Waldorf Inspired Farm (home)School

Some readers may wonder why I am writing about homeschooling on a permaculture blog, however, to me, educating and caring for the next generation is an important part of permaculture. I can learn all I want about caring for the land, about farming using permaculture and/or bio-dynamic principles, about harvesting water and caring for our environment, and the list goes on. But if all of that learning stops with me and I send my children out into the world to live the typical modern-day consumer lifestyle, how have I helped to change anything? So with that in mind, I will be posting occasional posts about our homeschool life.

I’ve chosen to use the Waldorf pedagogy and philosophy for a couple of reasons; it is a beautiful method of teaching that resonates with both myself and my children, I also agree with a lot of its basic principles of teaching children through doing, of teaching the whole child (art, music and movement are just as important as academics) and I also love its focus on nature. The founder of Waldorf, the anthroposophic Rudolf Steiner was also considered the father of bio-dynamic farming, a farming method fairly close to permaculture.

Our school year looks a little different than the typical school year, mostly because we fit what we’re doing into the seasons, especially in relation to what happens on the farm in each season. In our area of the world, late fall to early spring is the time to be doing inside book work. In our short summer season, we want to be outside as much as possible. So our book-work school year begins the beginning of October and goes to the end of April. May through September is our outside hands-on learning.  This year I have my daughter S in grade 2 and my son A in kindergarten. So we are still at the stage where we do a lot of story telling and art as well as basic academic skills for grade 2 (the three R’s).

After doing a fun unit on space in the fall, we(hubby and I) decided over Christmas to return to the Waldorf curriculum, in our own way. I don’t believe anything should be followed blindly, to the letter, and we don’t follow the Waldorf curriculum 100%. For example, this year I am doing grade 2 Waldorf math and form drawing as well as animal stories but I am not doing a block on Saints, as would be the norm for a Waldorf school.

Kindergarten is fairly simple as the Waldorf philosophy doesn’t have children learning academics in kindergarten, so we are following the Waldorf Essentials kindergarten which is a collection of stories about a young gnome named Sam and his friends. The curriculum includes suggested activities, music, handwork and recipes and A really enjoys the adventures.

For S right now we are doing a block (Waldorf curriculum is typically divided into blocks, approximately one month in length where something specific is the main focus) on animal stories from around the world. We are having a lot of fun with it! I am using a 2-day cycle where day one we read the story and do some art, either painting, drawing or modeling. Then day two we learn a bit about the country that the story is from through books and/or youtube and do a craft and perhaps some cooking from that country or area of the world. So far this month we’ve made East Indian pronti and a goat dish, we’ve made West African tribal masks, we’ve practiced some Chinese writing and made a paper coral reef on part of our school wall. Tomorrow we will try to do some Jewish dance together. Our last block for this year, in April will be a math block, focusing on money and time.

 

 

 

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Coffee Roasting

My newest homesteading skill to learn has been roasting my own coffee. In my quest to be mostly food self-sufficient I don’t think growing coffee is going to be possible. Maybe it will be someday with a heated solarium or indoors, I don’t know, but in the meantime I can take my coffee one step closer by roasting green coffee greens at home. Who knew that roasting your own coffee is actually fun and easy! Sweet Maria’s has a great step by step instructions on how to do it, here is my small description on how I am doing it after learning from my dear friend Delena, who blogs at Cabin Organic. We order our coffee beans from Sweet Maria’s they have an amazing selection.

I start out with approximately 1/3 cup of green coffee beans in the hot air popper, after letting it heat up for a minute or so. The amount of beans you want to use depends on your popper, you want the beans to be swirling around nicely (so they don’t burn) but not too fast since you want an even roast.

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I then start my stopwatch on my phone so I can see how much time the beans have been in the popper. Generally speaking the beans take about 5 1/2 to 6 minutes but it depends on the variety. The beans in this picture are Guatemalan beans and took 6 minutes.

