What I’m learning

I am so excited for this life change we have had by living on the farm!!  (Kids not quite so much, still having trouble figuring out how to fill their time out in the country!)  But I truly have no idea what I’m doing!  For the last few years, I have been following several blogs and reading books on raising chickens, bees, gardening, canning…. all things I have never done! Trying to get an idea of things I want to do on my own land.

One of my favorites is a blog called The Prairie Homestead.  It follows a woman who has moved with her family to a farm and they raise goats, a milk cow, chickens, have a huge garden…. the whole farm experience.  What I like about her is that she breaks things down for the uneducated like me.

I purchased this ebook from her site – Your Custom Homestead.  Emphasis on the word “custom” – you could be living in an apartment, subdivision, or a full on farm and you could still learn from it.  She breaks down the book into 21 chapters – one chapter a day for three weeks and you will be well on your way to your custom homestead.  LOVE it!!!!! 

I have spent hours organizing my thoughts on why I want to have a farm, what my goals are, what my goals are for this year, next five years, and next ten years, and how to organize all my thoughts into an organized form.  For the newbie that I am, it has helped me so very much!  It will help provide direction so I am not heading into this venture all willy-nilly!

Some of my goals for our homestead are:

  • to have a better/simpler life for our family
  • to return to our roots (have gotten too commercial for my liking)
  • have less of an environmental impact
  • to know where my foods come from

I had to come up with a mission statement which is:  “To bring glory to God through living simply and being caretakers of the bodies, land, animals and plants He has given us all while teaching our children important life skills.”

Some of my long-term goals are in my first year:

  • get regular customers for my eggs
  • have a BIG garden next year
  • learn to pressure can
  • learn how to butcher my roosters :{

Within five years, my goals are:

  • set up a bee colony
  • have a regular spot at the local farmers market
  • raise turkeys
  • get alpacas

I am supposed to come up with 10 year goals but that is inconceivable to me right now!!!  I have never in my life lived somewhere more than three years.  That will take some hard thinking!!!

Keeping busy

After four weeks here on the farm, we are starting to settle into a routine. D has started his new job training in another city 3 hours away so it is just the grandparents and us!!!  He returns the end of September to work in the larger town 15 miles away.

Grandpa and I are usually the first ones up.  He watches the farm report on tv and reads the paper.  I grab my first cup from my keurig and hit my bible study chair.  A cat usually sits next to my while I start my morning with Jesus Calling, prayer and then move onto Priscilla Shirer’s Gideon study. Jesus Calling is my favorite way to start my morning quiet time.  I am on my 4th year reading it and it still speaks to me each day.  I have tried to start other devotionals but keep moving back to this one. 

Gideon is Priscilla Shirer’s latest Bible study.  What intrigued me about this study is that Gideon was looking for confirmation from God for his purpose just as I am looking to learn God’s purpose for my life here in my new home.  I am loving this in-depth learning about the Old Testament stories that we learned in elementary Sunday school classes.  Since this spring, I have worked through the stories of  Esther, Nehemiah and the Isrealites during the Exodus.  I have learned I am so much like the people of the Bible written 1000’s of years ago.  Love how it relates to me now!  I am learning through Gideon that God loves me faults and all, He has a specific purpose for me, and He does not mind me asking for confirmation over and over as I follow His plan.  I don’t know my plan yet but am waiting as He is showing me step by step.

After I finish my morning quiet time, I have begun to run on our country road.  I used to run in the evening, on a treadmill, in Texas. I ran a couple of evenings when we first arrived here in Idaho and it was so hard!  What a change!!!  We are at a much higher altitude than my body and asthma appreciated.  So back to the Couch to 5K app it was.   Here, it is just so nice to run in the morning. I can watch the cows, hear the birds, see where I am running and I can see that it has given me SO much energy for the day.  I feel so good!  And it is counteracting all the good foods I eating a lot of – like the corn just picked from the field next to the house, the baked goods I’ve been working for the county fair…..

By the time I return, my older two sleepy heads are up and ready to eat their breakfast.  While they eat and put on clothes, K and I do her reading and math work.  Then we work on family school until Grandma and Grandpa come in from their work. (Grandma is the church secretary and Grandpa farms.)  Then we all eat lunch together.  While I am getting K settled for her nap (yes, she still needs her naps!), the other two finish their math and reading work.

After K gets up from nap, we don’t have a schedule! 🙂  Errands in town, helping out great aunt 1/2 mile down the road, playing with kittens, feeding all the animals, watching the kittens play…  I have become the resident cook so I make the evening meal for all.  It’s been hot (no a/c here!) so I have tried many new crockpots meals and not one has been bad!!  I am looking forward to cooler weather in that regards.

We have been going to be too late but now that the sun is going down earlier, I hope to get the kids in bed earlier…. well, after the fair is over!!

What to do with trash?

