We always called this our practice farm. The place we would learn valuable homesteading skills while still living in town so that when our homestead came forth we would know a great deal before diving in head first into a cold winter with a wood stove.
Things we have learned on our Practice Farm:
1. We learned that chickens are not as scary to take care of as previously expected. In fact they are easier than cats and dogs to care for. They also add amazing amounts of entertainment to the yard and many a good meal of delicious eggs.
2. We are able to farm anywhere. Even in a sandy, weed covered plot in town with extremely expensive water. A piece of land that sits at over 6500 feet above sea level and where not many folks are crazy enough to farm. Those of us that do around here hold a remarkable bond.
3. We can survive running our own business. If we are passionate, glean bills like mad people, and keep a simple lifestyle, we can live on quite a little sum.
4. We can provide almost all of our own food with a little help from our friends. We now can over five hundred items to eat over the winter. We pay half the price of the health food store and support local farmers and ranchers by purchasing humanely raised meats.We can buy from local farms what we do not produce. This year we produced a good portion of our food supplying all vegetables for summer and into fall and some to can for winter. In the summer we also dine on fresh eggs and homemade cheese from our own goat’s milk.
5. We learned that we have an addiction to goats. They are like outdoor puppies, full of fun and lots of affection. And they give delicious milk for heavenly cheese.
6. We are no longer afraid of hoards of bees. 10,000 bees is actually quite quaint and awfully fun to watch work.
7. Ducks are a hoot. Perhaps not very practical though.
8. We are able to sustain tremendous loss. Losses and deaths of friends, financial losses, losses of beloved animals. Losses of bits of ourselves and somehow come out a bit stronger, if not weepier, and hold them close in our hearts.
9. Grandchildren are the best healing agent. They simply make life brighter and more colorful (particularly when they write on the walls). Graduations, weddings, and family make life very rich.
10. We could never go back to the city. We actually exhale as we enter the open prairie.
11. The most important thing we have learned on this journey is that if you write out and put out to the world your desires, the universe conspires to put everything in place so that you may have it. Be careful what you wish for but prepare to be blessed!
Things we will be learning on our new Homestead:
I cannot believe that everything we asked for came true. A small, old house (1905) with the square footage we requested (850 square feet). A wood cook stove, a well, a pantry, two bedrooms, a chicken coop, goat pens, places to walk with the goats, a view (of Pikes Peak was my exact request and I am quite close to it). A large fenced garden, close to a small town but not terribly far from the city (in case of momentary lapses in judgment whereupon we find ourselves gorging on fondue and seeing a mediocre movie) and a great library district. Doug wants to be near a place to shoot pool and a good breakfast joint (I guess I can’t say that in Colorado anymore; I mean restaurant).
1. First and foremost we better figure out the wood cook stove. It takes wood and coal. Where does one get coal? How much do we need? What the heck is a damper? Am I going to freeze to death?
2. Doug will be mastering the art of chopping wood (hello lumber jack!) and hauling mass amounts of water.
3. Many skills I do not know I need that I will inevitably need and which you, my dear reader, shall be the first to learn along with me. What a journey we are heading on! So glad you are with us. We will be moving our name and sign to our new homestead.
Welcome to The Cottage at Pumpkin Hollow Farm…