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Stop by & offer a few pointers, or point & laugh, as a few old farts figure out the fine art of living... Life on a Few Acres


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

First things First


Watching the seasons change, and our first year living on these few acres come to an end, has me in a reflective and nostalgic mood.  Evaluating roads traveled and trying to peer into paths yet taken is best suited for those shortest, quietest days, though.  Before reaching that phase of review it seemed only right to spend some time in the tradition of giving thanks!

I walk around daily in gratitude, joy and appreciation rising to the surface like sunlit champagne bubbles. They tickle my soul and leave me down right giddy. 

Every stone, splinter and stubbed toe of life before has led me to this:  this place.  this person.  this now

I like to believe that this constant chorus of thanks giving  reaches their giver.  I'm blessed beyond measure, and am awed and amazed by the enormity of the gifts.

Hopefully the 'meat world' too knows something of the extent to which I'm humbled by and appreciative of their generosity and support.  Nary a single award acceptance speech is given without the mandatory "I couldn't have done it without....__________."  And, in my case, that is the simple truth.  Not only couldn't I have done it without the wonderful people who share and support these dreams, I wouldn't have wanted to!!

I thought the time was appropriate to share my thankfulness for one other group that enriches, educates & entertains me on a daily basis:  All of you inter-netters who've taken the time to share your thoughts, plans, project details etc!  This collective <you.  and you. and you, too :)> has given me so much information and wisdom borne from experience, that I've the confidence to undertake some of my most cherished dreams. 

Thank you!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

All the way, Babyyyy!

Kansas City Royals
Some 30 odd years ago baseball players went on strike. This coupled with my intense dislike for George Brett led me to strike too- as a patron. This is official notice that I have rescinded strike status.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Would we do it again?

At purchase, this was an L shaped floor-plan, with the kitchen in the middle, a bedroom wing to the left, and living areas to the right.  Each of the three segments were 900sf, and had different flooring.  Each flooring was in ok shape, but the contrasts bugged me.  More importantly, the bedroom wing was carpeting.  Carpeting may feel nice under foot, but it doesn't mix well with a lengthy list of respiratory problems.  Or indoor animals.  And that is how the cheapskate in me came to conclude that i could live with sacrificing a hunk of the rehab funds for new floors for roughly 2/3 of the home. 
Like many people, we'd love hardwood.  Unfortunately, it is not only pricey, it is not impervious to animals' claws or accidents.  Nor did it seem worthwhile to go to the time effort or expense involved in sanding and refinishing the floors to get a matching product.  Ultimately we decided that we'd go with a laminate.  A sale package at a big box store limited our choices, and our costs, and we ended up with Pergo XP Alexandria walnut.  It was rated AC 4, commercial medium trafficking,  so I had hopes it would stand up to farm life.  I also chose it because it had the least contrast to the real wood in the house.

Shown together, the differences are apparent.  Fortunately however, the kitchen, tiled with a muted travertine tile , separates them, both visually & spatially.  I was full of doubts about these choices... afraid I'd end up with a mis matched patch work of materials similar to what we started with, concerned how they'd cover in an old house, and concerned about their wear.  Being such a cheapskate frugal person, I had opted to reuse the old baseboards too, to save a few cents.  This was another opportunity for wasted time, energy and money if I'd made the wrong call.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Odds and Ends on Animals.

5 month anniversary with chickens, 1 month with goats.
 Things I've learned thus far:
  •  Only thing more hyper than a baby goat gal is a baby goat gal who's scored a sip of your coffee. 
  • Chickens don't lay eggs at eggzactly 5 months- not even   if you wave calendars in their face. 
  •  Slippin your cell phone in your sports bra while lecturing roo on his duties may result in random boob dialings & recordings of the above conversation. 
  •  baby goats may look like they're on their hind legs to move in for snuggles, but they're probably just positioning themselves to wee wee on your boots.                                                                       

