The Adventures of Life

Once upon a time, there was a family who longed for adventure.  Not just any adventure, but all the adventures life had to offer.  They worked hard to live life to the fullest and experienced many things in life.

Sometimes their adventures were good and others time, not so good.

Yet there was one adventure that they just couldn’t seem to fulfill.  Would they ever be able to experience the next big adventure in their lives?  After all, it would mean taking some risks.

Only time will tell, but in the meantime, they will ….

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.

 

 

Crazy Acres

We have put our crazy plan wheels in motion, which means we put our car wheels in motion and made a drive down to the Missouri Ozarks to look at some property.

I found out about some properties via a member of a website forum called Homesteading Today.  I had posted a question on the forum about property and she responded with the information.  We traded emails and phone calls about the properties and I looked at them on-line.  Both hubby and I were anxious to see these properties and I already knew which ones I wanted to buy.  After all, I could tell everything from the website.

Our trip started out pretty crazy as we drove thru a snow storm during the first 1 1/2 – 2 hours of the trip.   The heavy snows got lighter, but as we moved further south, it turned to ice.  As we got into Ozark territory, we drove out it.

We stayed at a little cabin in Mansfield, MO called Mansfield Woods.  It was dark by the time we arrived, so all we knew was that our cabin was one of five, nestled near the woods.  It was quiet and peaceful, which is what we were looking for.

The next morning we ate a quick breakfast and then headed out to find the property.  The interesting thing about Missouri, or at least the Ozarks, is that not all roads are paved.  Here in Central IL, an unpaved road typically leads to farms, so unless you’re heading to visit someone living off the road, you’ve likely made a wrong turn and need to get back out to the paved road and go a different direction.  So as we were looking for the property we found ourselves on different paved and unpaved roads, but our crazy adventure eventually lead us to our destination.

After our little adventure on the back roads of Missouri, we pulled into the driveway of my wonderful and new homesteading friend.  After visiting with her and her husband, we spent a little time with their goats and sheep, then got in our vehicles so they could show us around the neighborhood.

First stop was the property I had my eye on, but we didn’t quite make it to the property.   The road was very overgrown with grass and weeds, which is okay, but it’s not okay when we have to drive down a steep grade on an overgrown gravel road followed by a steep grade back up that same overgrown gravel road to get to the property.   So there we stood, looking down the hill and across at the property.  It was the very property I was just sure we would one day occupy.   Instead, I just stood there shaking my head saying there was no way we were buying that piece of land.  So we got back in our cars and moved on to look at the next piece of property.

It was up on the ridge, off the county road (which is a dirt road).  I had seen this property on-line, but had already decided we didn’t want it.  After a quick look, we decided to move on.

The road to the next property wasn’t as steep as the first, but it was definitely a steep drive that ended at the property.  Half-way down the road, hubby and I decided we wouldn’t be considering this one either.  The view was beautiful, but it just wasn’t what we were looking for, so we headed back up the hill.  Well, sort of.   Other than the few families living nearby, these vacant pieces of land have only been inhabited by wildlife.  It’s privately owned land that hasn’t been maintained, so all the roads are overgrown.  About half-way up the hill we began spinning our wheels (literally) and the car began sliding to the side.  We backed down the hill and tried again.  No luck.  At this point, I got the girls out of the car and we walked up the hill.  Hubby took the car back down and tried again.  No luck, so back down he went and I began to think we would have to buy the property because we were going to be stuck down there anyway 🙂  Fortunately, the 4th try was successful and it was time to move on.

There were three more properties we wanted to check out, so our friends headed home while we drove the opposite direction.  We found ourselves driving down a winding dirt road and at the bottom of the hill sat the three properties.  Again, not what we were looking for.

As we drove back up the hill,  we began talking about the success of our trip.  We had successfully determined the properties we most wanted to see, where not at all what we thought they would be.  Pictures and maps on a website give buyers the best view, but don’t always share the ups and downs on the properties for sale (pun intended).  We had expected to see something very different from what had seen and we learned much from the experience.  We were so happy we had made the trip.

Our new friends had invited us back to their house for a visit and what an awesome visit it was.  Not only did they make us feel welcome and at home, but they provided us with some great information about the area and farming.  The girls loved being there and felt so comfortable around our new friends and they were wonderful with the girls.

