Farm Life

My farm is greening up in the Spring weather.
My farm is greening up in the Spring weather.

Not to give a false impression: it’s not really a farm and I’m not really a farm girl. But just give me a little time…

I grew up on some land. We had pigs and rabbits and chickens to supplement our only meat supply each winter: deer, elk, and if we were lucky, bear. We chopped wood to heat the house and to cook on the wood stove. In the early days, Mom cooked all our meals on the beautiful cast iron stove. I learned how to make toast on the surface by sprinkling a little salt, to keep the bread from burning. We used the stove to heat a flat iron to iron clothes because we had no electricity. We took our baths in an big aluminum tub in the yard, beside the pump, because we had no indoor plumbing. And yes…we woke up sleepy in the middle of the night and shoved our feet into boots to trudge through the snow to the outhouse. I am a rare remnant of American history, in that my childhood was from an earlier century.

I’ve been nostalgic for decades, daydreaming of the someday when I could have a farm of my own, and now I’ve got it. But see, here’s the thing: in the meantime, I became a city girl. Not in my soul, but in my experience. Because of my job, I’ve had to live in cities. I’ve only known electric heat and natural gas water heaters for those luxurious hot showers inside my home. When I was lucky, I had a little patch of grass to mow and some dirt in which to bury some bulbs for next season.

Managing a big piece of land is going to be a big job, and I am confident I can figure it all out. I’m also wise enough to know there will be a sharp learning curve. But off I go! Look out world. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Hussies behind a fence.
The Hussies behind a fence.
Eggs in their proper place.
Eggs in their proper place.

I grew impatient with the idea that perfectly good eggs were being stashed in the forest, as a result of my wandering Hussies. I began a campaign to diligently collect the hens each day and return them to their pen. With a four-foot fence they were contained most of the time, and typically only one or two hens would fly to freedom per day. After one week I had a carton full of eggs and the Hussies were less inclined to escape. Then I contacted a local man I know to come and build me a respectable chicken fence.

Douglas helped me take down the old fence so we had room to put up a new one.
Douglas helped me take down the old fence so we had room to put up a new one.
I was tickled by the official label slapped onto my lumber order.
I was tickled by the official label slapped onto my lumber order.

My boyfriend and I (yes!) pulled out the old fence to make way for the fence guy to build a new one. After two weeks of being returned to the old pen, the hens got into the habit of using their lovely henhouse with perfect little boxes filled with dry straw. So, while they have returned to their wandering habits, they still come home to lay. I am so pleased to be getting daily brown eggs, with thick shells and dark yolks you get from country hens.

I had to pick up two more 4x4s in the Jeep, which is not made for hauling lumber.
My Jeep isย not designed for hauling lumber, but that didn’t stop me.
Some feathers to help me remember my Lacey, the sassiest of the bunch.
Some feathers to help me remember my Lacey, the sassiest of the bunch.

Fence-building is currently underway, but we had a tragedy nonetheless. Miss Lacey, whom you met not too long ago in my post about finding a stash of eggs, wandered into the country road and was hit by a car. I researched and decided not to try to eat her. First because she died by blunt force, which likely ruptured her organs, and second, because those organs likely had a chance to contaminate the meat as she laid beside the road all day long before I came home from work and found her. I am sad to lose my Lacey, as you can imagine. I’ve grown to love the bold & sassy Hussies.

The rain let up for a week and the ground dried out enough to begin using big equipment. I backed the riding lawnmower out of the shed and got it running. I had not personally cut the grass since buying the used machine, because I had friends and neighbors who took turns on it last year. It took me awhile to figure out how to get the blades going. I chose a knob that looked promising and gave it a tug. The serpentine belt went flying and the engine cut out.

Serpentine belt came off the deck the first time I tried to use the mower this year.
Serpentine belt came off the deck the first time I tried to use the mower this year.
The grass grows fast in the Spring and it was like mowing a jungle.
The grass grows fast in the Spring and it was like mowing a jungle.

I went online and discovered that I had done the right thing, it just hadn’t gone well. I checked local repair shops and found they were closed for the weekend. And then I looked up schematics for a Husqvarna blade deck and got some tools and pulled it apart and put the belt back in it’s place. I put it all back together and tried again. Viola!

Add small tractor repair to my list of talents.

There is a lot of grass to cut here. The property is 4.3 acres and I imagine the house and pond take up the 0.3, leaving approximately 4 acres to mow. Whew. It took me 5 days of mowing to get it all done. About 14 hours total. The tractor wasn’t running well and I ended up taking it to the shop when I got done. It should be done in a week and I’ll have sharpened blades and I’ll be able to tackle all that grass once more.

I’m continuing with adding a bit of landscaping here and there: rhododendrons and azealas, honeysuckle and camelias, a bunch of hydrangeas from my Uncle who lives a couple towns over, and a few plants my mother gave me years ago: a peony, some irises, and lavender. Each day the place becomes a little bit more my own personal heaven.

Looking across the pond up to the house, while taking a break from mowing the back forty.
Looking across the pond up to the house, while taking a break from mowing the back forty.

