A Flurry of Activity

A Flurry of Activity

The months of July, August and now September have been a flurry of activity. With our lives in a constant state of flux (the story of my life) sometimes I feel I don’t have a second to breathe. Our attention and time forever pulled away from us towards something pressing that needs to be done. Property clean up, well and septic inspections, getting rid of things on the property that isn’t needed, and it keeps us in a holding pattern with what we want to do just out of reach!

It’s frustrating but necessary. The one thing that Dom and I learned in walking through this life together is to remove those things that stand like a roadblock in front of us before trying to blaze a new path forward. In the past we would push and push passed something difficult and end up feeling frustrated. Now, we get frustrated as we remove those things that hinder us from moving forward FIRST so we can have a clear vision of how we will proceed.

The weeds are high, the fruits and veggies I planted are still ripening, and little by little the landscape is changing. One trailer is now gone, and in a few weeks, the next trailer will also be gone. Dom had to take down the porch that was connected to the second trailer, and then he has to jackhammer the foundation and remove all the concrete and stones before the trailer can be taken out.

It took most of the day to remove the roof and most of the lumber, which is being reused to build a new area for our washer and dryer and for my coffee roaster.

Some areas of the stone foundation are about a foot thick and the stone and concrete stairs that lead to the door are over three feet thick.

Dom is currently working on three different building projects so his time is extremely limited. We reserve Saturdays for him to rest and take Simmi for some daddy and daughter time down in Silver City where they can play at the park. Most of the time I stay at home with the much needed quiet and catch up on work that might have slipped through my fingers during the week.

We’re under a time crunch with the people coming to take the trailer by the weekend of the 27th. Dom is also going out of town for a few days. I’m often left scratching my head wondering how it will all come together! It’s overwhelming at times.

Not much has happened with the roastery because when we got rid of the first trailer, some of our furniture was being stored in it. We had to move our stuff into the roastery. See, constant flux! We’ll be moving one of our bell tents near the back of the roastery and using it as a storage tent. Once the roastery is completely cleaned out, we can start stuffing the walls with straw light clay.

On the back of the roastery, some of the lumber and roofing from the trailer were used to build an overhang for Ruby my coffee roaster.

This coming weekend Dom will shoot to have another overhang and platform built for the washer and dryer. They were located in the porch that Dom took down. We’ll be moving them to the back where our bathroom is and the washing machine will be plumbed into the hot and cold water. The gray water from the washer will run through a series of brown filters before it empties into the new garden near the roastery.

These are all the little roadblocks that were in the way before we could get down to business!

We were supposed to close on our property the end of August, but the title company was pretty busy, so our new closing is October 1st. We’ve had inspections done. The well inspection passed, and then the septic fun started. Gus Faust was our septic inspector. He did an amazing job, worked with us trying to figure out exactly where the septic even was, and finally unearthing it so it could be inspected. It’s a great system that was installed in the 90’s in perfect condition. The one thing about the system is that there was an addition built onto the front of the rig, and we need to remove it. The septic needs a clearance of 5′ all around it.

That’s another roadblock that needs to be cleared.

Gus removing soil on top of the septic tank to inspect it.

Our shitter isn’t full! Haha Yeah, I had fun putting Cousin Ed on our tank.

Next steps are to remove the front addition. We’ll be reusing all the lumber for a small addition on the side of the roastery. Below is a photo of what would work on the side. To the right of the roastery was where the first trailer was. Now that it’s gone, we can build a patio and the addition for coffee tastings and events.

There have been so many roadblocks but I’m very glad for them. It has caused us to slow down a bit and rethink how we want to move forward. In the process, we have gained new experience as well as insight into what is really important to us. If it wasn’t for the addition needing to be taken apart, I would have never even considered putting an addition on the side of the roastery. Sure, it will take a bit longer, but man, is it going to be fantastic.

I was gonna try and go at breakneck speed to get our market garden completed but then decided that breaking my neck for a few veggies is low on my list of priorities. With the two dogs no longer around, the deer have come and decided that they aren’t afraid of us so they have been hanging out in the garden eating up all my cucumbers. They can’t resist all the acorns that are falling from the oaks. They haven’t touched our peppers…yet! But I feel that one of these days I’ll go out and see all my plants topped.

We’ll finish up the market garden sometime this fall, and start marking the new kitchen garden as well. With our coffee business ramping up and getting ready for homeschooling Simmi in mid-September, I’m still learning how to balance it all. We go at a snail’s pace, but I enjoy every frustrating moment of it all.

