A Time To Build; A Time To Destroy

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When I moved into my place in 1986, there were a lot of things that I was worried about.  I was talking to the Lord a lot then and I heard Him say not to be afraid of the giants in the land.  So we purchased it and started dealing with the giants.

One of those giants was the house.  It was a late 40’s or early 50’s mobile home with a shell built around it.  It had a 12’X20” addition on one side and was only put on the place for a summer get-away.  The master bedroom was 9’X10’ and was swamped when we put the bunk beds in there for the two oldest boys.  My husband and I slept on a hide-a-bed in the living room.  The second bedroom was so small it was hard to use as a storage room and much later when I had to loft a bed in there, the mattress barely fit and there was only a foot between that and the closet.  Imagine trying to make that bed. The bathroom was so small that I could sit on the toilet, brush my teeth and spit in the sink, adjust the heat on the bathtub, and turn the light off and on without rising.

After we added 2 babies to the living room/bedroom, we built an addition to the end of the trailer that matched the first part.  That space was 12’X20’ and I put 3 bedrooms in there.  Each one was 6’ wide with a 4’X8’ loft bed. One of these had two lofts…..one halfway up with a crib mattress.  This is when I gave the oldest boys in their own space, the youngest boys a shared space, and made the storage room back into a bedroom for my daughter.

I have done a lot of patching on this trailer to make it serviceable.  The floors have hardboard over soft places.  I have put in windows and doors to improve access and light.  I took out the smallest bedroom when my oldest son moved out so we could have more room in the dining room to sit at the table.  I have stuffed paper into the cracks between the trailer and the shell to slow the wind in the winter.  I took out the trailer window so that there was an open window between the trailer and the living room.  I have repaired the floor in the bathroom when we started getting sea sick on the toilet. I have varnished and painted to no avail.  It looks good for a week then the stains on the ceiling show through. There are too many holes to patch so mice, rats, and skunks have gotten in there.

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Now it is time…..time to take the trailer out.  I have already removed the dividing walls in the addition to make one room.  Now I need to remove the trailer walls and roof to build something within the shell to allow me the space I need to hold workshops and training programs here.  The frame for the floor was sturdy so I wanted to keep it as a foundation.  I was going to do it myself but I was told that someone might want to do the job for the salvage.  So I put an ad on Craigslist and the “fun” began.

I was told by some that I was an awful person for wanting others to do the job for me while keeping the most valuable piece of the trailer, the floor frame.  One email was really nasty.

I was told they would be here at a certain time to do the job and they never came, never called.  This happened several times.

One group came, did part of the job, promised to return the next day, took one of my good tools and never came back, never called.

One person came and was slower than molasses in January.  She did do some work, but it was so inefficient that I could have done the job twice as fast by myself.  This one actually tried, but did not keep the boundaries that I had laid out so I did not allow her the bonuses that she wanted.  She got so mad that she left with nothing. This event is a long story which is truly sad.

So I get to go back to the old saying that if I want something done right, I have to do it myself.  It is sad in a way, but somehow I never expected anything else.

Here I am.  I have built.  Now I am destroying, so I can build again. This process is part of growth, part of moving on in life.

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But the shell is showing the promise of its new life to come.

With One Thing And Another

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Four weeks have gone by in a flash.  That is one of the interesting things about farming; days are full and overflowing with things to do.

I have the usual chores to do and I am making cheese about every 3 days.  Chores themselves take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours every morning and 1/2 hour every night.  I have cleaned the chicken house and caught the baby pigs that were left when the mother decided to go find the boar again.  Now I get to feed these guys instead of the mother doing it.

I obtained a 1926 Maytag wringer washer and I am using that and my outdoor line for laundry.  Oh, how I love the smell of line dried clothes.

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I have been working on my house.  The roof leaks so I have been up there several times to find the leaks and patch them.  I am trying to get the inside ready to live in again.  I miss my house.  Living in an RV is not the easiest thing.  I have a lot of work to do on this project.

I have been making soap.  My new favorite scent is anise.  Yummy!  It will be a couple of weeks before I can use that one, but you can bet I’ll have that in the house soon.

