing FANTASTIC!!!
5) Goat babies of our own. NO CHECK.
Clover: “Woman, some day you will learn that you can’t make goals for other people.”
6) Take control of the animals. I place the below photo of me chasing the crooked little hen through my house in evidence:
I don’t believe any further comment is required as to whether or not I deserve a check here.
But this is a brand new year! Anything and everything is possible! Goals, plans, dreams…. It all seems within reach when it’s only January.
Third-Year Farm Goals:
1) MORE CHICKENS. We free-range our chickens, so we do have losses, but beyond that, I can’t resist baby chicks. I also want more ducks. More, more, MORE ducks. I love ducks and I miss our ducks.
And my sweet Jemima Puddleduck is so alone.
2) In keeping with the first goal, I want a second chicken house. I need a second chicken house. I need one chicken house for free-ranging adult chickens, and another for young chickens not yet ready for the big, wide world. I also want a separate duck house to keep ducks safe at night, and a real barn.
Not that I’m asking for much.
3) Continue to improve the vegetable garden and assess the fruit trees and grapes–adding/replacing any as needed. I also want to (finally) replace some things we lost the first year and so are behind on starting–asparagus, blackberries, and blueberries. And I want more roses!
4) Goat AND sheep babies of our own. (Pipe down, Clover! I can TOO make goals for you! And Jester!)
Jester: “Good luck with that.”
Fanta? Sprite? NUTMEG!
I make the cookies and I can take them away!
5) Inside the farmhouse, I want to continue to work on cheesemaking and knitting. I want this to be the year I finally learn to make soap. And I’m going to pick at least one thing off my Dare Debbie list. (I’ll surprise you.)
6) And recently, for some reason, I got a cow bell……….