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Our “New” Old Homestead

This is the post excerpt.

Last year my husband and I moved to our little farm in Virginia. We bought a small abandoned farm where we are beginning a new chapter in our life. A new simple life.

For several years we had been raising our own food  by gardening and raising chickens for meat and eggs. Now here at the farm we have the space for the addition of Nubian goats for milk and a Great Pyranees named Sophie to our homestead.

Currently we are living in our 32′ motorhome while the century old farmhouse is being restored. It’s small, buhome-sweet-homet comfortable.

This will be a busy year as we establish our first garden and build new homes for the livestock as well as begin work on restoring the old farmhouse.

This quiet life-style is quite different from the hectic pace we lived for so many years.   No more sounds of sirens, squealing tires, and loud neighbors.

Here, where there are no city lights, we can see the night sky in all it’s glory, and watch as hundreds of fireflies light up the fields.  The only sounds we hear are the insects, and once in a while a distant “mooo” from a neighboring farm.

This is where we intend to live, quietly, peacefully and simply as our grand-parents did a century ago.

A Bittersweet Day at the Farm

We knew this day would come, just didn’t expect it to come so quickly!   As I mentioned earlier I had decided it was best for me to find a new home for my goat herd since I am no longer able to care for them.

It took only a few hours following a notice I placed on a Facebook Goat group page to have a new home arranged for them.   This morning their new owner arrived at the farm to meet them and take them to their new home in NC.

A lovely young couple are adding the herd to their new homestead, where I feel certain they will thrive.

Another new beginning for all of us.

 

It Has Been a Busy Summer…. and waste water update

It is hard to believe we are already in December! Where has the year gone?

Stress-filled for sure, but things are finally looking up….somewhat.

Let’s begin with an update on the waste-water situation.    From what we’ve been hearing around the area, the waste-water/septic issue has also been rearing its ugly head to those who had previously been “grandfathered” in with their ancient systems and emptying their laundry water out onto the ground are no longer saved from these environmental laws.

They also must go through the evaluation/inspection/design and most of all, the expense of replacing their old systems and meeting the new codes.  Many of these folks are hardworking, blue-collar people who do not have the means to go through the process without re-mortgaging their homes.

We finally reached the conclusion that by the time we completed the process to get an approved system we would have spent half the money we had saved up to restore the farmhouse.

By chance, while we were exploring the nearby town, we came across a new on the market, estate sale home.   In a good neighborhood, with an acre of land, and a once elegant home we decided buying it was our best option.

We were able to purchase this home with the funds we had saved up to restore the farmhouse so, no mortgage and ready to live in.   Being an estate sale there are of course repairs and updating to do, but they are few.

The farm is only a few miles away and we go there every day to tend to the animals and do chores.   Our farm life hasn’t turned out the way we had dreamed, but it isn’t all bad either.

We replaced the chicken flock six months ago, and we are still waiting to

find an egg.  The new flock consists of Star Spangled Hamburgs, Aracanas and Black Astralorps.  Four hens and one rooster of each breed in the hopes of increasing the flock.

 

We also raised a dozen meat chickens.  This year we tried raising Red Rangers and they are wonderful!  We are never going back to the Cornish X.  The RR are big, beautiful and friendly chickens.   They are great foragers and taste great.

There was no garden at the farm this year, sadly.  Even the raised garden I attempted did not work out.   I believe our luck will improve next season as our land in town is better for growing a garden…. there is even a section where I may be able to plant a small orchard.

My long dreamed hope to raise goats for milk is coming to an end.  Since breaking my ankle last year I have been having a difficult time tending to the goats.  After trying all these months to “make it work” I have come to the painful realization that my sweet things would be better off on a farm where they can receive the proper attention.  So it breaks my heart, but I am re-homing my herd as soon as I can find a suitable home for them.

Well, this has been what has happened since my last posting.  Not good, but not all bad either.  Through the next few months I will be re-thinking our situation and the farm, and develop a new plan for going forward with our homestead dream.

As I’ve advised so many people who have asked how can they homestead:  Homesteading isn’t a matter of where you live,  but, rather, how you live.  We still have our farm, and will continue our “Simple Life” homesteading lifestyle.  After all evolving means changing and adapting and we are getting pretty adept at it.

Until next time….. thanks for visiting.

~Kathleen

Waste Water Management Nightmare Continues

I wish I had better news to share, but the fact is I don’t.

We finally made contact with a personal engineer regarding getting a design for a waste water system.  That’s where the good news ends, at least for now.