I have been trying…..and trying to get labels made so that I can sell my soap.  I don’t know if it is the printer, the computer, the program, or the labels but nothing I try has worked. There are hours that I have lost in that process that frustrates me.  The note in my journal for a whole day says “worked on all, failed on all.”

Work is progressing around the farm……until Katrina got distracted and our major helper finished working off the goat pack saddles that he wanted.  But I will keep going.  Things have to get done.  We still need a better fence for the chickens but the one for the goats is great.  I love seeing the property for the first time in years as the girls clean the blackberries out.

I have been asked to love on a baby pig so the new owner can have a pet.  That is totally what I can do.  Love on babies of all kinds.  But it takes time and one of them is a squealer.  No matter how much I work with her, she has to make a LOT of noise.  But she is at least not shaking anymore and I can pet her in the pen without her running away.

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I have a new grandson and a plethora of birthday parties to attend.

We have been working with the filly and very pleasantly surprised at her progress.  We filmed the work with her the second time in a halter.  See that here.

Then I work off the farm 4 days a week.  When I leave it takes the focus out of the day.  When I get home it takes a while to get back to work.  And there have been a couple of days with the heat that I have not made it past the patio table and a glass of water.

Living off the grid has its own challenges.  Like when I get ready to do something on my computer and I open it up to see that it did not get shut off properly and I have no battery to work with, or I find that I left something in the RV on and it drained the whole power supply……and sometimes it is too late in the evening to turn on a noisy generator.  In the summer when it is peaceful and quiet in the evenings the sound of the generator echoes across the valley and could disturb the neighbors 1/4 mile away so I go without power for another day.  I do enjoy time with candles.  It is a pleasant way to end a day.

And one of my favorite parts of summer, our yearly weekend long square dance.  That is a special time with special people.  Some come from Canada and some drive at least 2 hours to get there.  And Jim Hattrick is one of my favorite callers.  I wanna call like him when I grow up!

And summer is also loaded with produce to preserve for the winter.  I just started two batches of lacto-fermented pickles. I have harvested blueberries and there is a bunch of apples waiting to be made into applesauce and blackberries to pick.

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I am ready for things to slow down a bit.  I started a hand braided rug that will be a project for quiet evenings.  I also found a beautiful piece of wood in the forest that I will be making into a headboard for my bed.  I have some more wandering around to find some more parts but that is an extremely pleasant job.

So with one thing and another four weeks have gone by.  I hope that your summer is going great.  Please leave a comment and let me know how you are doing.

Rabbit Motherhood

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I have been raising rabbits for a while and the birthing process still amazes me.  The calendar is marked to when the 30 days will be up for her to kindle.  We start watching her close about a week before she is due.  That is when we put a nesting box in for her to start building her nest.  This box is open at a diagonal across one end so the babies don’t fall out before they are ready to start exploring.  I feed a lot of extra hay to the doe at the same time so that she has some to eat and some to build her nest with.  I love watching this process.  Motherhood is a miracle no matter what the species.

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I have watched the does pick up mouthfuls of hay and still pack more into her mouth until I thought she would choke on it.  Then she takes it to her nest and comes back for more.  Soon the box has a deep layer of hay for the babies to be born in.

Next I watch for her to start pulling fur.  She will pull mouthfuls of fur off of herself to make a warm bed for her babies.  One evening she has a little pile and the next morning she has a huge pile of fur with kits snuggled under it.  I have mostly let the does do their own thing and have has success with that, but I have been advised to check the nest within a few days in case a kit has died and the mother did not clean it up.  That could bring disease and other ugly things into the nest.  We actually checked this most recent litter earlier than normal and found a very small baby that I am feeding on an alternate schedule to the doe.  I don’t know if it would have survived or not, but I have claimed this one for my pet.  Her name is Button.

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I like spending time petting and letting my doe know me so at this time she is not totally freaked out at me attending things for her.  I need to do more because I was been bitten by the upset mother when I got into her nest to find the runt.  It did not break the skin, but it made me jumpy as she intended.  I have more respect for her now and have been giving her even more personal time.

