Saturday, November 21, 2009


I didn't realize it has been since September since my last blog. Lots of stuff to talk about now! We've improved the brooder design so I'm not afraid of it chopping off my head when I reach in now. It holds a hundred chicks at a time and has been filled three times since that first batch of fifty. Right now it houses a colorful collection of pullets that, come spring, will be laying an assortment of brown and green eggs. Thirty of them go to our friends Bill and Cathy Bare, otherwise known as Santa and Mrs. Clause. That means I keep 70 for us. Yikes. I'm not sure if I knew what I was getting myself into. They sure are cute. The black ones are Barred Rock (brown eggs), The red ones are a hybred Production Red (brown eggs), and the stiped ones are Americaunas (green eggs).

They were mailed out on a Tues. but by Friday morning I was getting conserned when they still hadn't arrived. I called the hatchery and they said they didn't know what had happened and that they would send another batch. We both were sorry. All I could think of was a box of starving, dying chicks somewhere in a forgotten warehouse. Then Friday afternoon the post office called and said,"Your babies are here."Not one of them had died! They were starving and thirsty, but no losses. Now, a week later, still no losses. They are all eating and running around like little scurrying rabbits.

Speaking of rabbits, I have a new buck. A New Zealand from the Blaha's in Brooksville. He's still young, but I bought him because I thought my buck was defective. Not to worry though. I've finally gotten them to breed thanks to some advice from the Homesteading Today forum. Thanks to all who helped. Wheat Germ oil on the food and extra daylight hours by light bulb made a difference in only four days. We should have baby bunnies in a month. Yeah!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Our First Harvest

Saturday was processing day! Our chickens were 8weeks old and HUGE. Bill set up all the equipment during the week so we were ready. Everything we ordered came on time. We began at 8am and by 4pm, 50 chickens were in the freezer, plucked, tucked, wrapped and labeled. Whew. I don't think it will take us as long next time. Micah was such a help. He worked beside us and became a pro at cutting and wrapping in no time. We composted what little remained and sat down and ate the rest of Bill's birthday cake. God was so good to us with the weather. It sprinkled and was overcast the whole day. We got wet, but we were wet anyway.
The Francis family was our first customer. Hurray! We did it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The New House

It looks good from the front window of the RV. I've taken lots of pics of the progress. They started on Thurs. Everyone had their own way of mastering the sandy quagmire. I've got ruts in every direction to remember them by. But here it stands. Yesterday was Labor Day, but the interior guy and the siding guy surprised us by coming anyway. Today the plumber comes, maybe the ac people if we are lucky. I'm sooooo ready to move in. The port-a-let is getting, well, you know. I'm not going to say it. Living without refrigeration is also a trick.

The real trick is not dwelling on the mistakes we've made and reminding myself of God's blessings. (We lost 6 chickens the other day due to our inexperience, we had them put the electric pole on the wrong side of the house, and I'm wondering if we should have kept the sliding glass door after all. ) I could make a long list of things I'd like to do over, but I know that won't get me anywhere. I get to begin moving stuff over to the house today and I'm going to thank God every step of the way.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

camping for real

Okay, now I really feel like we are camping. No hot water! Yikes. Tonight we grilled hamburgers outside and ate them with our fingers. Bill is off to get ice for the cooler. We tried to get the RV to run the refrigerator and water heater off the propane tank, but it doesn't work. But walking back up the hill from the port-o-let, I saw the most gorgeous sunset. I ran to get the camera, but I was too late. It only lasted a second. It makes me relish the beauty all around us even if we don't have the comforts of a house.

Here is a picture of our chickens. My they have grown.

Monday, August 31, 2009

New home is on it's way!

We should be receiving our new mobile home on Wednesday or Thursday. Today the trucks came with dirt for the pad. One made it up the hill, the other didn't. Here's a picture of the stuck truck. They had to wait for a friend to bring a chain to pull him out. Now it sits at the bottom of the hill until the tractor comes tomorrow. Last week I had the same thing happen to the truck that brought our port-a-let. It took two tractors to drag it out of the sand. Needless to say, our driveway doesn't look like a driveway anymore.

The part I'm really excited about is that the RV is going to be my art studio. Our wonderful neighbor Brian came with his big tractor and moved it like a breeze. He put it to the side right where I wanted it nestled into the trees. It's going to be so cozy. For now, though, we only have on extension cord coming through the window, one fan, and no toilet hook up. (Hence the port-a-let) It's a 500 ft walk to the toilet at the bottom of the hill. I was riding my bike down the driveway to get there faster, but now, alas, no driveway.
The third picture I just had to add. This is my laundry room. It's right beside Micah's room. (The tent) He's been sleeping there since we arrived three months ago. He's got electricity, a fan, alarm clock, and now he just set up his tv with video games. He says he wants to have a party in there after we get the house.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New batch of chickens in the tractor!

If you ever wanted to see the happiest day in a chicken's life, it would be when they leave the woodshaving floor of the brooder and go out on the ground for the very first time. They aren't sure what it is they're standing on, they they start all their chicken movements--scratching, pecking, eating bugs and grass and weeds. This bunch was so excited that they didn't want to go to sleep when it was getting dark. I think they thought they were in chicken heaven.

