Thursday, May 10, 2012

Farm Plans

Just an FYI... Any post written since Bryce was born and likely any post for the next 18 months was/will be typed with one hand so please excuse any typos. The only time of the day I get to sit and work on the computer is while Bryce nursing.

Anyways, on my last post I mentioned that I will go into more details about our farm plans. Our goal over the next 5 years is to get the photography business and the farm to a place where it is supplying most of our necessary income. Our goal over the next 10 years is to become mostly self-sustaining. We would also like to get our budget down as much as possible which would include paying off our mortgage and Kevin's student loan. Realistically we would have to win a small lottery or something to make that possible in the next 10 years... at least for the mortgage. Anyone know of a game show that's casting?

The following is an outline of our farm plans. It may or may not go in this order:

Phase 1: Chickens! Kevin is still building the coop. It was put on hold for a short time when Bryce was born. He believes that it will only take him 2 more weekends, which is good considering the chickens will be here the first week in June. They will be in a brooder for a few weeks at first but it will be nice to have it done and set up a few weeks before they are ready to be moved into it. I have been photographing the progress of the coop and will do a post about it when it has been completed. I ordered 8 chicks, all different breeds, so we can figure out which we like best. These are all laying hens. We may have meat birds in the future but not this time around. I need to figure out a lot of good recipes for eggs.

Phase 2: Barn and Fencing We have been saving up for the barn. Since I will no longer be teaching we didn't want to take out a loan and add anything to our budget. I have worked very hard with our budget over the years trying to make it so we had money to put away each month. It's important to me that buying the barn doesn't deplete our safety net. The barn isn't huge. It's about the size of a large shed, so cost wise it isn't bad. It should comfortably shelter 5-7 goats and we will be starting with 2-3 and if we ever exceed 7 will hopefully have the funds to build an additional shelter. Kevin plans to do the fencing himself... hopefully that goes well.

Phase 3: Garden We will be having a raised bed garden with 4 raised beds. Kevin plans to build my beds by fall so we have time to start working on the soil. He will also be building electric fencing around the garden to keep out all the varies animals that want to eat our fruits and veggies. The kids and I will be planting a garden next spring. I have big plans but am trying to not go overboard. I'm not known for having a green thumb but I have been doing a ton of research. I am learning what fruits and veggies are the best for beginners, what plants grow well with others, how to keep away bugs and diseases. Hopefully we will have a great crop next year.... we will see.

Phase 4: Goats As long as the barn and fencing is up we will get our goats next spring. We want to get 2-3 kids. I would like to raise them from babies. We will get Nubians. Their milk has a high butter fat and they are the breed of goat that I have always wanted. They are known as the "divas" of the goat world because they talk a lot and have strong personalities. We have talked about getting a guard dog at the same time. We need to figure out if this is nessesary first.

Phase 5: Kidding Our current plan is it breed all of our females in the fall of the first year. We may choose to wait a full year but I would like to get the milk going as soon as possible. We need to figure out if our goats are old enough to breed before we make that decision.

Phase 6: Bees I want bees for a few reasons. I want them to pollinate our trees, flowers and garden and I would love to be able to have their honey. We have a decent population of bees already but I would like it to be more controlled and I want to give them a nice place to live... and like I said this way I get their honey. We have a few types of bees on our property. We are battling carpenter bees right now. They are the only breed we are trying to get rid of. They are putting holes in our house and lean-to. We will purchase our population of bees for our hive... as I assume that is what you do. This is a subject that I need to do more research on. I have time though. This is a project for next spring or possibly the spring after that. The goats may be grabbing all of the attention next spring.

Phase 7: Milk, Soap, and Cheeses Our main goal for the goats is to make soap products to sell. The milk and cheese products will be just for our family, at least for now. We would like to get all of our dairy products from our own farm. It's a long process to be able to sell food products. If we ever sell our cheeses it will likely be project for much further down the road

Phase 8: Workshop Making soap takes up space and can be messy (lol). Not to mention that some of the chemicals can be dangerous. So we would like to make our shed into a workshop for soap making... with running water, counters, and shelving for aging the soap. It would be nice to have these things away from the house and for us to have a less distracting place to work.

Phase 9: Small Green House There are many plants that we would like to grow that wouldn't do well in our Virginia winters and plants that we would like to try to grow year round. We can hopefully make these possible by having a small green house. I have found a ton of plans for greenhouses that I love on pinterest but they require us to somehow have a supply of old wooden windows. In an effort to make this project affordable we will likely be looking for a cheaper material, like PVC pipe.

Phase 10: Solar Power It's start up costs are quite expensive but sometime in the next ten years we hope to have solar power.

There are plenty of things that we would like to add to the property that isn't on this list because they aren't huge projects, are things that I am not sure how we are ever going to be able to afford, or are things that are not a huge proprity. Things like a fire pit in the backyard (we will likely hold off until the kids are much older), fencing off the remainder of the yard so the chickens can free range all the time and we don't have to worry about dogs or other animals attacking them, paving at least part of our driveway so the kids have a place to bike and play with chalk and so we can get out of the driveway more easily after bad weather, and taking down about an acre of trees off the rest of the property to make more pasture land and possibly a pasture and housing for a male goat.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Resignations and Big Plans

After a lot of thought Kevin and I have decided that it is best for me leave my teaching job and to stay home with the kids. It makes the most sense, financially. It's quite bitter sweet. The school system where I work has been very good to me over the last 4 years and the staff has become like family but I am extremely excited and feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to stay at home with the kids. Kevin and I have so many plans for the kids, the photography business and the farm and me being home is going to free me up to work on making those plans a reality. We hope within the next 5 years that the photography business and farm provide the majority of our income. Whether that is realistic or not I guess we will have to wait and see.

As many of you know, we plan to homeschool the kids. This is a huge commitment in many ways but time-wise it will keep me from working a job that requires me to be out the house most of the week. The photography business will allow me to schedule work on the weekends, so Kevin can be home with the kids. I will occasionally have to work during the week but it will not be enough to interfere with the kid's school schedule. I have had so much fun building the elementary curriculum and building a community of  homeschoolers who are homeschool for the same reasons that I am.

The farm has been our dream for a long time. We would like to be self-sustaining in the next 10 years and we have so many plans for our small plot of land... so many in fact that I will do another post about our farm plans.