One Year

It's been exactly a year since we closed on The Farm. Yea!

We have a bantam hen who has gone broody, so we should have a few little chicks running around in three weeks. Yea!

Speaking of chicks, we're getting some more meat birds in a week or so, and this time we have Bouncer to keep the coyotes away. Yea!

Speaking of birds that are on the chopping block, we might end up going over to a friend's house tomorrow morning to use his chicken killing equipment so we can slaughter our egg-eating hens. We grow tired of those birds ... and I like saying "slaughter." Yea!

What I Love About Living In The Country ... And Other Random Thoughts

- You get good thinking time when you're driving home after being in town.

- Yes, we say "in town" a lot around here. We used to think it was funny to hear our country friends say, "I'm going in to town," but there's really no other phrase that quite captures the essence of, well, going to town. Yes, we're bumpkins.

- You get a real sense for changing seasons and the rhythms of life. Spring feels like spring this year. And winter definitely felt like winter. Everything seems more pronounced out here.

- For the most part people are quiet and relaxed out here. No one seems to be stressed out or in a hurry. It's a much slower day-to-day pace.

- With so much work to do (maintaining the yard, working in the garden, working with the dog, doing various projects around the homestead, doing chicken and duck chores, etc.), you have very little time for tube-oriented entertainment. Our TV is hardly ever on -- and I love that -- and when it is on it's because we're purposefully watching a DVD or something. We don't have cable or satellite TV, and I still haven't hooked up our antenna. Television consumption has really faded in our lives, and I think we're all the better for it. For the most part the sound of a turned-on TV is irritating noise to me. The silence that comes to a house without a TV on is a warm, inviting silence -- a tranquil silence, really.

- You see a lot more wildlife around here. Everything from salamanders to woodpeckers to coyotes to owls.

- There's plenty of room to roam. I was telling my former photojournalism professor about our place and he said, "How much land do you have?" I said, "Just two acres." He said, "Who needs more than that? My wife and I lived on two acres when I was in grad school. You know, if you want to go for a walk, just walk in your back yard."

- I think for people who are used to having lots of land, two acres is paltry. But for people like us, who come from a typical .22 acre city lot, it seems like we own our own country. I guess it's all about perspective. It is nice that our property borders a 22-acre hayfield that runs into something like 50 acres of dense forest. Coyotes and all sorts of wild animals live in that forest. I doubt any sasquatch reside there, but I can always hope.

- The closest neighbors to us are to our east. I'd say their front door is about 250 to 300 feet or so from our front door, so there's a good bit of distance between us. The other day I was moving some hens around and I picked one up by its feet and hung it upside down. I noticed my neighbor watching me so I held the bird up over my head and yelled, "Want some fried chicken tonight?" He screamed back, "Bring 'em over. I'll wring his neck!" I think he was serious. And Brandi and I may end up hosting our neighbors for fried chicken because these five particular hens keep eating their eggs; they're making me very upset. Thankfully our normal layers (we keep the two flocks separated) are doing just fine.

- Our duck hen has got a clutch of roughly 9 eggs. We're hoping we'll have a bunch of ducklings here in about 40 days or so.

- Bouncer's been good. He's still learning, but he's been a good dog so far. We've had him for a month already.

- On the 30th it'll be exactly one year since we closed on this homestead. Time has flown by, and we've had so much fun!

- That's all for now.

Farm Update

- Our duck hen is officially laying eggs. Supposedly it's just about guaranteed that she will go broody after she lays about 8 to 20 eggs. At that point she'll sit on the eggs for 35 days and then we'll have ducklings. Once they're mature, we'll probably end up slaughtering half the ducks and keeping one drake and 3 or 4 hens through this winter.

- Bouncer is working out fine. For the most part he's a calm dog. I've been walking him just about every day and I've gotten to see some beautiful scenes around our neighborhood. I love our neighborhood. The country landscapes are amazing. For the first few months of living here (it's almost been a year, by the way) I was mesmerized every time I walked outside. The magic is still there, but it's easy to take it for granted. Now that I'm trekking through the neighborhood every day, I'm starting to get those awestruck feelings again.

- The garden is looking good. Brandi has put in tons of tomatoes, various peppers, cucumbers, and green beans. She's going to put in a few more things like squash, melons, and sweet potatoes. The garden fence is doing its job just fine.

- Brandi has started composting. She even has a 3-gallon bucket of worms. :-)

- We're still looking to fence off an acre of land, but we're not 100 percent sure we're going to do it this year. We'll know more in a few weeks. Both Brandi and I really hope we can do it. We want goats and a calf -- right now!

Balance For Bouncer

I've been watching a bit of Dog Whisperer and reading Cesar Millan's website about how to establish myself as my dog's pack leader. The whole idea of dog psychology is quite interesting.

The general idea is that dogs need a calm, submissive leader -- not a lover. A dog needs these things in order: 1. exercise 2. discipline 3. affection. The average American dog owner apparently wants to give a dog affection, affection, and then more affection. Affection should be something that a dog earns.

So far things are working out well with Bouncer. He knows a couple of basic commands: come and no. He also knows how to walk properly on a leash (by my side or behind me) and he doesn't try to lead the walk.

He's working out just fine so far.

Busy Weekend

We've officially begun the garden ... because there are actually plants in the ground! Most daylight hours both yesterday and today were spent working in the garden or doing various projects outside. Here are a few photos ...

Abigail digging a hole for a tomato plant.
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Bouncer checking out the action.
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Brandi and Abby, in a state of bliss.
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Abigail giving Bouncer a lecture.
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Bouncer doesn't receive it in love, so he attacks!
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"Woof woof! She's mine," says Bouncer. (Notice his paw; he's claiming his victim.)
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Abigail busts out a cool defensive move, going for Bouncer's jugular.
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She finishes him off with a tight squeeze, snapping his doggy neck. (Notice her face straining while she sucks the life out of Bouncer. We're going to miss that dog.)
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A bonus shot of Nathan showing the difference between a normal egg and a bantam egg.
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Fence

A friend of mine helped me lay out 100 linear feet of garden fencing and we finally finished the project last night. Therefore, Brandi can now put the plants in the ground (finally!); I think she's planning on shooting for doing that on Sunday.

Thanks to the aforementioned friend, I was able to learn the valuable homesteading skill of building a basic fence with t-posts. It actually wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be, and now I can throw together a simple fence in probably one afternoon's time. Not bad.

Speaking of fencing, we're set on fencing off an acre here within the next month or two. Our idea is to hire someone to set the posts (the hard part) and then to have some friends and family over to roll the wire. Shouldn't be too hard -- I hope.

Farm Update

- We're going to fence off our field sometime here within the next month or two. From there we'll get a goat or two and maybe a calf.

- We've got the posts up for the fence that we're going to build around our garden. It should be finished next week.

- Bouncer is working out so far. A dog is a great responsibility. :-)

- We're getting more meat birds here in a couple of weeks.

- Some neighborhood dogs came over the other morning (while it was still dark) and harassed some of our chickens that were in a chicken tractor. I quietly went outside and popped them with my BB gun. They ran away.

- That's all I can think of for now.