How Have Things Really Changed?

I was asked a question by a WOW reader. What is interesting about her question is that I had been pondering the same question myself.

“having been to the Farmy have any of your ideas changed?”

The short answer to this question is, yes.

First, let me go back a few blog posts when I mentioned that our homestead isn’t happening in the foreseeable future.   In that post I said I would discuss this later and I think now is an appropriate time.

While our plan has not changed, the timing of our plan has now changed.  Hubby and I would very much like our own little farmy to happen sooner rather than later, but sometimes life and the responsibilities of life have to take the lead.  Our hope had been to find property by this fall, but upon further inspection and introspection, we decided that it would make more sense for us to wait several months before we begin our property search again.  Not that I haven’t perused the real estate sites from time-to-time, but we won’t be making any property shopping trips in the near future.

Our last property search made us much more aware of some things that we needed to take care of at home before we could move forward.  Much like our visit to the “farmy” has made me much more aware of things to look for and think about as we move forward in finding property.

For example, we have struggled with the amount of land we should purchase.  Our visit to the “farmy” gave me a much better picture of how we could set things up on less land.  Maybe I don’t need to look at the 30 acre pieces of property, even though most of those 30 acres are in trees.  What if we find 5 acres of land, is that sufficient?  10 acres?  How many acres of land do we need in trees if we want to use wood as our heat source?  How many acres of pasture?  My visit and conversations with Cecilia has caused me to seriously reconsider some of our land requirements.

I had also envisioned spreading things out more on our little farm, but now see how having things closer to the house makes much more sense.  A more compact farm makes complete sense to me.  Less steps to the barn.  Less steps to the garden.  Less steps to the orchard.

We had also been concerned about having too much open land.  In our minds open land means more work for us.  That thought process had changed for me now.  More open land means more pasture for grazing.   If we want to raise pasture fed meat, then having more open land is a good thing.

So how have things really changed since our visit to the “farmy?”

I feel like I have a much better vision of what it will take for us to create a successful farm for our family.  I better understand the importance of keeping things compact.  I see the amount of work it takes to run a farm and having everything close will help us run our farm efficiently.  Finding ways to make work easier is key.

This was also the first time I was able to see guinea fowl at work.  They are indeed noisy birds, but I love the noise they make.  I love the fact that they move all around the farm, hard at work taking care of bugs.

 

As I stated in my last blog post, I now want a cow.  I didn’t want a cow before.  They are big animals and the bigger the animal, the more the feed.  However, I hadn’t considered how milk from cows can be fed to other animals such as chickens and pigs.  I hadn’t considered how much good compost a cow can produce.  I didn’t realize how easy it is to make wonderful, creamy butter.  Because I hadn’t considered a cow on our farm, I didn’t think about the fact that a calf could potentially be raised for meat.  Cows have great purpose on a farm.

The thing that probably changed the most for me is how my desire to live the homesteading lifestyle grew.  Being there and participating in a small way made that fire burn hotter and I am armed with more knowledge that will only help in our little farm’s success.

Now, as I peruse the real estate sites, I’m armed with more information, a better vision and knowledge that will help us find the right property for our homestead.  A slower pace to our future than we had first hoped, but we’ll get there one day.

 

 

A Visit to the Farmy (Long Post, Lots – o – Pictures)

When hubby and I first decided to switch direction and move to a more self-sufficient lifestyle in the country, I began searching for other like-minded folks. My search lead me to a blog, written by a woman who lives here in Central Illinois. Immediately, I knew I would enjoy following Cecilia’s blog posts over at The Kitchens Garden.  (If you’ve never visited The Kitchens Garden, I encourage you to hop over and follow along.)

I shared our desire to move to the country where we can raise our own food and Cecilia graciously invited us to take advantage of the space she has at her farmy, to begin raising some of our food.  The invitation was so very appreciated and the excitement of organic, humanely raised meat one day gracing our table was exciting.  We were being given the opportunity to experience just a small piece of the life we hope to one day live and we jumped at the opportunity.

After reading her blog for many, many months and then trading a few emails, we took a drive to meet Cecilia.

Having seen so many pictures of Cecilia’s home on The Kitchens Garden, I was sure I would recognize the house.  Then, as we turned off the main road, I saw it.  The farmy I had seen so many times in picture, was before my very eyes.  I spotted the Barn Across the Way and felt my excitement grow.

As we pulled onto the lane, I was again assured we were at the farmy.  Daisy, Queenie, the Bobbies and Marcel were grazing in the pasture.  Mama and her crew were enjoying a sunny graze further back in the pasture.  The Big Dog and Ton Ton greeted us as we pulled up in front of the house.  Boo was by the barn barking excitedly upon our arrival.

