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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Love Those Leghorns!

We have eggs! Our layers are nearly five months old and I was beginning to ownder if we would have eggs this winter or if the short photoperiod would delay onset of eggs.
The hens are in a chicken tractor which was remodeled from last year-we boarded up a few of the nest boxes since it seemed like the previous inhabitants only used 2 for eggs and the remaining as toilets :) It appears they can still squeek into those boxes and yesterday i discovered a leghorn sitting on a dozen eggs in there! I did a little dance in the field! Several were cracked but all the rest were beautiful inside and out! The girls and I had a pan of scrambled eggs which bordered on orange.
A little more about our laying hens: hatched on June 6th and purchased from My Pet Chicken-what can i say ... i wanted a few of each kind! We ordered a dozen and although they were supposed to be all hens we ended up with 2 roosters. The order was 3 each: rhode island red, leghorn, welsummer and araucana. My selection process was simple -cold hardy birds with pretty eggs. The leghorns of course are white, reds are light brown, welsummer a deep chocolate brown with speckles and the araucana are the easter eggers. Sadly one araucana chick died early on and another is a rooster. My crew consists of 3 leghorns, 3 welsummers, 2 rhode islands and one araucana.
They are still on pasture in the tractor despite some cold weather (down to 20 Thursday night) and doing well. We are working on their winter quarters now-partitioning off a 5x10 section of the shed and insulating it. We were originally going to house the 2 rabbits in their as well-we'll see.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Just a Sunday evening musing- slightly tongue in cheek? You decide!

I just finished re-watching Braveheart with my girls. I get so immersed in the imagery and emotion of a saga like that-all that idealistic passion. It is easy for me to get swept away--then add hairy men in kilts and well, who can blame me? :)
It had me thinking about things worth fighting for; family, freedom of (or in my case FROM) religion, personal liberty. Unlike the movies we do not have a clear cut villain to go to battle with. A different kind of villainy, a slow erosion of personal freedoms, a kind of golden handcuffs for a very privileged society-the bad guy is? Who? Big Business? Our own government? Apathy? Ourselves? Multiple choice -all of the above.
I think the local food, self sufficiency, voluntary simplicity movements are all forms of mini-revolutions. We are not painting our faces with blue woad and lifting our kilts at the enemy, but being subversive revolutionaries because it's a subversive kind of war.
I heard somewhere (Stoney, chime in if there is a name or source for this)that it only takes a small percentage (17% ?)of population to change their opinion/actions and the rest will follow-I dub it the Sheeple principle. Think of this the next time you wait until you have cash to buy (or refrain entirely), bake your own bread, buy grass fed local beef -or grow your own chickens. YOU are a revolutionary!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Role Reversal

