New Year, New Farm

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Well, not exactly.  We actually bought our new farm late last summer but haven’t done much more than get all the animals and ourselves here and get our old house ready to put on the market.  But we have many exciting things planned for 2017 and will be slowly starting to implement them.  I say slowly because until we sell our old house we will be limited in what we can do.

Our new farm is about 15 miles from where we used to live.  We upsized our acreage from 8 to 65 and downsized our house from 2300 square feet to 1800.  And we now have the most beautiful barn I could ever imagine.

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It’s made of oak with concrete floors throughout.  One side has five horse stalls, the other side has a large tool room, tack room and storage.  Upstairs there is a 1900 square foot loft.

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The house was built in 1900 with an additional wing added in 2004.  The kitchen, living room and master bedroom have the original hardwood floors.

We have so many plans for our new farm, but the priority is on building the infrastructure.  First and foremost is a perimeter fence.  There is some fencing in place, but it’s old rusty barbed wire not suitable for our animals  We’re replacing it with sheep and goat fence and then will add cross fencing to allow for rotational grazing.  The second priority is reworking one of the driveways.  It was an absolute nightmare getting our 4-horse trailer here.  The main drive is steep with hairpin turns and the other drive is narrow and all but impossible to turn onto with a trailer.  We also need water and electricity in the barn.

As we work on the infrastructure, we will be working on our livestock goals as well.

Goats

Oberhasli dairy goat

We currently have three Oberhasli and one Alpine senior does, two Oberhasli and one Alpine junior does, and an Oberhasli buck.  We will be adding some new bloodlines in 2017 from Haycreek Oberhasli and hopefully a doeling from the Buttin’ Heads line.  Our long-range goals here include building our herd to at least 10 milkers and offering a goat milk herd share.  Our short-term goals are to continue making our line of goat milk soaps and selling breeding stock.

Sheep

Tunis sheep in the snow

Our Tunis flock consists of three ewes.  We will be adding a ram and two or three more ewes this year and have lambs next spring.  Our long-term goals are to raise breeding stock, freezer lamb and wool from our sheep, plus have a little sheep milk to play with in cheesemaking.

Pigs and Chickens

Flock of heritage breed laying hens

Chickens and pigs will likely be making a reappearance on our farm this year if time allows for building additional structures for them.  We plan to raise a few heritage breed hogs for on-farm sales of freezer pork and possibly breeding stock at some point.  Some layers would be welcome but not a huge priority as we can get eggs from the nearby Amish community for the time being.

Garden

Tomato seed packets

Starting a new garden is always challenging for me.  I’m somewhat of a reluctant gardener; I find livestock much more interesting and easier to care for!  I don’t like to spend all my time weeding and I don’t enjoy being in the garden if it looks like a mess.  So, we have decided to add a few raised beds at a time and use cinder blocks for the frames.  Treated lumber leaches chemicals into the soil, cedar wood is naturally rot and insect resistant but expensive, and a raised bed without a border is out of the question for me.  Been there, done that and battled with grass and weeds relentlessly.  Cinder blocks were the best alternative for us.  We have already planted peach, pear, apple and cherry trees.  On order for planting next month are raspberries, asparagus, blueberries, strawberries, potatoes and sweet potatoes.  And then we will move on to greens, tomatoes, peppers, etc., but keep it relatively small this year.

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