Monday, March 25, 2013

We Own A Tractor

Last night, we waited, and planted some of what we want to grow this spring (forty roma tomato seeds and some sage, to be exact). Yes, spring, if it ever gets here in full. And finally, as the snow came to a hault, Papa called to say he was coming home with a tractor. It's a simple statement, really. "We own a tractor." I had no idea it would have the effect on me that it did. My goodness. We have been searching for months, looking for the right tractor at the right price, and I have to say, it had become such a lull, a norm to be looking, that I forgot once we found one we would own a tractor. Last night, in the dark, just before the second wave of snow came our way, I could hear the rumble of the truck and trailor, borrowed, coming down the drive. In the darkness, all I could see were lights and blurs. I scurried from window to window, peeping out and trying to get a photo that could capture my emotions.

And then it hit me. We own a tractor. I felt slightly rediculous, the range of emotions that were scattering all over the place. But we're here, we have turkeys, they'll be laying eggs soon, and we have a tractor. Seems this life may just really be happening to me. Hmmm. After years of loving this place and this life, now I'm living this place and this life. No wonder I was a blubbering mess.

And this morning, as soon as food was consumed and dishes were washed, there was a trio packing on the snow suits for the last time (hopefully) and heading down to the tractor.

And this is my view from the computer, with all three piled on.

And although the girls are now all inside with me (Bella did make her way out - she wasn't feeling up to it early), the boys are still out there, climbing all over it. Getting familiar, that's what they're doing. I know that is a good thing. It will be the first thing they drive, I'm sure. And soon we'll all choose a name for our tractor. A good name. Seems these days we're surrounded by good things.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Waiting and Snowing

My, my, it is March 24th, and it is snow, snow, snowing again.

Snowing even on the dogs prized finds from the woods. We don't need to buy bones around here.

And while it is snowing, we are waiting. Waiting for Papa to let us know if he's coming home with our tractor. There has been much time devoted to searching for the right tractor at the right price, IN OUR AREA. Yes, this has been the issue. But we believe we have finally found a tractor of the proper size that can do all that we need it to do right here in our area. So, now the kids and I wait. And hope. Hope that when Papa gets there, he finds that it really is all that we have been looking for, and that we are done searching. Perhaps when we have a tractor, spring will finally be here in more than a calendar date way, and we can stop with this snow business and get on with dirt and seed and coop business. So just to help that process along, while it snows, and while we wait, Bella (my child-after-my-own-heart, my co-conspirator of garden joy, my spring-fever-sister) and I will be starting our herb and tomato seeds with the soil that she collected from our rich-soil woods. With a little help from the siblings, expert stackers, cup-fillers, and hole-punchers that they are.

Waiting and snowing - the perfect backdrop for spring seed planting.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Awaiting the Turkeys

There have been many discussions about the animals we all want on this homestead of ours. After all, we're not embarking on this adventure of homesteading without all having ideas of the life we want to lead. We want to be as self-sufficient as possible. We want to raise all that we put into our bodies. From each one of our varying personalities sprouts varying ideas of the ideal farming life. Bella wants horses and ponies. As many as she can get her hands on. This daughter of mine has a lot of me in her, she does, and gets her horse-craze genes honestly. My mom has even told her she'll try to find her old horse collection for Bella when we have moved upstairs where she will have her own safe space for them. Yes, horse loving runs in our family. Kane wants more dogs. That's all he has expressed. He is a quiet, easy-to-please soul, he is. Max wants anything that is orange. I think some orange hens will do. Laini wants 5 baby cows and 5 baby sheep. There's no doubt about that. She tells us every day. Papa wants to raise rabbits. Fast, easy food source. And I may have talked him into pigs. Mama wants her chickens, goats, bees, pigs, sheep, alpacas, oh, for a cow or two... (really, it is my dreams that need to be cut down to moderate expectations, not the kids) And on and on we go. Chickens and goats were first on our list, but as it goes, we don't always get things just as we plan them in this life.

