My porch is not covered in chicken poop. The lawnmower is working properly. The garden has sprouted. The sky is blue, and my produce stand is finished! I guess all of our plans really were meant to be!
Scott and I took a walk on our trails last weekend and he started sharing all of these new ideas with me about what we could do with some of our land. I wanted to be excited about it because he hasn’t shared much in the way of new ideas over the last two years, but instead it made me frustrated. I wasn’t mad, just a little bit sad. When would we have the time? We’d talked about doing some of these things over the course of the last four years, but here we were, still no closer to reaching those goals. Or so I felt.
We faced obstacle after obstacle in the past few years, and it felt like we were no closer to reaching our goals. In reality, we were on the brink of a turning point. I shared my frustrations with Scott and he said a few things that turned it all around for me. 1) Let’s go buy the wood. 2) Start making the plans.
I needed wood to complete my produce stand. I used milled barn boards to make the initial part of the stand, but I needed more boards to finish the project. The only problem was that Scott just doesn’t have time to do it himself, and he really didn’t want me to take boards off for good reasons. So he said, “Let’s just go buy the wood you need.” The second he said that, I felt so much better. The produce stand structure has sat there half-finished for the past year, and it was driving me crazy!
We took some measurements, and after getting the boards home, it took me less than an hour to finish the job. I still have some work to do on it. I might paint the whole thing, the nesting boxes in the structure have a purpose, but need a little work, I want to get some flowers planted in the old feed troughs, and I might put an awning on the front of it. Scott said I just need a sign now. I have everything I need to make one, but I just need the time to work on it. I can’t wait to see it finish coming together!
I needed some more boards to work on the fencing for the kids’ garden fence as well. We had started to replace their fencing, and I hadn’t gotten enough supplies for the job. The crummy chicken wire we had put up with old chunks of wood for posts wasn’t holding up. We still have to throw in some mesh fencing between the boards, but the wooden rails will keep kids from barreling into the gardens or Poppy from trampling their plants.
I felt giddy getting those two tasks completed. That whole portion of the yard now looks clean instead of dilapidated, and my vision for this spot is really beginning to take shape.
We also put a butterfly garden in by their gardens, and we started working on fixing up Pumpkin’s greenhouse. We still need to plant the rest of their gardens this week, but it’s all finally coming together.
In the past couple of weeks, we’ve been able to get most of our gardens planted. I’ve still got a few things that I am really hoping to get planted in this coming week, but if we don’t, it’s still going to be our biggest garden yet. Nearly everything that’s been planted has started to sprout, and in another week or two, I think we’ll be seeing a whole lot of green!
I’ve begun cleaning up the “Secret Garden” these past few weeks. My strawberry beds need to be weeded, but the grass is cut, the perennials are starting to fill in, and it’s beginning to look the way I want it to!
As you probably know, the old chicken coop has been a bit of a sore spot. On the one hand, the fire opened up possibilities for us, and gave us some great ideas. On the other hand, it created a lot of unexpected, extra work. We spent time cleaning up the mess this spring, emptying out the building, trying to make the room we needed to finally work on fixing it up, but it stalled out over the month of May. The grass was beginning to get long and bury the mess, it rained too much, or it was too windy to burn the debris, and we just couldn’t seem to get the last of the mess out of the building.
And then it happened. Scott was finally able to work on the building over the weekend! So far, he’s removed the badly burned wall and half of the ceiling. We need to remove the other half of the ceiling and any other portions of the building that were burned, not just covered in smoke before reconstruction begins. But it’s a huge first step.
It was calm and dry enough to burn debris over the weekend, which made this even more exciting because we weren’t left with a huge pile to deal with on another day. We need a new roof, new windows, a new wall, and maybe a new door. Some of the supplies might get salvaged from the barn, but we’ll have to invest a bit of money into fixing it up, so we aren’t sure how fast this project will go. The main thing will be to frame out the missing wall and to get a roof up. The other things can wait longer if they have to.
Even though the building is less of a building, it’s just one thing more helping to make our yard look cleaner. The flowerbeds have been weeded, the flowers are in bloom, the grass has been cut, and I feel like I can breathe again. I needed to know our yard wasn’t going to be a jungle all year!
When Scott told me to start making plans, he was talking about getting us ready to take on our next form of livestock. It won’t be happening this year, but if the rest of this year goes as well as the last week, I think we’ll be grazing animals in our big field next year. Scott took the first step in preparing it for grazing by taking the tractor through with the mower deck. We wouldn’t have worried about mowing, but there are trees starting to grow in the field, and it would have been more work trying to wade through the tall grass to cut them down than to mow the whole field. We found a few trees in the field that we decided to keep and cut the rest.
Aside from allergies, we realized that the biggest thing holding Scott back from working around our property was that we needed to be scheduling tasks for him to complete. We discussed doing this last year, and just failed to do it. In the one week that we scheduled things, we accomplished a lot.
Little by little our orchard is beginning to take shape! Our trees are finally pruned to where they should be. So far, we have not had hail damage, too much water, or a fire. We might just get an apple harvest this year! It’s still early though, so I’m not holding my breath! The trees we grafted last year are doing really well. I think we had a few that didn’t make it, but the majority did great. And of the ones that didn’t survive grafting, the rootstock did, so it’s not a loss. The trees we grafted this year have also done well so far. Both of those successes are helping us head in the right direction for some future plans. Now that’s some exciting stuff!
In other updates, right now the bees appear to be doing well in their new location. I think Scott and I both feel better about having them closer to the house. I really hope this is the year we figure this beekeeping thing out!
Last year’s garden looks like a jungle, but I cleared out one quadrant. I need to spend time over the next two weeks clearing it out before everything goes to seed. I’m hoping to be able to plant a fall planting in there, but we’ll see.
And our slow, steady efforts to clean and organize things around our property are continuing along nicely. After talking about getting a vehicle maintenance list together for the last year and a half, we finally got one typed up. It’s missing a little bit of information, but we’ve left room to fill everything in. We just need a lock on the garage door, and we should be able to work on really cleaning up another portion of the homestead!
The abundance of spring and summer has begun to show it’s lovely face! We started getting a lot of eggs from the chickens around Easter. Now the trick is finding where they keep wandering out to lay their eggs. But we had a collection of eggs to use up recently, so I made an angel food cake and we made some vanilla ice cream! A fun start to the summery season, for sure!
The kids have been enjoying the summer weather and the freedom from bookwork. Miss Lady has been hard at work on arts and crafts projects. They’ve been working on their fort, riding bikes, playing in the sprinkler, and we’ve been adding summer playdates to the schedule. Last week we had cousins come over and they all went swimming in the lake.
We also started a new game with the kids. Scott bought it about 5 years ago, and this was the first year we were really ready to try using it. It’s a long-term board game (think month to months). Each player earns points to play the game by completing their chores, school work, for good behavior, and obeying the commandments. There are prizes they can win throughout the game for completing different missions (such as a little activity book or staying up a little later at night), and there’s a family prize when the game is completed as well as a “grand prize” for the first person to complete all of their missions. We “flew” to Africa to begin this safari adventure last week, and began playing the board game a few days ago.
This week we will need to wrap up any planting if we want our gardens to grow. My pumpkin and watermelon seeds are officially in much later than I had wanted/hoped, and the kids’ gardens need to get planted ASAP. Hopefully I can continue to work on weeding last year’s garden, finish up the kids’ fencing, and continue pruning trees and bushes and weeding flower beds around the property!
How is your “summer” starting off? What projects have you wrapped up recently? Which ones are you looking forward to finishing?