Cheap, Cheap, Cheap

DSC_0011 No, my in-laws are not discussing my financial attitude. We had a surprise visit from the stork today. The postal office called today,  a Sunday, and told us that they had a bunch of baby chickens waiting for us and that we had to pick them up today by 3pm or they’d just leave them on the dock at the post office. We had ordered 80 chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery but were expecting them a week or so later. So we scrambled to go get them and get their stuff ready. Looking at the picture, you wouldn’t think that there were 80 birds in there and you’d be right. Turns out that they shorted us 11 birds. We’ll have to call tomorrow to figure out why. Half of the birds actually belong to our neighbors so only 32 of them are ours. 15 of them are meat birds, 15 of them are layers and 2 of them are ornamental birds. They’re cute little fuzzy butts.

May The Force Be With You, Chewie

2012-06-28_20-58-46_510We’ve had a little rabbit named Chewbacca or Chewie roaming our pasture for the last year or so. He originally was in a rabbit hutch on our porch but he was starting to get stinking, all that poop and all. so we moved his hutch out to the pasture. Our kids weren’t very diligent in putting the lid back on to the hutch after feeding him and he got out of the hutch. We had assumed he ran away but a week later we found him hiding out in the back corner of our pasture. We figured that he seemed to be healthy and content with just roaming back there so we decided to let him.

It became  a treat to see him from time to time. He didn’t like for us to get too close but it was fun to see him. A couple of weeks ago I started noticing him hanging out in the chicken coop and figured he was just trying to stay out of the cold. I even reached down to pet him and he let me, which was weird. Maybe he was getting tamer. Well, our kids came in from feeding the animals yesterday telling us that sad news that Chewie had become one with the Force (Star Wars lingo for that he had died). I guess he wasn’t really getting tamer but was coming to his end. It’s kind of sad to take care of his body but I am grateful that he had a “free-ish” life and didn’t have to stay locked up in a cage.

We’re Weird … And That’s Ok

goat-4-1115(1)I’m a city boy. My wife is a city girl. We both grew up with military dads and only lived the city life. We both kind of hated country music. I never understood the need for cowboy boots, hats or belt buckles. Neither one of us had been exposed much to the rural lifestyle. My mom’s parents had a little farm but we were military and weren’t around it much. The closest that I did growing up that could be considered rural was that I’d go on the deer hunt with my dad and most of the time that turned into a nature hike with the much lacking of deer. I used to see homes in the middle of nowhere (rural) and I’d think that these people are weirdos for wanting to be so far from everything.

I’m not sure why, but all of that changed for us in the spring of 2009. I was finishing up my masters of software engineering (what else would a city boy get a degree in?) when my wife and I were both really feeling a need for change. We even considered a move to Panama for a bit (trying to get a good English education for the kids put a damper on that one).

We had a new born son and two little girls and really felt like we needed something different for them. I started playing around with looking at homes on MLS. One day I noticed a house that seemed pretty nice and it had a big workshop in the back. I wanted a bigger garage so I thought we’d check it out. Another aspect of the property was that it had 3 acres of land. I had not really considered land but I figured it wouldn’t turn me away.

So we’re doing our typical sneak into the house thing and it’s a nice house. It was pretty much the same house plan of the house we had but with a lot more upgrades. We headed out into the back and we both had some kind of “moment”. The grassed backyard was a little bigger than our current place but it had around 2.5 acres of pasture behind the grassed yard. Behind the pasture was just wide open space to the Great Salt Lake. I felt such a peace and awe and really felt like this is something that I had been missing.

We tried to jump on that house but it was caught up in foreclosure and we still had to sell our home. What that house did was open our eyes to something that we never had considered, living in a place that wasn’t jammed right next to our other neighbors and to have the possibility to be a little more sustainable. I served an LDS mission to Puerto Rico and a lot of the country folk there had chickens. I thought they were pretty cool birds. I tried to convince my mom to get chickens when I got home but she was not having any of that. Well that was a must with our new vision of “home”. We started looking for homes that had at least .7 acres or more and were not confined by city/county/HOA rules that would prevent us from having chickens or other livestock.

We finally found some land that fit the bill that we were going to build on. We were all set with money down when we found out that the developer that owned the land and bank that financed the developer both bankrupted. The long story short was that we weren’t going to be building on that land.

