Playing Catch-Up

Our little farm family has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past few weeks since we moved in. First a donkey, then a couple goats, some more goats, a couple of dogs and now 4 chickens and a rooster. The arrival of each additional animal on the farm has required some mighty fancy footwork to keep them housed properly with a care and maintenance plan in place for each one. Throw in an almost solid week of rain into the mix and we have certainly been playing catch-up! I do believe we are finally settling in with the proper arrangements, but we know there are a few more arrivals not too far around the bend. We should be able to take a short few breaths before we bring in the sheep, but it has definitely been interesting getting to this point.

The chicken tractor itself was much more of a challenge that I had imagined. We were up late Friday night trying to finish it up because we knew our chickens would arrive sometime Saturday. The sun came up and we had already been in the garage putting the final touches on it when the pastor of our prospective new church arrived at our gate with his feathery donation to our cause. To be honest, although he did tell me the breeds I cannot currently remember, but I do know there are 1 hens and one rooster. They went into the chicken tractor as soon as I got it into place and for the next day had to check to see if they were actually still there. Each time I checked, two to four of the hens were all congregated together in one or two nest boxes and the rooster was either in one by himself or hanging out on one of the roosts. They eventually did come down though and are now enjoying the green grass of home as well as all the insects they could want.

As for the goats, they’ve been somewhat of a challenge. We confiscated their living quarters to house the two new Anatolian Shepherd puppies we picked up on Friday and made a temporary pen for the goats. We knew that wouldn’t work long so we got straight to work on a proper pen that we were able to finish this weekend as well. They really seem to like their new abode and I’ve even had to shew the donkey out of it a few times since she seems to now think she is a goat too. Which brings me to the only dilemma of late. It seems that Amelia the goat and Ruth the donkey have become quite the pair and are nearly inseparable. I bring a tray of feed in the evening to get the goats to all come in the barn together, but Amelia has gotten wise to my scheme. She will not go into that barn and will hide right underneath her donkey protector. It has taken quite some coaxing the past few nights to be able to safely separate them and get Amelia into the pen with the rest of her family.

The Goat's New Pen

The Goat’s New Pen

That’s about all for now, and I think it’s quite enough for one weekend! 🙂 Sorry I don’t yet have any pictures of the puppies, but it won’t be long.

Advertisements
All Cooped Up

All Cooped Up

What better way to spend a rainy weekend than to get back to some projects that have been on the back burner for a while. One such project has been our mobile chicken tractor. I started this with one of our sons last summer but only got so far as putting together the frame. Since then it has been in the way just waiting to be finished. We’ve had several people offer us chickens, but we haven’t had anywhere to put them due to the fact that this project remained incomplete.

When it comes to chicken tractors there are many ideas, designs and thoughts on the proper construction. I came across a design on YouTube published by The Growing Club. I really liked the design, but because they haven’t provided any plans I’ve been working from a sketch I made while watching the video. There have been a few areas I’ve had to guess at, but it’s coming together pretty well and I can’t wait to see how it works out.

The entire project so far has been built from extra materials left behind after our house was built. The only things I’ve had to buy so far are the nails, screws, hinges and the 1/4 metal netting. The wheels that will be attached soon are ones that I bought several months ago for an application that didn’t work out well.

Aside from this project we knew the rain was coming so we moved the goat shed into the barn. The bran itself isn’t quite secure enough at night to protect against certain predators so it was important to get the goats a place they could sleep safe and warm. Our donkey couldn’t decide whether or not to stand in the rain or seek shelter in the barn, but eventually she realized how much nicer it was in the dry barn. Unfortunately I hadn’t considered all these animals in what has been more of a workshop than a barn. Ruth is apparently very inquisitive and she managed to knock everything off the shelves within her reach. That took some time to clean up, but thankfully there wasn’t anything dangerous for her to get into.

Lewis and Clark have arrived

Whirldworks Farm’s Corp of Discovery is now complete and ready to begin the exploration phase of their journey. Our Doelings, Amelia and Harriett had the run of the barnyard for a few weeks, but yesterday we brought the boys, Lewis and Clark, home and let them loose in the barnyard.

It took all of perhaps 5 seconds for them all to make friends. Ruth the donkey wasn’t quite sure what to make of these newcomers and she followed them around for a little while. The girls decided it was time to get a better view and headed for the goat hutch roof. The boys saw what was going on and ran over to meet them. It took them a few tries, but eventually all four goats were on the rooftop lounge making conversation.

goats

Two Weeks on the Farm

Let me ask you, have you ever lived in such a way that more than half of your belongings sat stored away in boxes and then finally had the opportunity to open those boxes again? If you have you can imagine the wonderful joy we’ve been having now that we are finally able to unpack our lives and settle in to our own home once again. We’ve found things we forgot we had, experienced the relief of finding favorite dishes, pictures and other items to still be in once piece instead of broken or shattered from being shifted around for years. It has been a sweet time of memories too as we have retrieved items that remind us of the great times we had with all of our older kids when they were still at home with us.