16 thoughts on “Farm Life

  1. Oh gosh, sorry about Lacy. I imagine she is haunting the remaining hussies so they won’t venture onto the roadway.

    I’ve added lawn mower repair to your amazing talents and qualities. I love how circumstances force us to accomplish what we never thought possible. Brings a large smile to our face doesn’t it?

    Loved the share, cousin.

    Happy Farming, oh by the way . . . new boyfriend????

    Debbie

    1. Yes! I am so proud of myself for fixing the lawnmower by myself! I’ve bragged about it to friends and co-workers, and now my WordPress family. You are right about circumstances forcing us to do things we didn’t think we could do.

      And boyfriend, yes, we’ll give this a go and see what happens. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Just yesterday, I was driving down the road and came upon 5 escaped chickens and I was thinking of you. I’m so sorry about Lacy. Sadness…
    It was good to hear about your history and how you grew up, and your honesty about going from City Girl to Country Girl again.
    Can’t wait to see pictures of the Trulove Fence ๐Ÿ™‚
    Your land is beautiful, by the way.

    1. Me too! I was actually on the Interstate, going through a rural town in eastern Oregon recently, and there was a spot-on Lacey look-alike beside the highway, cars and trucks careening through. I looked down the embankment and saw a couple of homes and assumed the chicken belonged to one of them. And I thought: if I lived near an Interstate, I’ll bet my dumb chickens would be up there on the road just like this one! It was especially funny to see a chicken that looked exactly like Lacey. A little goodbye from her reincarnated self.

      The Trulove fence! Yes it has a name already!

      When you’re a kid, of course, you never think of your own life as remarkable. I understood only the bare facts: we didn’t have electricity, so we cooked on the stove. We didn’t have plumbing, so we bathed in well water (brrr). It was only after growing up and mentioning my childhood, and hearing people say “Wow!” that I came to think about it more carefully. Even though it was not fun at the time, I think it is neat to be able to recall a life like that. My mom and step-father were young and poor with four kids, and they were saving up for what later became “the big house,” which was huge and gorgeous and had all the luxuries of the modern world. So…the sacrifice was worth it in the end.

    1. Ha ha ha! Derrick, I love that! “Crystal. She doesn’t do daunted.”

      You just created my epitaph I think. Somewhere along the years I found out that when I tried big, scary things, they often turned out great. So with that knowledge I found a bit of confidence in the unknowable. Even if I don’t know what I’m doing when I start, I will know a lot when I’m done. I think it’s a happy coincidence that my attitude turned out that way.

  3. Well, if you need help, I’m sure plenty of us out here in wordpressland would gladly oblige. Let me set a tent up next to your pond for a week or so, and I’d gladly repay you with manual labor!

    1. Wade! Thank you for stopping by and for making me laugh with your comment. I’ve put a general shout-out to my friends, who have – as you suggest – been happy to come out and work for me. Last month a good friend stayed here for 4 days and worked on the property in the rain while I was gone at work. I am so friggin’ lucky to have excellent friends.

      Bring your tent and your fishing pole and you can do whatever you like: cut grass, chicken wrangle, chop wood – I won’t judge.

      1. Sounds like a plan! If I get a chunk of free time, I’ll let you know (from all the way over here in the midwest)! I am really enjoying reading about the process there on your land, so keep up the great work!

  4. Great strides in the projects list. It’s coming along nicely. So happy to hear you are finally getting your eggs. My sister has been bringing some down from her place in Washington once in a while. They are so nice. I’m sorry to hear about Lacy. Lets hope the rest learn to stay closer to home. Good to hear about the new BF. We had a little pot under the bed if we had to go in the middle of the night. Outside in the dark was not going to happen. A cold bath doesn’t sound like much fun though. Unless it’s summer.:) Good to hear from you again.

    1. Hi Marlene! It’s good to be back, albeit somewhat sporadically. I suspected this might happen: with the spring season I’ve spent so much time working outside and not blogging. And the job still takes a lot of my time. I am getting better at the job, a little faster, and I can now believe that someday, someday, it won’t stress me out anymore.

      Good to know you’ll take eggs. It’s early yet, and I eat tons of eggs, but I did already take a dozen to my dad when I spent a weekend in Boise to help him pack his house up for a move. So my extra dozens will grow slowly, but hopefully I’ll have enough to start sharing soon.

      Douglas is a good man, and I like what I’m learning about him so far. He’s socially engaged, actively interested in politics, and as much of a loud mouth as me. It’s a good start.

      1. My sister said her hens stopped laying so much. So no eggs again for a while. I’m working outside more too and blogging less. Glad you found someone that works well with you. It’s a rare find.

  5. I would say that you are well (very well) on your way back to the country. The place looks great. Absolutely peaceful (in between all the chores and projects). Good for you, Crystal. Enjoy.

    1. Peace is definitely one of the goals out here. I work pretty hard, and then go sit by the creek and listen to the birds and the water bubbling over rocks. That kind of thing lifts a lot of clouds from a soul. Thanks for the encouraging words. Some people smile bemusedly at me when I say “I’m going to do this, and then do that, and one day I’ll…” but smiles be damned, I think I can pull this off!

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