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We’re at about 3 minutes here, the beans are swirling nicely and changing colour and the husks are flying everywhere. The beans are also “cracking”, you actually hear an audible cracking sound as the beans roast, almost like popcorn popping but not more of a crack than a pop. Really neat. From here on, I am mostly just watching for the right colour. The beans do start to smoke, you’ll notice I’m roasting on my stove, this is because the popper is right under my exhaust fan since it’s winter here. In spring and summer, I will probably do this outside. The smoke doesn’t mean the coffee is burning, its just part of the roasting process.

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And we’re done. Beautiful plump, shiny roasted coffee beans that smell amazing. They are in the mesh strainer to cool off, and stop smoking. Once they’re room temperature I transfer them to a glass jar with the lid ajar to allow them to off gas for 12-24 hours. They will be ready to enjoy in the morning.

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Simple, fast and fun. Only 10 minutes and you have an amazing freshly roasted coffee bean to grind for your morning coffee!

Our Greenhouse Project

One thing we realized right away in our gardening in zone 3, is that we needed to have some kind of season extension if we wanted to grow anything beyond the basics. So we decided on building an A-frame greenhouse. Simple and easy, right? Well…. not when you decide to make it 2000sq feet. Yes, that was not a typo. So. What plan did we use? Well, we didn’t. We read lots of e-books, articles and blog posts, watched many youtube videos and then we decided to make up our own plan.

We originally wanted to do a sunken greenhouse using geothermal and use it all year round, based on the ideas and plans of Greenhouse In the Snow in Nebraska where they grow perennials like citrus fruit trees all year round. But we really didn’t have the money or equipment or man-power to make that happen.

We decided on something simpler, an A-frame from 2-6’s mounted on posts set in cement and covered with plastic. To begin with we would grow in the the soil there and later add raised garden beds. This took us 3-4 months to simply build the greenhouse frame and cover with plastic, this was only the two of us though, with occasional help from the children.

The first step was to paint all the boards white. This would help prolong the life of the boards when under the plastic by reflecting light away from the boards instead of soaking in the heat.

Next we sunk the first four posts into the ground and assembled the first 2 “A”s for putting on them. This was not an exact science as we used the width of the A to decide where the second post should go after setting the first post at the correct distance from the fence line. If we do this again, properly surveying the site would be our first step but we are true DIYers, in the sense that it never looks as good as it did on pinterest but hey, it works. Really its not that bad, but it was a learning process.

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So the first 2 A’s were up and now we had something to attach all the rest of the A’s to. This part was the hardest as it really was only the two of us (at this point the children weren’t allowed anywhere near!) lifting those huge frames onto the posts. As we continued down the row of 12 A-frames it was easier in a sense because we didn’t have to hold it as long before it was braced. Really by the end of it we were practically pros. Ha.

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After all the frames were up,it was time to take the final measurements and order the plastic. We ordered from Northern Greenhouse, they were great to work with and a Canadian company (no exchange or customs) and the owner had built A-frame greenhouses before and had great instruction on how to install the plastic. We installed the end panels first and then we were ready for putting the big sheet of plastic over the top.

So how did we get this huge sheet of plastic up and over the A-frame of the greenhouse? Well, since we had no idea ourselves what we were going to do, we didn’t want to bother our friends and neighbors into coming over and hanging out trying to figure it out. “So lets try this…” …”Well, that didn’t work, lets try this now…” etc, we decided to give it a try ourselves.

In the end, we managed to get it just over halfway by moving that ladder around inside the greenhouse, pulling up the plastic and clamping it in place. Then, once we were over the peak of the greenhouse we tied ropes to each end corner and instead of fighting the wind as we had been, we used each gust of wind to balloon out the plastic and then we pulled down on our side and it actually worked! Have you ever played with a parachute as a kid in gym class? Its kind of the same concept and that’s where I got the idea from.

