One thing I realized after getting out here is how much noise there is in the city. It’s not just the traffic and airplanes and throngs of people. It’s the fabricated activities that cause noise too. The endless errands that I seem to no longer have. The shopping that I no longer seem to need to do. The non-stop activities that we don’t seem to miss. The constant, endless noise in life keeping you from doing what you really want to do.
I realized after having a hard time forcing myself to post on this blog that it too had become a source of noise keeping me from spending more time with my family, from getting this farm off the ground, from spending time on myself. So I took a bloggy rest that stretched and stretched into a longer bloggy rest but the noise was silenced. And I got lots done.
I am slightly embarrassed to think just how long ago I left off with regular updates. I may even have left off updating when things went crazy LAST kidding season. I never even updated Mary and Mona’s kids, and now they and their kids are on to new owners. And Val has kidded a second season and I have added a newcomer and sold Bessie and am already planning to breed Val’s second round of kids since I left off updating.
After last year’s mini Dairy Goat Show, I changed directions and got more serious about breeding. Val walked away with 4 ribbons. I had no inkling she would do so well. In fact I never even shaved her or bathed her and she sported a dog collar and I let the kids nurse the whole time. Meanwhile everyone else had matching outfits, fancy collars, kept kids separate so udders would be near to bursting and just milked off enough before judging to make sure the goat didn’t leak on the judge. And yet at the end of the show it was Val and I versus Lacia Bailey and Pegasus for best in show. Lacia took it which made me happy because I didn’t even plan to attend the show. But it opened my eyes to what I had suspected all along made a good dairy goat, and that is what I decided to breed for going forward. So I sold most of my herd, and all the babies, re-bred Val and brought in some new blood from far away lines.
Like I have done with the chickens and bunnies, breeding livestock is addictive. Choosing whom to separate out and combine together to create the perfect conversion rate/temperament/eggdairymeat potential/udder capacity, teat size and opening, mothering instincts, etc. It’s a lot of thinking and you don’t know until several generations later if you are even on the right track. But I think I am.
This time last year the 1/4 acre adjacent the house was newly cut deep forest, with all the topsoil bulldozed into a pile tangled with logs and stumps and branches and rocks, making it all completely inaccesible. Since then I have dug through by hand and pulled out the stumps and logs and branches, woven them into a large hugel and planted an orchard in it. The remaining areas I am landscaping or have painstakingly leveled, cleared branches and rocks, amended and planted new pasture to hay or for meat birds. I started the driveway hedgerow project that will be deer fodder and pollination as well as living fence. I’ve planted living chairs of willow and secret gardens that will take several years to fill in. Where others see sticks I see my vision and it makes me happy.
There has been endless fencing and sub-fencing to complete the chicken rotational paddocks, the turkey rotational paddocks, and the goat silvopasture. There has been constant and deep amending of forest soil in the pasture and the newly fabricated garden area soil. I’ve renovated the extensive flower beds, and attempted to clear the woods of buttercups and Himalayan blackberry.
I’ve learned that you never, ever want to gravel because it’s a trap that begs for roundup. Instead I’ve been hand weeding (over and over) 1/4 acre of legacy gravel so thin it’s mostly dirt. Half of that I will bark over, the other half I will bring in more gravel for the driveway. If you are considering going with gravel – please don’t. It increases surface runoff, decreases organic matter and therefore soil life, and traps you into needing to continue buying more and more gravel and then weeding or spraying or flaming said gravel. Consider that gravel needs to be mined, is usually exploded and then trucked to you. Just say no to gravel.
I’ve raised and processed countless chickens and turkeys, milked countless gallons, made a fridge full of cheese wheels, coordinated countless produce bulk buys, canned or fermented or cellared all the food we needed, strained honey, gathered eggs, learned to spin and knit and repeated the cycle again even without updating this blog regularly.
I’ve buried pet bunnies, dogs and new puppies even, taken up the piano again, built arbors and stairs in the earth and cozied things up. I’ve switched to the Ruth Stout method of gardening whereby I lay a thick layer of straw mulch down, open a hole and plop a transplant in or thin a spot and sow seeds. It’s magical I tell you. Forget weeding ever again. Just invest in lots and lots of Sluggo and grass hay.
I’ve managed to find time to watch tadpoles develop in the garden pond, listen to hummingbirds, chase dragon flies, challenge my kids to see who can pick the most strawberries. I’ve done so many things in the last year getting this place up and running that I can’t even remember most of them but it is up and it is running. It is finally a work in progress enough that I can enjoy the journey and relax without looking around and thinking of everything that needs to happen. The project list is dwindling despite me adding to it daily.
So I want to thank you for your patience – you who never removed me from you daily readers, who followed me on Facebook to get my cryptic updates whenever I managed to log in and make them. You who have followed my journey all the way from the 1/8 of an acre in the middle of the city to this incredible oasis that feeds my soul.
I think this place is finally ready for prime time. I think I am ready to blog again. I think I am ready to handle some noise. Especially the croaking of frogs, the singing of song birds, and the sound of the breeze in the high tree tops far up above our hollow. Now to get my broken camera fixed…