A few weeks ago we brought home our first Nigerian Dwarf goats. We planned on purchasing a few doelings and at some point to purchase a pregnant doe. A few days prior to picking them up, a very pregnant mama needed a new home so we picked her up on the same day as our doelings.
We got the goats as a way to become more self-sufficient in terms of food production. We’ve honed in on what was most important to us and made concessions I never thought I’d make.
Like getting goats.
I’m really not a goat person. Goats are these larger than life creatures even if compact in size and they’re just always in your business. They’re very affectionate and super sweet, yet demanding and will show displeasure when something is out of place. It’s enough to drain the energy right out of me. It doesn’t really have anything to do with goats…it’s me that’s the problem.
But I love them.
They’re hilarious in small doses. I knew after we got them I would feel that way. I had hoped it would change but I know me and chose a long time ago to not lie to myself about anything.
The goal here is to have milk and even meat from them. I wasn’t interested in the color of their coats, markings, or eye color. I am most interested in having robust animals with good genetics for milking. We don’t plan on having more than five total, but we all know how goat math goes!
So even though I’m not fond of goats, it doesn’t stop me from caring for them properly. Dom absolutely adores them so he’s super excited to get outside every morning to let them out of their little houses and spend time with them.
Currently, we are waiting for our mama, Tuffnut, to kid. She’s due any moment now. Dom set up the heat lamp in her little house and gave her extra straw to make her comfortable. We put together a kidding kit and extra bottles and nipples in case she does have more than three kids.
Tuffnut belonged to my friend Amber. When she told me the goat’s name was Tuffnut, I cracked up laughing at such a quirky name. She said she named her that because she throws three kids.
Yes, so we could easily go from having only three goats, to have six or more by the time Tuffnut kids.
Tuffnut has doubled in size since coming to live here. We have been watching closely for signs that she could be close. I often catch her looking off in the distance and I can’t help but wonder what she’s thinking about.
So how many kids do you think are in that swollen belly of hers?
Every day she gets a little wider.
I think she has at least four littles in there.
The area they’re in isn’t their permanent home. It’s temporary and over this next year we’ll be getting their area ready for them.
We decided to build a larger area for them and our future sheep behind our coffee roastery. We’re putting a commercial kitchen in the roastery, so it made sense to bring our dairy animals there as well.
We’re aiming to get a few Icelandic sheep in 2022 for milk, fibers, and meat. I’m very fond of sheep, especially Icelandics. I love that they just want to be left alone.
Their new area will have a barn, small milking parlor, and very rocky steep hilly terrain. The area they’re in now will become the final destination for our ducks and geese.
Outside the goat pen is the 60’x60′ market garden area. This area was a hot mess! Yesterday Dom and Noah cleared it, leveled it out a bit, and in the next few weeks it’ll be ready to plant.
Another major concession I made (I kind of hate myself for it) was to use landscape fabric in this area.
After observing the area and the kinds of weeds we have here and my time constraints, I realized that I needed a weed barrier. I work full time AND will be farming full time (I’m not sure how that will happen!) so I knew that I would not have the time to be pulling weeds and obsessing over those kinds of time sucks.
Our focus is on establishing perennials and annuals in this space. We’ll be adding 60 fruit trees and 60 berrry bushes, perennial vegetables, and of course your standard fare of fruits and veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, root crops, etc.
We purchased our first six fruit trees a few weeks ago. The largest challenge right now is finding affordable fruit trees. They’re either very expensive or sold out.
I’ve been trying to get my hands on apricot trees and I found only one place online to purchase them.
I remember a time when bare root fruit trees were so plentiful they were practically giving them away. It would seem that is a thing of the past now.
We’ll be building some cold frames for the area and a Post Harvest station for processing fruits and veggies.
Dom and Noah will also be adding tall posts and electric wire to prevent the deer from jumping into the area. We’ll be installing a 3-D fence around the outer perimeter of the market garden as well. This will cause the deer and elk to not be able to negotiate their ability to clear the height of the fence. It’s an effective strategy. Someone said to add peanut butter or some other sticky food they love on the electric wire and it will condition the animals to stay away after they get an unpleasant shock from the hot wire.
We might try it.
For irrigation, we’ll be using drip tape. But before that can happen the irrigation pipe needs to be repaired. Dom believes there is a crack in the pipe because when I watered the garden last year, the water would be brown. This only happened in the garden. It drove me insane because the sediment that was coming out of was clogging the hoses and sprinklers. It took a few months to figure out there was a problem with the irrigation pipes.
I’ll be ordering the landscape fabric, drip tape, and landscape fabric next week.
Here are more photos of our lives in spring…
Simmi name this sweet girl Milkyway.
This one is Honeybun.
Our goats names will be the theme of any offspring born to them. For Milkyway, her babies will be named after star constellations or candy bars. For Honeybun, her babies will be named after sweet dessert treats. And Tuffnut’s babies will be named after some sort of nut.