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Here is the finished product, at least it was for then, as you can see, the tilling worked wonders in resurrecting a ton of weeds. In the background you see our organic weed-killers at work. Once we had the greenhouse secured on the sides for the winter we let them out of the cage and they had the run of the greenhouse. They did a good job of taking care of the weeds!

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Here we are during a February melt just last week. As you can see the greenhouse has some low spots! This late winter/early spring we’ll be focusing on getting it ready for this season. We need to fix some ventilation issues by installing a large door at the east end of the greenhouse as well, also the sides of the greenhouse need more lathe holding down the plastic as even with all the doors and windows shut, it still flaps in the breeze. We’ll also be working on the growing beds.

We’ve decided on a simple hand tilling of the the soil in the beds (which need to be marked out first) just to loosen the soil and then we’ll build the soil up on top of the existing top soil. Our topsoil is not very deep here and we hit clay only a few inches down, so rather than trying to dig into the soil and turn it up and amend it, it makes more sense to loosen it a bit for roots and add a lot of compost and soil on top of that, covered with mulch. Our plan is to loosen the soil (only in the beds) then spread a thick layer of tree chip mulch over everything, (we got 3 dumptruck loads in the fall from our local tree toppers). Then we will build with compost and hay. First compost to plant into (I think we’ll probably need a dump truck load of that) then hay to mulch and later we’ll add more hay as the first layer begins to decompose, this is called the Ruth Stout method, or a no-dig garden. It will be a longer process and our plants this year may not be as great as our plants will be in three years or so but it will be an ongoing process that I think will end up producing a better product in the long run.

2016 Quick Recap

At the beginning of 2016 we sat down and planned out what to do with our income over the winter and spring. We decided we needed a truck for hauling hay and animals, a grow light for starting plants and we needed to till up the garden as well as a larger area for planting other things and we also wanted to build a greenhouse. For animals we needed to refresh our egg laying flock and I wanted heritage birds this time. We also needed a billy goat to breed our dairy goat in the fall so we could have more milk again.

In March we purchased our grow light for starting plants indoors. This turned out to be more difficult than we had anticipated because we didn’t realize just how close to the light plants need to be to not be “leggy”. So we started many little tiny seeds in little tiny peat plugs that fit into one little tray under the light with no problems, but that didn’t last for very long. It only took a couple weeks to outgrow the light and we ended up with plants sprawled all over our small room. Most of the plants survived transplanting and I did get a decent harvest. img_3402

We did purchase a big diesel 1 ton duelly truck but we’ve since realized that it is much more than we need. Yes, it would haul cattle and hay bales and all kinds of huge things, but it’s a little overkill for us. Besides which, the truck is rather unpredictable and neither of us being mechanics means it doesn’t work half the time! Rather frustrating to have a big truck sitting in the driveway while you haul firewood, pigs and goats in the back of your car anyway.

In April we purchased our billy goat as a bottle-fed kid from the dairy we originally bought our dairy goat Didi from. Since they knew we want to keep any females we get from this mating, they called us when they had a buckling born from good hand-milking lines (good milk and easy to milk). He was such a cute little guy (an Alpine-Toggenburg cross). The children named him Stormy and enjoyed bottle feeding him right from the start. It did take him a while to outgrow his habit of trying to get milk from a human’s hand, arm, sleeve or pantleg, which was a little annoying on occasion but so cute!

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In April we also tilled a portion of our land and then completely re-dug and re-designed the garden. Future note to those who want to till land that hasn’t been worked in a really long time: Don’t! It needs to be plowed not tilled if you want to turn the soil well. It was a nightmare trying to pull the tractor tiller through huge clods of soil and grass that kept bunching up under the tiller. We overseeded much of this land in clover for our bees and our goats, after we staked out the parameters of our greenhouse and garden.

The garden redesign worked beautifully. I chose to do long (36′) rows of 3′ wide raised beds (just mounded soil at this point) so that I could more easily figure out exactly how much of each crop I was planting for harvest.This year I also started strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and asparagus.