My DH and I have been wrestling with 'a big life changing event', yep another one :) Our farm/homestead/home business goals will/are require time and considerable effort. For this to have a chance we feel one of us needs to be working at home. Home to be the primary child caregiver, chauffeur, etc. Home to be the household manager, bookkeeper, etc. Home to be the chicken/turkey/(beef/goat?) wrangler. We have tried DH working full time and me working 50% with only partial success. Being a small business owner/partner-I find work encroaching on those days off-filling in for emergencies, fielding questions from staff/clients; my days off are never a sure thing. We are both professionals and good at our work; DH is finding his job frustrating and unfufilling, while I have days of intense pleasure (they PAY me to do this?!) alternating with the dread (I can't fix this pet, too many people want too many things from me)of high responsibility and caretakers fatigue.
We are both finding ourselves stressed out because we cannot do a satisfactory job at either our home or office jobs, and feel that the solution is for one of us to be the income earner and the other to be the home and farm manager. The original assumption was for me to stay home and Tom to work. We are each inclined to fulfill our 'gender roles'; he as income producer and I as caregiver. This would mean me selling my portion of the business to my partner and thereby having a nice but not earth-shattering amount of cash. We could pay off my student loan, buy a tractor and put the rest into a college fund. Nice, right? I have been sitting with this idea for a while and it makes me selfishly very happy but hearing voices. Voices that wonder about selling a business which is profitable even in this economy, that wonder about the stability and longevity of DH's employers. The projects we have at home now require a skill set that are not my strong points -carpentry, post holes, fencing-and oh yeah-organization!
So, as much as it makes me want to kick my feet and have a tantrum :) I need to explore what happens if I work full time and DH stays home. It means no cash to buy a tractor or finish the workshop. We will need to come up with 2/3 of the workshop's price tag by next June to fulfill our construction loan (could work with tough budgeting -or a SOLD house!) I have a lot of untapped earning potential and money wise it might cash flow for us. We need to find health insurance since DH's employer carries that. What Tom willing to do dr and dentist and orthodontist and lessons. Is he willing to pay bills, to return library books and go grocery shopping? Is he okay with being Mr Mom? Am I okay with the responsibility of being the sole bread winner-scary!
As I think things through I am excited by having energy to put into the clinic. I am pulled in too many directions now and have been a jack of all trades, master of none lately. We have so many great things about our clinic-if I can take control of our/my direction instead of being the passive receiver of what comes my way...
I am so thankful to have this outlet for my internal dialogue. I am at peace with this option if some of the details can be worked out. It is not what the selfish child in me desires, but the thoughtful adult looking out for the needs of her entire family (herself not the least of all).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

back into the swing of things

I enjoyed reading Sharon's post on whole-life re-design and i would like to nail down some definable, measurable goals for myself and turn some of these pie-in-the-sky dreams I have for our farm into something closer to a mission statement. I am too easily distracted and will end up floundering around without goals and accountability. I am a disco ball instead of a laser light!

I am finally feeling as if things are reaching a certain equilibrium, a routine. I am seeing room for improvement! Too much time in front of the TV, not enough time one-on-one with each other. In some (small) ways I miss the enforced closeness of the camper. If I could get rid of the TV I would (except for movie night!) In a small open house it dominates our energy every evening. I am struggling to find routines for the household chores, bill paying, self care, etc as well as being flexible and responsive to the girls needs, work needs, ug. This is our chance to shake things up and focus on the simple and lead a deliberate life.

Some fun early November I will be taking a course at the UW-Madison VMTH called Introduction to Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. I feel this is something of a declaration for me. After 12 yrs of practice I am ready to go my own way. If our small animal clinic is not receptive-that's okay with me.
Another fun thing -now that i have internet again i was able to look up scarlet runner beans-they are edible as well as really pretty-i need to go collect those pods for dry beans! Sauerkraut needs to happen this weekend-the cabbage at the foot of my bed are starting to smell weird! **or is that the laundry-i better go check :)

Friday, October 1, 2010


Where to start? I've been gone from Small Life so long...the house is up, we are no longer living in the camper (yay), we successfully raised and marketed 120 Freedom Ranger meat birds and the girls have adapted well to the small school. We have 9 nearly 4 month old egg chicks on grass in their tractor. Their winter coop will be up sometime in the next month...(think warm thoughts for us in WI). Our house has not YET sold, although I think we have it at the right price now and have had 4 showings in the last 2 weeks (fingers crossed!)

Overall the move is a positive one; I love the space, the views, the sandhill cranes calling and the geese migrating. Now the struggle will be to make this life different from the previous one-not just a longer commute and a bigger 'lawn'. Is 'GrassWorks Family Farm' a business, a hobby farm or a homestead?

We (I) am still struggling with work/professional issues. Sell or don't sell the business, work for the local clinic part-time, local relief work, stay at home? It sure is nice to have options, but choices make me crazy! If GrassWorks is to be a business then we need someone to be home. As I write about it the choices seem clear (but then I pay bills and come to different conclusion!)

I am writing this at a WiFi connected cafe on my 'going to town' errand day. I hope to have internet at home soon but for now the posts will be sporadic.

What do you want to hear/see more of? Questions, suggestions welcomed otherwise I will continue to ramble and diary our progress.