Farm and Homestead Update April 2015

Farm and Homestead Update April 2015

I have discovered that it can be very difficult to document the many activities that go on around the farm, even when there isn’t really a farm yet. I have found, through the sweat of my own brow, that our President was certainly not speaking about farms when he declared, “You didn’t build that!”

Barn

The Barn is at a stage that we shall call complete! It still needs some finishing touches, but in my experience it is unwise to call a construction project finished. We still need to close in the bottom and place rodent protection around the perimeter. We did complete the latter task on one side by placing an additional piece of treated lumber below ground level and then attaching 1/4″ wire mesh that extends under ground for about a foot from the barn. Helpful Hint: If you are planning to purchase 1/4″ galvanized metal fabric, the best price we found was at McCoys. It was probably less than half of what I found anywhere else).

 

Utilities

It is no wonder that so many homestead mentors recommend trying to find land that already has water and electric/gas service on site. It may not be this way everywhere, but the cost of connecting to a water line just across the street surprised us greatly. We’ll be spending nearly $6000 just to get connected to our water supply. We considered having a well drilled instead, but the $20,000 price tag for that knocked that option off the list.The paperwork, too, has been filled with so much legalese that it took some time to decipher.

Electricity is a little better, but for a little more than $2000 I would think they could dig their own hole for a junction box. We finished digging the hole and trench for them to put it in and I am very thankful to live in a place with little to no rocks for this kind of work.

We hope to have both water and electricity installed by the end of this month!

Garden

We have set aside an acre for our future gardening area and have great plans for the future. For the moment though our garden is simply a little 20′ x 4′ plot as a simple token to gardening.

Hay Field

We have a little over 7 acres that will be used for hay production and livestock pasture, but currently my only means of tending the field is a hand-held scythe and a home-made hay baler. While it is fun and good exercise to produce hay in this manner, there is no way for me to realistically work the entire area. Thankfully a local farmer stopped by and we worked out an agreement for him to grow and harvest the hay field.

Forest

So far the forest area is on the to-do list and I’m sure we will eventually be able to tackle it. The creek runs through the forest for the entire length of our property and we have already seen areas where trees have fallen creating dams that back up the water during heavy rains. There are also plenty of dead and unhealthy trees that need to come down. With poison ivy in full bloom now and plenty of other tasks at hand, the only trees being cut are those that have either already fallen on the fences or look like they could do so any minute.

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Memorial Day and Mosquito Haven

This weekend was the first time we’ve been out to the farm since the rains came and the temperature has risen. The pasture was blanketed with a field of yellow flowers and was pretty amazing to stand in. What wasn’t pleasant is that we have discovered our future homestead is already claimed by a few legion of mosquitoes! They weren’t so terrible in the wooded campsite, but step out into the open field and I felt like I was in Minnesota! I know there are pools of standing water along the creek, but they apparently love the tall grass and flowers too.

There is a giant Oak tree near the edge of the field that we have been admiring since we first set eyes on the property. It was encumbered with thick briars and a few Cedar and other small trees, but I just knew there was a beautiful tree under there. Since there was time this weekend I took the opportunity to do some clearing and reveal the mighty Oak in all its splendor. So, after I doused myself with mosquito spray I took to the task. One day I will remember to take pictures/video when I am about to take on a new adventure, but for now you can see the tree AFTER all the work. The picture doesn’t do it justice as the trunk of this ancient tree is well over 10-15 feet around.

We didn’t stay as long as we had planned because a storm system came through, dumped a little rain, took away the nice breeze we had enjoyed all day and left behind still, humid air. Without power for even a small fan, it wasn’t all that pleasant.

On another note, all the work to our house is done and it is officially on the market (and the calls are already coming in).

A full day on the homestead

This past weekend we were finally able to spend an entire day on our property! It was wonderful to get away from the city noises and get our hands dirty in our very own soil. While the plan is to locate the home in the pasture area, our current need was for a location to camp in and operate from. We found a beautiful clearing and our first chore was to cut a trail for easier access.

