We’ve been busy on the farm! Here’s a (slightly outdated) account of what we’ve been up to!
Another project that made us feel like ants moving sand grain by grain. It is so moist around here during the winter season that the ground becomes quite slick and muddy. Just walking at a steady pace from the house to the barn was like walking on a wet slip and slide. All of us almost or did fall numerous times. Since we are back and forth to and from the barn many times per day we thought we ought to build a path so we weren’t taking frequent and messy spills. Since we are also doing the barn camping spot project with gravel we thought it was a good time to make the path so we could use some of the gravel we were getting delivered. One project always leads to another! Haha.
The path involved digging down about 6-8″, putting gardening cloth down and then filling it with gravel. The hardest part by far was hauling all that dirt to a pile then hauling the gravel back to the path. SO heavy!! Most days I could only do a handful of hours or a half day before I was pooped. If anyone is having trouble sleeping, I tell you, a good day of hauling clay soil and gravel will do the trick!
We used some of the dirt to fill in mole holes and low spots in the upper yard in the orchard. We used more to fill in some of the duck enclosure so it would have a gently slope from the barn to the field. It’s an experiment to see what the ducks do to the ground within their enclosure.
There are already so many wonderful trees and other plants around Crow Farm that I am forever grateful for. I can’t imagine the amount of time and money put into the wonderful landscape. However there were a handful of plants that I wanted to add to the mix. After all, we all have our favorites. In Portland we planted all we could fit on our lot but there was a limit to this. Here, the limiting factor is time. Time planting and caring for the additional plants. I have added some blueberries, blackberries (boxed some wild plants on our hill), 3 cherry trees, 2 olive trees, 1 plum tree, 1 elderberry tree and will be getting 2 nectarine trees as well as some flowering trees for out front. That will complete the orchard, bring some extra tasty treats to our table and give us some big color each spring.
Gardening is such a simple and amazing thing! You plant a seed or bury a ball of roots with a stalk, give it the water, nutrients and sunshine that it needs and it gives back so much. Pretty magical if you ask me!
I also thought it would be neat to pop in some grape vines up on our hill next to the Elf Hut. After-all, the Elf Hut is a perfect place to sip some wine while you star gaze so why not have some vines on the hill below you to set the scene? They aren’t wine grapes though– I’m trying table grapes first but left enough room for another 2 rows of grapes if we like these.
Unfortunately when I dug the holes for the fence posts Justin and I thought it would be sufficient enough to fill in the base with the leftover clay filled soil instead of hauling up gravel as we used for the fence down at the barn. We were wrong about this and as hot weather hit the clay soil shrunk making our posts not sturdy. Oy! So, we will have to pull the poles, re-dig, haul gravel up the hill and do it again the right way. In the mean time, I have made little cages over the baby grape vines as the deer have shown us they are tasty even without grapes on them yet. This might be an experiment fail but, time will tell.
I had Justin help guide me through the description of this paragraph as this is not my department. This endeavor started because we were worried pipes would freeze over the winter. Not all the buildings that have plumbing are used on a daily basis. Justin started by putting wireless temperature sensors everywhere there were water pipes in unheated areas. This data was viewable on our phones and would alert us if the temperature went below a set number.
The next step was to add door sensors because we were noticing that now and again doors were being left open without us knowing right away. Some doors are tricky to close so sometimes the girls had trouble latching them and with the help of Gale (wind) they came open.
All these sensors got Justin’s gears turning and he became curious how much electricity we were using for various appliances so we could try trimming our electrical usage down. Justin added monitoring of most of the branch circuits as well as individual appliances. He found that our biggest usage was electric heaters which was fairly obvious but it made my request to use the wood stove more seem like a much better choice to him.
Other things Justin is currently working on is monitoring systems for the animals. For example, he is working to monitor the animal’s water. There would be a sensor on their water bowls to alert us if they were below a certain level. This would tell us that something was awry with our system since they are supposed to automatically refill. It would give us a chance to call a neighbor to come check on the animals.
Enema (always an adventure folks):
Our one piglet, Mercy, unfortunately has suffered from some kind of digestive/bowl issues since as long as we have had her. It causes her to get constipated and other details I will leave out. You’re welcome. This problem got so bad that we had to give her an enema. Not favorite on my To Do list but you do what you have to do. Word to the wise, make sure the spout of the enema is far enough in before you squeeze. Otherwise you receive a devastating and repulsive backsplash. Always, I repeat, ALWAYS wear eye protection for unforeseen mishaps! Not that I would know. Just some good advise from one farmer to another.
Mercy still has unsanitary habits, unlike our other two pigs, but at least we have extinguished the need for further enemas by giving her 2-3 prunes/dates daily on top on making sure she is consuming lots of ruffage. I am glad for that!
I don’t think any pictures are necessary for this one. 😉 I’m sure you have a good one in your mind.
The pigs also were needing a roof not only to divert rain from the barn roof but also for shade in the summer. We designed the animal enclosure for the ducks and pigs to hold a roof over the pigs. Sweet Justin has been working on this project solo in the evenings and on weekends. It wasn’t a priority so it kept taking a backseat to other projects but it is finally complete and turned out lovely! We ended up doing corrugated metal roofing to match the barn. Those pigs are thankful for it as well. We’ve been having some hot days and they now have a place to take a nap in the shade. In the winter the roof will dramatically help their pen stay dry and comfortable. Previously it became a soupy, muddy mess so quickly because of their rooting on top of all the rain. They are pretty lucky piggies!
It’s ironic really but not too long ago we had all the freedom in the world to do so many things. Justin wasn’t working, I homeschool the girls and we had a system in place to run our airbnb as well as renting out our home while we were away. Well, we bought Crow Farm and lost all that freedom but gained a lot of other wonderful things. Since buying Crow Farm we have been working hard to have the farm life but also buy back some of that freedom by making it so that our animals can survive without us and our farm can stay safe and without major mishaps while we go away on weekend camping trips. Funny how that works.
Anyway, part of buying back a little bit of freedom means getting a watering system for the animals. We bought a 300 gallon tank that Justin built a water tower for. It looks lovely and gives the ducks another place to get away from the sun. He also put in a piping system that allows me to fill up buckets of water for the ducks, a spray hose to rinse out various things and a hose that automatically refills the pig water bowl with a float valve to shut it off when it gets to a certain level. Keeping it cleaned out is still a manual process but it’s coming along. Having the water tower makes caring for the animals SO much easier. It’s lovely having such a handy husband.
We’re also in the process of walling off a safe space for our bunnies down in the barn for the summer. The sunroom where they live now has been working great but on hot days we have to open all the doors for airflow so they don’t roast. For when we go away we wanted to be sure things were as straight forward as possible. We figured having all the animals in one place and making it so that people didn’t have to remember to open and close the sunroom doors at night was a good thing for our peace of mind. To be continued…
The barn camping pad that we started a while back is now complete! We paused mid-project to let the rains help us pack down the fill and gravel we poured. Mother Nature has done her part and Justin was able to smooth out the top layer of 3/4 minus to complete the project. We had a Portland neighbor come camp on it and we parked Wobbles and Azul there as well and had a little camp out.
So, get your vaccines and come on over to Crow Farm to stay with us! We’d love to have you. This is kind of like the shots for shots deal some bars are giving out but it’s more like vaccine for serene.