We cherish firelight evenings in our tent as Simmi reads to us. The soft glow causes us to calm our brains down and enjoy our time together. After the addition is put onto the roastery, we will be turning our attention to building a winter two room shelter. Most of what will be used will be gathered from our property. Dom has been designing it over the last several weeks. We could go through the winter in our tents, but we’d like to pack them away until late spring and then put them back up for guests in a new location.

I love cabins with living roofs, so that is what we are going to work towards. I can’t wait until we can break ground to start this project.

Our lives have been a flurry of activity…and I love it!

 

 

Six Weeks of Being Betrayed

Six Weeks of Being Betrayed

It has been six weeks since we moved here, and it has been six weeks of being betrayed. Betrayal is a nasty word and one that is only fitting for our situation. Our lives have been filled with joy, happiness, inspiration, and wonder. Simmi is acclimating to life in our semi-wild location. Dom has been busy with work. Sara has been working around the land and taking care of the horses.

And me? Betrayed by my own body. My autoimmune problems have gone away, but in its place comes my clumsy ways where I bang into walls, trip over small sticks, bang my head on corners of cabinets, lose my balance standing on the first step of a ladder, and cramp my hands up so bad that I can barely pick up an ax or hammer without it slipping through my fingers.

It all started when Simmi destroyed the zippers (both sets!) on her tent. The first set is on the outside of the tent, and the second set is on the screen. You see, she LOVES to make a small opening in the tent, and then dive in. There is no time to unzip the tent properly because what’s the fun in that?! No, this child wants to dive through the smallest opening possible. I kept telling her not to do that because she’ll damage the tent, but she didn’t believe me.

And then it happened. Both zippers broke. It’s not like we can take the tent down and just run it through my sewing machine to repair it. I have to sew it all by hand. The key word is hand. I had zippers from the extra tent we have, so I removed them and started sewing. It took four hours to get the first set of zippers properly attached. My hands were so cramped it was difficult to type or do any work. It took nearly a week for my hands to start working properly. Once they were somewhat recovered, I had to get the second set of zippers put on because a storm was coming.

Six more hours of sewing the outer zipper. This zipper was more of a challenge because of the thickness of the canvas. After I finished the second set, I could barely move my hands. I was betrayed by my own body. But I did it to myself. I pushed through and destroyed myself.

Six weeks of being betrayed.

My hands are finally getting back to normal. I still have problems with fine motor skills and typing is somewhat of a problem, but I can use my ax again without fear of it slipping out of my hand and cutting open my head or leg, or anyone standing in close proximity. Being accident prone is something I’ve always had to contend with, but when hands are so cramped they can’t do what they’re told, it makes my issues with banging into things and falling even worse.

It’s kind of like when you bang your toe on something and then all the sudden you keep banging it in that same area. When I fall because I tripped over a small twig or leaves (yes, I’ve tripped over a leaf last week) and my hands aren’t working properly, my fall is even worse because I can’t catch myself.

Betrayal sucks!

Beyond my quirky accident-prone ways, things are going great here. Here are some photos of the goings on around here…

Dom built a temporary teepee greenhouse. The poles were taken from trees the horses stripped.

We originally wanted to use our leftover plastic furniture wrap. It kept snagging and ripping so we ended up using some plastic we had laying around.

I sewed fabric straps to anchor onto the outside. Dom will need to attach them where I can’t reach. The straps keep the plastic from moving and provides a way for me to string up the outside and inside of the teepee to prevent the plastic from moving too much in the wind.

We added a door lined with chicken wire to prevent the chickens from getting in. They have been conspiring all week to get in and eat my little sprouts. We’ll be adding bricks to the front since it gets pretty muddy at the entrance.

The door was made from branches and attached with some old cabinet hinges we had. Making this little greenhouse was fun and it didn’t cost any money to make.

The seedlings have been enjoying their new home. We currently have artichokes coming up in the aquaponic system and next week they’ll be moved to the greenhouse.

I’ve had this cutie pie with the most adorable little freckles helping to move the seedlings into the greenhouse.

See what I mean? As I was stripping the bark off the poles, the chickens were plotting the great seedling heist. A few of them managed to get in there and I had to chase them out.

My girl has the best laugh.

She loves playing cards with her dad. She likes to trash talk while playing. It’s hilarious. When I hear Dom and Simmi playing, and she’ll say to Dom as she wins, “Eat it old man!”

I love him.

We started building the chicken compost run. It’s made from wood that was laying on the property, screwed together and lashed with jute. The side walls will have welded wire attached, and chicken wire will line the top. We have a nice stinky pile of compost under that tarp. On the right side is where the horses are (they’ll be moved soon to the pasture full time), when they are out of the area I’ll be putting tomatoes on that side. Tomatoes can handle compost so it will be a good set up and it will shade the compost pile and the chickens towards the end of the day. We’ll also be adding honeysuckle and trumpet vine to the chicken run to shade the girls all summer. They’ll also attract many pollinators for the garden.