Reduce, reuse, recycle has not always been my motto.  Early in our marriage, if something broke, I’d just throw it out.   We had plenty of money to buy a new one!  Why act like we couldn’t afford a new one!?!?!  My husband was raised on a farm and this was not HIS motto!  He would tinker with it and repair it, make it last longer.  He didn’t believe in throwing anything away.  “We just might need it!”  I thought he was just being cheap, not seeing the wisdom in his thoughts.
But slowly God began working on me.  Can’t say what the catalyst was that truly changed me but I do know that in Genesis 2, God put Adam and Eve here on earth to take care of the land and animals who inhabit it.   Shouldn’t I be taking care of the earth too?

So, the last few years, I have been concerned about our trash use.  Trying to recycle as much as we could.  In Texas, our recycle cart was full each week while our trash cart had only one or two bags.  Living in a big city, it was SO easy to recycle!!!  They recycled everything!  Glass, paper, plastics, cans…. and I had no worries about it.

Now we are far from town AND our nearest big town isn’t big enough to support a complete recycling center.  I am looking at everything in a new light.  This is the scoop from a food container.

Each thing I empty, I am thinking, “What can I use this for?”  It took me a day but now this is the mealworm scoop for my chicken treats!!! 
Working with my inlaws these last couple of weeks has shown me the benefits of keeping everything!  As we worked on the chicken coop, they were able to pull out all kinds of things to put it together – things that I previously would have thought was trash.  Now I am looking at everything through a new light!
I feel like I am becoming a true weirdo! 🙂 But I just want to take care of the earth God has given us!  

First Project

When we arrived on the farm, Grandma and Grandpa had already cleaned out the old chicken house and put the new chicks in it.  The chicken house matched all the other weathered red buildings in the barn yard.  I think it is quite charming and quaint!  I asked Grandpa how old the buildings were since it was his parents’ farm before belonging to him.  This building is 100 years old!!  Think of all the chickens who have lived in it!!

My desire with all my pets is that they have the happiest life possible.  Good food, plenty of water, activity, and love.  They are the happiest doing what God intended them to do.  So a chicken is to run around outside and scratch at the ground, find yummy foods and lay eggs. 

The chicken house had one problem – no yard for the chicks to run around in!!!  Grandma and Grandpa had already gathered the supplies, just needed the time to work on it.  Since our family cannot help out in any other ways (yet!), we CAN put together a chicken run!

How big should the yard be??  We researched a little and saw several people recommending 4 square feet per bird.  So if my math is correct – that is a 10×20 fenced in enclosure?  B measured out the yard with his new tape measurer and we double checked his work.  Then we dug a ditch 6 inches deep by 6 inches wide all around to lay the chicken wire (wrapped around a fence board) to keep critters from digging into the enclosure.  

Did you know that chickens will run and hide every time they see a shadow fly over!  What instincts God has given them!  While we were working on the fence, a sparrow flew over and all the chickens ran into the house.  Such smart chicks! 🙂  Because a hawk or eagle can fly over and snatch one of my babies, D and R worked to cover the fence with a tarp (for shade) and netting to keep predators out.  D calls these chicks the most spoiled in the county!

We can know let them out in the morning and put them back in the house in the evening!  They are not completely free range until they get a little smarter!  but they do get plenty of treats from us to find in their run!  My favorite time of day is taking them our bucket after the evening meal.  So fun to watch them attack our leftovers!!

My first purchase for the farm

As I have said before, D’s family all lives around where we will be living.  They all have their “own pieces of earth.” (From a favorite childhood book – The Secret Garden)  So they will continue to be hounded by me as I am learning all I can! 🙂  D’s aunt is the only one who has chickens at this time.  I asked her where she got hers and they are from a poultry hatchery near Boise who ships day old chicks.  But the minimum order of birds to ship is 25.  And the last hatch date of the year would be a month before we arrived.  What was I to do??  I wanted chickens!!!

I asked my mother in law if she would be willing to watch/take care of these chicks for a month before we moved up there and she replied, “I was just thinking we needed chickens!”  She requested Buff Orpinton chicks for herself and I ordered Barred Rock, Black Australorps, and Araucanas (since they lay green eggs!) for myself.  I placed my order for 27 since we wanted a couple of roosters too.  

                     A few days old

My in-laws received the call from the post office two days before estimated delivery date and they picked the box up.  When they got home and put them under the heat lamp, they called to say, “We think we got more than 27!”  But they couldn’t really count since the chicks were moving so fast!  They kept them in the garage in a horse trough with a heat lamp on them for 2 weeks.  When the chicks started to fly out of the trough, they moved them to the 100 year old chicken house in the barnyard.  As my mother in law placed them in the house, she was able to count each one.  How many did we have??  FORTY-TWO!!!!!  I ordered and paid for only 27!  Guess the hatchery thought, “Here is a clueless person!  Let’s send her all the extras!!”  Now we are waiting to see how many will be roosters and how many will be hens!

         My first time to see my babies!!
                       5 weeks old

How did I get here?

When I was young, my dream was to marry a doctor and live in Dallas.  Even thought we were a military family, my parents raised me to think that Texas was God’s country and there was no other land like it!  I went to Texas A&M; University and believed I could marry ONLY an Aggie!  Whoa – did God have a lot of work to do in me! 🙂 

When I met my husband D, he had three major strikes against him – NOT an Aggie, NOT from Texas (from Idaho?? Where was THAT??), and in the Navy (Uh Unh!! No more moving for me!!!)  But he pursued me and I fell in love and married him anyways! 🙂  We moved 2 weeks after the wedding and moved 9 more times in the next 18 years!