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Rhubarb in the front square with Jerusalem artichoke to the right.

Unfortunately our harvest wasn’t the greatest because we got so busy building our greenhouse and it took so much more time than we had anticipated that much of the garden got completely overgrown with “weeds”. An interesting note, when we tilled in the spring, we also tilled under all the straw mulch from last year, and as you can see in the picture below in front of the sunflowers, it grew barley! So if you do much with straw, be careful with tilling that, it is not a sterile product and if given the chance, it will sprout. I never would have found out what all the grass was if I hadn’t completely given up on my garlic patch because I couldn’t tell what was grass and what was garlic. I let it grow and later a farmer friend took a look and asked why we were growing barley.

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Our chickens were purchased in May, I did get a small flock (one rooster and 6 hens) of juvenile mixed-breed heritage birds. They have some Maran, some Americauna and some Barred Rock in them. We also got 6 silkie chicks. These were meant as pets for the children but they are a little young to be able to handle them now that the chicks are mature and it turns out we have 3 roos and 3 hens! For now, then hens make great broody moms and will hatch out whatever eggs I want them to (I hope).

 

Our entire summer was spent working on the greenhouse, with a few quick breaks for family visits and a 2 day camping trip. Our trip was lovely and some much needed family time away from the busy worklife of the farm. Please see my post on the greenhouse for more information about that.

 

Harvest time always comes so quickly and we never seem to be completely prepared for all the produce. I didn’t get the potato or tomato harvest I was expecting, the potatoes because of not weeding the patch, and the tomatoes because of not getting them out into the greenhouse soon enough. Still, there was the mid season harvests of peas, beets and beans, and salad greens and then the carrots and squash just before the frost. All in all it was a very productive year for work on the farm. We are looking forward to what 2017 brings.

 

On “Deep Litter” and mucking out

Last fall I read about a method of animal bedding called “Deep Litter”. The basic principle is simple: you don’t muck out the barn for months. Instead, as needed, you add new layers of bedding to the existing used bedding creating a nice deep pad of insulation under the animals, in my case specifically goats and chickens.

I loved the idea of this method. After having mucked out the chicken barn in winter the year before, I liked the idea of not mucking out for the entire winter. Besides, this was supposed to add warmth to my barn and maybe the water-er wouldn’t freeze this year and with the goats and chickens sharing the same air space (separated by pallets and chicken wire) perhaps I wouldn’t need heat lamps.

Deep litter lived up to it’s claims. Admittedly it wasn’t as cold this year with the super-charged El Nino, but we still had a few nights of -23 to -28 C and for most of December to February the temperature was below freezing. I noticed in November that the water did freeze up overnight but by the time February came, with the depth of litter I had on the floor of the barn (about a foot) the waters were fine. The barn was always reasonably warm for milking, and I had no problems milking with bare hands.

The floor of my barn is wood so I try to keep a reasonable layer of bedding down anyway, as I don’t want the floor to rot away before I can afford a new barn. For the chicken portion of the barn I use wood shavings, I added 2 bales of shavings every month and a half, so it is good and caked full in there. The last time Ivan shoveled shavings away from the door so it would close (improvements need to made to the design) he said the bottom layers looked like dirt, so I would guess that it actually is composting in there. In the goat stalls I use straw for bedding. Between the goat stalls and the chicken nests I went through 6 small square bales for the winter.

But there is one thing the books about deep litter failed to talk about in detail: The spring muck-out!! So far I have only mucked out one goat stall. Spring is really only beginning here so the bedding is only just starting to stink (it really didn’t stink at all during the winter months). So I mucked out the milk-goat’s stall last week and will do the other goat stall next week and the chicken pen the week after. Why the week spacing between them? My back needs the rest.