It is said that the doe gives birth to between 4 and 8 kits with each kindling.  Ours have always had between 8 and 10.  They are born blind and hairless and need about 2 weeks before they open their eyes and be ready to start eating solid foods.  The rabbit only feeds her young at dawn and dusk.  This is nature’s way of protecting the wild young from predators for a while.  Of course the ones in cages don’t need that, but nature will prevail.  I saw a video on YouTube of a rabbit feeding her young in a garden.  You can check that out here.  I watched it over and over again.  It is well worth the time.

I have watched the mother push the fur aside when it is hot outside and help regulate the temperature of her babies.  They have also come out from under the pile…..especially the fat ones.  They are plenty warm.  And in the winter they pull more fur and keep them well covered.  Motherhood is amazing.

As soon as the kits start coming out to eat, I start touching them as much as possible.  Especially if I know that we will want to keep them or sell them as breeding stock.  It is really hard to get friendly with a rabbit and then put them in the freezer.  That is the hardest part of farming……the loving and then eating.

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At this point we have some really special rabbits.  The ones from our Checker Giant are friendlier than most have been.  All of them come for attention when I go to feed them and some stay with me while their siblings eat.  The kits from our California Giant are calico or have the gene that may be passed along.  We bred the mother to the same buck again and got another batch of calicos.  Of course we are keeping some of them, especially since we lost the dad.  And Button is calico.

You have heard the phrase, breeding like rabbits.  Well…….we started with one and now have close to 30.   And I can’t wait to see what the new Harlequin doe produces.

 

Asking for help

I have a hard time asking for help but here it is.  I am trying to make my farm a destination for workshops and training opportunities.  I cannot do this while working and with no capital.  You can read about the project by clicking the link below.

http://www.gofundme.com/cn0fzc

Would you consider helping with a donation?  Thank you very much.

Muscovy Miracle

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There has been a miracle here on the farm.  At least I will call it that for lack of a better term.  I am sure that the 4 little Muscovy ducklings that I was about to put down considers it a miracle that they can walk again.

We have been having a little bit of a confusing situation with some of the second clutch of ducklings.  They would have a foot curled up and be walking on the top of that foot.  I would put them in a holding area so they did not get left behind someplace and they would be there for a couple of days and be okay again.  This is the first year that we have raised Muscovys and did not have a clue what was going on.  I did research but could not find any answers.

Last week I had to separate 4 out that were walking funny and I watched them get worse and worse.  To the point that they were dragging one leg behind them or not even moving a leg. I was considering putting them down so that they did not suffer.  I will not allow that to happen if I can help it.

So on Sunday I looked online one more time.  I went past the websites that had not helped me and found one that was all about birds of any sort.  I was on my phone by the holding area so I did not try to research, I just wrote an email and explained what was going on.  Right there in the rain, I reached out for help.

The website I contacted was Beauty Of Birds and by the end of that day the webmaster responded.  That in itself was impressive.  And top that with a specific answer and an interest in the outcome.  Here is what she told me.

Waterfowl that are lame typically have a niacin deficiency.   “As a supplement, it can be added to the water (it’s water soluble); however, the water needs to be changed pretty quickly (how quickly depends on temperatures / contamination, etc.).  You could also add it to the food they eat (like on wholegrain bread).   Alternatively, increase the amount of niacin-rich foods in their diet: http://tinyurl.com/2g6lx9s … Please be careful though. Some foods are toxic to birds, such as avocado.”

Then she added, “Young birds in particular have an amazing capacity to regenerate and overcome health problems quite quickly. So I wouldn’t think of destroying them until this has been tried.”

Since I am a believer in natural healing I do not have a lot of pharmaceutical supplements around but I do have Nutritional Yeast.  I immediately put a liberal amount on their grain.  And again the next morning and every morning since.  Today is Thursday and I let those ducklings out of the holding area today and they ran…..and I mean RAN, to the creek.  They had water, but they wanted the creek and the freedom!  To me it is miraculous how something as simple as Niacin can make a difference between life and the death of those ducklings.

In 4 days those ducklings went from totally lame to running!  How cool is that!!!

I have studied natural health and healing for people and use what I know for the animals in my care.  And I am totally sure that our Creator made everything for our healing and health.  This is another example of His wisdom.