Dom and I have have talked about living in tents for about 10 years. In the beginning, the topic would arise after I would get out of three week hospital stay because of pneumonia brought on by mold. Our whole marriage (we’ll be married for 15 years this month) I’ve been ill. All our moves from one house to another had to do with mold until we left the east coast and moved to New Mexico 10 years ago.
The conversations would go something like this:
Dom: That’s IT! I’ve had enough of this crap…water damaged buildings, unbelievable slumlords who don’t take care of their rentals! We’re getting rid of everything and moving into a tent if we can’t find suitable housing.
Me: Okay, I’ll research where we can move to.
Then time would go by, I would recover from pneumonia and we would resume our life as usual.
Over the years, it became more apparent that tent living was something that would help our lives. I don’t think anyone really thought we were serious about it.
When the opportunity to purchase three bell tents came along, we knew it was really going to happen.
I’m so excited!
We have been busy over this past month deciding what will come with us, what we’re going to sell, and what we’re going to give away. Bell tents don’t exactly offer the side walls to accommodate dressers or taller furniture.
This coming week we’ll be putting our third bell tent up and bringing down more of the things we’ll be keeping. Dom is feeling a little overwhelmed since we finally made the decision on a moving date. Okay, overwhelmed might be an understatement…it’s more of a freakout.
I wanted to put the tents in place so we could start spending our weekends there and then we can accomplish more this coming month. Right now, we’re going at a snail’s pace with only one day a week to get stuff done.
This week we’ll be:
- Putting the remaining bell tent up
- Installing more t-posts in the horse pasture (they’re still in a small holding area and not happy about it)
- Repairing small holes and tears in two of the tents
- Repairing a major rip in the third tent
What we need to purchase either new or used or donated:
- kitchen sink
- more welded wire fencing for our camp area
- building material for our outdoor kitchen
- Lots of 2×4’s
- PVC for the market garden covered beds
- Lumber for the market garden greenhouse and post harvest washing station
Dom cleared and graded the area of the first bell tent. There was only a slight slope. The second area needed a LOT of grading. He nailed it!
The tents only take about 30 minutes to put up, and he was able to do it alone.
They’re roomy and provide enough space for our bed and some furniture.
We haven’t cleaned the interior of the tents yet. After I repair some of the little slits and holes in different areas, we’ll clean it. On the walls in the above photo, you can see what looks like stains. They aren’t. Those are areas that have dirt, dust and HAIR. Yes, it’s gross to see other people’s hair in my bedroom. Haha
That crazy look on Dom’s face was captured as he was looking at the nasty hair and dirt on the interior of the tent and mud on the floor pan. He stands at 6’2 and the peak of the tent goes to 10 feet.
We’re excited and enjoying the process. Usually moving to a new place is extremely difficult due to my health, but this time around my health is recovering and I can actually help with the move, clearing land, digging (not my favorite), chop down trees with an ax…I do enjoy wielding an ax. It must be my distant viking DNA being activated.
I also started a Patreon channel for anyone that would like to learn more about what we’re doing. I will only be posting free content on our website, and then there will also be paid content available on Patreon.
The types of things we’ll be sharing on Patreon are:
- Recipes and meals (we are predominately raw primal, eating raw cheese, raw meat and organs (yes, you read that correctly), fresh fruits and vegetables, lacto-fermented veggies, cured meats, etc. We do still eat some cooked food, but it’s mostly raw at this point.
- Tutorials on how we market garden and farm
- Animal care
- Natural building techniques
- Making our own mattresses from organic material and local sheep wool flake. It’s coming to us from a local farm unprocessed, so I’ll be going through the process of cleaning the wool, sewing the mattresses, and creating our non-toxic beds. (I’m so excited about that!)
- Maybe some personal rants. 😉
- Doing laundry by hand because we are choosing not to use a washing machine
- And anything else that seems interesting and fun.
Here’s a link to our Patreon channel: Click Here!
So what do you receive if you become a patron? COFFEE! Become a patron and get coffee delivered right to your door. If you are already purchasing coffee, how about getting some fantastic fresh roasted coffee from us instead? Think about it…it’s killing two birds with one stone. You are helping us to get to our goals and as a thank you, you’ll get fresh roasted coffee delivered to your door.
The last couple of Saturdays we finally spent a lot more time down at our land. Dom cleared more weeds and put up our tent. This tent will serve as our bathroom and supply tent for things we want to keep out of the elements. Inside is a composting toilet, bathroom supplies, baby wipes, and other things we don’t want to lug down every week as we work.
Our friends lent us two more tents so that we have a place for Simmi to play and do her school work during the week when we’re down there working.
