Now that we are moved into our new apartment (see February Freeze post), we have had a little bit more time to devote to working on the farm. We received a wonderful boost when Lindsey’s parents came up for a few days and we hauled another 5,000 lbs of trash and recycling to the local dump. The mountains of trash and debris seem to be never ending by it feels like we are finally making headway. We also burned several piles of old wood and downed limbs and we are finally starting to see patches of earth that have been covered for the past several years.
Despite all the progress, homesteading is often taking two steps forward and one step back. Our RV (which served as a nice retreat for the in-laws and dogs) wouldn’t start when we needed to move it, and after jumping it a few times, I decided to just replace the battery completely. A couple hours and a $100+ later, we have a nice new working battery for an RV we now very seldom use. The next obstacle was the bus, our original project that got pushed to the back burner due to time and budget. Even gutted, the bus weighs over 18,000 lbs and after a couple of days of heavy rain we discovered that it sunk into the soft mud when we tried to move it. We tried to free it for a couple hours while Lindsey’s parents were here but it only seemed to slide further down the hill and put a couple of our outbuildings (and the bus) at risk. Luckily it dried out a bit this week and after another couple of hours digging out around all the tires and putting some gravel down, I managed to free the beast from its muddy tomb. We are hoping to clean the bus up a bit in the coming weeks and then try to sell it. While it would make an amazing mobile off-grid home, we have too many vehicles and too many projects at the moment.
In all of the trash and debris, occasionally you find a gem. We found an rusty old flatbed trailer buried in the blackberry bushes, but upon closer inspection it seems to be in decent condition. It needs a new deck and maybe some new tires at some point, but I was able to yank it out of the weeds with my truck and it seems to work fine. Can’t wait to see what else we find as we continue to clean and dig through the weeds and brambles on the farm. The chickens are loving all the cleaning as well as there is lots of fresh loose dirt, yummy bugs, and young green shoots to nibble. We are already talking about more chickens and Lindsey wants to get some Ameraucanas or Easter Egger mixes. While the chickens are mostly free range, we are setting up a large enclosed outdoor area for them to roam in safety that will also double as the apiary when we get bees in May. With bears, raccoons, feral cats, opossums, and who knows what else, we want to make sure our animals are safe. We also hope to get some goats as soon as we can get some temporary boundary fencing in place.
The house project continues to move forward (see Creating a Solid Foundation post) and we are hopeful to be able to start on major construction/remodeling this summer. Until then we will have plenty of work to do clearing blackberries, cutting down old damaged trees, continuing to clean and repair outbuildings, and prepping for new additions to the farm. Our goal this year is to finish the house and set the foundation for a self sustaining homestead. We will have well water (plus spring water backup or for irrigation) and septic on site and may look at solar in the future but for now we are lucky that there is grid power. And we would like to produce most of our food from our chickens, garden, and bees. Lindsey has been vegetarian her entire life and I have tried to embrace this as much as possible during the past year. Because of this, we will probably never have animals for meat and instead might utilize the pastures for rescue animals and/or field crops. I want to develop a large garden and greenhouse and we want to get into canning to keep us fed throughout the year. Eventually we hope to make a small supplemental income with the homestead through specialty crops such as garlic or herbs, or through crafts, woodworking, etc. A lot of ideas and possibilities!