Here are my notes and thoughts if you are considering doing deep litter:

  1. Have the right tools ready. Mucking out manure soaked straw with a spade really doesn’t work. Get that really nice manure fork from Peavey Mart or UFA. It will be worth the few dollars.
  2. Wear a mask. As you work down the layers of bedding it really stinks. Partially rotted manure and urine is seriously disgusting. I use safety glasses and a full filtered breathing mask.  For the rest of the day, the smell of manure hung over the acreage. Thankfully it dissipates as the pile sits.
  3. Make sure the design of your barn allows for easy mucking out. I did not do this. I was trying to maximize the space in my barn, getting 2 goat stalls and one chicken pen out of a 12×16 barn. My aisle runs parallel to the wall with the door in it, and is only 2.5′ wide. Trying to maneuver a full wheelbarrow out of that is not an easy task. I do intend to do a design overhaul to the barn before next winter to make the mucking out easier.

I will do deep litter again, but I will be better prepared with easier access, better pile location and I do have a nice manure fork now.

The beginnings of abundance

Without my mentor, Margot, I would not be where I’m at now in terms of my garden and orchard. At the beginning of 2015 when we originally had the idea to grow plants, it was for profit and we thought of doing a mono-culture orchard of haskaps, with a small home vegetable garden on the side, just for fun. With Margot’s introduction to permaculture in the spring of 2015 our focus changed from a for-profit orchard to being self-sustainable, growing our own food and selling our extras. I needed a good education in growing vegetables and this is where Margot was able to step in to help me. My education as a child and teen consisted of weeding 50 foot rows of potatoes and carrots that my parents had planted to help meet their grocery budget with 8 children. It was messy, tedious work that I didn’t want to repeat. Margot introduced me to Emilie Hazelip’s methodology which made a lot more sense to me. The heavily mulched, raised beds looked much easier to care for then the flat, muddy, weed-infested garden plots that I had been used to.

I decided to give this form of gardening a try. Ivan and I dug out a good garden spot with spades in an afternoon and then I started shaping my beds. I did a key-hole design with a center aisle and 2 keyholes into each side, except that I only did one side of the center aisle before I ran out of planting time and just planted beans, zucchini and potatoes on the second side. In spite of my inexperience in gardening, I had a bountiful harvest and really enjoyed this years efforts in working towards producing a good portion of our own food. Here are some step by step pictures of our garden:

Our hand-dug garden, which wasn’t the brightest idea. We may have saved in cash output but trying to plant into heavy clumps of earth wasn’t fun and I ended up throwing a lot of the clumps out of the garden, adding a large portion of time to our already big project. We also decided to put up a fence so the chickens could free-range. It was a good chicken fence as long as we remembered to close the gate, but the baby goat destroyed it. Hopefully for our next garden, the goat will remain penned in his pasture.

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A closer look at the terracing of the garden beds. The bottom terrace is where I grew spinach and lettuce, the middle terrace had onions and garlic and the level top is where I planted everything else, in little bunches here and there for the sake of bio-diversity.

Here are the mulched and ready sections. I quickly ran out of straw and used mowed and chicken scratched old grass instead. The main thing wrong with my mulch is that I didn’t anchor it in anyway so there was nothing to hold it in place and my raised garden beds were quite steep. A few rain storms and the mulch had all slid down to the bottom of the beds to lie in the pathway. I would recommend doing some kind of criss-cross strapping over the beds to keep the mulch in place.

I was so pleased with the results of my garden! I have never had a garden turn out so nicely. It was the perfect first-time results. In spite of my mistakes and poor timing for planting, I still got such a bountiful harvest and my garden was beautiful.

For our orchard, we decided that instead of planting a large mono-culture orchard, we would instead plant a small food forest style of orchard. This year we started with the centres of some of our guilds: cherry trees and saskatoon bushes, (Apple trees will be added later) and also filled in some of our next level of bushes with Haskaps. If anyone is unfamiliar with the idea of a food forest tree guild, check out this link or this one. There is a lot of other information available for tree guilds online.