Once that was complete we put up some shade, carried in the water and started exploring. There are definitely areas that we want to get into, but it is going to take time to cut through the brush to get there. Anyone want to mail me a chainsaw? 🙂

Our youngest son spent the day with us and he had the time of his life (okay, he isn’t all that old yet) playing in the dirt, breaking sticks, watching daddy hack away at tree limbs and in awe at the power of his momma as she toppled a few dead trees.

Here is a short video of the day and there will definitely be more to follow!

Our First Full Tour

The idea of traipsing around our new property when it was 34 degrees outside with wind gusts of 20 mph seemed ludicrous. But then, it was just 10 minutes after closing on the land and we couldn’t bear to sit in the car and just look at it through the windows. We unloaded ourselves, bundled up, and  we  found that the tree line does indeed protect our future home site from that nasty northern wind.

We chose to walk along the dry creek bed that runs through our property to stay out of the wind. It was a very pleasant surprise how much more comfortable the afternoon felt protected by all those trees and the dirt berms of the creek. We found a few interesting items along the way including a full, unopened bottle of water stuck in some driftwood, an old VCR tape of someone’s New York vacation (at least according to the label), remnants of plastic buckets and even a political campaign sign.

We found a few places where some obvious torrential downpour had carried (and piled) a large amount of tree debris down the creek. In some places the debris piled above our heads and there were a couple of natural dams across the creek. Some things already adding to the “To Do” list!

When we rounded one of the corners, one wall of the creek was covered in the most spectacular patch of moss I have come across in Central Texas. I took a closer look and was amazed at the intricate beauty of the delicate leaves and flowers. Not far from there we found a tree whose roots had been exposed by erosion and some local species had taken up residence inside. We now call it the Hobbit Tree!

We had to leave the creek bed for a short stretch due to the debris, but when we got back onto the “shore,” we were at our rear fence. The property beyond went uphill and a herd of a couple dozen cows came running towards us in their pasture to see these new strangers. They stayed quite a ways away and then decided we weren’t worth further investigation and ran away.

There were some very pretty spots that we will definitely have to check out again another time, but after two hours of walking and taking in the beauty of our new and future home, we decided it was time to say goodnight to the farm.

Creek Tour Collage

Whirl’d Works Farm – Day One!

Today we officially closed on the property that will become Whirl’d Works Farm!

farmsunset

Taking the advice of many a farmer and homesteader, our first goal was to eliminate debt. We set out on a plan to do just that! Several years later, after attacking the debt with greater fervor than we had planned, we found ourselves closer and closer to being in a position to buy. Today marks day one of owning our own small piece of Texas.

How did we get here?

Some people may balk at the idea that God does indeed have plans for His children, but we earnestly believe that is how we ended up where we are today. The entire time we were paying down our debt we occasionally looked at land for sale. We knew we weren’t yet in a position to buy, but we wanted to get a good idea of what was available. Then one Sunday afternoon, our youngest son was in an unusually bad mood and no matter what we tried we couldn’t get him to sleep.

Exhausting all other efforts, mom put him in the car and we went for a drive in the country. There was no end goal other than making sure our little guy got a good, long nap. Just before we turned back for home we found ourselves in a very pretty area that we hadn’t really been looking at. When we returned home we began browsing the internet for land for sale in that area.

We came across a few tracts that looked interesting and zeroed in on one particular tract. The following weekend we drove out to look at it. The area was beautiful, but the lot had issues we couldn’t see from satellite pictures. Disappointed we turned back down the road, but noticed “For Sale” signs on a few other lots. We pulled up next to a tract and both of us just had this strong feeling inside that we were “home.” I opened the gate and with each footstep both of us felt overwhelmed at the amount of peace that fell over us. This would be where we would stake our claim.

We met with the realtor the following weekend and with pen hovering over a contract, we submitted our offer. Hours later we had a signed contract. Going through the approval process took a little longer than we had anticipated, but today Whirl’d Works Farm is no longer a dream. It is real and it is ours!

We walked along the creek bed today and were still in awe that this was now OUR land! Our little man was really excited to get out and walk too! He had so much fun that as we walked back to the car he reached over for something and fell over, then decided that would be a nice place to take a nap.