Fall on the Farm

Man oh man has it been a while since my last update on the farm! And no, it’s not because there isn’t anything going on. As a matter of fact, things haven’t even slowed down a little since we arrived. The ‘honey do’ list is ever expanding, and as much as we seem to do, the list never seems to get any shorter.

I would say that Fall has arrived on the farm, but the truth of the matter is that Fall has all but gone away already! The hot summer days and regular thunder storms, gave way to beautiful colors absolutely all around and crisp, foggy mornings. Almost half of our property is woods and nearly ALL of the trees lose their leaves in the winter. I have to admit, Fall in the Carson Valley back in Nevada can be pretty spectacular and so I was preparing myself for somewhat of a let down in my favorite of all seasons. But I was mistaken. Fall on our farm is magical. Each morning I work out on my front porch with a friend, and across the road and at the end of our pasture to the south, the trees are the most stunning. I found it breathtaking- and motivating- to get out there and workout each day to just take in the scenery.

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But alas, the Fall is always so short lived. Nearly all the leaves have fallen, and although the days are randomly heating up a touch (up to 70 just the other day), winter is absolutely on the horizon. I even saw snow in the 15 day forecast this morning (never mind that it had changed when I looked again this afternoon)!

I can’t seem to stay warm in the house. We have a traditional heating unit upstairs (an addition to the original house was made about 10 years ago), but downstairs we’re very much on our own. For the most part, the space heaters are doing the trick, but because I am just so dang temperature sensitive, I’m basically always cold. We have two comforters on our bed at night- which isn’t the worst thing- and I’m almost always in a sweatshirt. Thank God I work from home so I can be in a constant state of bundle.

As it was recently Thanksgiving, and we entertained 3 families for the big event (2 families stayed with us for nearly a week!), our focus on farm projects took a turn from the ‘need to be done in general’ to the ‘need to be done by Thanksgiving’ list. This included building a fire pit and buying a chainsaw to cut up several felled trees for firewood.

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The fire pit is beautiful and I love it and we didn’t use it one time the whole week. We also had to empty, clean and refill the hot tub. I’m glad that’s done and was prioritized because we also didn’t use it once while our guests were here. We shopped for and bought the perfect additional chairs to our beautiful farm table for the big dinner. I found it completely necessary to paint a big shelf unit in the bathroom, which no one noticed (and I still haven’t been able to get the paint out of my hair). We made three runs to get pumpkins for the front porch, because we just couldn’t seem to find out how many pumpkins were too many pumpkins.

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We tried to mow the already dead lawn- just to be perfect- but despite three tries and a recent trip to the mower repair shop, we still can’t get that dang thing to start. I think it’s frozen. We shopped for and purchased the perfect rototiller- after months of considering our options of buying new, used or renting- to finally put the gardens to bed for the winter. We settled on a used version and Thomas tillered from about 10pm to 1am one evening before the thing died completely. Good news was he had completed the garden project. Bad news was he couldn’t move the dang thing to get it out of the yard. He finally had to buy a tool to take the motor off the machine so that he could move the other parts to the dump. #winning. There was also cooking, shopping, menu planning and loads of cleaning that also made the list of chores before the big week.

As for the actual event, it was everything I hoped it would be. When we came out a year ago this past October to visit the farm and decide if this was our future home, I remember walking through the barren woods and imagining Thanksgiving and all the family and fun that we would have here at the farm. At that time, I had no idea that my first Thanksgiving table here would be so filled with cherished humans, but I bought the farm based on a vision of what it COULD be. I knew there would be kids (9 to be exact), and I knew there would be sports (soccer with turkeys was not what I’d imagined but it was amazing nonetheless), and I knew there would be love and laughter. There was no shortage of that.

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In Nevada, I was blessed to have joined a small group that became a family for a short time. We came together because of tragedy, and we were locked into a lifelong friendship because of God’s provisions in grief. Three of those gals and their families sat around my table at Thanksgiving. One came from Nevada, one from St. Louis and one from Nashville. It was perfect. And if I’m being honest, as messy and as loud and as crazy as it was at times- there were 2944 of us here after all- it was everything I could have ever hoped and I didn’t want it to end.

