In the beginning…

Today we went to see the property we were most interested in from what’s currently available. We love it. There’s some remodeling of the house we want to do to make it exactly what we want, but the 5 acres is just perfect for the small farm I have planned. We made an offer and accepted their counter. I wish the buying process didn’t take so long to complete, because I just want to get started on moving and land prep RIGHT NOW. I hate waiting. We have asked if we can schedule a firm move-in date in March and pay rent if the sale hasn’t closed yet, so we’ll see what happens with that. That would make coordinating the move with leaving our rental house so much easier.

For now, I’m reading up on homesteading so I can be ready to go once I have access to the land. The first one I’m reading is “The Backyard Homestead” by Carleen Madigan. So far, I’m liking the layout and crop rotation suggestions. The author lives in CA, though, so I’m not sure if all planting advice will translate to our climate. Thankfully, our county extension office offers a huge amount of information – including a fantastic planning calendar for the year – so I should be able to easily find out everything I need to know.

Ultimately, I want plenty of vegetable beds, fruit/nut trees, lots of chickens, and two or three Nigerian dwarf goats for milk. I also want to raise a couple pigs and a cow each year for our family’s meat. Although I plan to develop our homestead in stages, I don’t want to start with just a few vegetables. I can cook (and my family will eat) anything I grow and it’ll be another year before I get to do spring planting again, so I want to start with as many as possible. Then I can take notes on how everything does in the ground and on the table and make modifications for next spring. I want to take advantage of my not having found a job, and I can put in whatever time is necessary to prepare a lot of ground and grow a wide variety of produce. I also want chickens immediately, since we eat a LOT of eggs. We’d benefit financially and nutritionally from having our own pastured chickens to produce our eggs.

Spence will be helping by building things like frames for raised beds and a chicken coop (he’s an excellent carpenter and I plan to feature his work on this blog as well). He’s also excited to have an excuse to buy a tractor. The bulk of the actual farming and upkeep will be done by our kids and me, though, since his full time “real job” is what allows us to have this opportunity. I’m very lucky and grateful to have a husband who provides for us so well, and homesteading is how I want to provide back to him.

I was leaning toward doing as much planting as possible using starts from a farm store close to the house we’re buying since I’ve found buying local starts is a good way to get plants that are already acclimatized to the specific environment. However, Spence has pointed out that buying seeds is something I can do now, so I’ll probably do that. I want to grow herbs and edible flowers close to the house, either in a bed or in planters on the porch. I haven’t decided yet. All the veggies will be in a farm area that gets full sun,

I’m also trying out the Farmer’s Almanac Garden Planner software. Having an interactive guide and reminders tailored to my location will make digesting all this new information much easier.

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