I want to publicly thank Sibylle for her quick response and for saving the lives of my Muscovy ducklings.  They spoke their thanks in the mad dash for the creek!

The Power Of A Work Station

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I have done things the hard way for so long that I am truly amazed when I get something working right.  In “Industrious But Not Too Bright” I told about how I was  hauling 5 gallon buckets from the creek through the mud to water the rabbits and the goats that were in the lower barn at that time.  The pig scrap buckets were not rinsed out and the rabbit water bottles were not washed.

Then I got the water pipes to the garden fixed and had the awesome pleasure of watering with a hose.  That made things so much easier, but I was still not getting some things done that would require me to haul things to the house or bend over for extended periods of time.  I know that the hose was working fine…..sorta.  We filled a bucket with water then filled the rabbit bottles from there.  But we didn’t clean them very often, but the scrap buckets were rinsed.  It was a huge step in the right direction.

The other day I went a bought an old sink from a recycle place and made a 2X4 stand for it.  It did not have any knobs so I plugged both tops and one side of the faucet assembly.  To the other side we put a car water heater hose and clamped it to provide the water.  Then it was attached to our hose with a Y attachment.  What a great investment in time and resources!

This work station is beside the lower barn and serves to water the rabbits, chickens and ducks.  Now I have the water at the right height, I have the rocks there to use as scrubbing agents for the rabbit watering bottles, and a scrub brush sitting right there where it is easily used on messy buckets.  And these tools are not scattered all over the ground looking cluttered and messy.  I have soap there to wash my hands when I am done in the garden.  I can even get a glass of water if I am thirsty.  I still have a hose nozzle for bigger jobs like cleaning carrying cages and tent sides.

This is not a new concept for me.  I just seem to forget how great it is while I labor away at daily tasks.

I have my dairy room.  That is truly my favorite work station.  It is arranged, stocked, and a very efficient work area.  There are tools available so I don’t have to run after anything.  I even have hot and cold running water……..and lights.  What a concept. The power here is that I don’t have to run my milking equipment and jars in and out of the house taking up space in my kitchen.  I have a dedicated refrigerator so milk doesn’t overflow in my house.  I don’t have to overlap myself as I do the everyday chores that come with the farm.

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I have my greenhouse.  It is out of commission right now, but I am getting it back into production soon.  It had all the tools that I needed for starting plants and taking care of them…..including running water.  Working in there was a pleasure, especially in the early spring when I was desperate to get out of the house.

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I have my lower barn.  We have just repaired half of it and it is now arranged to be efficient and stocked with whatever I will need.  Tools, feed, extra equipment.  There is no running water in that barn…..or lights.  But it is efficient and will be more so when we get the other half rebuilt.  Maybe I will put the freestanding sink in there.  I also have some plans for an awesome water provider for the chickens.  Stay tuned.  I will let you know if it works like I think it will.   The power again is in doing the everyday work more efficiently.  And when we get efficient, we can get a lot more done in the long run.

And I have a lot to get done.

What are your favorite workstations?

Dozer, The Wonder Dog

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If there was a perfect dog for my farm, Dozer is definitely it.  My daughter says that she would have gladly paid lots of money for this dog if we had had to buy it.  But the way we got him makes him even more perfect.  Read about that here.

I was told that he did not like it in the house.  But first thing in the morning he likes to come in and sponge up some loving.  That is also the only time that he tries to get on the bed.  If I am in it, he wants to be there too.  Have you ever had a Great Pyrenees lay on top of you?  He is rather heavy.  And that cold nose pressed against my face…….priceless.

And the other time that he almost insists on coming in is right before bed.  And if he has not gotten the time that he feels he deserves then it is hard to get him outside.  I like to brush him in the evening for a few minutes and then let him sleep for a while.  When I am ready to put him out, he goes out the door and immediately tells the entire world that he is back on duty.  Without fail.  He barks about 4 or 5 times and then looks for something to protect.

