It’s been one year since we moved into our farmhouse. One year since we waved goodbye to Illinois, the suburbs, city sewer lines and our friends and family there to start a new life here. One year since we started life on the farm.
We had no idea what we were getting into. Most days, we’re still winging it over here.
But, that’s generally how I like to learn. It’s a baptism by fire approach that I often feel most comfortable with. Jumping in with two feet, eyes wide open — but still not really knowing where I might land.
Sometimes it works and I land on my feet. Other times, I land on my behind.
At this point, Kevin and I are still enjoying the free fall. Sometimes one of us may let out a concerned yelp – like I did when I saw a dead mouse in the basement or like Kevin did when Basil attacked him for the first time. However, most of the time, we’re happy with our heads in the clouds.
With all the changes during this first year, I wanted to share some big moments from 2019 and some goals for 2020.
The barn construction
If you’ve been following us from the beginning, then you know that the barn construction was a huge project for us this year. We took down the old garage that was falling apart and a rodent haven and rebuild the barn so it’s symmetrical. We created a space inside that’s a studio space for me and then doubles as a guest space when friends and family come from out of town. I promise in the new year I’ll show it off a bit more now that everything has been completed.
You can read more about the whole barn renovation at the links below. This spring, once the patio setup is complete, we will do a full tour of it so you can see everything.
Becoming chicken parents has been an adventure. We have learned so much about them and we love having fresh eggs. They are a responsibility though. We’ve had easy moments, like when they were babies and would cry in the dark at night or when they laid their first eggs. But we’ve had hard moments too – like when we had our first fox attack, which all the chickens survived, and when Basil (our rooster) started becoming aggressive. Still, we are happy to have them, and they really do bring me joy. Each time I come outside they run to me, mainly because they expect treats from me. But they do know me and that feels very warm and fussy.
Saying goodbye and hello
We lost Frenchie this year. She was my dog for 16 years and we had to put her to sleep in June. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I miss her every day.
About a month later, we got Bailey. Bailey is a pit mix we adopted as a 12-week-old puppy from a local, very strict, shelter. I did not ever think I would own a pit bull. I didn’t write about it at the time because I was really hesitant about it. All stereotypes played in my head. But she’s really a beautiful, sweet and kind dog. She loves the kids and gets along really well with other dogs. She doesn’t seem to mind the chickens either. At some point, I’ll write a full post on her.
The house construction
It’s hard to believe that we moved in and started an in-door construction project right away. But we did. It wasn’t in the plan. However, the master bedroom/closet situation just wasn’t working for us…at all. We did several things here inside that you can see more about here. As we enter this new year I’ll write about each more in detail.
You can see more of the farmhouse renovation work here.
The garden is one of my favorite spots and I’m so proud of it. Does it look perfect? No. Is it done? No. It will probably never be “done”, honestly. But it’s really the space I’ve dreamed. This year we had six raised garden beds and two metal tubs. We grew Kale, peppers, tomatoes, onions, beets, cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelon, musk melon, zucchini, basil and even corn! We had some issues with pest, most specifically the tomato horn worm, so next year I’m planning for different ways to work through that and ensure we have more to harvest.
The Sugar Maple
The big Sugar Maple tree in front of our house is not in great shape. It’s the reason we named the farm, but at 120-years-old there’s a good chance it’s at its end of life. I had someone come out this year and give us an assessment and we trimmed the dead branches off in an effort to give the living branches more strength. Sadly, there is an elm growing out of it, which doesn’t bode well for its trunk and root system.
That said, we planted 7 new Sugar Maples this year. Three of them are a few years old. Small, but hopefully they will be strong enough to make it through the winter. Four of them are very small, literally twigs. We will see if any of them make it through the winter. We will plan to plant more in the spring too.
Goals for 2020
Learn more about composting
I didn’t mention this last year, but we started composting! It was really just something we started dabbling in and honestly, I’m not very good at it. But it’s something I hope to do better in this next year so we can further reduce our footprint. I’m using these composters and so far, I really like them. As I learn to better balance my greens and my browns, I’ll give you more of an update.
Finish the brew room and develop recipes
This is more for Kevin, but it’s something I really want to give to him. We made him this room in the barn, and I don’t want it to sit idle. There’s plans to get the brew room moving so he can start making beer. It just might be a little later in the spring.
Build a greenhouse and expand the garden
This will be one of our only construction projects this year – perhaps the only one, really. I really, really want this. It’s crucial for our plans to grow a lot of our own food. I’ve been looking at plans and I’m still deciding if we will attempt to wing it or get a kit.
I’m also planning on doubling the bed space, creating some hooped beds so I can plant some things a little earlier – and keep them up later – and planting fruit trees and bushes.
Lastly, I’d also like to start some cut flowers somewhere. I realize I should have done this in the fall, but I figure I’ll just be lining the kitchen counters with little seedlings as we approach the late winter and early spring.
Sell our eggs and extra veggies
This summer we hope to have a little stand out in front of our house. Our garden this year already produced too much for us to eat and so did our chickens. This coming summer we will look to share the bounty with our neighbors and others that pass by. This will be a tiny construction project for Kevin and maybe his dad.
Live more sustainably
This is a big idea and it’s something we inch towards. In 2019 we started with composting and the garden. In 2020, I want to try to reduce our plastic consumption and look into solar energy more. It will really be about baby steps these next few years but even if we can do a little, it’s better than nothing.
What about you? Do you have any intentions for the new year?
Thank you for visiting today, friends. We hope you’ll come back soon.