Weekend Warriors

It is certainly true that operating a farm, even a small hobby farm like ours is a full-time occupation. Thete isn’t a single day that we could just lay around the house and ignore the things that need done.

It feels pretty hectic at times during the week when we have so many other things vying for our time. There aren’t many big projects scheduled between Monday and Friday.

When the rooster crows on Saturday mornings, it usually marks the beginning of two very busy days.

For example, this past Saturday we began the monumental task of clearing trees and brush away from the fence line running along the back of the pastures. Falling trees and heavy vines play havoc on the existing fence. The thick overgrowth also provides an ample hiding place for predators. There is about 800 feet of this overgrowth and the first half of Saturday we progressed only about 30 feet. We knew this was going to be a long, challenging project, but it needs doing.

During the second half of Saturday we continued the task of reclaiming our garden from the jungle of grass that overtook it while I recovered from my toe injury. That too was no small feat. The Bahia grass that comingles with our Coastal Bermuda is a worthy opponent. It grows deep and has a huge rhyzome that is very difficult to dig up. This rhyzome is so stout that it will sustain itself very well through drought and neglect. Completely removing it from the garden will take years of constant battle. But for now we have prevailed and were even able to get it to the point where we can start planting our winter crops.

These and other projects take considerable planning, time, and hours of hard work. The thing is, being outside, on our own land, is a wonderful thing. Hearing the birds and squirrels playing in the trees that sway in the breeze is so much more rewarding than the hours we used to waste watching television in the city.

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A Mule and a Harness

I can’t tell you how excited I am that I finally got a harness on Ruth!

When we received her as a free gift over a year ago and she was w-i-l-d… but she has also amazed us constantly!

I have been working with her every morning for a few months; brushing her and talking to her.

After a few weeks I started to hold the harness in my hand while I brushed her.

At first I held it just in my hand…, then on her back…, then near her face.

One day she was curious about it and smelled it.

So the next day I put it on her. She was a little annoyed.

I quickly took it off of her…, which was much more difficult than getting it on…

because she was annoyed ;p

Today I put it on her again and she handled it very well.

She even let me lead her a bit with it!

I am sooo excited!

Today I left it on her….so I could get pictures;P

I figure I can take it off of her later, when she goes in the barn for the night.

Next I will get her feet trimmed!

And then I will be working to get her to let me ride her 🙂

Harvey Goeth

It is difficult to write a post about our success in the face of such a daunting challenge as Hurricane Harvey, especially when so many are still facing the storm and it’s aftermath. I wish I could say that we all overcame the storm and dodged disaster, but that unfortunately is not the case for so many.

Here at the Whirldworks Farm, as Harvey approached there was some measure of anxiety and we just weren’t sure how to handle all of our responsibilities before, during, and after. Due to a number of heavy storms that we experienced over the past year-and-a-half there was a real possibility of the barn flooding. As I posted earlier, I built up a berm in front of the barn and I’m happy to report that it was very effective. There were a couple of times over the weekend when the water level nearly over-topped the new dam, but it held. We did experience some water intrusion into the barn, but it was restricted to the center walkway and never entered the pens. With our measurement of 12+ inches of rain in two days I call that a victory.

 

The rainfall accumulation began to fall of mid-day on Sunday. I ventured out to check the creek level around our property and found that I couldn’t even get near the creek bed. The creek itself had flown over its banks and was very near the back fence of our pastures. A venture down the road where the creek crosses it made it clear that we wouldn’t be able to leave if we wanted to. There are two ways out of our area and both exits are intersected by this same creek.

By Sunday afternoon, although the rain was still falling and the wind was still blowing, the water began to recede. The worst was over for us. It was interesting to see about a half-dozen “ant islands” floating in our new pond as the water level went down. We kept the animals in the barn an extra day because we simply didn’t know what to expect the weather to do. By evening the sun was out and we let them out for a little fresh grass and exercise. I think they greatly appreciated it. While they were out enjoying fresh air for the first time in 3 days, I went into their dirty, smelly barn and cleaned it up.

We are very thankful for everyone’s prayers, but please continue praying for our neighbors to the South who haven’t yet escaped the storm.

Hurricane Harvey Cometh

Hurricane Harvey Cometh

We’re not ready…not for this kind of storm. Since moving to the farm we’ve identified several areas on our property prone to flooding. Thankfully our house isn’t in one of these areas.

Unfortunately though, our animal barn is. Our property has a gentle slope that runs right to and past the barn. We’ve made improvements that have helped quite a bit, but I don’t think we’re quite ready for 10-20 inches in 2 days.

Thankfully our neighbor let us borrow their rear bucket for the tractor. I’ve been using it to pile dirt into a burm that will hopefully slow down and divert the water around the barn.

Our tractor shed isn’t finished yet, but I’ve reinforced it the best I can. Now it’s time to check the barn for any last minute tweeks and bring the generator up to the house.

Please keep us and everone in the path of this storm in your prayers.

My decision to leave the workplace and stay home

My decision to leave the workplace and stay home…

was a hard one! But it was the plan all along. Ever since we decided we wanted another child, and God answered with our little Liam, we had planned for me to leave the workplace and home school him…as soon as the debts were paid off.

Every single day, from the time he was born…until my final day in the workplace, almost 5 years later, was very difficult!