It appears that nobody moves very quickly in the south.  In fact they would need to pick up the pace just to move at slow speed.

After getting the report for our soil we delivered it by hand to the Health Department agent in town who is supposed to be our “go to ” guy.    He is about as helpful as a blind man telling you which tie you’re holding looks best with your complexion.

He gave us a list of personal engineers to interview for our waste water management system, and after going through the entire list only two were actually still around, and one never answered his phone, returned voice messages, or responded to email.

That leaves us with one from the long list given to us.  They at last returned our call, and maintained email contact while we sent them the documents they need to review.  Great, right?

It has taken nearly three months to get to this point.  Last week we were at last ready for a face-to-face meeting to discuss the process, the options and the price for the design.

Mind you, this waste water system is for a one bedroom, one bath home with two adults, and a composting toilet.  No dishwasher or other water consuming appliance.

Including watering the animals, we use less than ten gallons of water daily.

They are telling us what we need is a 1,000 gallon sealed tank (plastic), chlorination and de-chlorination equipment and an ultra-violet system which will leave the water pure enough to drink…… but instead of pumping it back into the house they plan to have it pour out onto the ground.

The entire system will be installed above ground, in what they refer to as a “mound” system and will cost around $20,000 and will require monthly maintenance.

That’s not including their design cost of $4,000 and it is not guaranteed that it will be approved by the state.

They’ve said that when we meet and after they do a site visit (tell me again why we had the other guy do a site visit?)  they may be able to design a less expensive system.

We asked for an appointment for a meeting this week, but apparently the “engineer” is on vacation until next week.

Meanwhile, we are looking at all our options including giving up and moving to another state that is a bit more relaxed.

Meet the Kids…already 9 days and 15 days old

Daisy and Violet were on Friday, June 9, 2017  to Penny

Charlotte delivered Chase, the only buckling, Rose, the tiniest, and Lily on Friday, June 16, 2017 .

Dawson is the sire.

They are all healthy, happy and very playful.   They are for sale with papers ready for registering with the ADGA.

Rose at 9 days
Violet at 15 days
Lily at 9 days
Chase @ 9 days
Daisy at 15 days

Dishwashing Grandma’s Way

If you wash dishes by hand and, like me, use a metal dish pan (mine is an antique enamel tub), place a folded dish towel in the bottom of the dish pan to keep your glassware and dinnerware from possible damage by the contact with metal.

When it comes to hand washing dishes, rinsing off that soapy residue can use quite a lot of water. Since we don’t have running water I use three containers of water.

The first is the dish pan with warm, soapy water. Begin by washing the cleanest things first.

Also, before washing, clean off the cookware and dinnerware first by wiping away any food debris and disposing of it. A hot pan or skillet is much easier to clean than a cold one. While the pan is still hot, drain off any liquid, then wipe away anything that remains. You can easily completely clean a skillet this way.

Glassware first, then flatware, cups, plates and bowls, last cookware. Just as each is washed separately, remove the washed articles to the first rinse water container which holds warm water and vinegar. Then from there move them to the final rinse bath to remove possible hint of the vinegar or soap. By the time the second load of dishes is washed and rinsed, the first load is air-dried and ready to be put away.

I have tested this method against my “former” automated dishwasher, and I had all the dishes washed, dried and put away in less time than it took the DW to start its wash cycle. Just think of all the water and electricity that DW used compared to the 2-3 gallons I used doing them by hand.

After the dishes are finished I can continue using the same water for other cleaning, such as washing down the counters, cupboard doors, and stove. Or use it to wash the floor.

Charlotte had Triplets!

Our second doe, Charlotte, delivered triplets on Friday morning.  Two doelings and a buckling.  Rose, Lily and Chase.

Charlotte needed some assistance to deliver the second, and while we were busy getting the camera as Nick described to me how he became a goat’s mid-wife, Charlotte delivered a third, tiny doeling!

They arrived one week almost to the hour, after Penny delivered her twins, Daisy and Violet.

In one week’s time our tiny herd has grown from 3 to 8 goats!

3 mouths, 2 teats.

Look What We Found in the Barn This Morning!

Penny gave birth to two little girls this morning, we found these in the barn.     It was a surprise because, although we knew she was expecting, her belly didn’t get very large and we thought  the other goat, Charlotte, who’s belly is quite large, would be first to kid.

These are also our first births and we are quite excited…. now to figure out what to do next.

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