Adam came home one night, many moons ago, and asked "Would you like to raise turkeys?" Honestly, I'm not sure that sentence could end in many words that would make the answer no for me. Maybe snakes. Don't get me wrong, I love snakes, we've had many, but I don't think I would want to raise them. But turkeys? YES! I would love to raise turkeys! We had a friend who was raising them, and she could spare us a mating pair. Our mating pair ended up being pardoned from butchering day several times before they came to us. Adam decided it was best to get us living at the farm before the turkeys, logical as he is. So after we moved in, the focus was on the turkeys and getting them here. We took our old, well worn building and made it acceptable for a short-term coop for them until we build a larger barn area this summer. Then we brought them home. After months of awaiting our turkeys, we brought them home. So in the falling snow, on Sylvia's first birthday, with the little girls napping at Nan's and Pap's house, all it took was a quick capture, wing clip, and crating, and we had our flock loaded up and heading home. (Any photos with me IN them taken by Bella, my budding photographer)

Headed home, that is, after chicken catching by Max and Kane. It took awhile and some cunning plans, but they finally caught one.

Then all had to feed the birds that were left.

And of course Bella had to visit with the horses.

I had to admire the other breed, the Narragansett. What a handsome bird.

Our first venture at self-sufficiency and farming was underway in one short trip. These turkeys are sweet, gentle, much-handled and well-mannered birds. Tame as a turkey can be. They are settling in well, and getting used to us. We named them Muslo y Pavo (Drumstick and Turkey in Spanish). They are Spanish Black turkeys, an heritage breed, and they will produce many babies for us, growing our flock, providing us food, and giving us the opportunity to sell some of the poults to offset their expense (which really is little - you'd be surprised how little a turkey eats). I couldn't be happier that this is the way we are beginning our homestead farming life. Now for that chicken coop... It's in the works, y'all, as is another project that will come along with the Easter bunny, I do believe.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Snowed In

We knew going into this adventure that the location of our farm meant a high probability for being snowed in this winter. We make sure we plan ahead, have plenty of supplies, and it is not a problem. In fact, we LIKE being snowed in. In truth, we could plan on leaving the vehicle that carries all of us at once at the top of our hill when snow is coming. We could then pack in the 4x4 and get out just fine. But it just hasn't seemed worth it yet, to HAVE to get out of here. We like being here so much that not being able to leave is a treat. Our first trip from the farm was planned for our holiday celebrations with my husband's family, just a few days after we moved in on Christmas Eve eve. We set out on an attempt to get out after a heavy coating of snow overnight. The driveway, which follow what in years past was a railroad, seemed to go on forever, and was breathtaking.

There is a black walnut tree along the driveway that was split just enough during the derecho of last summer that it is bent over. We call it our Derecho Tree. It was snow-covered and beautiful.

We made it out the driveway and tried the hill leading out of our little homestead by the creekside. We didn't make it much farther. We only nearly made it up the first hill, and this is as far as we got.

That was okay with us. Well, most of us. We were heading out for Christmas celebrations, so a few of the kids were disappointed. None-the-less, we were stuck. We inched backward until we were safely down the hill, the husband being the exceptional driver that he is, and we went back to the homestead. Ah, a snow day. Our first REAL snow day. Because, let's face it, snow days are just not what they used to be. We packed everyone inside, after letting miss Sylvia get her first feel of the snow.

Some of us took it better than others (more precisely "other", being Kane), and those that took it the best left the other in the house to nap with Papa and the littlest girls while we had a much appreciated winter hike. 

We are surrounded by a pine forest here, planted around 40 years ago on the old pature to take this valley back into forest habitat, and it was so perfect in the wet winter snow.

Just perfect.

We walked a much-loved route, exploring new places brought into a different light in the snow.

There were many spontaneous snow angels.

And when homeward bound, it was a bit warmer, and there was a bit of a wind, so there were many snow avalanches coming down from those pines.

An avalanche got each of us. Me in the woods,

Bella just as we were emerging,

and Max after Bella and I had made it clear of the fallout zone.

All in all, it was a perfect day. And by the end of it, the road was cleared and we were heading off to Columbus anyhow. We were snowed in many times in the last three months of being here, and each time was as peaceful and appreciated as the first.