For a couple of weeks now there has been something showing up in the middle of the night that really worries him.  He barks but stays beside the house.  Whatever it is he does not like.  After a minute or so my GerLabSky starts whining at the door.  I let him out and the two of them chase off whatever it is and everything gets quiet again.  I would love to know what is out there.  I may need to get a spotlight.  Or…..I may not want to know.

During the day he is also an active guard dog.  He chases crows and hawks but ignores flying chickens and ducks.  And how does he know the difference?  My daughter started yelling at him one afternoon thinking that he was barking at her horse, but I told her to see what he was looking at and there he was barking at a circling crow.  I had a sick bunny out in the grass one day and he came over and sat beside her. I looked around and noticed that there was a hawk in a tree not far from us.  He sat there until that hawk was gone.  How did he know???

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All my dogs go on the round of chores with me and they all wait their turn when I am throwing bread to everything.  I break it into chunks and drop it on the ground for the ducks and free range chickens and they stand there waiting their turn.  Dozer just stands there with all these little animals running around his feet without a thought of aggression.

If a vehicle drives up, he is on duty to tell me there is someone here.  He looks formidable, but as soon as the door opens he is there looking for attention or checking out the occupants for safety.  I don’t know which.  He knows the difference between cars too.  He knows when it is someone regular.  That is when he barks a couple of times and then lets them alone.  So when I am away from the house, I can tell if I have to come and greet a visitor or if it is someone that knows their way around.  How cool is that?  And I have also seen him not really want to let someone onto the place.  So I am sure that if there was in danger, he would be there to protect me.

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My four year old granddaughter loves to maul him.  She has tried to ride him, sits on him when he is laying down, snuggles with him, bosses him around (not that he listens, but she tries), and can eat without getting her food snatched away.  He gets really agitated when she goes down the driveway on her little tricycle.  He is not supposed to go down there…..so she shouldn’t.

His eyes are expressive.  They seem to have thought behind them.  I don’t know what it is, but I am learning some of the ways that he communicates.  He tried to tell me that I should go check the ducklings that were stuck in the pipe.  He tried to tell me that the horse was foaling.  What else have I missed that he was trying to tell me?  I have to learn his language so that I miss fewer things.

He taught me not to go after him if he is being aggressive off the property.  He decided to scare the neighbor down the hill and I went after him.  He just saw me coming and walked quietly the other way……and kept going as long as I was trying to get to him.  When I gave up and started for home, he followed right along.  He has never gone down the hill to do that again.  But a few weeks later the same thing happened with the neighbors up the hill.  I, of course, did the same thing.  I went after him.  He saw me coming and as long as I followed him, he wandered on up the hill.  When I went home, so did he.  But we have that worked out.  If he gets off the place I just tell him to get home and he comes.  I have to assume that he will do it and he does.  He has not done that again.  And I will not follow him.

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He is always happy.  If he is not wagging his tail, he is in some posture that communicates bliss.  Even when he is asleep he appears happy.  I have been totally blessed by this dog.  I cannot imagine a better livestock guarding dog……and friend.

Mare Mired, Miraculously Moved

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During Mom’s birthday party on Sunday, I found my mare upside down in our deep, narrow creek. She was surrounded by alder saplings, the largest of which her neck had landed against, had pushed her head around onto her shoulder and was restricting her breathing. Her front half was almost in a normal laying position, but her back was twisted and both back legs were lying against the steep creek bank, pointed almost straight up.

It was one of the most frightening moments of my life… You’d better believe I screamed for my mama like a scared kid.
Everybody came running… Mom, her boyfriend Sam, my 4 brothers, and 3 of our kids that were visiting for Mom’s Bday.

We were a well-oiled machine… Mom and I instantly went to the horse, soothing her and making sure she didn’t move. Sam ran for the handsaw, and my brothers started clearing brush and ripping small trees out of the ground with their bare hands.
When Sam got back with the saw, my oldest brothers took turns sawing away the larger saplings with a speed I’ve never seen before. When one started to get winded, the other jumped in, while my younger brothers hauled the cut trees out of the way and calmed the frantic children.

