Monthly Archives: September 2009

Construction

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It’s been all kinds of busy on the farm this week.  Keith and I purchased all the lumber and supplies for building the chicken coops, and set to work cutting and framing.

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It’s been so much fun!  I like construction – it’s so satisfying to measure, cut and nail things together.

using the chop saw to cut lumber

using the chop saw to cut lumber

It’s been an educational week.  I’ve learned to draw up building plans, something Keith is really good at, being an Engineer and all.  I figured out how to use a chop saw to cut the lumber down to size.  Then, with the help of our good friends Brian and Rob,  I learned to frame walls and roofs.

early morning framing

early morning framing

We’ve been getting up early and hitting the fields as soon as the sun comes up, so we can get a lot done before it gets too hot and before Keith has to go to work at his “real job”!

Firmware Engineer/Construction Worker Man

Firmware Engineer/Construction Worker Man

Almost done!

Almost done with the walls!

Soon we will be finished with some welding projects on the trailers and then the building will go up.   I’ll be posting more pictures of our progress soon, so stay with me.

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Wordle

Wordle

[Make your own at http://www.wordle.net/%5D

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Trailer Mayhem

Remember when those trailers we drove to Eugene to pick up?  You can read about them here.  Well, they were a bit of a nightmare.

A simple little trip to pick up two trailers for chicken coops, turned out to be a lot more work than it appeared.  This is where all those Physics 201 lectures came in handy.  [See kids, even farmers need college educations.]  Through the use of various levers, ramps, come-alongs, chains and brute force we managed to get the small trailer loaded on top of the big trailer.

Like so:

Three hours later...

Three hours later...

Then we hauled the stinking things to Corvallis and deposited them in my field and said:

Good Riddance.

They look so innocuous

They look so innocuous

Only that wasn’t the end of it.

We still had to get them unstacked.  Oh yeah, you think it looks easy.   I’m here to tell you otherwise.

Towing the trailers apart

Towing the trailers apart

That little trailer did not want to roll off.  In fact, it got completely tangled up on the frame of the one below it.

Through the use of various levers, ramps, come-alongs, chains and brute force we managed to get the small trailer unloaded off the big trailer. Friggin’ physics problems.

free at last

free at last

After finally getting trailers separated, I would like to tell you that I jumped for joy and hugged my hard-working husband.  But I didn’t, not at first.

I burst out of the pickup cab and flew at the trailers and kicked them.  And then I said a few choice words.

And then I felt better.

No trailer can beat me!

Trailer Conquerer

Just in case you’re wondering (Keith was), after all that, I do still want to farm.  I just don’t want to re-enact that little trailer scenario again anytime soon, thank you very much.

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Field Walk

The field I’m leasing has pretty crummy fences.  Actually, they are more or less non-existent.

This photo shows one of the best sections of fence, so it’s pretty clear that this fence ain’t keep the cows in.

old fence

old fence

This current state of affairs resulted in today’s project which was determining the perimeter length and estimating the cost of materials for a new fence.

So I borrowed one of these new-fangled contraptions and set to work.

measuring wheel

measuring wheel

I think I picked the hottest day in the past month to walk around the back forty, but it sure was pretty out there.  I brought my camera along so I could share the beauty with you.

long hike out to the back forty

long hike out to the back forty

Ok, well maybe I’m like a new mother who thinks her baby is the cutest baby ever born. So humor me in thinking my field is nice.

under the oak tree

under the oak tree

In my wandering, I discovered that I have some sort of pear tree (Seckel pears?) growing in the hedgerow.  The ripe, ping-pong ball sized pears were pretty yummy.

round pears

round pears

It turns out it takes a while to push a little measuring wheel around 45 acres.  My field is really rutted in places, and the grass is long along the edges where the hay mower didn’t reach.  It felt like I was trying to maneuver a doll stroller around the field.   I’m glad I’m done with that little exercise, especially since it was over 90 degrees out.

After I measured the whole stinking field (minus the acres of blackberries, which I had to guess on) I flopped down in the shade of my trailers, put my feet up, and thought about how on earth we are going to get those trailers untangled from one another.

Stay tuned for more on that saga.

kicking back

kicking back

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Boot Scootin’

This spring I had the good fortune of stumbling across a blog that has ruined me forever.  It’s written by an Oklahoma ranch wife, Ree Drummond and profiles the good times to be had by a city-girl-turned-rancher.   Her exceedingly good taste results in frequent giveaway contests of things I cannot live without.