At the close of Sunday evening a few weeks ago, Dom was frustrated, hot, bothered, and ready to be done. We pushed through the dehydration and cramping hands during mid-day in the hot sun because we needed to get the chicken run covered with chicken wire to protect the posts from the horses. Yet, even with a torn meniscus and working on the uneven ground all dehydrated and weather-worn, the end of the day scowl was the only thing showing his pain. I feel fortunate to have such an amazing person to walk through this life with. When he came home from work he apologized to me for the way he handled the day. I was unsure why he needed to apologize. He said, “I love that we get to work together, but I know I could have made the whole day more fun for both of us. Instead, I barreled through and made everything a chore.” What he doesn’t understand is that every moment I spend with him is heaven, and the fact that he would apologize and want to make it even better rocks my world.

We have wild grape vines setting their fruit. We’ll be cutting back most of the vines in this area and grafting different types of table grapes to them. We’ll be putting up a pergola for Farm to Table events and the new grapes will grace the pergola.

I got my hands on the last pot of Spanish lavender. I’ll be taking cuttings to make a lot of lavender that will grow down the driveway and in the potager garden and well, everywhere else. I love lavender!

Scored some rhubarb and I’ll be planting it next week.

When the Benadryl hits hard, goofy faces happen.

Sara is loading horse manure onto each of the market garden beds. Soon we’ll dig the pathways and form the beds.

Hopefully, in the next few weeks, my hands will be fully recovered. In the meantime, I’ll be busy creating new plants from cuttings, planting more seeds, continuing to work on the market garden, and working on the business hub. Now that I can type again, I can also start writing more blog posts!

Oh, and in two months we’ll be welcoming some ducklings! I’m so excited about that. We’ll be driving to Arizona to pick up Dutch Hookbill Ducklings. I haven’t decided how many we’ll purchase, yet. This month I’ll be ordering the pond liner and getting the duck area ready. It’ll take a month to get all the rocks moved into their pond.

Pictured above is a Dutch Hookbill Duck. We’ll be getting our ducklings from someone who is preserving this breed in Arizona. She’s an excellent photographer as well!

Here’s what the Livestock Conservancy says about the Dutch Hookbill:

This unique and very old Dutch breed of duck is thought to have originated in the Netherlands between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the province of Noord-Holland. As the name implies, the breed is characterized by its downward curving beak, setting it apart from other duck breeds. It is believed that this trait was particularly useful to duck breeders in making it easier for hunters to distinguish Hookbills from wild ducks that inhabited the same areas as the domesticated birds. In Holland these ducks were managed in the waterways and canals of the countryside and they were expected to forage for most of their own food. Today they are still among the best foragers of domestic ducks.
According to the Dutch Association of Breeders of Domesticated Waterfowl (Nederlandse Vereniging van fokkers van gedomesticeerd watervogels) the Hookbill duck and the Noord-Holland White Breasted duck (also known as the Witborst duck) had similar genealogies. Their exact origin has never been determined but it is speculated that the breeds developed from early importations of Indian Runners. This idea is supported by J. Bonenkamp in the magazine Avicultura (8/1990) where he accounts of finding pure Hookbill ducks among groups of ducks in East India.

The unique appearance of the Hookbill made them desirable as ornamental birds but early on the Hookbill was known for being excellent layers of eggs. That combined with their remarkable foraging capability made the breed widely popular on Dutch farms. In Holland, in the 18th century ducks were provided a place to nest and feed while they were brooding, then ducks and ducklings were all sent out to the surrounding wetlands to forage for their own food and received no further supplemental food. The wings of the ducklings were clipped to make them easier to catch later. By mid-August the birds were gathered and sent to market in Purmerend, where they were purchased by duck keepers who would use them for egg production. The birds kept for breeding were selected to be sturdy and disease resistant, self-sufficient, adaptable to new circumstances, and efficient layers needing less food than other breeds in order to be productive.

The Dutch Hookbill breed declined in the 20th century due to a diminished market for duck eggs and the effect of increasingly polluted waterways that served as their home. By 1980 the Hookbill was nearly extinct, but through a Dutch effort led by Hans van de Zaan, the last 15 birds were collected and used to start a conservation breeding program in the Netherlands.