When they got to the tree holding her neck back, I covered her eyes and leaned over her head to keep her safe and still. 3 brothers held the tree while the other sawed as quickly as his arms could move…
The tree came free, was instantly snatched out of the way, and all of us sprang back.
Her neck unfolded, and she laid in the creek for a heart-stopping minute while she rested. Finally, Sam got her foal to nicker to her, which Moon responded to with incredible effort. She scrambled with her front legs until she could twist around enough to kick off from the creek bank with her back legs. She climbed out of the creek bed, gathered her foal to her side, and walked off to graze.

No cuts. No noticeable bruising, swelling, heat, or tenderness. No panic, colic, limping, or appetite change. One tiny droplet of blood on one ankle from a blackberry poke.
And the rescue took less than 10 minutes.

Thank god my brothers were there… Sure, their children may be traumatized for life, but my horse is fine! Thank you guys SO much. You’re my heroes…
Mom and I signed up for this crazy life, but you saved the day this time.

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

The Power Of Community

Behind the trailer I have always seen myself as a loner.  As someone who does not really want to be with very many people.  I don’t ask for help, but I enjoy helping others.

When I was in my early 20s I wanted nothing more than to be outside alone with my horse and dog.  Then I discovered square dancing.  I loved the activity so much that I learned to love the people.  Here was a group of people that came together to have fun.  We dropped the cares and un-pleasantries at the door.  You cannot square dance without 8 people.  So when we squared up, we introduced ourselves, sometimes hugged, and then worked at helping everyone in that square have fun.  I have walked into halls in different states where I knew no one, and walked out feeling like I had friends.  We talked, we touched, we laughed, we danced, and we loved.  That was my community.

Even though I love God, I hate church.  I would go in the door, say hello to a few people (maybe), look at the back of heads as I listen to someone talk at us, and then go home.  Boring!  No connection.  No interaction.  The only church I did like had potlucks every week and made it a habit to help each other.  I worked with them as they helped their people and they even built me a chicken house.  I would still be there if I could have handled their particular set of beliefs.  I was there for 2 years and have never found another church like it.  But it created a hunger in me.

On the farm, my family was my community.  That is until they were grown with children of their own.  My daughter is building the farm with me now and it is a total pleasure to be working with her.  But we can’t seem to get everything done.  We both work 3-4 days a week……mostly different days, so our weekends are all we have…..and usually only one day of that.  We do get a lot done but we are always behind.  And I could not get much done that was not directly farm related.

Until now.  My boyfriend organized a work party weekend for my birthday.  He invited people to come and help me do at least one project that I have not been able to get to.  I would never have done that.  I have pride you know.  But I found out that there were a lot of people that would have come if they could and that amazed me right there, but people did come and work!

Six of us did what we could not have done alone.  And if one had put in the same amount of man-hours it would not have come out the same.  There is synergy in working together.  We talked, we laughed, we hugged, we sweated, we bled, we ate, and we loved.  What an excellent day.  Even the 4 year old granddaughter had important jobs.  She kept people in water, handed out bandages, and hauled branches.  And, of course, she kept us entertained.

Day two of my weekend surprised me with all my kids and most of the spouses and grandkids.  We introduced the kids to the animals and let them milk the goats then headed into some heavy work.  Hauling 300-500 pound posts was easy for 4 boys at once……and with a truck.  Picking up large rocks for the parking spot went fast as the kids worked together.  Again the synergy of working together made the work go fast, easy, and fun.

The thing that I keep coming back to is that people used to help each other all the time.  Remember the stories of barn raisings?  Quilting bees?  People worked their tails off alone most of the time but when the opportunity came, they helped each other too. I read a book by Ralph Moody (the author of Little Britches) called Fields Of Home.  His grandfather was working his farm alone.  He was struggling to get things done and feeling like a failure.  Then Ralph came to live with him.  There was a bit of getting used to one another that came with that, but with them working together, they brought the farm back to a prosperous life.  They even had a barn raising with all the neighbors coming to help.

And I keep hearing from the blogging community about the necessity of having a community online too.  I have not quite figured out how to develop that yet, but you can bet that I am going to figure it out.

