This year has been, is, and will continue to be a particularly crazy one. We closed on this property in November of last year, when I was about 8 months pregnant with the wee farmer. Moving is always hard, especially when one team member is very, um, encumbered and you've got a house and a farm's worth of stuff to move. We just managed to get our house semi-organized, deal with the most pressing issues (like the boiler that exploded the week after we moved in...), and plow up a small patch of ground to get our garlic planted. Then winter arrived and so did Augie, and when we looked up again it was almost spring and time to get cracking on turning this place into Graylight Farm.
Our property is unique and presents lots of challenges, which is why we could afford it and also why we're excited about it (we're suckers for a challenge). It's about twelve acres of partly sloped land, with one very steep overgrown section, a small stream, a big old house and a big old barn.
Winter and spring projects included turning an old goat shed into a suitable winter home for pigs, getting a loan for some infrastructure projects, planning and clearing fence lines, preparing vegetables fields, and putting up a greenhouse.
Some of those projects have gone relatively smoothly - our BCS walk-behind tractor with the rotary plow has made turning sod into garden beds a realistic, if still physically intense, process. We got approved for a loan, which is helpful both for the actual capital and the sense that the lending agency (Farm Credit East) has faith in us and our business plan. And the pig house proved to be a comfortable and convenient winter shelter that they've only managed to partly destroy. For pigs, that's saying a lot.
But clearing a fence line on land as rugged as ours has definitely worn out Eric's muscles, and his patience. He's been out there whenever he can, battling multiflora rose, blackberry brambles, and ticks with his chainsaw, machete, and our BCS flail mower.
And our greenhouse...we got a fantastic kit from Ledgewood Farm in New Hampshire, and were all set to start putting it up with some friends' help. We just had to get the ground posts in and then we could start the real work...until we hit rock on almost every post we tried to drive in. Eric and our friend spent a day feeling like they were on a chain gang, trying to drive the posts in before we gave up and admitted that we'll have to rent an auger or a hammer drill. Instead of rushing that job, I decided to quickly build a few cold frames for my earliest seedlings, and we'll finish the greenhouse over the next few weeks.
So, it's been a mixed bag of a spring so far: exciting and stressful, frustrating and rewarding. But we're seeing this place slowly turn into what we know it can be - a productive, sustainable farm where Augie will grow up. Over the next few weeks and months we'll keep tackling that greenhouse, run water to our barn so that we can house pigs there and build a vegetable wash station, install more coolers and freezers to store our products, and keep slowly building vegetable beds and improving our pasture soil. And filling those beds with veggies, filling those pastures with pigs, and planning new enterprises (ducks? asparagus? fruit trees?). Oh yeah, and raising this sweet baby of ours, too.