We found a house that was almost out of our price range and was really too far out there but Amber liked the look of it and just wanted to see it, like that hasn’t bit me in the keister before. She thought she might get some ideas for the house we were going to build. As we drove to the house, we really liked the area, everything was so open and quaint. We walked in the door of the house and we both had another moment. The place felt like home and we were only three steps in. We both had complained how our last house never felt like home. I wasn’t enamored with the price or distance from work but I knew what I felt. This was the place to raise our family.

The hard part was that everybody thought we were crazy. Our realtor immediately tried to talk us out of it, said the house was weird. My mom really wasn’t pleased that we were moving so far away and don’t think she got the “farmy” thing.  Amber’s family thought we were absolutely bonkers.  They thought that we were going to be robbed, murdered and raped (yes, in that order) in our sleep because we were were so far from civilization.  We felt very alone in making this change but we had no doubt that it was right for our family so we pressed on.

Moving out here has blessed our lives. We’ve been able to:

  • get animals to enrich our lives
  • develop a healthier lifestyle through Amber’s kitchen efforts and our garden
  • better prepare ourselves for unfortunate events (bring on the zombie apocalypse baby!)
  • let our children learn more responsibility by taking care of animals and the consequences of shirking those responsibilities
  • teach our children about birth, life and death  (those poor little baby chicks)
  • develop a closer relationship through hard work on our farm together as a couple and family
  • gain tons of knowledge by research and experience here on our farm

We’re definitely not done settling out here. We want to get better at our garden and fruit trees. We want to become more sustainable with our food and rely less on the nasty preprocessed foods. We also want to be better at being prepared by building up our food supply and getting out of debt. We do NOT plan on becoming home schoolers anytime soon (no insult to those that choose to do so), it’s just not our thing.

Some of our family have warmed to the idea of us being here. We both understand that a lot of people feel that we’re odd for wanting this lifestyle, they’re welcome to think that. We think they’re weird for wanting to be smushed together with everybody else. We both feel as though we were guided by the Lord to this home and lifestyle and that it is the best thing for our us and our kids. We’re weird and we’re quite ok with it.

I’m an Eagles Fan

No, not those Eagles. I’ve loved bald eagles for as long as I can remember. I about had a heart attack when I first saw eagles flying around our house shortly after we moved here. I’ve had them fly over my head while I’m shoveling snow, they’re absolutely beautiful. They only seem to be here from December to February. A week or two ago I saw at least 10 eagles in a tree that was too far away to use the camera. I think some of them were golden eagles too.  I caught one by itself the other day. Not the best quality images from my camera phone but I still was pretty excited to catch them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Let’s Bee On Our Way

We finally committed ourselves to getting bees. We put a deposit on two packages of bees through Cache Valley Bee Supply. They should be showing up the middle of April. We’re pretty excited, we’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. From what we have learned, we won’t get much honey the first year as the hive establishes itself but the next year should give us some sweet nectar.

We’re Official

American Dairy Goat AssociationWe took our time doing it but we’reofficially members of the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA). I never thought I’d be interested, let alone be excited about. Tattle Tail Farm was available as a herd name and now belongs to us. Now we can register our goats under our herd name and any new goats born this spring will be named “Tattle Tail Farm <Goat Name>”. I guess goats have their surname in the front. Even when we sell the babies they will keep our herd name. We also got our choice of tattoo letters (TTF). When the babies are born, they are usually tattooed in their ears to show the herd name. Unfortunately for our goats, they are Lamanchas and don’t have ample enough of ears to tattoo. They get to have the tattoo in their tail, a little bit more sensitive spot I think.

That Didn’t Take Long

We’ve really enjoyed having our dairy goat Leila. She’s a sweet animal and we’ve enjoyed the opportunity to milk. I’m not fond of getting up early to milk but once I’m up, I really enjoy the morning with the animals (the furry ones, not the kids even though I enjoy being with them too). We’ve been struggling with Lelia being sick, a cough, since we got her and if you follow her milking records she’s gone from a liter a day to maybe .3 liters a day. We’ve tried some natural herbs that are supposed to encourage milk production and tried feeding her more. All to no avail. With Amber not feeling too well lately, we decided to let her dry up. I’m a little bugged that we spent that time and money to have a milk goat that isn’t giving us any milk but we think in the long term it will be for the best. Not milking Leila will let her body focus and being healthy and getting ready to make a cute new baby goat. We’ll start milking again when the new baby shows up in May.