We are emerging from the gloomy winter – the time of hunkering down and staying warm – into the season of growth, Spring! Sure it’s still a bit of one step forward, two steps back weather-wise, but the signs are there. Tiny green sprigs poking out of the ground, sunnier and warmer days (even if they are bracketed by snow flurries and cold snaps), hens doubling their egg quota, and the goats shedding their thick coats and frolicking around their paddock.
Its growing season in other ways as well and I have several irons in the fire. Of course there are the ongoing crafts, and may I say something about the tyranny of creativity? Everyday my craft books and bags of yarn call out to me with new ideas and the sewing machine bemoans its lack of use. So many ideas, so little time (that said there are several new things on the Etsy store J).
There’s our little Boxcarkids Farm – we hope to see the first fruits of our labor in March when our dairy goat, Tinker, gives birth and begins producing milk. We plan to sell any male kids once they are weaned. Females we will keep. Initially we plan to use the goat’s milk as food for us – replacing cow’s milk purchased from the store – and to make goat’s milk soap and cheese. My neighbor and I are getting together this weekend to try out our first batch of soap. Our Kiko goats are almost a year old and soon will be ready to breed. Little Hot Rod is still a bit young so I don’t expect progress on that front until later in the year. Our first crop of meat goat kids probably won’t go to market until next spring.
Next up at the farm will be a beehive. This one is solely my venture as the children are not at all convinced that it is safe! Myself I have no worries. The bees will pollinate the plants in our vegetable garden (plans in process) and the clover grasses in the pasture and hay strip. We won’t see any honey from the bees until next year though – they will need all that they make this year to get them through the winter. Farming certainly requires an investment of time as well as money!
In late March we will purchase two pigs. Thanks to kindness of our neighbor (if you haven’t guessed they are also in the Hobby Farm ‘business’) our pigs will go in with theirs. My middle daughter will care for the pigs (though I’m sure Mom will help) as she has joined the Swine Club in our local 4H. She will show and auction one at the fair and the other will go to the butcher in the fall. My youngest daughter is also thinking of trying her hand at 4H in the Poultry Club and since her incubator science project did not produce any live chicks we will order a few from the local feed store. My son has opted to work on a model building project (no surprise to anyone who knows him) so with the exception of another angora rabbit or two that should be it for livestock!
In conjunction with the other farm projects I hope to get a Kickstarter.com project off the ground around April. Kickstarter is intended for art projects but they do have a food section and I will introduce our barn repair project there. We need the barn repairs to provide water (gutters and rain water collection system) and secure pens for more goats as we grow the dairy side of our farm.
And then there’s my return to school. I am applying for the fast-track program for people who already have a college degree and want to get a teaching certificate (see previous posts). I plan to become a middle/high school science teacher in the Earth/Space focus area. Depending on which of the two programs I choose (and am admitted to) I will begin classes either this summer or next fall. As I will have to begin the program as a non-resident I will need financial aid to cover the tuition. A lot of financial aid because, as you know, we have no savings or assets at all at this point.
So with all of this, how crazy is it that I’m also embarking on the path to having our own home? It’s a good thing I am a master at multi-tasking. We came to Indiana thinking we would stay briefly with our very gracious hosting relative and once I’d found a job and saved some money we would move into our own place. That process hasn’t been brief after all and it’s time to make a move regardless. We still have the absolutely wonderful opportunity of putting a mobile home on our other relative’s property – right next to the barn that houses our goats (how perfect is that?) but it is a complicated process involving a number of steps and a fair amount of money. In order to but a mobile home on the property there will have to be a lot split (you can’t have 2 septic systems on one property) and we will have to put in septic, drill a well, arrange for electricity hook ups and, of course, purchase and have transported and set up a mobile home! The septic engineer and soils scientist are coming tomorrow to take borings for the soils analysis ($200) – the first step!
Whew. Sometimes it all seems totally overwhelming and impossible and panic sets in. I feel unequal to the task and alone and puny in the face of everything that needs to be done. So I take a page out of Anne Lamott’s book “Bird by Bird” and tackle one task at a time. That is what I do every day, do at least one thing for the farm’s success, one thing towards going back to school, one thing to create a home for my family, one thing to bring in some income…plus housework and my involvement in all of the kids’ activities. My days are full! I have a lot of irons in the fire!