Spring on the Farm

June 19, 2017

The first 6 months. Gains and losses.

The last time I updated you on our recent move to our 5-acre mini farm in Snohomish was in February.  That seems like eons ago. And though the snow has melted and it appears the torrential downfalls have come to an end, it just barely feels like spring, and yet it is almost summer.

Spring on the farm is different than spring has been in the past.  Spring has always been my favorite season, but I think even more so now.  Spring brings new beginnings. And babies.  Lots of them!

A field of flowers

You may remember me telling you that we had lost a goose and a duck. Sadly, we lost one more goose since that time. The good news is I went out one morning to find we had a new one: Charlie Ryan Gosling. He is just the cutest little thing and is growing up so fast!  (despite the name, I don’t know that ‘he’ is a boy and I actually hope he is not or we will likely have some trouble on our hands with the gander).

Charlie Ryan Gosling

Just the day before Charlie Ryan Gosling had pecked his way into the world, I brought home 10 fluffy chicks.  I did lot of research on good foraging and egg laying breeds but in the end I wound up picking out a few more just because….and one duckling. Our last remaining duck seemed to need a friend since the geese seem to bully her at times.  I hope they will keep each other company and enjoy doing duck stuff together. The girls now have most of their feathers, and are enjoying exploring outside a little. I am looking forward to having fresh eggs in the fall, help in the garden, and manure for compost.

Chicks and duckling

The dogs also discovered a baby bunny nest.  They had been suspiciously quiet over by a tree on the side of the house and as I walked over to check on what all the quiet was about, Angel gently dropped something out of her mouth as I approached. It was so tiny that I thought it was a mouse at first. I put the little guy back in the nest with his sibling, but I’m sad to say that momma did not come back once the nest was disturbed.  I laid 2 baby bunnies to rest out in the pasture. RIP baby bunnies.

Wabbit Hunters

I am happy to report that Sherman the sheep is still hanging in there and will soon have some new friends. We recently made a visit to the Donkey Farm on Lord Hill in Snohomish .  We fell in love with 2 little newborn foals; a sweet little jennet, Exceptional Joy; and a spunky little jack, Mighty Moe. They will be joining us on the farm in October once they are weaned and old enough to leave their mommas.  I have longed to have a miniature donkey for many years- I am giddy that this dream has become a reality!

‘Mighty Moe’ and momma

 

Joy!

In other (non-animal-related) news…

We had A&R Solar install 28 solar panels on our barn in May.  The panels have generated 700 kWh since their installation just over a month ago. The average home in our state uses just over 1000 kWh per month. If you have considered installing Solar panels but are hesitant because of the upfront investment, you might be surprised to know that within one year we will recoup nearly half of our total cost, with the remainder paying for itself in about 5-6 years.  There are also low interest loans that make installing solar very affordable.

Solar panels on the barn

If you are considering solar panels, you might find this cost breakdown interesting.

We’ve also installed a new 205-gallon Bushman cistern that we purchased from Seattle Conservation Corp. If you are in Seattle, you may qualify for a rebate to cover 100% of the cost of one of these cisterns (and/or the installation of a rain garden), so check here to see if you qualify! Since we are in Snohomish county we don’t qualify for the rebate but we paid less than it would cost to order online because we didn’t have to pay for shipping, which would have been several hundred dollars. You can check out their cisterns for sale here.

We plan to add at least 2 more cisterns, in addition to the 1000-gallon tank that was already on the property.  Now when it rains I just think of all the water that we are collecting- and don’t have to pay for! Wondering how much rainwater you can collect? Here is a handy calculator to figure out how much rain water you can generate from your roof. Just enter  your annual (or monthly) rainfall in your area (in Seattle the average is 37.49, although last year was 45.18!), to see how much you can collect.  We installed our 205 gallon cistern just over a month ago and it is over 3/4 of the way full already, just from an approximately 100 square foot roof.

205 gallon Bushman cistern

Although it sometimes feels as though we are progressing at the pace of cold molasses, and that our project list is getting longer rather than shorter, we have accomplished quite a bit. We have also torn down a lot of old fencing and replaced it with new more-predator-proof-fencing for the chickens and geese to be in at night (they will be free range during the day), created 2 rain gardens/seasonal ponds, removed an old wood shed and a good amount of grass (trust me we have plenty left) and replaced it with a fire pit area with boulder seating, and spruced up the she-shack, which will be used as a studio/office/guest house, and planted a small portion of what will be our edible garden.  I’m not sure that the list will ever be completed but we are loving life, learning, and the new experiences on the farm!

First fire on the farm

 

Until next time…

~Heidi

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