Monday, June 6, 2016

The Beginning of The Coop

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've spent a lot of years dreaming about my hobby farm. It's been an idea in my head, without coming to fruition for a long time. But at some point in life, if you want to achieve your goals and dreams, you have to stop thinking about them and start acting on them. My hobby farm will forever be a dream in my head if I don't act on it, so I decided to change that this weekend.

The goats will indeed have to wait until 2017 to come to the farm, as their space is still an overgrown pasture behind the garden, and I don't have the cash saved up for the investment required to build a sturdy fence and shelter yet! I'm saving as much as I can though, and that project is slated for October once the weather cools down.

However, the chickens are looking like another story! Saturday morning, after Hendrix's soccer game, we headed to Lowe's and came home with lumber!

I dug hole posts (by hand, thankyouverymuch), sunk my corner posts, then attached the cross boards to finish with the (quite) rudimentary frame for the coop! That took all afternoon on Saturday.

Sunday, after thinking and thinking of how I could keep predators out without having to sink hardware cloth two feet into a trench in the ground, I came up with a plan that I'm hoping is effective in it's duty. We dug the whole 90 square feet of the coop/run space down about 6 inches, laid down a double layer of chicken wire, then buried it again with the dirt. We made sure the chicken wire came all the way up the sides of the dug out space to completely seal off the ground under the chickens. This way, if a fox decides to dig under the pen, they'll come up on chicken wire, which will stop them from having a chicken dinner.

It was a weekend of a lot of physical labor, but also a lot of pride! I'm happy with what we have so far. Matt and I both get paid bi-weekly now, so once I can evaluate where we stand this coming weekend, I'd like to go back to Lowe's and put the floor on the coop, as well as frame out the rest of the run.

(Side Note: Matt and I recently paid off all of our credit card debt, and my one big, no-exception rule to all of this is that we finance nothing and pay cash for everything. We worked hard for three years to pay off this debt, and I'm NOT going back to that place EVER AGAIN! That being said, this whole thing is going to come together slowly, but that's why we're starting now for the farm to be in full swing in 2017!)

Fun Side Story: We had a no-electronics or TV rule yesterday. (Actually, in the last 7 days, the kids have had 2 hours of electronics time. Love it.) As a result, they helped us dig and replace dirt. I told Hendrix that he could use his money and purchase a chicken when it came time, and that it could be his responsibility. He got so excited, it made my heart super happy. Then, Jameson wanted his own chicken as well, of course. I agreed.

Hendrix was helping like a little champ, so I decided he'd earned his chicken. He - of course - went to gloat about that in his brother's presence, so I told Jameson he had to work and earn his chicken. So the rest of the day, no matter what he did, he'd end with "Did I earn my chicken, mommy?" Haha! It was quite entertaining.

Second entertaining side story. The dog took off running to the south side of the garden and came walking back with a dead possum in his mouth - or so we thought. The darn thing was playing dead! It got up and tried to escape, and the dog ran after it, so it started playing dead again. We all went inside, and Hendrix stayed outside to watch it finally get up and run off. Bleck.

What did you get up to this weekend?

Do you have a busy week planned?
(This is Hendrix last week of school - finally!)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Our Next Adventure

If you're reading this, it means you follow my blog - THANK YOU! I have decided to go on a bit of a social media fast (other than this blog), so this link hasn't been shared anywhere.

Facebook posts have been making me legitimately angry (as in heart rate increases and I find myself gritting my teeth or clenching my fists) for a while, and I've become deeply disappointed in several people that I know and I respected (note past tense), so I've decided to just avoid social media all together for a time. It'll do me much good.

Now, down to business.
Guess what? We're NOT moving!

Hahaha! The last few "next adventures" have included a move - 1/2 way across the country on more than one occasion, and I'm ecstatic to report that our next adventure will not include packing boxes, driving a moving truck, or house hunting. Yay!

A bit of history - For several years now, the prospect of going off grid has looked great to me. Each passing year, watching the deterioration of humanity, makes it look a little more awesome.

We are not going off the grid at this point in our lives, though I refuse to say that will never happen. But we are going to start a small hobby farm/homestead, and I couldn't be more excited! I've never been one to be scared of hard work. With hard work comes a big sense of pride. I like feeling proud. 

We are an outdoory family. Our television doesn't come on M-F, and time spent staring at screens is limited on the weekends. We're outdoors 7 days a week during warmer times of the year, and still try to be out when it's cold. We appreciate and respect animals, though I don't (and won't for a second) put the worth of an animal's life over that of a human. I feel that God put animals on the earth for us, as humans, to enjoy and benefit from, and it's a healthy and sustainable relationship.

I've spent the last few months doing a LOT of research, deciding how much money we need to save to get this dream of mine off the ground, and planning, planning, planning!

This isn't a dream that's going to happen tomorrow. I'm not a patient person, and when I want something, I generally want it now. But I'm also a planner and I hate being un-prepared, so we're hoping to get everything off the ground in mid- 2017. Here's the framework of the next 12 months:

Summer 2016:
Lots of it.
I'm currently in my second book on raising dairy goats. I started reading the books after I exhausted my online resources.
Next, I'll start researching chickens.
We finally paid off our credit card debt last month, and are building our emergency fund. All other spare pennies are going into the fund to get the farm off the ground.
I've reached out to several dairy goat breeders in the area, and I'm currently on two waiting lists.
The kids (of the human variety- lol) and I are going to visit a local dairy operation next weekend to experience it and ask questions.
I'm in contact with a backyard goat farmer in my hometown, and we will go visit that farm as well, next time we are in central Indiana.

Fall 2016:
I've got plans drawn out, and costs calculated. We'll drive the posts after the garden has been harvested this year.
I'm not going into this farm with the intention of making a living (right away, at least), but I still want to know how much it costs me, what repairs were done and when, and how much I will maybe eventually need to sell products for to break even or make a profit.

Winter 2016/2017:
I've researched and have plans worked out.
Goat shelter is 1st priority, chicken coop is 2nd. If chickens don't happen in 2017, that's ok. We can add them in 2018, or later in 2017 even.
I'll probably start building in the fall, but building a shelter will give me something to work on during the long, dull winter months.

Spring 2017:
As long as we have shelter and are ready for them.

Beyond 2017:
Those dreams are a-cookin' I assure you! :)

I invite you to follow along on this awesome adventure! I may or may not create a new website or blog dedicated solely to the farm, but that remains to be seen at this point. If that happens, I'll surely share that information!