Sunday, May 29, 2011

Small Farm Research Off to a Good Start

I have been working my way through quite a few books about farming and eating locally and well anything that brings me closer to the food I eat. With my attentions span I have managed to start about eight books and finish none, not to mention the list of books I want to buy but can't justify the purchase until I finish the ones I have. There is just so much to learn and I just can't seem to focus on one book at a time.

I am learning a lot about farming from working on one too.  I need to finish You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise,The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America's Emerging Battle Over Food RightsMini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 AcreIn Defense of Food: An Eater's ManifestoThe Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, and A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold | Summary & Study Guide. That is just the books about food I also have quite a few books about writing and tons of fiction books to read. Once I finish the books relevant to this blog I will post reviews here.

I can't shake this cold or sinus thing that I have. I feel better and then I go work on the farm for a day and I feel like crap again. If it is not gone by Tuesday I am going to the doctor but I am not all that confident in doctors these days. They just want to give you a pill to make things better and then another pill for the side effects from the first pill and so on and so forth until you don't remember what you went to the doctor for in the first place.

Right now it is in my chest for the most part so I have switched from taking Sudafed to Mucinex and I am hoping that will help. I have today to take it easy then I am back to work on Monday. I would really prefer to find some sort of natural remedy for this but I also want to get back to feeling like a human again.

When I felt good I loved going to the farm and now I still love it for the first hour or two then I start dragging because I don't feel good. It is the same way at home with chores and chickens and the garden at my moms house. All the things I enjoy are being affected by the sickness that has claimed my body for more than a week now.

If you are the praying type please pray for me to get better! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Backyard Chickens and Farm and Garden Work

Veggie Garden In

My last week has been crazy. I am working Mondays and Fridays at the farm and it has been fun except that I have been sick. My sinuses are killing me. Despite that I have only missed one day (yesterday) and I plan on making it up today.

We went to my mom's house Monday and got the fencing up and carrots, radishes and three types of onions planted. Then on Saturday we planted a ton of different peppers and tomatoes and garlic, beans, spinach, brussel sprouts, cucumbers and zucchini. I might be missing a few things but it is really a huge garden. I am so excited that we got it planted with all the rain we have had it was rough finding the time in between rain showers to get things done.

My hubby also planted a few things here. I have a rose bush that nearly died on the side of the house that I used to plant flowers around. Since it probably won't fully recover this year he planted two pablano peppers and a roma tomato plant out there. I have another roma tomato on the porch and as well as a bunch of salad greens.

I am really bad at taking pictures but I must get some for you soon. I will have to charge the camera and take it out next time I go to my moms and take some pictures of all the things I have been missing.

Chicken Update
They are growing up so fast. I am amazed at how big they are. I think they are just over 6 weeks but I lost count. They can't get through the holes in the fence but a few of them can slip through the gaps where the gates open. They are out a lot these days as long as we are home to check on them every half an hour or so.

The best news is the dog has stopped bothering them as long as we go out with her. Well that is my guess anyway we don't leave her outside alone with the chickens. She wants to chase them when they start to fly but she has been very good at listening when we call her. It makes me happy that my chickens and my dog can exist together peacefully.

So with the all this stuff consuming my time plus having to get the house cleaned and yard work completed I just feel like I am running myself down. My hubby has picked up a few chores since being laid off but I might have to start leaving him a list. He has asked me what he can do and he does exactly what I asked him to do so I am not complaining.

I suppose I can't blame him for not knowing what the next logical step is when it comes to house work but it bothers me that he only completes the one task I ask him to do. I don't know if it is just a man thing or just a don't know what to do next thing but either way I have to make a more detailed list of things that could be done around here. I might just make a master list for the week that way he can choose what chores he would like to do I am not picky any help would be great and it isn't like he is refusing to do things but with neither of us working a job that pays in cash there is no excuse for a super messy house or the yard not looking nice.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Farming is Fun

I really wish I could remember to take some pictures when I go out to Schooner Farms. Since I can't remember I will just give you a basic update and share a cute goat picture with you. They don't have goats but I love the picture.

On the Farm

Well I have been out to Schooner Farms three times now. It is a very nice farm as far as I can tell they plant berries and veggies. They also have bees and chickens and I went home on my long day with a dozen eggs and a chicken. I won't always get food but I am considering purchasing a share. It is kind of expensive but well worth it to know where the food I put on the table came from. My mom said she would buy the veggies we don't like and show me how to preserve things we can't eat right away.