Cecilia came to the car to welcome us and she was just as I had expected and more.  A lovely woman who made us feel so very welcome at the farmy.

We were introduced to John, affectionately known as “Our John” on her blog and then we were off to meet our pig, Number Three.

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We were told that he’s growing fast and is certainly bigger than his pen companion.  He was more than happy to come see us and the girls were happy to give him some love and attention.  We had brought some food scraps from home for him.  It was just a little, but made me happy to know that we contributed just a little bit to his care.

 

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As I expected, Naomi asked what his name was and when she discovered he had no name she promptly called him Sasha.  Our attempts at teaching our girls to not name their food has been a complete failure.  One day Sasha will grace our dinner plates and my hope is that Naomi will be happy to know that she provided Sasha with some love and attention, which is certain to make the meal even more tasty 🙂

We then moved into the barn to see the Red Pig and just a few steps further were Sheila and Poppy.

Poppy very kindly gave me a muddy smile.

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And Sheila waited until we all moved outside before saying “cheese.”

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Lili loves animals and seems to have a way with them.  Boo absolutely enjoyed some Lili love.

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Later Ton Ton got lots of attention and exercise as the girls threw toys and sticks for him to fetch.

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Of course the girls fell head-over-hills for Tima.  Being such a cute and personable little pig, how could one not love Tima.

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We saw the baby chicks and ducks.

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And the girls were able to experience their first time holding a baby chick.

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We had a delicious lunch of homemade pizza and later Lili and I were able to churn butter!

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I really can’t express how thrilled I was about churning butter and Lili, full of concentration, did the majority of the churning.

Cecilia was a wonderful teacher as she walked me thru the final steps.

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As I listened and watched intently, I neglected to continue taking pictures of the process, but I’m sure I can remember to strain off the buttermilk (use for pancakes the next day), pour ice-cold water over the butter and using a wooden spatula, carefully push and separate the butter working the remaining buttermilk out of the butter.  Continue rinsing with ice-cold water until there is no more creamy white water left.  If desired, add a little Kosher salt, mold, wrap and refrigerate.

Now I want a dairy cow, a butter churn, and molds.

The girls collected eggs from the chickens, we met some newer farmy neighbors who stopped by and then met the Matriarch.

Four hours later we said our good-byes.  We left with fresh eggs, butter that we churned, new friendships, and wonderful memories.  A day that we very much-needed and I thank you Cecilia for your hospitality, the experiences, the wonderful food and the memories.  We look forward to our next visit, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.   And as Naomi said so eloquently, “Cecilia, your farm is amazing!!”

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What a Wildlife

The girls and I were out enjoying another beautiful day here in Central IL. We took homeschool to Wildlife Prairie Park just outside Peoria for a few hours of exploration. This is such a great resource for us here in Central IL that I’m a bit embarrassed to admit we haven’t been there is a few years. For a matter-of-fact, I couldn’t remember if Naomi had ever been there, but if she did go, she was maybe 1 and that’s been almost 4 years ago. Needless-to-say, they have made a few changes since then and did I ever get excited to see what they are working on now – a Pioneer Farmstead!!!!

It’s still a work in progress with plans to put in farm animals that kids will be able to visit and pet, but what I did find there was my future homestead garden.

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Mine will be bigger than the one at the park, but I saw it and knew this garden set up was in my future.  I can see me spending a great deal of time locked up in my garden cage 🙂

We saw so many animals at the park today.

Bison grazing

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These animals are just amazing and I love watching them.  They are so majestic!

From there we moved to see all the other animals that roam the State of Illinois – the gray wolf, black bear, red fox, silver fox, cougar, bobcat, lynx and more.

We read about the animals, learning much along the way.  Then, as we returned to the entrance of the park, I saw another animal out grazing with the bison. We headed over to check it out and there stood a herd of elk, eating corn.

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They were maybe 5 feet away from the fence, standing there eating and watching us as we watched them.  We examined the way the dominate elk kept the others away from the corn.  We waited and cheered on the under dog as they stood at the sidelines awaiting their opportunity to come in and get a few kernels for themselves.  We watched nature up close and personal for probably 20 minutes and eventually pulled ourselves away.

As we left the park, the girls and I decided that we needed to make regular visits to Wildlife Prairie Park this spring, summer and fall. It’s a great place to learn and explore many of the things nature provides us here in Central Illinois. Plus, I’ll need to go back and more closely examine my future garden 🙂

Now I leave you with some pictures of our little field trip and some of the amazing animals I captured in picture.

Giant Monarch Butterflies.

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Bison and Elk

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Beautiful girls with horse.

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The Great Horned Owl

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Red-Tailed Hawk

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Red Fox

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The cutest bison at the park.

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And I saved the best for last.

Happy, happy girls!!

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