I remember how this blog got started two years ago. I was away for the weekend in Walla Walla, Washington with my sister-in-law. We were tasting good wines and relaxing. I mentioned my thoughts on starting a blog about our micro farm, our activities around it and our learnings. With that foundational discussion I started the blog the next week. At the same time, I stumbled across a foreclosed property that looked like a dream come true for a micro farmer. Our dream did come true with the purchase of our amazing 9 acres property and the vast changes it has afforded us.
Below is a synopsis of some of the changes we have gone through in the past two years. Hang on to your hats!
Moving Micro Farms
We moved from our 2 acre micro farm and homestead to an AMAZING house on 9 acres. One of the selling points for us was the entire farm infrastructure that was in place; outbuildings, fencing, water, electricity. It was a lot of work getting the new farm going. Many aspects of the foreclosed house and farm were in a sad state of disrepair. We were able to move in after about 5 months of renovation and after hauling off 11 TONS of trash!
It was all well worth it. Now we could take our micro farming dream and Super Size It (relatively speaking).
Building out the farm stand has been pivotal to our vision. We want to have a place where people can come at their convenience to pick up FRESH farm food from the farm itself. To enjoy the farm with us, chat for a bit if they are so inclined and see the animals. I’m always thrilled when people come back with their kids (or grandkids) or bring visiting guests by the farm. I love being someone’s weekend destination.
Pigs and Pork
We could now graduate from raising about 5 weaner pigs a year to a permanent breeding operation. Mark carefully chose two sows to be his foundation stock. We use a local Berkshire Rent a Boar-friend and will be able to have two litters a year from Black Betty and Rosie Red.
That means about 30 pigs a year to sell as whole or half custom butchered hogs or by the pound in the farm stand. Mark really likes his sows J
I used to have 25 layers and sell to a few, set customers from a cooler on my front porch. I’m now up to 50-60 layers. There is definitely more demand for eggs then I can keep up with. Mark urges me to take the flock to 100 birds. I don’t know if I want to take care of that many chickens. I’m thinking of 75 layers when I order chicks in February.
Eggs are now sold first-come first-served in the farm stand in our newly purchased glass cooler.
Sheep, Lambs and Wool
I used to buy feeder lambs and raise them on neighbors’ unused pasture up to market weight as locker lamb. Now I have my own small flock of 100% Finnsheep. With them I’m slowly growing my flock by keeping breeding stock. This year I sold all lambs as breeding stock and fiber animals. If there are any surplus in coming years we will have locker lamb available again.
I’ve been shearing the flock once or twice a year. The lovely soft, crimpy wool I’ve either sold raw to hand spinners or I have sent some out to a small mill in Michigan. They have sent back to me impressive yarn that we sell in our farm stand.
The old farm turkey pen was maxed out at about 12 heritage birds. This year Mark has bumped it up to 30 turkeys for Thanksgiving. At 30 birds I cry “uncle”! We have to slaughter them all ourselves the Sunday before T-Day and that is quiet enough, thank you very much.
Still making homemade bar soap. Sold out of bar soap. Need to make more bar soap!
Mark is the veggie guy. His garden is much bigger here, but at this point is still mainly for us. We will be able to put up in the store hundreds of pounds of Red Bliss, Yukon Gold and German Butter potatoes. Probably some other root vegetables as well, like beets and turnips.
I’m trying to convince Mark to grow hard necked garlic and leave the tops on the onions for me to braid up both of them for the store. They would look great hanging up and would last a long time.
Looks like scab has gotten most of our pears and apples this year. I will be able to put up for us and the store plum and blackberry jam and maybe applesauce, jarred pears and pear butter.
The jams I’ve made so far (Plum Ginger, Plum Cardamom, Plum Star Anise, Blackberry Orange Basil and Blackberry Vanilla) are really good! YUM!
The biggest change is in our family. We love our new farm. We appreciate the space and beauty it affords us. The sense of purpose and teamwork it instills. The joy of the new births and the hard realities of being at the top of the food chain.
I wouldn’t change the past two years for anything!