This weekend marks the second anniversary that we’ve lived on our little farm! I think I can venture to say that, over the last winter, we’ve really settled into this new lifestyle. Watching the increasingly familiar signs of Spring emerging on the property truly makes me feel home. While the sense of unknown and feeling of discovery as each season progressed were very exciting during our first year on the property, it is so comfortable to be able to anticipate and feel in sync with the seasonal changes now that we’ve experienced our second year.
This winter was, as you might expect, a busy one for projects around the property seeing as we were so home-bound. I feel ever so fortunate that our winter of Covid isolation was this winter rather than the prior one – toddlerhood is so much more enjoyable for Matt and I than muddling through life with a newborn!
Knowing our property that much better allowed us to settle into routines and projects much more than the previous winter when the scale of every project and problem on a homestead felt a little too large and scary for us to tackle.
Whenever allowed, both sets of Noah’s grandparents have been included in our bubble, and, as always, they have been incredibly supportive and eager to take on childcare or projects around the property. We are so very lucky to have such a supportive family and, of course, when they were forced to socially distance from us at various points throughout the year, their support, love and companionship was sorely missed by all three of us.
My parents, who share ownership of the property with us and intend to live here once my mom has retired, have been full steam ahead with land clearing and milling. They are building a large workshop and will eventually move into the existing house (where we currently live) once we have built our new one. This winter we had arborists come to clear both building sites and my parents have since bought a mill to turn all of the fallen trees into beautiful lumber. They are so thrilled with this enormous project!
Our impending house build project has really begun to feel possible now that the land is cleared! You can see above that our build site will have lovely south exposure and a gorgeous view of my garden! We have spent quite a few sunny winter afternoons having campfires at the site and roasting hotdogs while we sit on stumps imagining them to be our future living room couch.
The site where my parents are building their shop is now cleared, has a gravel road, and is home to a temporary shop that they set up in a rented sea container. I can’t wait to see their build come together – it will hopefully be started this summer if their plans proceed smoothly. My dad plans to build a second story overtop the workshop which I will rent from him as the Thread Theory studio…this new studio space can’t come soon enough for us as we are bursting at the seams with inventory here in our house!
As you can see from the photo selection so far, chainsaws and tractors have figured hugely in our winter activities…I can’t say I ever imagined my life would revolve around these pieces of heavy machinery but, thanks to my dad’s enthusiasm for them, they have certainly shaped our property. The wood chipper, in particular, suits my plans perfectly as I’m adding to the fertility of the land by having my parents chip all the branches taken from the logs as they mill their lumber. The chips are then piled high around perennials and in the orchard to protect the tree roots from the chickens and retain moisture in the summer. The effects were very noticeable last summer and I can’t wait to see how lush everything becomes this year! My dad just added a backhoe attachment to his collection and I have already come up with a million landscaping plans for which it will be essential.
The first big project is digging a french drain across our ‘homestead area’ (the fenced portion of our land where I am developing the orchard, garden and livestock paddock) that leads from a seasonal rain catchment pond. For two winters now we’ve waded through a lake of slush and mud all winter long to get to our chicken coop. The seasonal pond paired with the french drain will hopefully allow the water to seep into our garden area and then excess can be sent down to the meadow and swamp at the lowest edge of our property.
While my parents have been occupied with power tools, I have frequently been in the kitchen preserving and cooking over the course of last Fall and Winter. Noah was a great help during the apple harvest and has since consumed more than his share of dehydrated apple rings, apple juice and apple sauce.
I was really thrilled with how our preserved homegrown veggies saw us through the winter. I didn’t get too crazy about eating only from the larder seeing as our local grocery shop and a nearby farm continue to sell a nice selection of local veggies all year round…but all the same, most of our meals feature at least once thing I grew and preserved! Our potatoes, garlic, frozen kale, collards, and swiss chard are still in plentiful supply.
Over the winter, as a creative pursuit and a way to feel connected to our new community, I’ve been developing a pizza dough recipe that I hope to sell at the farmer’s market this spring. I haven’t heard back from the market adjudicators yet but I sure hope they will allow me to rent a table! Here is my very rough and tumble website so far. Sonia (my sister-in-law and the talented graphic designer who creates our Thread Theory packaging) is working on a logo and packaging design for my pizza dough but, in the interim, the website gives you a bit of a temporary feel for what I will be selling. We’ve even bought an old van (named Jenny) that would allow me to bring a freezer of dough to the market! I might snazzy her up with a homemade paint job if I work up the courage.
Aside from all these activities, we’ve been building a fence for livestock (just chickens right now but we will hopefully add goats to this area one day), enjoying the wildlife around our property (loads of owls and frogs this Fall and Winter compared to the first winter we were here), setting up a brew-station for Matt (he likes to brew beer), painting parts of the house, and have just generally been having fun playing and exploring with Noah.
I am feeling so energized now that Spring is here! I can’t wait for the growing season! Thanks for following along on this adventure with us.