I missed him. I worried that the other children would pick on him and teach him bad habits. I worried that he would be unkind to other children. I was tired and short tempered and SO excited to see him every day after work. But we only had about 4 or 5 waking hours together on week days…

And for a while 3 of those hours were in the car, because we moved over an hour outside of the city when Liam was 3-1/2.

I was conflicted and unsure if I was making the “right” decision. Even though I am old enough to know that some things are neither right nor wrong in the broadest sense.

I was not sure if I would be a “good enough” mother, if I would have enough patience or if I would get bored being at home. If my child would be better off with less of me, or more of me. If our family would be better off with more money, or more of me. Would we ever…get…all…the…debt…paid…off?!

And then we did, it was all paid off and it was time to go for it, or be at peace with working.

I was not at peace with working.

I felt that I was stretched too thin to give my family my best, as long as I was working- even part time ( I did that for the last few months just to see if that would be a good fit).

So I left the work place, the 9 to 5… and stayed home… full time.

I still loose my temper from time to time. I still get overwhelmed with all of my responsibilities and I still doubt myself. But I don’t regret the time that I have had with this precious little boy.

I love the extra time that I get to ..just..think, to crochet, to clean..my..house…!

I have time to meal plan and scrimp and save,.. and..frett;P

I have time to get all the laundry clean and put away before my husband gets home from his looong commute. And time enough to cook nice meals.

I was just getting used to it.

…and then my husband was given a job offer only 3 miles from our very rural home.

A job that would mean being way beyond frugal…It will mean that we will have to sell things that we make and maybe pick up odd jobs here and there to make ends meet.

And I am scared!

But …I am also excited to spend more time with my husband. This new job will mean 3 hours more time at home for him …per…day!

So ..it’s okay. And I can be excited and scared all at the same time.

 

All great adventures start that way I suppose!

 

Beauty in the Springtime Garden

I’ve long enjoyed the beauty that is a garden. Aside from the wonderful bounty of fresh, home-grown vegetables, the plants themselves are a marvel to watch. We also include flowers in the garden, not just because it makes a trip to the field a pleasant one, but because they also attract the spectacular pollinators that help our garden grow.

Borage

Cosmos

Nasturtiums

Roma Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Pie Pumpkins

The many updates for Spring 2017

I have long admired those busy homesteaders and farmers who are able to manage their time well enough to be able to blog often. There has been so much going on here that I have thought many times, “This would make a great blog post.” Unfortunately I don’t often take time away from the tasks at hand to take pictures or note the details of what is happening. By the time I get beck to the house it’s usually so late or I’m so tired I never make it to the computer. Well my homesteading friends, it now looks like I’ll have quite a bit of downtime for writing.

A Farming Accident

We are expecting a delivery of a dump truck full of sand this week and I decided that using the rear blade on the tractor would help move it around. As luck (or poor planning) would have it, the blade was behind the barn and we have built up fences and gates too small for my tractor, thus trapping it. The blade weighs a little under 200 pounds and I figured I could move it the 20 feet or so to get it through the gate. I made it about half way and the blade was in a rather precarious position just as our dogs decided to start wrestling next to me and bumped me. I lost my grip on the blade and tried to get out of the way, but it landed on the tip of my boot.

The pain was pretty bad, but I figured since I had my boots on that it would probably be a bad bruise. I tried to take a step and almost fell over in pain. I took off my boot and discovered my right big toe was severely severed, hanging on by just a portion of its former self. A visit to the emergency room revealed that the bone was completely broken as well. A few hours later my bone was reset and my toe sown back together. This happened from late Saturday night into early Sunday morning and I am still in a bit of pain, as would be expected. I’m now in “dry dock” until my wound heals enough for me to return to my normal duties.

The Garden

Our garden is flourishing after a few false starts. The spring has been considerably cooler than many I remember in the past and I believe that has been key in our success thus far. The squash plants are already outproducing our ability to consume, the corn is getting tassels, and there are blooms on some of the tomato plants. We’ve eaten one of the beets and are looking forward to the beans, celery, broccoli and other yummy goodies almost ready for harvest. The pocket gophers have left most of the garden alone, that is except for the potatoes. They’ve done quite a bit of damage to our potato crop and I’m not certain we’ll have much of a harvest.

 Tractor

Our Massey Ferguson 205 continued to give us problem after problem and we finally decided to take it to the shop. The resulting repair quote was way more than I paid for the tractor in the first place and more than it would cost to buy another similar, used tractor. Thus we are the proud new owners of a 1984 International Harvester 284 Diesel Tractor. It runs much smoother and quieter than the Massey ever did. There were a couple of times it has stalled out on us, but a quick check of the sediment bowl revealed some dirt and one time a spider. We’ve run it through this was a few times now and the sediment is almost completely gone. Hopefully we’ve reached the end of this issue.

Livestock Additions and Sheep Shearing

As you may have learned from previous posts we added two new male lambs and a male kid to our farm at the end of winter. To our surprise, our other female goat gave birth just a few weeks ago to a female kid. We’re now at 6 sheep, 5 goats, a donkey, two LGDs, and 5 chickens.

We were able to have the sheep sheared a few weeks ago and most of it has been picked over and cleaned. In fact, we sold our first full fleece last week! The wool is amazing stuff I can tell you that. My wife is the resident expert on wool in our household and she is certainly impressed. I may not know much about wool, but I know this, our wool is very soft and fluffy.

Wanda's First Lamb

Wanda’s First Lamb