Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A New Year

Here we are, in the first weeks of 2017.  While I'd like to say good riddance to 2016, I don't think that would be appropriate. I could give you a list of all of the things that weren't good in 2016, but my list of all the things that were good is much longer. When we bought this place in the fall of 2015, we had dreams and hopes and plans.  Those first few months were filled with necessities-cleaning and painting and adding the addition.  The corn was over our heads by the time we moved in, and most of the flowers and plants were in their wind-down stages.  And really, we didn't have time to fully enjoy the property.

Then winter came.  And with it, came new concerns.  Every day the old barn seemed to sag a little more and we knew that its days were numbered.  Inside, we had made cosmetic changes, but we weren't really prepared to feel actual wind blowing through our house.  It seemed we were constantly having the old propane gas pig filled to keep us warm.  Old houses are so charming, aren't they?

In January, we added our first real pet to the family, much to the delight of the kids.  Smokey, a gray lionhead bunny, came to live with us.

Finally, in late winter, the addition was completed and I had a great new bedroom with tons of sunlight and full view of our yard and property.

Winter slowly drifted away and the days lost their chill.  Before the bean crop was planted, the kids scavenged in the field for any rocks they could carry. We had a lot of landscaping projects planned, and what's better than free rocks?

In April, we got the idea (I mean I got the idea) that ripping the main bathroom apart one week before Emerson's birthday party was a good idea.  Jason just loves my free spirit home reno projects!

And since there was a party coming, I decided I should also give our narrow little staircase a little facelift.

And then the daffodils started to bloom, and it was official.  The cold was behind us and warm weather was on its way.  This is when the real fun began.

We have learned so much in this year on our small, growing farm...

We have learned how to successfully raise tiny, fluffy chicks and how it feels to literally have them eat out of our hands.

We have learned when and how farmers plant giant fields of beans,

and how to plant our own garden.

We have learned what fresh, newborn mice look like, and that if you don't get the mail everyday, it will become bedding.

We have learned what sugar snap peas straight from the garden taste like.

We have learned the difference in quacks between a male and female duck.

We have learned that sleepy 8 week old puppies don't actually end up sleeping forever.

We have learned that turkeys grow really quickly and if you aren't planning to eat them, they're better off living elsewhere.

We have learned that you should never go check on the garden without a basket or wagon.

We have learned what tiny box elder bugs look like.

We have learned that tiny mews coming from an overgrown ditch can turn into sweet, tree-climbing, snuggly pet cats.

We have learned that eggs come in all shapes, sizes and colors and that collecting them never feels like a chore.

We have learned that even when the beans grow tall, there are still ways to walk among them and explore.

We have learned that some chickens have furry feet.

We have learned that making pickles is just as fun as eating them.

We have learned that tragedies can happen so quickly and that we can't always save our beloved animals, but sometimes, we have luck (and a bathtub for healing) on our side.

Personally, I have learned that, yes, indeed, I am deathly afraid of heights, even only a few feet off the ground.

When we decided to give up subdivision living and try our hand at a different kind of life, I don't think we actually knew what we were undertaking.  It is hard and not always fun and sometimes, it's downright awful (ask Jason about crawling around in the musty, 130 year old crawl space filled with mummified spiders), but we are doing it, and we are learning as we go.  I have constant questions about gardening and insulation and chickens and ducks.  In a day and age where you can have anything at your fingertips in the blink of an eye, we're going old school.  We want to grow what we eat, and know that it's good for us.  We are willing to put in the effort every spring to ensure we have food throughout the summer, fall and winter.  We want to add to our flock of chickens and hopefully experience our own chicks hatching.  We want to know more about bee-keeping and making our own soap and detergent.  We want to grow berries and fruit for pies.  There are some things you can't learn in school, and it's our job as parents to introduce our children to everything possible.

 It might be the dead of winter here in Michigan, but farm life doesn't stop because of weather.  Egg production has slowed, but the girls left two for me this morning.

The changes and reno will continue around here, but look how far we've come in a year.  We went from zero animals to having a bunny, a cat, a dog, nine hens, a rooster and a duck.  Oh, and there might be a turtle also living in my house.  The property has also changed and we are planning a much larger garden this year, with lots of new vegetables.  And the house?  The house is coming along, slowly but surely, as we find the time and resources to complete projects.

Right now, the field is barren, but we still enjoy bundling up to walk the perimeter,

and the chickens are a little freaked out to put their feet in the snow,

but we are looking forward to the future when we can once again get our hands dirty and explore in the sunshine of summer.