I have to say I really enjoyed the work. I dug a lot of trenches for potatoes and was able to learn about the whole potato planting process. I also planted leeks and some type of cabbage and sifted compost and raked freshly tilled walking areas. I am quite the wimp but I have been working through the aches and pains. I take breaks when my hip (the one I broke two years ago) starts to act up. Despite the aches and pains I feel great compared to days of sitting at a desk or on the couch.

I am slow but I get the work done and I hope to speed up as my body gets used to working harder. I am hoping to learn a lot more because the more I read and the more I work the more I am longing for the country life. I find myself thinking about pushing off other responsibilities to go spend some time gardening or out with the chickens.

At Home
I have spent a lot of time on the chicken coop and now that it is finished I am hoping to get it moved to an area that gets sun most of the day not just over half the day. I would also like it in a flatter area but I am not sure how we are going to get that done. I have spend quite a few hours letting the girls roam the yard but I have to keep a close eye on them so for now they can only come out when I am free to watch them.

Remember those dozen eggs I got from the farm? Well I was eating one or two for breakfast most days and can I say YUMMY! Would it be too childish to say Yummy again? I have never liked an egg so much in my life. I can't wait to taste the chicken. So now I can't wait until my chickens start producing.

Other news in my life is that I have a few projects to work on. None of it looks to be paid anytime soon but I am going to have to organize my time better. I have grant stuff to work on and book reviews to do and a few other things. I love to write so as long as some of this leads to paying work in the future I am fine with it but I can't always do this stuff for free. I guess I will have to write some goals and timelines and if things are not working out by a certain date I will have to evaluate and drop some unpaid work.

New Goals

So my new goals look like this:

  • Make a to do list every day
  • Don't sit idle until the list is finished
  • Don't waste time surfing the net
  • Learn how to organize my day so that I get the most done.
  • Write 2 blog posts a week for this blog 
  • Find other writers that want to write for Dark Novels and just write when I can.
  • Write an Examiner article once a week
  • Work on grants after meeting with the ladies I will be writing for
  • Keep the house clean (this one I hate)
There are many more things that will go on my to do list but for now those are some of the things I find important. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Big Dose of the Country Life

My Week in Review

On Monday I spent about 6 hours planting potatoes at Schooner Farms. It was a great learning experience as well as an amazing workout. I slept better than I had in months that evening. I was so sore the next day I was not able to do much in the morning so I watched Food, Inc. It was a great program highlighting big business and government control of our food system.

I have seen the footage before of the chickens that have no room to move but I didn't realize just how bad the supermarket chicken supply was. What was really sad is that to produce for the big companies a farmer must go deeply in debt to build a chicken concentration camp and again each time they decide to upgrade.  Then the farmer is truly, as the Bible says "slave to the lender." They must comply or they face loosing their farms.

I am a big Dave Ramsey fan and I don't really like the concept of debt. I am not as intense as Dave but I don't ever plan to finance anything other than a home again. I learned a few things from this video about bucking the system. I am a little worried about the location of the small farm we eventually buy. I don't want to be at war with neighboring farmers that work for the bigger businesses. I want a peaceful place where I can sell to a select few and produce much of my own food.

Chickens, Chickens and More Chickens

On Wednesday I tried to stain the chicken coop. I took the chickens out and stuck them in the poorly constructed temporary pen. I made it out of stakes and garden netting but it works well for short periods. Sadly the stain was not working on the rough surface so we had to sand it and get more stain. It took half the day and I still need to get out there and touch it up today.

After a long day I put the dog in the house and let the chickens roam free for about a half an hour in the yard. I would love to do this more but I need to supervise. So this morning I let them out for about an hour and a half mostly supervised. I did come in and grab a snack and cook breakfast for my hubby. They stayed where I could see them out the back window.

Once they can't get through the holes in the fence I think I will let them out more, I just have to train the dog not to chase them. I did find out yesterday that now that they are outside the dogs only real interest in them is to make them run. She found her way under the pens fencing and chased them out and around for a few seconds before I caught her.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Chicken Coop Done

Before Enclosed

 Building A Coop

Wednesday we went out to the grandparents house to work on the chicken coop. Grandpa had been working on it all morning and my hubby helped him finish it. I tried but I with my limited knowledge of how things work I ended up being the hold this, hand me that girl.

By the end of the day it was finished and we were happy with it. Grandpa was not so he made some changes before bringing it over on Thursday. I need to get a few shots of the completed coop can't seem to motivate myself to do so today because it is rainy and gloomy looking out there. 