We’re still getting things situated, but I was finally able to make enough space in our garage to park our car inside. That has been something we have missed for a very long time, even since before selling our city house. Challenges still remain though as we are now at a point where we have to jostle boxes and loose items around to make space for things that actually belong there. The garage probably poses the biggest challenge as everything that didn’t seem to fit anywhere else has piled up in there. Much of it will likely make it into the attic, but there will likely be yet another purge of things to give to Goodwill.

Aside from the challenges of packing and setting up house, here are a few of the highlights from the past two weeks:

No Television

tvYes, I know. In this modern age there are probably few people who would actually count not having television as a great thing, but we’re not missing it AT ALL. Of course we have never really been big on watching TV, but it wasn’t unusual to find us winding down the day with streaming a 30-40 minute re-run of one of our favorite shows. Now though, without the internet or even being able to receive over-the-air broadcasts, it has been great rediscovering the art of conversation as well as being able to dig back into our collection of books that were stored away for far too long. Speaking of which, I’ve been spending a few minutes each night reading through Robert Louis Stevenson’s, Kidnapped, first published in 1886. What a wonderful story and hard to put down each night.

Let’s not forget the entertainment value of our animals. Right now we only have our dog, two little goats and a donkey, but they already provide us with ample entertainment. In fact, one evening we just took our dinner outside and ate it while watching the goats play together on top of their hutch.

This quiet darkness

milkyway

Have you ever lived in a home that is so quiet at night that you can hear a wristwatch ticking in the next room? That is how quiet our house is. No sirens, no traffic, no buzz of a dozen neighboring AC compressors. Just crickets and the ticking of a wristwatch. In addition, the darkness in the country is almost spooky at times. There have already been a couple of times at night when our dog has run off into the truly black darkness and I couldn’t see him even with the aid of a flashlight when he was more than 20 feet away. The blessing of such darkness is the amazing field of stars we can see in the night sky. In fact, for the past several mornings I have stood in awe of being able to see the Milky Way in the sky. I haven’t seen that many stars in years and years!

Friends and neighbors

While living in suburbia we were surrounded by hundreds of homes, but I knew very few of our neighbors and saw even fewer. I would see their cars drive down the street and then disappear behind the closing garage doors, but the neighborhood might have well as been a ghost town other than that.

On our farm we already know most of the people on our street. The other day I called a farmer friend and asked him if he had any hay I could use for the doeling’s hutch. When I got home from work there were two bales of hay inside my shed! We’ve had help from the pastor of a local church when we moved in and one day while the electrician was pulling the wire from the road to the house, another neighbor hopped the fence and just helped him out. People wave (mostly) when driving by and it’s simply a safer, friendlier feeling I get, even out in the middle of almost nowhere.

That pretty much wraps it up for this week. We’ll be getting another two goats next week so stay tuned!

The farm is finally our home

We have dreamed, stressed, planned, prayed and hoped for this for so long now that it almost seemed as if it may never arrive. During the week prior to Easter we took several trips with our belongings to the new house and on Holy Saturday we enlisted the help of several great friends and moved the remainder of our belongings. There was so much activity that when we woke up Sunday morning in preparation for Easter we realized we had indeed arrived. The farm is now our home!

The following week was spent moving boxes to and from each and every room. Because much of our belongings had been in storage for more than 2 years it was almost like Christmas morning with the opening of each box. We each found things we had either forgotten about or thought were lost. The week flew by with little sleep, but there still remains quite a bit to do. Thankfully the furniture is in place and most of our clothes are where they belong.

We didn’t stop there though as on Friday we welcomed our first two animals to the farm. They’re two young Nigerian Dwarf doelings named Amelia and Harriett. The week had been quote a bit busier than we had anticipated and the goat shed wasn’t even half completed when the goats arrived. We worked fast and furious on the shed in order to provide the goats some security at night and by midnight they were tucked in safely way.

Saturday was spent with more unpacking and a few finishing touches on the goat shed. We took some time to slow down and have a nice dinner of grilled pork chops and a warm campfire under the stars. It was fun to look at our fire pit and realize that it had been the first thing we had “built” when we first bought the land. We spent many a night around its warmth and now it is behind our house!

On Sunday we took a “Sunday Drive” to find some bluebonnets and took some great pictures of our youngest son among the beautiful backdrop of Spring flowers. Soon after church I drove to a new friends farm and picked up a donkey. Ruth, as we later named her, seemed happy in her new home. She was pretty wild and had little contact with people before coming to our farm, but I was able to get within 5 feet of her by the end of the day. I hope it won’t take too long for her to warm up to us enough to be able to brush her down and check her out better.

That is all for now, as if it isn’t enough for one week! 🙂