There is so much to do to make a farm out of nothing! And the constant rain this spring isn’t helping, although I love rain.
See how muddy it is around our new chicken house? The yard all around our house is that way, too, because we haven’t had a chance to do anything about it yet.
The green is so gorgeous, though. I love the lush, lush green of West Virginia in the spring.
This 40-acre farm, wooded and long-abandoned, was once cleared land with crops and pastures wherever possible amidst the sloping landscape. Back then, it was part of a much larger holding. Along the road, small tenant cottages housed workers at the old gasoline plant up the way. Oil rigs were everywhere and there was a bustling community. This farm sat smack in the heart of it. There was a small church at the far end of our meadow that doubled as a one-room schoolhouse on weekdays. My grandmother lived in one of those tenant cottages and she later taught in the one-room schoolhouse and also at the new schoolhouse that was built across the river we look over from our porch. She married the son of another large landowner across the river and later lived on out the road across the river ford, where my father grew up.
This farm has been abandoned for at least 60 years as any kind of working operation. The tenant cottages are long gone and the little church burned down. The woods took over and only the meadow bottom along the road remained cleared. (Some people used to live down there in a trailer, which has since been removed.) We had not so much as a tumbled fence post to start with to turn this land back into a farm.
First Year Farm Goals:
1) Build a house. (Check! We have a place to live…..!)
2) Start a chicken flock and build a chicken house. (Check! We have chickens. And we have a chicken house now.)
Chickens are so much fun! I love my chickens, even the little psycho.
Did she just say something?
“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
See? SEE? You heard that, too, didn’t you?
We’re going to wait another week or so to put them in the chicken house, but it’s ready for them. I love this little door so that I can gather eggs without going inside the coop. There’s a latch to keep it securely closed.
Then it opens into the back of the nesting boxes.
And inside, there’s a new roost just waiting for my chickens.
3) Miniature goats. (Almost check. We have two goat babies coming as soon as they are born and weaned.) And build a goat enclosure and a goat shelter. (No check…. This is a pressing, upcoming project.)
4) Get a garden started. (Sort of check.) By the way, thank you for all the great ideas and suggestions about our garden challenges. I don’t think we can afford (either in money or time) to do any construction projects like gardening boxes or terracing this spring, but we may be able to incorporate some of those things next year (when my He-Man Helper isn’t otherwise occupied building chicken houses and goat enclosures). But–we have a garden started, which is the key step for the first year, and we’ve got some of the longterm gardening in place–getting blackberries, blueberries, and a peach tree planted, getting flower bulbs and asparagus in the ground, getting a garden fence and gate constructed, etc. We’ve got something to build on next year.
5) Fence the meadow bottom. (Check in progress.) In order to ever get a horse and/or that ornamental cow, there’s going to have to be fencing. We’ve got most of the fence posts up, so we’re getting there, slowly.
Hopefully, the second year of our farm will mean chickens regularly producing eggs, goats matured so they can have babies and be producing goat milk, garden continuing to progress, a fenced meadow for a horse and a cow, and please, please, a new “old-fashioned” barn under construction. The second year will mean a house settled into, a dedicated “cellar” space prepared for storing canned goods (for that garden that will eventually become abundant!). I want to learn to make goat’s milk soap and goat cheese. And candles.
The second year sounds a little more fun than the first, doesn’t it? And yet, maybe someday, I’ll look back on this first hard year of struggling to create a farm from scratch and remember it fondly.
While I sit on my porch eating pie and being thankful I don’t have to live it again.