Our new chicken/turkey tractor is taller than the model Joel Salatin uses. Because of our climate we made it 3 feet high to let the air flow better and the heat rise above the chickens heads. They look small inside now, but they're growing by the day. The turkeys are especially curious. Every time a chicken picks up something the turkeys try to grab it from their beaks. They take on the biggest of the bunch even though they are half their size. It's better than watching TV!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Polyface experience

We just came back from a weekend workshop at Polyface Farm in VA. What a trip! 14 hours to get there on Thurs., up at the crack of dawn, greeted by a breakfast cooked over a fire pit, and then into the business of chicken processing. I'll spare you the details, but I can say we learned so many more things than what we could have read in the book. It is always so good to see it with your own eyes. I was supposed to go with my childhood friend Dawn Waltonbaugh, but she had to cancel last minute and graciously offered Bill her place. What a blessing to have him there too to see it all. I want to take some before pictures of our land so we can compare them to what will become of our depleted, sandy Florida soil. I have high hopes.

The shed is almost finished. It needs a window put in and trim around the cracks, but it's already being put to use. We were slamming down nails as fast as we could to get the roof on before, you guessed it, another rain storm. Mom and Dad are coming up tomorrow with their camper. Yee haww.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rain, Rain, Rain

Boy, does it rain up here! It's either getting ready to rain, just letting up for a little while, or black as pitch and storming. Micah was out in his tent last night and his front door blew in. Still zipped, the rain didn't come in, but the wind beat against it hard. It beat against the RV just as hard and I was up at 3:30 am putting towels in the window. I need to get up on the roof with more bondo.

I took a picture of the shed we are building through the rainy window. As you can imagine, the weather has slowed the process. God did provide a big sheet of plastic just when we needed it. (Doesn't He always know what we need.) We went to Ace Hardware to buy a tarp and guess what was in the dumpster--loads of heavy duty plastic that came off of their roof. They said we could have as much as we needed. I went back again last night to get more. Who knows where else it will come in handy.

And, just in case you were wondering, yes that's my wet laundry hanging in the background.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

waking up in the country

This is our third day waking up in the RV. The wild turkeys are keeping just out of site behind the trees on Mom and Dad's land. Yesterday we heard them gobble in answer to the thunder and lightning that took our power out for an hour. We weren't sure how to get the sample of water to take to the Health Dept. without the pump running, but it came back on in time for me to wade through the downpour and hand it to them before noon.

Bill and I both agree that one of the biggest blessings God has given us is in the water the pump is bringing to the surface. Today we get the formal results, but in an area of notorious iron ladden, yellow drinking water, ours is as clear and cold as the bottom of Fanning Springs. Thank you Jesus!

Today I am waking up to more boxes to unpack so we can sit on the couch, and watching a bluebird play on the back of our pickup truck. Looks like clear skies today. Thank God the ac works.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Learning About Goats

Today I'm going to visit a goat farm. Milking is at 8:30 am.

Mr. Rogers used to sing a song:"Everything goes together, because you're all one piece..." That's the way is seems this farm works. Before the chickens can walk the ground, the grass must be cut down. Since we don't actually have grass yet, (more like sticks and cactus), we would need a $3,000 range mower to do the job without breaking. I wanted to do sheep, but now goats are looking like the ticket. In order to get the goats to cut the grass, we need to put up a fence along the back perimeter. Before we can do the fence, we need to finish building the tool shed because now we can begin moving into the RV. Guess where all the tools are--you guessed it, the RV. I think I'll ask if goats can be tethered.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Electric Man Comes Today

I've been wanting to get this blog started. Our story has been full of surprises. Here is where we are now:
We put the house in Clearwater up on the market June 08. Lowered the price, lowered the price again, cried, lowered the price again. In November Bill and I looked at each other and wondered how we would be able to buy and build what we wanted if we had nothing left after the sale.

But God gave me a scripture. "Power belongeth unto God."(Ps. 62:11) We decided moving was the goal and we believed God was asking us to trust Him. We lowered the price again and it sold!
The closing finally came after many hurdles and after the holidays. Now we could look at land with serious purpose.

Ten beautiful acres waited for us in the heart of Gilchrist County, just 30 minutes outside of Gainesville. God again provided a title company that worked through a mess of incorrect legal descriptions. Waiting seemed to be my new life's work--waiting, packing, selling and giving things away.

God always has a purpose. During all this time I was able to be there for my mother during the death of my grandmother in February.

By the end of February, we were able to pack up and move near our new property. God again provided in a wonderful way. Friends of my good friend Vonabell Sherman, Rob and Tracy Francis graciously offered us a month to month rental of the little cabin on their land. (The top picture) They've taken such good care of us and it's been a safe place for Micah to be when I've been away at paintouts this spring. Again, God knew what we needed.

So that brings me to today. Today the electrician comes to hook the giant RV (Bondo Bertha as we like to call her) to the electric pole that was erected just yesterday by the nice people at Central Florida Electric. We've begun to build a 10 x 10 tool shed and it's supposed to rain on Thursday. It's about 100 degrees outside at 10am. each morning, so things are going a little slow, but the electricity will mean that we can run the well pump and don't have to carry water out there to flush to toilet. It also means we can run the ac in the RV while we finish painting. (I hope it works.)

During these last four months, we've learned a few things about buying RVs, felling trees, getting stuck in soft sand, and gopher tortoises. We thought we knew a lot about county things. Now we know how very green we are. Thank God for nice neighbors.

As our adventure continues, I'll fill you in on the details. We've only begun!