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The kids played outside, despite the cold, almost constantly. They played with chickens and turkeys and they fed pigs. They climbed on hay bales and went on hikes. They had a blast! I’m so grateful that I got to be the person to give that experience to them. Thank you Lord for such a beautiful week!

So now we’re moving into a solo holiday season. It will be the opposite of Thanksgiving, and I’m interested to see how it all goes. I have mixed emotions if I’m being honest. We have no family coming and we aren’t traveling home. It will be our first Christmas on the farm, but also our first Christmas as an immediate family of 5.

Here is the deal- I’m sad to not be home for Christmas. To me, home means Nevada. I will absolutely miss the snow (like I’m not ready to talk about it), and I will miss my church. I will REALLY miss going to my church on Christmas Eve. I can figure out a new way of doing just about anything else this season, but I haven’t found a substitute for this. My church here- which I love- isn’t doing a Christmas Eve night service because it falls on a Sunday and they’re just doing the regular morning service. #notthesame. So I’m working on figuring that one out.

I will also very much miss hosting both sides of my family. It’s been so wonderful to have a home near enough and big enough to host my sister and sisters in law, as well as grandmas and grandpas and great grandmas. I’ve always been about Christmas meaning family, and so this is going to be pretty dramatically different for me. All new. But new isn’t bad. It’s just new. And I’ll find the right new for our family, I’m sure of it, but for the moment… I feel a little unsure of what lies ahead.

I went to MOPS last night (always trying to step outside of my comfort zone and meet new friends) and we talked a lot about the pressure put on moms to ‘put on’ Christmas. I mean, isn’t it so true? We are the orchestrators. We’re the one’s buying gifts, making cookies, making sure we’re attending enough Christmas parades and light shows, and organizing family gatherings… and that’s just on Mondays! So I can’t say that I’m not excited that a lot of that is being taken off my plate this year. I’m grateful for peace. I’m grateful for quite. I’m grateful for space to be just the five of us for a minute. AND, I’m looking forward to being ‘home’ (we know how I feel about that word) and making new traditions with my littles while they’re still little.

In the meantime, we’ve got trees up and decorated, lights on the house (a new tradition?) and WAY too many trinkets around to remind me that I LOVE THIS SEASON! It really is the most wonderful time of the year!! Now, if only there could be just a little snow…

In other farm related news…

In the way of animals, we’re up to a population of about 59 total with our family included. We recently lost a few guinea fowl and chickens to predators- most recently a pair of feral dogs that nearly met their end on the wrong side of Thomas’ rifle- but they were spared.

We have 9 turkeys. 5 males and 4 females. The males are hilarious and I can’t imagine that we’ll be able to eat them ever. Of all the farm animals we’ve acquired, the turkeys are probably my favorite. They gobble every time anyone gobbles, yells, talks, laughs, or tries to work out on the porch. They are in a constant state of battle readiness. They are puffed up, and chest bumping and parading their feathered bodies absolutely all over the place, all the time. I don’t think they are trying to impress the ladies so much as they are trying to impress each other. They occasionally have a disagreement among themselves, which typically results in a damaged ‘dangle’ as I call them (I believe they’re called waddles in real life) and a flying high kick, but otherwise they are as docile as you could imagine. I expected more of a goose like attitude from turkeys personally, but they are just like pets. They even played soccer with the kids- like seriously… they played as a team against the kids and it was amazing. Aside from their assaulting bathroom issues on the porches, they are total keepers.

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The chickens are now in full laying mode, which is super exciting. We get about 4-8 eggs a day. Despite what you might think, we’re actually cruising through them faster than you might expect. We even had to buy eggs while everyone was here because the ladies just couldn’t keep up. If Cadence or Merit find warm eggs, they go into the ‘eggonater’ (aka incubator) because we know that they are getting ‘thertilized’ by the rooster every morning. Bambie (named by Cadence as a chick) wakes up each morning and immediately ‘thertilizes’ each and every hen. It is quite a sight to see. If anyone is struggling with the whole ‘birds and bees’ conversation with their kids, a barn yard is a great place to start, let me just tell you! So Bambie knocks everyone up and then if the eggs are found while they’re still warm, they get a date and a trip around the warmer. We haven’t had any reach hatching age yet, but we’ll keep you posted on any second generations that turn up!