Dave Holderread was among the first to import the Dutch Hookbill into the United States in 2000. He found that there were three bill types in the population: extreme curve, moderate curve, and straight. In his book Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks (2011), Holderread outlines that the most effective breeding strategy was to cross birds with moderately curved beaks to each other or an extremely curved beaked bird with a straight beaked bird as the best breeding options. He found that crosses between birds with extreme curved beaks had poor egg fertility. There are still very few primary breeding flocks of Dutch Hookbills in the United States.

Dutch Hookbill ducks have excellent flight capability, especially younger individuals. The birds reach sexual maturity very quickly by around 16 weeks of age. Healthy ducks can be expected to lay anywhere from 100 – 225+ eggs per year. They come in three primary color variations: dusky, white, and white-bibbed dusky. Other colors exist but not in great numbers here in the US. The Hookbill is a remarkable breed that deserves a second look as a viable and efficient egg producer for small scale farming.

 

 

 

 

Collecting Repurposed Materials

Collecting Repurposed Materials

We have a mini-collection of repurposed materials, and this coming week we’ll be adding to that collection if everything goes as planned. I always need to hold onto plans loosely since free or inexpensive materials tend to go very quickly. I’m a member of Freecycle and at any given time a product being given away might be claimed by someone who lives closer than I do, or can go and swoop it up quicker than I can even get in my car!

Freecycle, the free section on Craigslist, and even Facebook Marketplace has been instrumental in collecting needed materials.

Back when we first moved to New Mexico in 2008, we came with only the clothes on our backs. We needed beds, furniture, cooking supplies, clothing, rugs and more. Everything we needed was found on Freecycle or Craigslist. We rebuilt our lives utilizing those two resources. I still have some of the things acquired on Freecycle or from Thrift Shops because their sentimental value far outweighs their real value.

Part of the structure we’re building contains a lean-to greenhouse that will go the full length of the structure on the south side. Our original plan was to frame it out and use greenhouse plastic, but we might actually be acquiring large windows for it! This was such an exciting find. If my plans fall through for picking up these windows, we’ll just use greenhouse plastic.

The reason for the lean-to greenhouse is to house our kitchen and bathroom. Because of my mold allergies, it never fails that a leak of some sort can develop when there’s indoor plumbing. Building a kitchen and bathroom outside the actual structure, yet still a part of it will help keep the structure free of all water damage unless that damage comes from a roof leak.

We have three heavy duty metal and glass doors we brought with us from West Virginia. Dom collected them from an old job site. Two will be used on the east and western sides of the greenhouse, and the third one will be located where the coffee roastery will be built on the eastern side of the structure.

We also have an old short water heater, which we’re thinking will be used to create a rocket stove mass water heater. Geoff Lawton has a video on how it works if you’d like to watch!

Another Project is Finished

Another Project is Finished

Last night I finished the stitch work on the second lumbar pillow. With this project now complete, I can begin working on some art to hang above dining room buffet. This weekend we’ll be painting the buffet.

Here are a few photos of each of the pillows:

I’m happy with the outcome. I found a great sectional I’m keeping my eye on. I’m hoping the price comes down on it. It’s currently at a local thrift shop but priced at $200.00. That’s a bit out of our budget at the moment. Dom and I sat on the sectional and it was super comfy, but the color is pink roses, and that’s just a little too fru-fru for my taste. I would definitely reupholster the sectional in a natural linen or soft canvas material. Then it would be perfect for our living room and complement my two chairs beautifully.

I went to the thrift store yesterday and purchased these two botanical prints for the dining room. They were already framed and ready to go home with me. They didn’t break our budget in the least. I got this set for $20.00. A total steal if you ask me!

Here are some of the things left to do in the dining room:

  • Paint the buffet
  • Complete art to hang over buffet
  • Find a budget-friendly 8×10 area rug that will knock my socks off (haha)
  • Add linen curtains and bamboo roman shade
  • Hunt down a large variegated ficus to balance the awkward picture window
  • Eventually, purchase two smaller french crystal chandeliers to replace the one hanging now, and hang the current chandelier in the mudroom. I’m classy like that. Ha
  • Enjoy each and every moment surrounded by beauty and love

The headboard that we got for Simmi’s room turns out to be for a full-sized bed. We have a guest bedroom upstairs and I’ll be refinishing the headboard for that room. To my utter embarrassment, I had no idea there were three bedrooms upstairs. The way the second floor is situated there are two staircases. One that leads to Simmi’s room, and the other leads to our room. In the middle is a connecting room which has complete privacy and two doors. For whatever reason, I never even thought of that space as a bedroom. I just thought it was a walk through room to get to Simmi’s bedroom. Its not. Its a bedroom. So, we’ll be making it into a guest bedroom for our family that comes to visit.

I’ll be on the lookout for a twin headboard for Simmi.