Wow! What a weekend!
This weekend we had our first work day. And there was a LOT of work done. Unfortunately the fencing project was slightly derailed as there were so many trees down that the crew's job was much more difficult than anticipated. But they got as far as they could and as Jon had said....that would have taken him alone three years to get as far as they did.
I also have to say that we have the best family in the world. Although there are some divorces and remarriages involved ALL of our parents get along great. We are so thankful because it doesn't have to be this way. Our baby girl is going to be spoiled by my mom Lisa and dad Roger and Jon's parents, Kirk and Wanda and Deb and Jerry. Not only did they all work their tails off on Saturday but came back Sunday to help get even more work done! We couldn't have done it without you.
Anyways, here's a list of people we would like to thank- (warning, very long post that may be of no interest to you unless you were at the work day)
Davy-(who earned a gold star for showing up the earliest!) thanks for all your hard work helping Jon get stuff loaded and taking part on the fencing crew.
Brenda, Todd, Todd's father and Riley-thanks for bringing orange juice and your wallpaper stripping skills! Thanks Todd for helping with fencing and for his dad for helping to strip off wallpaper. Riley thanks for all the pretty pictures around the house (she's three) and thanks so much Brenda for having this great idea. Also, thanks Brenda for encouraging me to think of projects around the house for people to complete...you guys got so much done!
Grandma Linda-thanks for working so hard scraping off wallpaper residue. And you did such a good job cleaning up everything afterwards...those stairs were so clean! Thanks for the yummy deserts!
Lisa-thanks for helping with the fence project AND inside the house. Bonus points for being so multi-talented!
Roger-thanks for roofing the balcony area, fixing the doors, putting up the ceiling fan in the baby's room AND for helping with the fence. Extra extra gold stars!
Deb-thanks for helping out on the fence and for painting in the kitchen. The kitchen is so bright and lovely!
Jerry-thanks for helping out with fencing and sharing your knowledge about fixing barb wire fences. One can only read so much on the Internet without someone actually showing you how to do it.
Wanda-thanks for helping out with fencing and for scraping wallpaper. The office looks so nice and I know Jon appreciates not working in a dungeon anymore.
Kirk-thanks for helping out with the fence and for mowing the lawn. Sorry about the cut foot...hope it heals okay!
Megan-thanks for helping out with multiple projects around the house and for being a paparazzi. Your pictures helped to document the process and the people that I was too busy to notice at times.
Aunt Gaylene and Grandma Ruth-thanks for being entertainment for the girls scraping wallpaper in the office...it sure made the time go faster!
Uncle Tim-thanks for helping out with the fencing project....we appreciate you!
Alisha, Karlee and Jake-thanks for coming out to tour the farm, hope you saw lots of pigs!
Jen, Kate and Lauren-thanks for coming out to tour the farm, hopefully there were no eggs in Kate's pockets when you got home!
Todd, Kristi, Raegan and Elijah- Todd thanks for helping out on the fencing crew. Great job painting Kristi, thank you! And of course, special thanks to Raegan and Elijah for entertaining the animals and creating such beautiful artwork for our windows.
Mary, Whitney, Bryce and Kaylee-thanks for coming to see the farm and for bringing the most important part of any work party...food! If you haven't check out Marty's BBQ shop in Lincoln, BBQ4U, you are missing out! He has the best pulled pork around and so many great BBQ sauces to try out. He has two great locations in Lincoln and the absolute BEST cornbread you've ever tasted!
Liz, Aaron and Baby Anna-thanks for helping with the wallpaper scrapping, Liz. And baby Anna, thanks for being such a good baby, so your mom could help us out. Aaron thanks for coming to the farm and we will hold you to that promise of future work days...
Jerrod and Rossana-thanks for coming out to the farm! Jerrod thanks for all your hard work on the fencing crew and Rosanna thanks for cleaning out the mud room. The mud room hasn't shined so much since before we moved in!
Uncle Gordon, cousins Mac and Alan, Aunt Marg, cousins Brittany, Brianna, James and Amashanique-thanks for coming out the see the farm! It was so much fun having you!
Josh-thanks for making it out to the farm after work and for reminding Jon to relax. He needed it...
Phew....I hope we didn't miss anyone! And pictures to come from our little paparazzi Megan...
ETA: Sorry Cheryl and Amanda! I swear I didn't deliberately miss you, you were both on my list and somehow both Jon and I missed the fact that you weren't on the actual post. Cheryl, thanks so much for watching and entertaining Riley, you were such a good babysitter! And Amanda, thanks so much for working on painting the trim in the bathroom...it looks awesome!
As Jamie and I were headed to the Applejack Festival (this past, rainy Sunday) we were reflecting on just how far we have come in the past year. It was early September 2010 and we were thinking about making a change. Doing something more with our lives than earning a paycheck and buying things, just so we could go back to work and do it all again the next week.