This wonderful site led me to the discovery of Lucchese cowboy boots, and my life will never be the same.

Ohhhh these boots are beautiful.  I can almost smell the hand-crafted leather.

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Now THAT is a cowgirl boot.  Mmmhmmmm.

And this one.  Oh momma.

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I drool all over the Lucchese website.  It is not becoming.

I need these ones for pairing with a dress and going out dancing.  Close your eyes and picture it with me. It’s a beautiful thing.

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One more, for those days I just wanna have fun.

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Yep.  I think I like ’em.  I would not cry if anyone were to buy them for me for Christmas. (I wear a size 7.5)

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City Chicken

1180107_27636906A funny thing about starting a farm:  everyone’s different reaction to the story.

Most people are completely fascinated by the idea, and procede to ply us with questions about everything from our organic status to how much a cow costs.  I never imagined farming would be such a captivating topic of conversation.

Some people clearly think I’ve lost my marbles.  This tends to be the older generation, particularly those who grew up on a farm.  I get the distinct impression that they believe it’s a waste of talent, energy and money.  I’m often informed that “farming is hard work”, and this statement is invariably accompanied by a slow shaking of the head.  I’ve been warned.

The other night, over pints of Aboriginale at Block 15, I was explaining the farm to a running club buddy of Keith’s.  He lives in the Pearl District of Portland, an upscale neighborhood filled with high-rise condominiums.  This friend was interested in the pastured poultry model that we’re going to use for our laying hens, and he proposed a great idea: Free Range City Chicken.

The proposed model would go like this.  A group of condo neighbors would buy one laying hen.  They would then proceed to plant a little patch of grass (in a raised bed) on their condo balconies.  The hen would travel on a daily rotation between the neighbors, from grassy balcony to grassy balcony.  Each neighbor could keep the daily egg and would be responsible for feeding the hen while it is in his custody.  Perfect, no?!

If only I had a solution to the inevitable and obnoxious chicken cackling and crowing.  Something tells me the non-chicken-owning neighbors might have a little issue with that sort of thing.

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Right on Time and Farming Like a Pro

My heart is full.

I’m snuggled up in sweats, with a cup of coffee in hand, watching the Westerly wind bring Autumn to my back porch.  And my heart is full of joy, because I’m doing what I have always wanted to do.

If you’ve never had this feeling, I highly recommend it.   I am a large-scale dreamer, but even I have put some of my aspirations on the back burner for myriad reasons.  I am forever thankful that I’ve got the chance to take those dreams off the shelf and put them on the fast-track into reality.   I’ve never felt so consummately happy as I do these days.   There is no better feeling than knowing you’re living your dreams, not someone else’s.

My purpose in blogging today is to bring ya’ll up to speed on the state of Project Start a Farm.   [Not just to wax poetic about the state of my emotions, though I’m sure you all find such things highly interesting].

First off,  despite being asked every day, I have not yet decided on a name for the farm.  Your input is welcome.   If you come up with a good farm name, I’ll give you….um….a free filet mignon.

Item of interest number two.  I have leased 45 acres of prime pasture land between Corvallis and Philomath!  I am speaking prophetically, as the land will be prime pasture land…just give me a year or two of good grazing practices.   I’m ecstatic to have my “own land” and I can’t wait to get animals on it.

888587_clip_art_chicken_2This winter, we’ll have chickens on the farm.  Get your egg cartons ready:  I’ve ordered 500 hens to be delivered in October.  I have got some Portland chefs already asking for my eggs.  Talk about a fast-track to reality!  Yikes!

Don’t worry, Steak-Eaters.  We’ll be getting cattle in the spring, just about the time Oregon rains are turning that brown grass into lush, green forage.  I’m looking forward to filling your freezers next fall!

This week, Keith and I (with the help of our excellent friends, Tyler and Alicia, who have more useful hauling equipment than we) will be making our way to Eugene to pick up a couple of old trailers.

Exhibit 1a

Exhibit 1a

Exhibit 1b

Exhibit 1b

These funky looking trailers will be the bases of my movable chicken coops.  [Eggmobiles, if you’re a Joel Salatin disciple].  With a little engineering, they will soon house 500 chickens at night.   During the daytime, my birds will be free to run around the pasture scratching up bugs.
Eggmobile

Eggmobile

This is kind of what the chicken coops will look like.  Say it with me, “That contraption looks ridiculous”.   But it’s a groovy little setup for fertilizing the pasture, minimal work for yours truly, and it should work quite nicely.
Stay tuned for pictures of the building process…

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