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Laboring Days

Was working too hard as "machete momma", decided to get goats to lighten the work load. So we moved and re-stacked 4 cords of wood, found, hauled,  put up two tons of hay, emptied and cleaned a 12x24 room, built a barn door, 24' of wall, stalls, installed hardware cloth on windows and gaps, hauled and installed dozens of cattle panels- in two weeks- so we could buy 2 goats...so we wouldn't have to work so hard. . . Labor day has a whole new meaning to us! But, at least we got some cute 'nuff goats outta the deal!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Surviving the Summer!

july 2015
Blue Mooooon
Besides searching for a spot dark enough to use our telescope, cursing (ever so kindly and without any real rancor) our business neighbor for his security lights, & seemingly single handedly supporting the local hospital/ dr.s/ pharmacies, we've managed to inch forward on our journey.
 As seems common, each step forward seemed to be followed with one or two back. 

On the plus side of the ledger, we got the smoke house down, and it and the dumpster are outta here!!
 
We also got the chicken tractor and run put together.  Yes, the tractor is from a kit.  CConly.com.  So far, so good.  We've repositioned it a handful of times, even once with the chickens inside.  No one warned me how darn cute a mad young rooster could be.

I lost, and they are about 50 feet from the house instead of down in the garden.    No complaints- from them or us, so far.  They have handled the brutal heat well, it seems, and are making new friends.  Here one of the girls is taking a gander at Bam Bam. 



 Judging from the similarity of their coloring, it is time for me to admit the obvious;  those are not my wished for Buff Orpingtons- no way, no how!
Spose they're Rhode Island Red or Red Stars but they are polite and friendly, whatever they are so I'm not too disappointed.

Other entries on the + side of the ledger include power washing and painting the garage.  It needs another coat, but that will wait until we get the door rebuilt.  Picked up the supplies today so.... hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.  We also got the clothesline up.  Will be hard to tell if it saves money/energy, though.  The electric company has estimated the bill for months, and has grossly under guessed, by my guesstimates anyway LOL.  So, they charge whatever they want, I pay whatever I want, and none of the figures have anything to do with reality.  Aint that America these days eh. ;). 

  Another thing keeping us busy was a week "up north" at the cabin.  Lake superior, and we were gifted a tiller!  The do-due list grows exponentially with every task that gets scratched off... but that's life on the Homestead eh!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Meet my Dirty White Boy!

or Tiny 'Tude,  as he's known on the inter nets!

I was tickled to get a starter flock for my birthday!  I had waffled on which breed, what age, where to put them for quite a while, and surprised everyone when I waited so long to deem it "chicken time!"  Hard to believe we've had this place 18 months already, and are just now turning our attention to the live stock.  Include the ten years or so I've been nurturing this life style dream  and  it's been even longer.  So long, in fact, that I'd begun to worry that the
enthusasm had dampened.  Fortunately a sense that the time was right hit me full force, and I was practically wiggling with excitement knowing we'd reached this phase of the plan.  Finally:  CHICKEN TIME!

I first explored buying some one year Easter Eggers from a fella not far away.  The idea was basically they'd be old enough to survive my inexperience.  That didn't work out though, since his birds were a little flightier than I wanted.


So, after poking around I settled on 6 Buff Orpington hens,  2 Easter Eggers, and a Buff Orpington Rooster for my wish list.  I wrote this down in my clearest hand writing on a half dozen pieces of paper, trusting that I'd soon be *surprised*...and to no one's surprise, it worked, and I was.

Orschelns was winding down their chick days sales at this point, and didn't have any males left, so we got just the 8 hens.  I started sourcing that Orpington roo I wanted, but held off buying one thinking there was a decent chance one of my gals would prove to be a dude.  That was four weeks or so ago, and watching the lil one in the pic develop an ever bigger and redder comb has done nothing to disuade me from the idea that I scored that fella I wanted after all.  Now the question is, is s/he really an Orpington?  Heck if I know.  Not sure about any of the breeds, actually.  Time will tell.  I went with the Orps as they're calm, decent layer dual purpose birds, according to their press.  I also wanted the broodiness so I could "work less, profit more."