I had come across the Southeast Nebraska Diversified Ag Tour, the day of the deadline to register and I wanted to check it out. As luck would have it, Jamie was able to switch days off and we were able to go on such short notice. So, on September 10th, 2010 we got up really early and made our way down to Hickman for the 6am pickup. Long story short, we ended up riding all over southeast Nebraska, touring four very unique farms who raised local, sustainable food. It was amazing! We were so excited that we immediately started fantasizing and planning how we could transition to such a fulfilling way of life.
I believe it was October when I came across an ad in Land Link, through the Center for Rural Affairs. I answered the ad from a gentlemen who was wanting someone to farm his land in a sustainable, organic fashion. After learning that he wasn't interested in selling, we were disheartened but I went out anyway to look the place over. As we walked and talked, it became apparent that this could be the perfect opportunity for us to make a go at the lifestyle we desired. So, I brought Jamie back out that day and by the next morning, we had a handshake deal in place for us to move out in March 2011.
We then set out to learn as much as we could about sustainable farming. The first thing we did was sign up for the Farm Beginnings Class through the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society. And it was one of the best decisions we've ever made. We learned, we were inspired, we made contacts, we made friends!
It's now been just over a year since we had our first real exposure to local, sustainable farming. Over the course of that year we: decided we liked the idea of sustainable farming, looked for land, found land, took a farm class, bought cattle, moved to the farm, rented our house out, became pregnant, bought poultry, bought pigs, butchered ducks, continued fixing up the farm and continued fixing up the house. Which brings us here: we now are living in a 99 year-old farm house on 160 acres with our own cattle, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, cats and a dog! Oh yeah, and we're off the grid.
We are still learning and immersing ourselves in this lifestyle. One big question we have - can we make a living at this? We love this lifestyle, but it's not truly sustainable if we can't pay our bills. And as we look to ramp up production for next year including the garden, fruit trees and bushes, sheep and more poultry, we certainly hope so! We have had countless moments of discouragement, despair and even utter failure. We have also had moments of pure happiness, pride and peace. I wish I could say that we encountered the latter as much as the former but that hasn't been the case yet. But everyday we're getting closer...
Well the bathroom is functional again. However, I did find out that the water will back flow from the shower drain to the sink drain.. I had cut the pipe leading to the sink drain so I could extend it but decided to wait until morning to finish it. So I turned on the shower and was talking to Jamie when my ears perked up at the, all too familiar, sound of water falling onto the floor. I ran down stairs to find a giant waterfall coming through the ceiling of the entry way onto the floor! Long story short - we cleaned up the mess, I stayed up late, secured the pipe and took my shower. Other than that, the only other real problem I had was wrestling with that dang pedestal sink and the drain pipe. I've never had a pedestal sink and I was never a big fan. Well now that I have one, I'm even less of a fan. What a pain! We still have to finish putting the bathroom back together but at least it's usable.
I even managed to fix the stove. Apparently, when I converted it from Natural Gas to Liquid Propane, I had put a couple of the burner orifices on the wrong burners so the flame wasn't right. And, of course, I managed to drop those tiny orifices into the stove, while trying to right the wrong, and had to disassemble half of it to get them out. BUT I was able to FINALLY get that fixed tonight!
Next problem on the list: find the short in the electric fence. The cattle got out of my polywire yesterday, so I just left them where they were. I fixed a couple things to ensure the fence wasn't grounded out and I thought it was fine (or good enough for now). But tonight it was completely grounded out (no charge) and I don't have any idea where or how. I only have tomorrow to figure it out before I leave for a couple days to attend the Grassfed Exchange in Norfolk.
In other news... we signed up as producers for the Nebraska Food Coop and it is great! We had seven ducks left from July that we wanted to sell and we sold all seven in less than a week. Six were sold right away. Then all we had to do was label them and take them to a pick up location, at another farm down the road. In fact, I had to go there anyway to pick up my organic feed. Of course, we make more money if we sell them directly ourselves but it sure is nice to have such a great option. It's even more valuable for producers and consumers that are farther away from population centers like Lincoln and Omaha.
When I can, I scour Craigslist for things we need on the farm. A couple years ago I picked up some sliding glass doors to make Jamie some cold frames. We were back at my family's farm this weekend and they had four patio doors that were headed for the trash. And then this week on Craigslist I found someone who was giving away SIXTEEN glass doors (about half of them were standard doors and the other half were the larger sliding glass doors). So we'll be up to Twenty-Two glass doors, all for the low, low price of FREE. They are perfect for cold frames and for all my solar projects that I would like to try. Whenever I can find the time. The doors are pretty heavy so I will probably need to come up with a way to make them easier to open when they are on the cold frames.