All this being said, I am throwing out my pride and opening my farm to people:

who want to help

who want to experience farm life for a few hours

who want to get their hands dirty

who want to learn who want to witness the synergy of working together

 

I have to finally realize that I am not an island.  I am not all sufficient.  I am not strong enough to do it all by myself.  And I have to finally admit that I am not Wonderwoman!  I need people….my own community built around my farm and theirs, or around my blog and theirs.  And I want to also see this community helping each other.  We could have workdays, potlucks, “barn raisings”,  group phone calls, and be active in loving one another.  I believe that is the way a community should work.  I have heard for a long time that is where the power is.   That is where the personal growth can be.  I want to experience this in its fullness.

In addition, I am also going to be offering paid workshops a little later in the year.  Here is a partial list of items that I am working toward……butchering, hide tanning, building outdoor oven and/or smoker, cheese and soap making, and maybe even building a cob or strawbale house.  If any of this interests you, the people who have worked could attend these for free…..or help teach!

Let me know what interests you.  Are you looking for a community?  What do you want help with?  What do you want to learn?  Where can we come together to love one another?

 

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Electric Fencing: I Love It, I Hate It

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When we went to purchase fencing for our farm, we did a lot of research.  Field fencing was really expensive and I could see that it would be hard to use up and down my hill.  Compound that with all the dips and humps, using it would be a trick. Goats also like to put their feet on the fence and it would soon be broken down.  Barbed wire was not even an option.  I could not allow that to be used.  Imagine what would happen to a goat with a good sized udder getting hung up in that.  Not a pretty idea.

So we went with 5 strand electric fencing with a 12 volt charger.  Putting it up was fairly easy.  One person unrolled the wire while another one walked the fence line dragging it behind.  I was the one walking.  I already had the corner posts in and had porcelain insulators ready.  As I got to a corner, I put the wire through the insulator and kept going.  I connected them all together at the far corner of the property.  When we got all five strung and gently stretched, we pounded in t-posts at strategic spots and attached the insulators.  The fence went up and down with the terrain and looked good.  I love my fence.

I hate my fence.  Some of the goats would not honor it and kept going through the wires to eat my fruit trees.  And they somehow knew when the battery was low so that the zap was not painful.  For those girls I put a forked stick on their collar.  This sticks up over their shoulders and down to at least their chest.  When they try to go through the fence, the stick catches on the fence and they couldn’t just slip through.  A couple of times of that and they learned, but I also had to make sure the battery was always charged.

The property next to mine belongs to people who logged it.  It was nice getting more southern sun in the winter, but the first winter wind took out a bunch of the trees that they left as a buffer.  These went right across my fence.  I cut the trees into firewood.  My fence survived what I thought would be a catastrophe.  I stood up my posts.  The wires did not break and I just had to find new insulators to make it functional again.  I love my fence.

I hate my fence.  When I have to do anything around the fence I either have to go turn it off or take the chance of getting shocked.  I bet you can guess that I have gotten shocked a lot and so have my children.  I am so scared of that fence that I hate touching it even when I know that I have it turned off.

Electric fencing can be versatile.  I can isolate wires so that only some of them are on.  During the dry season, I do this so that the wires themselves are the ground.  When the ground is dry there is not enough shock to keep the calf in unless I do this.  This year I learned that electric wire holds pigs.  They have not tested it since they first got trained.   I have my first wire about 12 inches off the ground.  Now I don’t even have to have it on.  The pigs have that much respect for the fence.  I love my fence.

Today, I hate my fence.  I just spent four hours weedeating around the whole thing.  It had gotten out of hand and the grass was high.  I also have the worst built weedeater that has been produced.  It catches long grass and winds it around the base until the wheel will not turn.  So I have to dig the grass off every few minutes.  But part of that is my fault.  If I had not let the grass get so tall, it would not have been such a chore.  This is the part that I don’t like the most; weedeating around the fence every week during each spring and early summer.  So I avoid it…..until the grass is too long and the goats figure that it is off and they can get to the fruit trees.  Why the fruit trees?  There are lots of other places that they could get out and not be such a problem.  But they have to eat the fruit trees. Darn things.

Electric fencing has an open feel and does not make my place look closed in.  And after the weedeating is done, it is beautiful.  I LOVE my fence.