I spent seven hours at a grant writing seminar yesterday and then came home and mowed the grass and cleaned the kitchen and moved the birds outside to a temporary pen that I also created after the seminar.  I needed to clean their tub because they had knocked their water over multiple times and adding bedding just was not working. Considering that was becoming common place and I was having to completely change the bedding once a day we decided to leave them outside.

The Finished Product

The finished coop is completely enclosed on the upper half with one large door and a small side door. It also has a drop down ladder so the chickens can get down to the area on the bottom. All 4 sides and the bottom of the lower half have chicken wire to keep out predators. The only thing bad about the thing is it is super heavy and hard to move. 

Last night we put a heavy layer of wood chippings down and put all six chickens in the nesting area where I put heaping piles of bedding. I was very worried they would be dead this morning but they are fine.  They actually seem happier to have a place to move around in. They were all huddled together at 7 am and by 9 they were walking around the upper half. They were in the basement before and considering we don't have any heat on in this house it probably isn't much colder in an enclosed wooden house. 

All in all the coop is awesome! It looks great and it is functional it will just take some muscle to move it around. Once the chickens get bigger we might try clipping some wings and let them run around the yard a bit but for now I think they will be happy out there. When I put them in the temporary pen they seemed to be much happier they were getting very crowded in there tub and they were making a huge water mess every few hours.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Urban Farming Goals

Schooner Farms
I am officially a farm volunteer now! I visited Schooner Farms yesterday and I probably talked way too much and asked way too many questions. It was raining so a physical tour was out but Mr. Schooner showed me an aerial view on the computer. They have bees, chickens and fish as well as a huge variety of edible plants. They can teach me to compost and to plant things at the right time. I learned a lot in just an hour and a half.

I go back on Monday for my first day of volunteering. I am hoping to remember my camera so I can take some pictures and write about my adventures. I am so glad I made the 45 minute drive it was worth it to learn that I have been doing some things horribly wrong in my own urban garden, like planting broccoli at the same time I plant my cucumbers.  

Garden at Mom's House
I have a dining room table full of plants that need protected from the cold nights but there are a lot of started plants. I have a grant seminar tomorrow and after that my hubby and I will head over to till the ground and prepare it for planting. I have a lot of planning and preparing to do with that and having my hubby off will help a great deal. He can help me with the hard stuff and the planting and then I should be able to take it from there.

I also have a few things for the porch garden started but I have no soil to use at the moment to expand. I have a bunch of containers to use but no dirt to put in them. I don’t think I should just dig a hole in the yard. I have salad greens and herbs planted for the porch and I would like to get some green onions planted out there and keep a tomato and pepper plant for the big pots that I have. I am not sure what else I can grow on the porch but I will start researching that as soon as I get done with the big garden and the chicken coop.

Chicken Coop
Today we go to my husband’s grandparent’s house to build a chicken tractor. It will be easy to move and it will have a nice area for them to run around in. Ryan’s grandpa can build anything so I am going to have to take the camera and snap some shots as things come together. I am so ready for the chickens to go outside but I don’t want to rush things.

I have had a bunch of busy days and I miscalculated there age in the last post they were not 4 weeks old yet. If I calculated right this time they should have been 4 weeks on Monday. The days of vomiting made me feel like an eternity had passed I guess.

As I have read they can go out at 5 weeks so if they seem ready and we have the coop done they will go out sometime next week. I am going to set up a temporary fence and give them some outdoor time to get adjusted to their new environment. We took them out last week on the 70 degree days just to see what they would do and they just stood there huddled together. We were only out there with them about 10 minutes but they were probably cold and a little scared of the new environment. So the next nice day I will have to take them out for a bit. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Life Is Good


This rainy Sunday morning is a first in my commitment to go back to the church I used to attend. I have just a few moments to type an update here and then I need to get ready. I have been making way too many excuses not to go back.

The other major change in my life is that my hubby is now out of work. He is laid off from his job and he will be home with me at least for a few weeks. I am actually glad for the time I get to spend with him and really glad we didn't buy a house.

This opens doors for a different future one where we are both happy. He is good at anything he puts his mind to doing  and I am sure there is something else out there he would be excited to do. So my goal over the next few weeks is to encourage him to look for a job he would enjoy or think of a business he wants to start.

I also think this is a really good time to consider leaving Toledo. It is sad but the job marked and housing market in this area is seriously depressing. My only requirements are we don't move somewhere colder and we stay in the USA. That could mean moving a 50 miles south to moving across the country.

Well off to church have a blessed Sunday!