First priority though - put the bathroom back together. We finished scraping off the old wall paper, pulled everything out (including the claw foot tub, which was ridiculously heavy), put down new vinyl flooring, filled in cracks and holes, primed and painted. I've encountered quite a few setbacks so far but the shower and toilet are in and operational. I just need to move the plumbing for the sink over about ten inches. So now the floor is torn open and I'm trying to decide how many things will go wrong when I cut the pipe and try to extend it.
And what farm blog would be complete without a picture of a chicken on a pig. So, ladies and gentlemen, as promised, I give to you - Chicken on a Pig.
There may be some rooster butchering around the farm this weekend. Highly likely in fact!
It all started when I was feeding the chickens one day and I felt a thump on the back of my legs. I whirled around and there was a rooster just standing there like nothing had happened. My first thought was that the dog had dropped something on the back of my legs to get me to play with him. Then Jon said that he had the same thing happen to him. Thump on the back of the legs and there was a rooster!
It escalated last night. I was feeding the pigs and I hear little footsteps coming at me fast. I turned around as fast as I could and I'll be darned if that dang rooster come to a sliding stop within a foot of me. Of course, he was very nonchalant after that like he was saying.." Who me? I wouldn't dare thump you in the back of the legs...I'm just an innocent little rooster...."
HA! Innocent rooster, yeah right! That darn thing was going to claw my legs and I know it.
And even further proof that he was out to get me...this was taken a few seconds after I walked by him.
Definitely out to get me.
Plus these darn roosters crow all day long as part of a competition. It was cute at first, but now it's extremely annoying. And I just figured out why Max was howling in the mornings. He was answering the chickens! He did it a little tonight while I was feeding the pigs, which is funny because he never used to howl.
A rare picture of the diversity of our farm. I spy a chicken, a pig who is out of his pen, a spunky little kitten and a dog who wants nothing more than to chase the rest of the animals in the picture.
Our remaining Royal Palm turkeys who thankfully turned out to be a male and a female. Can't decide if we should breed them or eat them.
And a little fellow who was very curious.
When I ordered chickens, I ordered a straight run of Silver Laced Wyandottes. But I'm pretty sure this guy is a Dominique. You just never know what you will get with a chicken order!
Grrr...if there are any sewers out there that know the pain of having a sewing machine die in the middle of a big project...you feel my pain.
Blogging has been minimal, because I've been strapped to my sewing machine for the past couple weeks. And of course, the sewing is all out of love!
When I first became pregnant, I didn't think I would want to do a complete nursery since we are renting. First of all, it hurt too much to think about my house in town and how much nicer the nursery would be there. I got over feeling sorry for myself and decided that planning a nursery was a right for any expectant mother.
And so it commenced...the ripping off of old wallpaper...discovering mold behind said wallpaper...cursing at the cracks between wall and ceiling...cursing at the painting of the ceiling and finally the finished product of a nicely painted blue green nursery. I thought I was having a boy until the last two weeks before the ultrasound. I kept having very vivid dreams about painting a little girl's room a pretty blue green...and so after I found out the baby was a girl you can guess what happened first!
See that? That's called too darn many rows of ruffles! And I made TWO of them! I can't help it, but I fell in love with this shower curtain. And after I saw this tutorial, I just knew I could make them into curtains. I would never have attempted this project if I didn't have a serger and a ruffle foot attachment for my sewing machine. I am definitely not a glutton for punishment, which is what sewing 1/4 inch seams on all of that fabric would be.
Sorry for the poor pictures. 7:00 at night in a room with a north east orientation = poor lighting.
They definitely need to be hung higher to hide the dark wood trim, but I am very happy with them. It makes me so happy that I could make something so pretty for my little girl. On to the next nursery project!
And on to lusting after a new sewing machine...
Water the pigs, write a blog post, move the cattle, update facebook, feed the chickens, create a logo, mow the lawn, work on the website and on and on and on. Local, sustainable farming can be lucrative (I might be using that word a bit loosely) but it's going to take direct-marketing to do so. And it's not easy. The learning curve for sustainable farming is STEEP but add direct-marketing into the mix and it's downright ridiculous!
As you can tell, most of our initial marketing has been internet-based because, if for no other reason, it's cheap and
easy easier. As we have more products to sell, we will expand to farmer's market and other venues and try additional advertising avenues (like newspapers). It's just such an interesting melding of new and old. Most of our agricultural practices are those of our grandparents and their parents, yet our marketing activities are more in tune with junior high kids! In fact hiring one to blog, tweet, update, and chat wouldn't be a bad idea.
At the end of the day though, focusing on the quality of your products and the quality of your relationships with your customers will be the keys to long term success. And those values transcend generations.
(FYI, we'll be working on our virtual farm over the holiday weekend and hope to have some neat new stuff to show you next week!)