Here we are breaking ground for our small food forest. Yes, again, we did it by hand but we really enjoyed it. It was great to just work together and get into working our land. There’s something satisfying about digging holes and planting trees.

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We planted Cherry trees from the Romance series of sour cherries. These are hardy to our area and while they won’t be the big sweet cherries from sunnier climates, we chose the ones with the highest rating for sweetness: Romeo, Juliet and Crimson Passion.

Everyone had a job to do to help out and by the time we were finished planting the 8 trees/bushes that we started with we all had the feeling that this was our orchard. The children continue taking ownership for it into the second year, checking to see if the trees still have snow around them or if they’re budding yet.

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This simple sheet mulch was amazing. It was quite a dry summer in our area but the baby trees did really well and the dirt under the mulch stayed wet for far longer than the grass around the area. we even found a frog at one point hiding out under the cardboard.

 

 

 

Our Animals: an overview

IMG_1630Having grown up in the city without even a pet, 2015 was quite an adventure and adjustment for me. We bought our dog, Molly, in 2014, soon after moving to the country but 2015 was when we started with farm animals.

Chickens arrived in January. We were able to get 30 free chickens from a friend’s Dad who had got 50 layers from a hatchery and then decided he didn’t really need that many eggs. So we agreed to take 30 of them and over several cold winter days we converted our small barn from storage to chicken coop. We used Rubbermaid tubs for nests, turned upside down with an opening cut in the side. I do not recommend doing this. Nests on the floor just get filthy dirty, but we were trying to be economical and fast. Our roosts were just 1×4’s with props under them, in 2 rows along one side of the barn. They worked pretty well for the first 8 months we had the chickens.

For feed, I started with just getting commercial feed and kitchen scraps. Then when summer came the chickens got to be free-ranging all over the acreage. I didn’t lose any chickens to wild animals, our dog is really great at keeping coyotes at bay, just by barking. We did have quite the time trying to find eggs! Occasionally we would come across a stash of eggs hidden in the grass somewhere, perhaps 30-50 of them from a couple weeks of laying. When you get 25-30 eggs a day as I did that summer you don’t tend to miss 3-5 eggs a day for a little while.

bees2In April, our 3 hives of bees that we ordered arrived. Ivan put together pre-made Langstroth hives and also added a layer of high-density insulation foam to the outside of the hives. This is an alternative to wrapping the hives for winter, it allows the bees to still be able to leave the hive for water and other needs on warm winter days and it also helps to insulate against heat in the summer. For more information on how this works, this is the youtube video we used.

In June we bought a dairy goat. Our main motivation for doing so was to provide our 2 children with fresh, wholesome milk. We’ve since discovered other additional uses for the milk and other benefits from the goat. She does keep a good area of grass clear and also enjoys the young weedy saplings that we have such a time trying to clear our property of, and she produces great manure for the garden and orchard.

With the milk we started making yogurt, a simple cheese and kefir. We still make Kefir and enjoy it, but no one really cared for the yogurt or the cheese, so I had quite a surplus of milk. Since I do not have a lot of experience in farming or gardening or animals, and I love to read, I tend to read a lot of books on the different subjects. My book for dairy goats was (and still is) Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats. In the book, the author mentions the possibility of making soap from extra goat milk and recommends another book, Milk Based Soaps by Casey Makela. It’s not a long read, very easy to understand and with a great traditional goat milk soap recipe to learn from. So we decided, why not? Ivan made the molds and I collected the equipment we needed, then we made soap, and more soap, and more soap! We decided we may as well sell some of our extras and started searching for, and applying to local markets. We started with a Christmas craft show in December and this summer we’ll be selling at our local summer markets.