We brought down our propane camp stove, our on-demand water, and when we get hold of a small sink, we’ll add that as well. When you have a child with multiple life-threatening food allergies, it’s imperative that running hot water is always available. We can’t wash dishes in a little tub filled with water that gets nasty and filthy. We need a continuous stream of hot soapy water to wash dishes. Having a working camp kitchen is essential to us getting anything meaningful done while we are building.
Our workstation is set up near the well and spigot, so we’ll be able to not only cook food and wash dishes while we are here, but we’ll also be able to prepare the garden beds.
We also set up a fire pit and smoke wall. Bushcrafters call them fire reflectors, but ours isn’t to bring heat near the tent. It’s simply a way to attract the smoke away from the tent. I like how our smoke wall came out and Dom had a blast playing with the small branches to weave them all in. There weren’t any real straight branches to create the wall, so he just got creative.
I love the final product.
At a lot of hardware stores, they sell campfire grills so we’ll probably invest in one of those in the next week since we love cooking over an open fire.
I’ll also be creating a new page that will list either free, repurposed or purchased materials and the running totals of how much we are spending each week.
I will be calling the page Farmstead Milestones (or something like that). I know that others will be curious about the expenses. I’ll say right off the bat we are not interested in getting huge loans, and so this whole process of building the infrastructure and outbuildings comes with the very slow and tiny steps towards our goals. It could take YEARS for us to finally get to build our actual house, but since we decided to stay debt free, bootstrapping it is our only viable option.
Instead of always relying on purchasing materials, we have lots of wood, stones, clay, sand, grasses, and leaves to choose from. I like that nature has a hand in sculpting our experiences here.
I want to walk along (as I already have) and spy a massively curved branch that is both rugged and elegant, and say to myself, “THAT! would be beautiful in the living room holding up the ceiling!”
My heart isn’t in dimensional lumber. It is in the sexy curves of trees that grow gnarly and waiting for the chance to be noticed. It’s the relationship we have to the land. That’s where my heart is and I want everything we build to reflect that.
This is the area on the other side of the fence where our canvas tent structures and outdoor kitchen and bathroom will be located. The tents will be semi-permanent in the pasture, but when removed the only thing that will remain is covered area and permanent bathroom. It will be a great place to sit and observe (and enjoy) the larger animals.
Simmi helping with the process of stomping the area flat.
This is such a great shot of where the potager garden will go.
Dom was in a state of deep contentment as he dug the firepit AND listened to Simmi sing while banging rocks into the pit’s edge.
Dom is removing some posts where the market garden greenhouse will stand.
Putting up the second tent.
This second tent is for Simmi to play in when she brings her friend down on Saturdays. When we are here during the week to work, it’s for her to do her school work in.
If it were late spring or early summer we would be camping out every day! But these tents aren’t warm enough to sustain us in the bitter cold.
Simmi and her friend Angel are reading Diary of a Whimpy Kid.
He’s eye candy to my soul.
The first three grow beds have been strung. The footprint of this area is 15’x60′. Over the top of these beds will be a high wind and snow load greenhouse. Before we create the middle grow bed, we need to install 4’x4’s. The greenhouse won’t be installed until sometime in January. Our hope is to have the market garden strung and created while we’re waiting on fencing for the potager garden area. We can’t start that process because the four large adorable pit bulls that have full access to the area would get busy pulling out all our stakes and dig holes everywhere. Silly dogs!
This is one of the big slobbery babies that live here.
This is very close to the same type of greenhouse we’ll be installing. It will not be heated at all. It’s mainly a season extender for high-value crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, etc.
All the way at the end of the rows there is a shadowy area. It will shade less than a 1/4 of the greenhouse. That area will be used to start seed in the spring.
We brought down our heavy duty propane camp stove, propane hot water on demand, and turkey fryer. We have never used the turkey fryer to cook a turkey. Instead, we use it boil hot water to process poultry.
I love how everything is coming together. Over the next few weeks, we’ll have more materials to work with. We need some T-posts and poultry fencing to start a composting chicken run, and this week I’ll be designing the chicken coop. Currently, there are about 10-15 chickens roaming around with the four dogs, so we want to get them into their own space and working for their food. A composting run will allow them to eat lots of yummy scraps and weed seeds, keep them safe from predation, and begin the process of moving them from regular dry feed to lacto-fermented feed. The chicken composting run divides the two gardens right down the center. On the left of the chicken run is the market garden, and on the right side of the run is the potager garden.
As we work the land, previous plans and ideas give way to more practical plans. If we don’t spend time down there, we can see where the winds come from, when the trees cast shadows throughout the day, which areas contain more moisture than others, and what is the prime garden real estate. HA! It wasn’t until we put up the second tent that we realized that the rich sandy loam that is beneath the second tent is prime real estate and shouldn’t be used to house animals. Instead it should be used to feed people AND animals.
Stay tuned! Great things are still to come.