Starting a Farm and Homestead (Pumpkin Hollow Farm adventures continue)

“And just like that, we are homesteading again!” Doug said as he walked into the house after work. Two pressure canners were sputtering on the stove, twelve quarts of homemade chicken broth within. The house smelled wonderful. I was in the process of making cheese. We ate tortellini en brodo alfresco while pointing out where we should put our Pumpkin Hollow Farm sign. Yes, just like that, we will be farming again too.

The first real homestead we had was gradual; first a garden, then chickens, then goats, we learned one thing at a time. The next thing we knew we were practically living off grid and cooking on a wood cook stove! We have learned a lot over the past decade. I waited to see if Doug wanted to homestead and farm. I didn’t want to just jump into it. After all, it is an expensive adventure to start and it is a lot of work. He keeps talking about breeds of goats, and wethered sheep, and plotting the grazing section and where to put our vineyard…we went and picked up fencing for goats and sheep. We’re in. Homesteading isn’t just a job or a lifestyle, it becomes a very part of you.

I couldn’t remember how much it cost to have farm animals (besides chickens), it has been four years since we have had goats and sheep (that is how long it has taken us to get back to the country). This blog holds, not only my memoir within it, but so much information that I constantly resort back to. I looked up “How Much Does it Cost to Have A Farm Animal” from the first year I started this blog. I was pleasantly surprised to see that prices have only increased about 20%. I did expect higher. We should still be well in our budget to feed some more furry kids that give milk and fiber.

I have been visiting local vineyards. Grapes grow very well here and I would love to start my own winery. Even if it is just for me and my friends to start. A lot of folks focus on one thing, maybe beef, or chickens, or vegetables. They aren’t all over the map like I am. I want to have a vineyard, use my own plants to dye my own fiber from my sheep, create beautiful crocheted and sewn pieces to sell, have a huge pumpkin patch, a large garden, have milking goats, and still leave land to be wild and a safe place for bunnies. (Gandalf loves bunnies. They are as delicious as the chickens, apparently.) I love to have variety. That way, I always have what we need and my creative expressions can change as well. I am not going to get burnt out having sheep if I only have two!

When plotting your homestead, first write out what you would like. Garden? Chickens? Ducks? Remember that poultry will consume everything in their path, so they have to be separate from the garden. Goats? They will eat trees down to nothing so the orchard (did you want an orchard?) has to be fenced away from the cute ruminants. Do you have a niche you want to focus on? Don’t think of money while you are writing down your list. What do you want to do? Then draw out your land (even if it is a quarter acre or in the city) and sketch in where you will put everything. Decide on priorities based on money and time to get things started.

Then note where you might make extra money from your homesteading adventures but always have a back up plan. That is the most valuable lesson we learned over the past ten years. Pumpkin Hollow Farm continues on! Our family is excited.

Where are you at in your homesteading adventures? My granddaughter, Maryjane, has loved our farms and has made so many memories. I want to have Grammie and Pa’s farm for her and her sister. So, it’s not all serious here. Homesteading and farming should be fun.

The Beautiful Chaotic Homestead

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We were welcomed into the home of a beautiful family yesterday evening for supper and company.  Another family is there camping out and between the two families there were nine little blondes running around between the ages of nine months and eight years.  The scene looked all the world like the movie “Yours, Mine and Ours” and the chaos was more intoxicating than the chilled glasses of Chardonnay.

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Christy and Kevin live on thirty-five acres in Elizabeth.  A place that Christy could only dream of.  She had hoped to find a place with four stalls and instead found a place with a riding arena and eight stalls!

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Their list of critters includes turkeys, geese, ducks, chickens, sheep, goats, barn cats, Colorado Mountain dogs, and pigs.  I was surprised to see my friend, Faleena’s horse there too!

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The homestead was bustling, the women working with kabobs and babies in the kitchen and the men working to complete chores.  Doug and I jumped into our expected roles, he out in the barn with the men and I set a baby on my hip.  I do love the busyness of a kitchen and a large family.  I do find myself missing the days when my children were little and the house was wild with local kids and pets all waiting for dinner.

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We cooed over the baby Nubians and pet the friendly dogs and enjoyed the setting sun across the prairie as a hawk soared overhead.

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We realized that even though we are thrilled being around the type of homestead we always worked for and that type of work is genuine and fine, we are not looking for anything of that scale any longer.

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After we found out we were being forced off our farm we stopped.  Just stopped.  All of a sudden there was no more wood to chop, no more goats to milk, no more chickens to tend to, no more gardens to water, no more life.  We felt ourselves fall into a deep fatigue.  I am not sure how many years we would have been able to keep that kind of activity up as there are just two of us and the type of homestead we wanted really requires a family.  We are glad we experienced that lifestyle.  Moving forward it will be nice to rebuild and only allow in our very favorite parts of the life we loved.  I cannot imagine not having a garden.  I can do without the fiber arts.  I love cooking but I only want to preserve what I really enjoy, not thirty-seven quarts of carrots just to get through the winter.  We can enjoy a few chickens maybe but not the exorbitant feed bill that we had every month.

With that we will only buy things that we need.  Things that make our home home to us.  Bunk beds for visiting grandbabies.  A bed for guests.  An art room.  An office.  A large kitchen.  We know what we want because we have lived without and can decipher what really makes our life great to us.  The large bustling homestead was awesome.  Our last few homesteads were fun.  I suppose I won’t be considered a homesteader anymore.  More like a 1950’s housewife but that is okay with me.  I found it ironic that just when we thought we were nearly self reliant, we found ourselves 100% in need.  It will be fun reworking the next half of our life to include all the things we really, really love and schedule in rest and fun as well!