So far, so good.  Now it's time to decide where the chicken tractor coop- chicken yard starts out.  We've only had one AI case in a five county radius, but I'm still very concerned about staying on top of that potential problem.  I know we have cats, dogs, owls, possum, snakes, rats, cayote and ground hogs.  Also have deer, rabbit and mice, but am guessing that they are of no threat. 

I'd hoped to set the tractor in the garden, and run the chickens through it, and through the pastures after goats had been through.  Now I'm leaning more towards the "you can date when you're 30" err, I mean, keeping them in the laundry room and SAFE indefinitly.

Been told that really isn't an option LOL, so:  any one have opionions on how close is too close when it comes to chicken condos?





Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Adding a year and subtracting a goal!

I was midway through a post on  having met another of our goals for the year when I realized I'd never actually made, nor shared, this years goals.  One of my broader goals in moving to a homesteading mentality and life style was to develop a tighter structure to my life.  To date, I've been blessed to be able to live that bohemian, "artiste's" swing shift life pattern.  I enjoyed the freedom of 36 hr days when the muse called, 2am client crisis calls,  dinner at sunrise, etc, but now I'm looking forward to the demands and structure that a bottle baby goat will provide!

Anyway

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

And the top three answers are:




There is still no definitive answer to what was hangin' 'round our basement door.  I employed a very
scientific method of my own design, and concluded we must have had a GP rat snake... because any
kind of rattler on the door is a tad too disturbing, and a snake that eats other snakes, well, that is just
wrong!

There was a large black (rat) snake in the drive one morning, which allowed me conclude my guess was probably correct.  Just don't try to follow my logic, k... that road is a long & winding one for sure!

Who knew the bulk of the homesteading stuff would revolve around looking at things and trying to decide "is it this or that?"!!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Want to compete for warm gooey goodness?




Imaginary brownie points to all who can tell what this picture has captured.  

Even  More to those who can identify it's species.





According to my sources (google) It is probably one of three types that are commonally confused for one another.  Great.  Despite having a self created & self taught course on the critters in my misspent youth (this was b.c. i.e before computers,) I really couldn't I.D. this one.

S/he was found just hanging around- literally- the basement door.  The knob.  That thing you wrap your hand around without thinking.  

I don't want to seem to be a woose.  I knew there would be snakes and mice and spiders and predators and a 100+ other changes.  I was, and am, ready for them...  but wrapped around entry doors?  Spiders scurrying accross the middle of my bed, under my covers, in the short time it took to return from a visit to the powder room?

Somedays it seems someone's got a sense o' humor as twisted as my own!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

And Another one bites the dust!


 Turns out, I was right;  this project got scratched off just in time for spring.  March 1st.   I was probably the only person in the state who was happy for one last cold cold spell.  It gave us the opportunity to do the burn off, and take the stove out for it's first test drive.
 So far so good.  The house is about 500 sf larger than the stove claims to be sized for, but it distributed heat throughout. 
 I hope to put in patio doors somewhere on that north wall, and the other O.F.s have plans to rebuild that brick clad wall into a properly spec'ed non combustible surface.  Thus the obvious indifference to purty-fying the area.  Um that's my story anyway, and I'm sticking to it.  Until I forget it, at least ; ).
The stove is a PROGRESS Hybrid (http://www.woodstove.com/) and we chose it because it had the highest output and efficiency of stove's tested by the epa, and the lowest gm/hr emissions.  Having wood heat was on my must have list, and we were fortunate enough to have enough pennies in the start up fund to get the stove & chimney early on.
 We were happy with our choice, and with the company.  I was a total novice with burning wood anywhere other than a campfire, so the learning curve for the catalytic system  was not steep for me.  For those who might need some guidance, I suggest Leigh's post on the subject:
 http://www.5acresandadream.com/2015/02/how-to-get-heat-from-soapstone-woodstove.html

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Been down in the dumps lately...



