Wednesday, June 8, 2011
It's hard for me to believe that I'm writing the tenth post for this blog. Can ten weeks really have passed already? We must have been having a blast because time really has flown! We've already been through an entire Spring here in North Carolina and it's been incredibly busy. Don't get me wrong, there are days when it seems like nothing at all happens and I just sit on the patio and watch the hummingbirds at the feeder. But there are days that have been doozies as we've tried to fulfill our plans for this place.
We have big plans. For the farm, for our restaurant, for ourselves. It's a lot to keep straight and figuring out how to make it all happen is complicated to say the least.
Were this all entirely up to Brendan, we would have been trying to fit five years worth of work into one year. He wanted to buy a farm, renovate the house, relocate the family to a new state, get chickens, bees, rabbits, pigs, and goats, and open a restaurant all at the same time. I love him and his enthusiasm, but we might both be in a hospital for exhaustion right now had we tried to do that. Thankfully, I was able to convince him that everything couldn't be done at once and be done well. I proposed a 5 year plan outline.
I love outlines. I would have never gotten through a single law school exam if it weren't for my darling outlines. Despite the fact that I'm one of the most disorganized people I know, I love and am drawn to order. And, if I don't write it down, it doesn't happen because I forget EVERYTHING.
Our outline for the farm and restaurant is broken down by year (this year being, of course, Year 1). Since our overall plan is divided into fifths, I've decided that each year should also be broken into rough fifths for purpose of analysis and making sure we're sticking to our timeline. I can't let us fall behind because if I do, Brendan is likely to jump ship on my paced plan and come home one day with a pig under one arm and a restaurant lease under the other. And ten weeks is roughly 1/5 of the year so time to take stock of where we are.
How are we doing? Pretty good, actually. I made Year One fairly simple so as to not get overwhelmed. Our plan for the farm for this year was to renovate the house, get honey bees and chickens, and to reclaim and plant the existing 20'x35' vegetable garden. We've done all that and things seem to be going well - at least for today.
We built a chicken coop, raised chicks in the brooder, and moved them outside. We're almost to the point of letting them out of the coop fence to free range in the pasture but first I want to get some portable fencing to help us direct them to the areas where we'd like for them to forage.
We built our bee hive and installed the package of bees. I still feed them sugar syrup occasionally to allow them to build up their honey stores for winter but other than that, they seem to be doing their own thing fairly well without much intervention.
The vegetable garden was our biggest challenge. It had clearly not been planted in quite some time and was completely overgrown with weeds. Brendan had to spend several days just in that small space with a tiller trying to break up the compacted clay soil. We added something close to 1000 pounds of compost and cow manure to enrich the soil and we started vegetables from seed on our porch.
The porch is not the best incubator for the seedlings and next year, we'll do things a bit differently. I think having some grow lights to keep the seedlings warm and to extend their light exposure will help immensely. Despite not having the best start, our seedlings have done very well for the most part and we have corn that is more than four feet tall already!
The garden has come a long way to get to this. But, come Fall, we're going to try something new. We're going to abandon row gardening and instead install a series of raised beds, probably about 16. That will allow us to nearly triple our growing space without expanding the garden. We'll be able to do crop rotation on a small scale and plan to leave about a quarter of the beds fallow, with a ground cover, each summer in order to let the soil renew itself. I'm very excited about this experiment and will keep you posted.
I was going to write about what's going on with the restaurant plans but this post is getting long, so next week.