Because we moved so much, Bible studies became one of the few constants in my life.  God allowed these moves to have me seek Him before seeking earthly friendships.  The peoples of the Bible have become my greatest friends and it is amazing how my life can mirror them even though they lived thousands of years ago!!  Not to say I don’t have friends here on earth!!  God has given me some precious people to call friends.  They have enriched me and broadened the way I view the world. Each one has blessed me in a different way! I am so thankful that the Lord has moved us, so I can have good friends all over the country!! 🙂

God started to change my life in one area about 4 years ago.  I needed to return to the way things were when He created them.  I needed to do my part to take care of the world He created.  First I started by recycling more, trying to go more natural and simple in what we ate, being more careful of what we put in and on our bodies, being careful with the things we consumed.

I joined a whole foods co-cop which provided a plethora of seasonal fruits and vegetables, grains, seasonings, pastured meats and eggs, and raw milk. Loved it!!!  So wonderful to order online and then pick up at my designated time.  I love the internet and Pinterest in how I can search to make things I need like homemade food mixes AND even homemade cleaning products. 

I am trying to reduce our dependency on commercial products and be more self sufficient.  I want to know what’s in the foods we eat and products we use in order to live the healthiest lives possible.  One of the few ways of doing this is to grow all you need OR know the ones who grow them.

About the time all of this was happening, D moved to his last duty station and started searching for post-retirement jobs.  We discussed where we would like to live. D was so happy that I was moving to his side of wanting to live in the country where I could have a big garden, raise chickens, have our children be able to run outside in the country.  But we didn’t know WHERE God would have us live.  What was His plan?  Where would D get a job?  Doing what?

The last 6 months of D’s Navy career were super stressful. D was attending all the job fairs he could, took all the classes that were offered, travelled to interview and the doors just kept slamming shut. I felt like one of the Israelites wandering in the desert with a cloud overhead.  Where was God leading us?  In times of stress, I knew to turn to the Bible.  Several ladies I know recommended the study “Believing God” by Beth Moore and I started it.  Whoa!!!  It is powerful.  Hit me exactly where I needed it!  I just needed to trust the Lord and He WOULD provide the way.  I had to believe Him as He would take care of us as He had taken care of His people in the Bible for thousands of years before me.  I am SO very thankful I did this awesome study!

D had two job leads with 2 corporations and had multiple interviews with each.  Finally he was offered a job with one corporation in the small town near his family farm.  Sounds like it COULD have been perfect IF it was for the job he interviewed for (it wasn’t) and for the pay he thought he was interviewing for.  We both thought and prayed about it a few days.  While he was at work one day, we both felt God leading us for him to take it, even if it was a lesser position and lesser income.  We did have his Navy retirement to help.  But when he accepted the position, it was for a considerable more amount of money!!  Praise God! 

Now, where to live?  We searched houses for sale in the area.  To be able to get land, it was more than we thought.  Did we want to live in the town where he would work and still have to travel to his family’s land to see the chickens and be able to have the kids play outside in the barnyard???  Do we buy our own land which would be expensive and then have pay to remodel a 50+ year old farm house?? And then still travel to go visit/help his family?? Finally, one night while sleeping, we both had the same realization that God wants us to live on his family’s land.  We would be close to help out his parents, aunt and uncle, and 90 year old grandmother. 

So now we are building our dream home on family land!!!  I feel so over and beyond blessed!!!

Why “New Chick on the Farm”?

My husband’s last day in the Navy was in July of 2013 and he was hired by a business in the town near where he was born and raised so, we moved to Idaho!  We are living on the land that his family has lived on for 3 generations!  Everyone around us has been farming the land for generations.  D’s dad has farmed this land all his life and his mom had lived here for 47 years. They know what they are doing!  I do NOT!!  This blog will be about my adjustment from being a city girl to a country girl.  And everyone who is teaching me how to return to my roots!  Thank goodness for their patience with me!  I am definitely the new chick on the farm!!

                     Where we live

Who Am I??

Hello dear friends!

I am Angela and I have been married to my husband for 18 years.  My husband, D, just retired from the US Navy after serving as an officer for over 20 years.  We have travelled the world (D more than I) and lived all over the United States – from Hawaii to New York to Florida to Texas and states in between.  My father was also in the Navy so I have literally moved all over the country all of my life.  I have my favorite places to live and my NOT favorite places to live!

We have been blessed with THREE wonderful children – after I was told that we would not be able to even HAVE kids.  Guess God is bigger than modern medicine!?!?! 🙂  My family is my world and I am doing all I can to help raise them to be light in this world we live in.  We homeschool our children and love the lifestyle it allows.  My passions are feeding my family the healthiest way I can, studying God’s word, making things with my hands (sewing, crafts, herbal products), loving on those around me….. 🙂 

Thank you for joining me on my “little piece of earth.”