When our visit was over, they sent us on our way with some goat meat from their freezer, a jar of rabbit meat and fresh eggs.  All grown on their little farm.

As we drove away we stopped to take a second look at the property sitting at the top of the ridge.  A second look can be a good thing and in this case it was a very good thing.  We saw it differently and began to discuss the possibilities.  Then we drove away and headed back to our little cabin.

We revisited the earlier conversations we had with our new friends and discussed the property sitting at the top of the ridge.  We also began to discuss two other properties at the top of the ridge that we hadn’t considered at all.  As the day we on, hubby and I thought more and more about our day and both of us became more and more interested in taking a closer look at the properties on the ridge.

The next morning we checked out of the cabin and headed to Baker Creek Seed Company.  WOW!!!!  But that’s another blog post for another day.  Then we went back for another look at the properties on the ridge.

Like I said, the property has not been maintained, so there is a thick layer of leaves (good compost), lots and lots of young trees, shrubs and grass.  Immediately I saw just how perfect this property would be for goats and sheep.

Hubby went thru an opening in the barbed wire fence to get a better idea of the topography.  He began to walk down the property and before long we lost sight of him.    He was out there for several minutes and finally we saw him walking back up the hill toward the car.  He reported that it didn’t take long before the car was out of his line of sight and we felt that while this property might work out well for goats and sheep, it might not be the best for building our home.

Then it was my turn to walk the property.  I wanted a different perspective, so I walked the opposite direction.  After a few minutes of walking, I headed back to the car.  I asked hubby to drive while I walked the along the perimeter of the property.  During my walks, I made some wonderful discoveries.

Not only do the properties have some good building sites, but I could see the spectacular view we could have from those properties.  Someone just needs to give those properties a little TLC and they would be exactly what we have been looking for.  So, why not be the ones to buy the property and clean it up?

With some new found excitement, we spent a big chunk of our drive home talking about the property.  We discussed just how much we enjoyed our trip and how fortunate we felt to meet some wonderful like-minded people who, if things work out, will be our neighbors.  And they are also transplants from Illinois 🙂

Although we have not made an offer on the property yet, hubby is going to be contacting the owner soon.  Until then, this experience has shown me that a crazy plan can cause some crazy things to happen.  I suppose that is why hubby threw out ‘Crazy Acres’ as a possible name for our future homestead. It’s catchy and it describes us, our ideas and our lives pretty well I think.

Planning A New Plan?

For the last 18 months, we have been in planning mode.  Planning a change of job for hubby; planning the sell of our house; planning the purchase of property; planning our move to the country; planning for animals;  planning for outbuildings;  planning . . . . planning . . . . planning . . . .

The problem with all of our planning is that it really isn’t moving us any closer to our goal.  While we have certainly been busy planning, we have not been busy living on our homestead.  We’re not busy planting the trees for our orchard.  We’re not putting in our raised beds for our garden.  We’re not building a chicken coop which means we’re not raising chickens.  We’re not putting up fencing.  We’re not putting up a barn.  We don’t have goats.  We don’t have sheep.  No ducks, pigs, horses, guinea fowl, or any other animals we’ve talked about having on our little homestead.  I’m frustrated!!!  Hubby is frustrated!!!

Planning isn’t a bad thing.  For a matter-of-fact, a life change as big as the one we are trying to make means planning is necessary .  But hubby and I had to begin asking ourselves if all our plans made sense.  Was it time to scrap all the plans we had made and start all over again?  Should we keep some of the plans and change others?  Should we keep things the way they are and just wait?  Would changing the order of our plan create forward movement?

Ultimately we decided that it was time to make changes.  It was time to start planning a new plan.  We had begun to define insanity – doing the same things over and over again expecting different results. We need a more workable plan that gets us on our homestead more quickly.  A plan that moves us toward our goal instead of walking in a circle.  A plan that allows me to sooner, rather than later, begin sharing stories of the joys and struggles on our property.  Pictures of our land, our orchard, our garden, our animals and our home.   A plan that creates positive momentum.

I wish I had wonderful details to share about our new plan, but there is still a lot of discussion taking place as we are planning our new plan.  What I can tell you is that it feels good to let go of the insanity.  It feels good to look at things from a different angle and to start over again.  While the plan may change, our goal won’t change.  We will one day be living our homesteading life.  Now we just need to figure out a faster and better way of getting there.