IMG_7092In mid-summer we also got 3 kittens. We got a little tired of seeing mice every week at least once in our house, and they seemed awfully adept at escaping traps and avoiding bait. So we got cats instead and that has been a success. For a while we watched the cats catch mice in the fall, and then for the entire winter we have been mouse free in our home. The barn is another story. I need to move at least some of our cat population (now 5) out to the barn.

Fall of 2015 brought a rush of projects to get ready for the winter. I didn’t want the goats to continue sleeping outdoors with just prevailing wind and rain shelter but wanted them to be in the barn, along with the milking stand! So, once again, we were out renovating our small barn. We were able to get 2 goat stalls, one small (for kids and/or milking stall)and one large to fit the 2 goats that we will always keep so our dairy goat is not alone. We also were able to still keep the chicken coop in the barn at one end. This way the body heat of the animals is shared between them all and we didn’t have to plug in any heat lamps for the chickens in the winter.

This year things will be different in the chicken department again, as we are planning to slaughter our old hens for meat (anything can be slow-cooked, right?) and get 5-10 birds for laying hens, placed into 2 small portable coops to move around the property every few days rather than having them actually free-range. This will be a nice down size in our flock which will help with lessening the work load in one area as I pick it up in other areas, like getting a buckling to raise to breed our dairy goat with, and doubling the size of my garden.

More on our garden and orchard next week!

 

 

The Before Pictures

When Ivan and I decided that we were going to transform our property using permaculture, step by step, we decided that the first thing we needed to do was take our “before” pictures. There were two reasons we thought this would be a good idea, first for ourselves: for inspiration and encouragement when it is slow going and hard work. And second for that moment when we’ve reached a certain point and decided to do our “after” pictures, then we can put together a movie-slideshow complete with dramatic music. I was also inspired in part to do this blog, and to organize and continue my progress pictures by the blog Bealtaine Cottage, if you have a moment to look, her before and after post is absolutely phenomenal to scroll through.

The following series of pictures were taken at the end of April, 2015.This was more than a year after we had moved in, so a lot of the overgrowth clean up had already been taken care of.

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Entering our property from the county road you are facing east. The hideous garden boxes I built on the left in 2014 were taken down soon after these pictures. One day I will figure out exactly what kind of welcoming garden I actually want to put in that area.

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The children’s play area with rope swings, a climbing gym, hammock, a line of stumps to the left and an old trampoline frame in the background. This year the stumps are gone, the new trampoline will be moved to that spot, and a treehouse and a picnic table will be added.

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This area is to the right of the driveway. One day it will be full of beautiful flower gardens around a lovely gazebo/patio area for our outdoor cooking and campfires.

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Ah, the front of our home. Not much to say here, simply because I haven’t really decided what to do with this area yet. This is our southern exposure and there’s not a lot of solar energy collecting going on with this house, yet. This is still a thought in progress.

On the south side of the driveway from our house is the lounging area of our Great Pyrenees and also the pile of random junk that came with our acreage (the broken down fifth wheel is no longer there.) to the east of this area is the start of our line of random buildings (storage, wood shed, barn). The buildings are very old but still work for our chickens and goats, as well as hay and wood storage.

Our back field. The first picture looking north east from the barn area and the second picture looking south west from the far back corner of the property. This area started its evolution within a month of these pictures with the planting of fruit trees and shrubs and the digging of the vegetable garden.

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The seasonal run off pond. In 2014, the year we moved here, this pond was twice as big. We had a lot more snow that year. 2015 was fairly dry and this year looks like its going to be even more dry, although its still early enough to get a good dump of snow yet.

This area is the north side of the house. We were busy doing clean up from the previous September when we had a big, early dump of heavy wet snow that broke a lot of the little maple trees there. This is a nice little area, bordered by trees with one large poplar in the middle. The little flower garden surrounding the poplar I discovered by accident after a friend told me the previous fall that the flowers spilling all over the area were not wild flowers.

And finally, here is the northwest corner of our property, an open, windy and exposed pasture that we are going to start changing by planting willows in it this spring.