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November 23, 2008

Running the farm

I am still learning how to do this farm thing. Some day, I would love for us to be much more self-sufficient when it comes to food and such. It is harder than you might think. It takes a lot of physical energy, and you have to constantly remember that there are a lot of living creatures completely dependent on you for food and water.

Like the chickens and Guinea Fowl. They need adequate clean water available at all times. They also have a nasty habit of getting the water all icky. Actually, I blame Mrs. Duck for that - she thinks all containers with water in them are her personal little ponds, and she plops herself in them (even in very cold weather) and gives herself a bath.

For some odd reason, Duck and Aflac do not put their entire bodies into the water - they just dunk their heads in.

Anyway, I often find that I need to change the water and clean the containers several times a day. Even the specialized waterers for chickens do not keep the water clean. They will sit on top of them and poop. Ick.

In the winter, I can't use water hoses to get the water to them, because they will freeze up, so I carry buckets of water to them.

And I need to get their lighting situation in the new hen house improved. Right now, there are two infrared heat lamps in it to keep the temperature above freezing, but because of the short winter days, and the lack of light, the hens do not lay eggs unless I install a light with a timer, to trick them into thinking it is not winter, so they will lay eggs!

If I can get them all to lay eggs, they should be able to pay for their own keep, important as the damned chicken feed has about doubled in price since last year, and this is supposed to be a money making venture at some time in the future! Or, at least a break-even venture!

And the goats, they actually prefer warm water in winter, or so I've been told. But I really don't like the idea of an electric cord in their part of the barn - the critters will munch on anything. So, I am going to put start boiling water a few times a day and pouring it into their cold water to make it a bit warmer.

The horses, believe it or not, are much easier. They are in a huge pasture with a small 1+ acre lake and a small pond and some streams. As long as they have adequate grass in the pasture and the occasional round bale of hay, they do pretty well by themselves.

Of course, the horses cost money - vet bills, shoeing, etc. can put a real big dent in my budget. And that is just for my two horses.

The other 7 horses here belong to Major and his brother, Andrew. They are supposed to be helping me out around the farm in return, but you know, I'm finding that they are too busy to help me out much. If I was charging them the average rate for pasture, I'd be making $100 a horse per month, which would sure make things easier. But they do not have that kind of money. Or if they do, they hide that fact pretty damn well!

Sometimes I know that people take advantage of us. We always try to help people out, but it in many cases, I feel like we are going broke without getting anything in return.

Except for Denizen Ry. When he shows up (sometimes with his lovely wife), he works his arse off helping me to mend fences and clean the barn, take care of the critters etc. Wow, what a great guy.

I wish he would teach Major and Andrew how to be more helpful.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I have got to figure out a way to earn some money. I lost my job a year ago, and that would have been fine if the market had not gone all to hell. I cannot go back to traveling all over the place and working 60 + hours a week only to be mocked for my age day in and out by the culture of youth that Cerner has developed.

I am scattered enough, though, that it is very hard for me to finish all the things I start. That does not make for a successful farm. I have got to prioritize projects and do them.

So, I am going to report each day what I plan to do and whether or not I get them done in an effort to encourage myself to NOT embarrass myself here on the blog.

Therefore, today, my goal is to set up lighting in the new hen house and to create a couple more nesting boxes in it - they don't like the makeshift one at all.

My other goal is to get two loads of laundry done and put away.

I'll update this evening or tomorrow morning!

Posted by Beth at November 23, 2008 6:40 AM


This post really takes me back to my youth... up every day before dawn so the cows, horses, chickens, rabbits, pigs... [insert endless list here] could be tended, then work until night fall. Then I got to do homework. When did we tend the garden? Or did Mom do that?

It's a LOT of work and vacations are pretty much non-existent because the who deal depends on you being there every day... but I'd dearly love to do it on a smaller scale again... :)

Posted by: pam at November 23, 2008 7:24 AM

I think it's a good idea to have your progress in the blog. It'll help keep the blog interesting and will also keep your motivation I hope. I wouldn't be too despondent. You have done a lot and learnt a lot in a short time, it's not like you were just returning to something you did your whole life. If necessary take a different job, depends what your priorities are and I don't know that.

Some people take advantage it's true. At the very least do not accept losses in such a case. If someone keeps seven horses they should keep them at their own cost. 7 Horses is not a sign of poverty.

I've spent a lot of time in the country with two old bachelors separately. My great uncle was married. But his choice of wife was just a tad off. After he was in the war he came back to not one but two men living there porking her. He walked out of the situation rather than going to jail I suppose.

He was an excellent vegie and fruit grower and thrifty to boot. Actually the common complaint about farmers over here is how tight arsed they are. He grew loads of veggies ran some ducks. He traded the veggies for meat a neighbour was good at. He traded pine needles (he had a long pine lined driveway in an area totally devoid of pines) for honey. He took his skills and priorities of vegie growing and trading and made his living from that. His pension went on whiskey. You know.. starts off in the morning with a dash of whiskey in the water. By mid afternoon it was a dash of water in the whiskey. We all have our faults I suppose.

The other one was my mates Uncle and always a bachelor. He was a skilled builder and a passable at almost everything. So he built schools and sheds and whatnot for money, favours or supplies of various kinds. He dabbled in all sorts of things, rabbits, chickens, real estate, tourism, fruit trees, lending pastures and so on.

What I'm getting at while muddling through all my nostalgia is that yes you need to prioritise and prioritise what you are good at. Do you know yet? You might. Trade hardball but fairly what you are good at for what you are not good at. Same for John. Between you, you should be able to make ends meet quite well.

Posted by: Argent at November 23, 2008 10:55 PM