We’re having new electricity run in the corn crib and the wood shop, and it won’t be finished until Wednesday. No power, no tools. So it’s forced me to do other things. And that’s good, because I’ve realized there is still a lot to do on the property before winter really sets in.
We’ve been thinking about what we want to do with the property. Dreaming and scheming, you might say. We’ve always thought we’d plant some berries and vegetables, but I hadn’t yet really committed to a plan. Now its November and if we don’t have a plan for next spring we’ll likely have to make some compromises that could set us back a year.
I walked the property the other day and took another look at everything, trying to see through different eyes. We’ve talked about goats, but where will they go? We’ve talked about planting fruit trees. Pumpkins? Where does the sweet corn go? Are we just talking about a glorified garden or do we really want to make a go at something commercial? Having all of this somewhat planned out now will help us prioritize our time and know what needs to be done before spring. I want to put together a monthly list of goals and things to accomplish. And I suppose if we’re going to do something commercially there should be a business plan written as well.
But it all starts with a little vision.
This is our northern field, a little over 5 acres. Standing at the edge you can see for miles now that the corn is harvested and the fields are plowed. It’s a good place to think, even as the wind whips in my ear. There’s a big sand hill at the western end of this field that I have no idea what I’ll be able to do with (other than sled down it this winter). But I think we might put a pumpkin patch in on this side. It has access to the road if we wanted to do a U Pick patch and its relatively flat. Maybe sweet corn on the other end. I bought a 2 row planter this week that will allow me to do both. Or I could bring out the 8 row Cylco if I wanted to get a little nuts. Neither pumpkins nor the corn will necessarily need to be irrigated, as long as we have decent rainfall next summer. Right now there isn’t water access on this part of the property, and although I want to change that in the future, if I can get by for a year that would allow me to get some other things taken care of first (plus I still need to figure out how our well works).
From where I was standing in the field, if I turn around 180 degrees this is what I see. There is a large patch of overgrown trees that separate our house from the northern field. I’ve never really thought about doing anything with this part of the property other than trim everything back, but that seems wasteful. We’ve talked about planting fruit trees (this was big for us since we came from orchard country in Oregon) and I’ve kind of struggled to figure out where we would put them around the property. Then I see this area through different eyes and its like…duh!
To be honest, my wife had the idea first. And its a good idea. Why not take out these trees, level the ground and put in a small orchard? I’ve looked at this patch from several different angles now, even from the bathroom window, and I think it would be gorgeous with apples, pears and peaches. Not only would it give the property a face-lift, but it would be profitable once the trees mature. But it will take a lot of work to take these trees out and level the ground. That may have to be a Year 2 plan.
The tree line follows the edge of the field then cuts in at 90 degrees. Here is where I’ll likely plant sweet corn. Directly to my left is the big sand hill I mentioned, but to the right its flat. Where I’m looking in this picture, the trees bend back toward the corn crib and barn, which you can see in the background. There is a three stall building just on the other side of the foremost tree, where I think I’m going to put goats. This area here can be fenced pretty easily, giving the goats plenty of place to wander, and the building (an old hog barn) will give them shelter during the winter and summer months. I can keep some of the trees for shade as well. I’m planning on adding goats next spring, so this area will need to be cleaned up between now and then, and fencing will need to be put in.
A walk through the woods and to the front of the property, where the southern field lies. We’ve discussed what we want to do with the white hog shed. I think a green house would work nicely there. And maybe the chicken coop? Not sold on any of those things yet. But the trees need to go.
And so go they did today. With the trees gone, I discovered there was concrete underneath them.
I also unburied the JD 4 bottom plow. Rescuing old implements from nature. That’s what we do.
The trees run along the northern edge of the field, and they’ll all go. There’s concrete that runs all the way back to the other field and to the future goat barn, which is nifty. But I’ve thought about putting more fruit trees here too. We’re planning on putting in raspberries and blackberries in this southern field, both for U Pick, fresh sale and for our own consumption (we’ll also be experimenting with green and kidney beans, tomatoes and peppers in this field). Fruit trees will compliment those thing much better than these ugly Black Locust and Mulberry trees. Plus I want people to see the old brick barn! It’s not much to look at now, but if we can figure out how to restore it the barn will certainly be something we want to show off.
Here is a closer shot of the concrete run I was talking about. Can’t see much concrete? Yeah, nature has had her way for a while. We’ll need to cut all of this out before winter. There is another shed just to the right, in the background of the pic, that I think we can utilize as a machine shed. I’d like to get the planter and other things back there before winter.
This is the back view of the white hog shed. There is half a fence around it, and the space could be used for animals. The roof on the shed needs repair, or compete replacing. And the shed itself needs some repair. I’m not sure I’m excited about patching it all up when it might be easier just to pull it down and rebuild. I’ll muse on all that for a while. There are plenty of other things to do before I need to do something with this space.
So I’m glad the sun has still been shining. We have lots to do. We’ve always dreamed about having a small farm, working the farmer’s markets and having plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to share with our friends. And its all certainly within our reach. I only wish we had more time in the day.
It’s exciting to dream and to plan though. Everything we’ve been working toward is starting to come into shape. When we first moved here it seemed like such a distant dream. Now it seems possible. We have to commit to making it happen, learning from our mistakes (there will be many I’m sure) and growing each year. I also want to make sure we don’t take on more than we can handle the first year. Goats and vegetable crops might be too much for one spring. I’ll sit down and put a plan together and share that in the weeks to come.
Thanks for following along and sharing our vision.