...And that's a GOOD thing!!


One thing led to another and we ended up getting a roll off.  The outbuildings weren't too bad, trash wise, but we managed to fill the first dumpster in a day.

Now we're working on ridding ourselves of a trash pile in the top pasture, and an old smoke house that no one thought could be saved.

The other farts thought that the trash could be buried, and the land still used.  Perhaps they're right, but I wasn't convinced.  Any one know which of us is right?

Anyway, that ended up being our spring break, hope everyone else found a few days of good weather
and got lots of their do-dues crossed off!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A FREE tool for homesteaders


 One 21st century tool I have made use of while looking for- and now starting- our lil piece of the dream has been google map/google earth.  It's not our mothers google any more folks!  In addition to the basic directions & street view functions, you can find elevations and contour, measure distances, experiment with layout of features on your farm, and in some areas, even see old views of the land.


 Google earth pro has added features, and decided to no longer charge for the product.  I am still exploring its features, but this first day out of the gate with it, I was able to see how a section of land I've been evaluating has been used for the last 25 years.  It was fun to see the shift from paddock to tree lot and back again.  And I didn't have to glean that info from  a chance encounter at the  feed store.

I hope the tool can help someone else with their homesteading dreams & designs, so I've included a link to the product download.




http://www.google.com/intl/en/earth/download/gep/agree.html

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A holiday or two behind or "Every day is Halloween Horror" when house hunting

...at least, when you're doing so with a Pluto transit conjuncting your moon/m.c.conjunction... and opposing  your venus/ 4th house cusp.

Firstly, apologies to the constant readers (should I ever acquire such a thing) whom have little knowledge & even less interest in what that might mean. I include it only for memory's sake & future reference.

It's common to encounter plutonian type elements in the back story when searching the real estate market.  Death, drugs, divorce, all are  causes for a home making it to the market.

What I experienced during the transit portion of my looongg search for the homestead was different, though.  In the first situation, we ruled out a home because a sweet local woman had been abducted from her home, murdered, burnt & buried by another local farmer.  The home we had been interested in was next to the man who'd solicited that death.  Um, not the location for me.

Another temptation was ultimately ruled out because of a tie in to another local unsolved murder/kidnapping of an infant.  This connection involved something referred to as "juggalo lifestyles" and  again, not a good fit for an empathic person to set up shop!

One acreage I was advocating for was finally scratched off the list when a "simple" murder occurred down the street...involving a nephew, his uncle & alcohol.

One property had really captured our interest due to its rugged land, and converted storefront on site. 
Not long after I began seriously examining its' fit for our needs, a wooden box with a dead female was discovered 100' behind the barn.  That poor soul was ultimately discovered to be a transient who'd OD'ed & was discarded there by other drug using transients due to the very rugged remoteness that had previously piqued my interest.

The property we ultimately chose also has it's ties to death, though in these three cases, the deaths, although poignant, don't have the same shadowy underbelly of depravity that one senses when Pluto is present.  (MHO of course).  Here, the neighbors' grandson was a victim of murder 2, with the trial and sentencing coming up.  Thus the themes here seem more on the grieving & healing aspects of Pluto than the actual journey through the hell of the underworld.  The two deaths that are most closely related to this property are from the early 1950s, when two of the four children of the grandfather (original builder of this house) died in a house fire that completely destroyed the home, according to the newspaper reports of the time. 

The farm was 100s of acres then, so I will have to do further research to see if that home was on the piece of property we bought.  I know one of the surviving children's name and the year of the fire are etched into my concrete stairs, so that tragedy's tears undoubtedly water this small bit of ground.

But that is another story for another day.

Any one else love poking around in the past (& present!) to try to discern the story you've become part of?

Anyways.  Hope you all enjoyed your Halloweens, & I'm looking fwd to getting caught up with the holidays, so I can tackle that big topic of the new year, what I want from it and how I will try to get it.