The guineas think they are turkeys and hang out with them. They don’t do any of the puffing up or any of that, but they do make a lot of noise (we were warned and now we know). We have one all white guinea (they are usually black with white polka dots), and that guinea hangs with the white chickens because I guess he think’s he might be a chicken. It’s so funny to watch how they all tend to learn behaviors from each other. Sometimes that’s a good thing- like survival of the fittest- and sometimes it means survival of no one because the loudest one is an idiot. Either way, it’s been fascinating to see how different animals learn and grow.

The pigs… oh the pigs.

Let’s just say 1) we’re famous in the neighborhood because of our pigs and 2) we’re about to be coming into some massive bacon here soon.

We have 8 pigs. 6 are Mulefoot (black) and 2 are Mangalitsas (black with white curly hair- aptly named Elsa and Olaf). 2 of the Mulefoot hogs are full grown and they are long overdue for a pregnancy. She is a prude. He’s totally willing. Either way, they don’t seem to be a match made in pig heaven so unfortunately- due to their problematic behavior (I’ll get there)- Wilbur is likely going by way of trade to the Amish (our neighbors) and Charlotte will make her way into our freezer.

Yes, we named the pigs we’re going to process. No, we didn’t intend to process those two. No, I don’t care and am not attached. These pigs are assholes. I’m sorry. There is no other way to say it. They’re assholes.

The little piglet girl- her name is Fern- who is meant to be another mommy pig someday, has discovered that she can get out of the pen. Well, that means that the three boy piglets (Templeton, Mr. Zuckerman and Avery) have also figured out how to get out. At first, it wasn’t every single day. And at first, it wasn’t a big deal because once the dogs caught wind of it, they would viscously chase the pigs back into their pens. Who knew Golden Retrievers were such pig herding dogs?

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Well, after a while, Fern would lead the boys out each and everyday. But again, it still wasn’t the end of the world because they would stay in the yard. Even when Elsa and Olaf started participating, it was manageable, but once Charlotte and Wilbur discovered they could just basically bend the fence and push their way under, the jig was up.

Not only did they damage the fence. Not only did they eat all my pumpkins on the porch. Not only did they root up the grass. Not only were they not phased by the dogs at all. Not only were they so interested in the acorns outside of the pen that they were no longer even kind of interested in the bait corn to get them back INTO the pen. Not only all of that… they also decided that they no longer needed to stay on property at all.

Once they were in the lake at our neighbors down the road. Yes, he came up to tell me. I smiled, laughed and apologized by saying we were from California. Once they were in the woods along side our property bedding down for the night. Our other neighbor graciously spent several house with Thomas trying to corral them with trucks and fencing, to no avail of course. And once… although we can’t confirm this to be OUR pigs… we did overhear some men at the gas station talking about something ‘rooting up the cemetery.’  Our pigs may or may not have been accounted for at that exact time.

Either way, Wilbur and Charlotte definitely took things from bad to really, super, bacon making bad. Thomas has spent several nights from about 8pm to about midnight out in the pasture (because there literally aren’t enough hours in the day) fixing the existing holes, and strengthening the potential escape routes. Let’s just knock on wood as we type that they’ve been confined for 2 weeks straight to their pasture (well, they have found a way into the chicken yard, but no further so we’re calling it a win).

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Pigs just haven’t turned out to be what we expected. Namely, pregnant. No one has turned up pregnant. So we’re hoping to swap Wilbur out for a calf and see what trouble the spring will bring with a baby cow. Stay tuned for that.

Thanks for tuning in and following along on our adventures. I promise to write more soon. But for now, the adventure continues…

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