A Better Defined Farm Dream

That which you vividly imagine, sincerely believe, ardently desire and enthusiastically act upon will inevitably come to pass. ~William R. Lucas

We love our Ponderosa pines – there are so few in this area, especially growing in a group (we have 3 that stand tallest, that I call “the three brothers”); they are what make it worth living here – without them I would not care to live here.
Two grow side by side about 6 feet apart on the edge of the seasonal stream. One of those is the tree that the eagles prefer to rest in overnight- it’s airy branches afford a wide view. It has such character and asymmetry…..like the wrinkled, worn face of a wise old woman; with pine cone hair  shading obliging weathered arms carved by two hundred years of wind and snow and sun.  

We moved here with a self imposed pressure to make this wild overgrown place a paradise. (And have not managed that.)
In fact, that photo of the ponderosa lushness - became the cover for my home & property management binder:
These are the very trees the eagle came to rest in 3 years ago, and that 2 other eagles are trying to compete for? See how they came and chased him away again earlier this week:

(you may have to enlarge to see them all)
Anyway, here we still are, still fighting to stay. Partly due to the past year and a half of “loan modification HELL”, which does a serious job on our commitment of sweat equity, partly due to lack of time, resource or funds for resources.But we are blessed with trees and abundant wildlife, and have not been in too big a hurry.

But we are not done yet.
Not ready to retire or give up on the prospects of successful property management and future income or sustainability from it, I am focusing in on that intent.
It will mean we also reinvent ourselves for a new lifestyle.
It’s time to define (then refine) our ideas of multiple streams of income (with diversity). This is our way to transition smoothly as circumstances that we have no control over & an effort to prepare for future ‘retirement’, as well as develop it (as a work in progress) as a "lifeboat" for my family  against the possibility of hard times.
I feel a little like I am preparing for winter right out of a chapter in ‘Little House in the Big Woods’. [Remember, I am a city girl...and don’t even own a pair of boots!]

Our 10-acre property is not really a ‘farm’ and never will be- but I have farm dreams, and that is paradise to me. This place will one day look more like a park than a farm, but that’s ok! It will not be meant primarily to provide profit as much as sustainability- and more focused on “boutique” types of cottage industries – as well as survival (just in case).
Finding the opportunities that set your heart on fire is the secret to success since you will put more into what you love than what just gets you by. It’s not all about survival but of life-enrichment too!
I’m gathering ideas toward “sustainable architecture”. Maybe someday we’ll have solar panels and live “off the grid”, but until that day comes, our farming enterprises will work to sustain each other, with whatever system is most workable, and ultimate in low-maintenance with a concentration on “dry farming” techniques– [a "dryland" farmer is relying not on irrigation but on special techniques to conserve sporadic water, reusing grey water & using water catchment systems ], planning so that  the farm takes a seasonal approach, timing maturation so everything doesn't happen at once.

Aside from companion-planting (like letting vining vegetables like beans use corn stalks for support), I plan to use vertical gardening tactics, and indoor grow lamps for overwintering and plant starting.
Planned with aging in mind; all of our livestock will be small so that we can continue to manage them for the remainder of our lives,  our garden beds will be raised for easy maintenance and access.
These are my personal preferences, things I want to examine more, and experiment with:
*create my own cottage industry label (already done)
*raise chickens for eggs (chocolate to Easter-egg colors, and white too)- eventually to sell at Farmer’s Market
*milk goats - create goats’ milk artisan cheeses [like cheese marinated in olive oil with herbs, and glazed with colorful edible flowers]
*hair goats - sell their cashmere/angora hair
*meat goats [3 oz. of roasted goat meat has 122 calories and 0.79 grams of saturated fat, making it leaner than chicken]
*raise meet sheep for our own uses (Katahdin Hair and Soar Sheep are low maintenance sheep that do not produce fleece, therefore, do not require sheering.) 
*sell my own paintings (wild goats and sheep, longhorn cows, bison, horses with fancy bridles or rustic barbed wire, and  bird nests with colored eggs), also planet paintings which seem to appeal to the younger crowd and have had great reviews already
*grow thornless blackberry, lavender & sunflowers and culinary herbs, mints, and edible flowers,
*raise bees- honey & bee products, including dipped candles & rolled beeswax candles
*raise rabbits for angora hair (maybe meat and pelts after a while- I can’t butcher them myself though!)
*worms for castings and bait (red worms and nightcrawlers),
*maybe grow mushrooms too – if we get a greenhouse
*paint goat carts for sale- have always wanted to do this!
*orchard fruits (figs for sure, some cherry, apple, apricot and peach, and possibly nuts) – semi-dwarf and dwarf trees preferably
*sew cloth dolls, doll quilts and sell w/ wooden doll beds, and rocking horses, and painted  kids furniture
*grow decorative gourds – for simple bowls (painted) and birdhouses (painted /decoupage pressed flowers, or with rustic decoration like pine bough and pinecones, etc.)
*aquaponics: raise talapia and maybe koi (fish), inside greenhouse...successively growing plants with hydroponics, re-using water for aquaponics (filtered of course)
*hogs -raise 6 keep 2, sell 4 (this pays for everything else)
*ducks, peacocks and Chocolate colored turkeys (sell the feathers, offer holiday dinner birds)
*create rustic wreaths, flowers in tea-cups & garlands in a jar...
*have a horse and cart, who will pull a plow or a log, or whatever

These are recommendations I've read from those who are trail-blazing the farm life on small acreage:
*Lamb and pork have the highest profits. Chicken and poultry may pay for themselves, but profit margins are much lower.
Angora and Cashmere goats for fiber – 3 females and a buck
Meat goats: 10 meat does and 1 buck
Milk goats: 2 or 3 does and 1buck.
*Paving an area well around each water tank (  rough concrete is the answer, with a domed center so that water will run off)   will allow livestock to wear their hooves down naturally, reducing or eliminating any need for hoof trimming.
*check out “the BioPod”  to learn more about composting paper scraps to grow fly predators (soldier flies).

Amenities I would LOVE to have/build/develop:
*a 1/2 acre recreational pond (fish and float) with butterfly garden around it (and maybe berries), with tree-stump benches, solar lighting, fire pit, clay oven, and some decoration- like glass wind chimes and homemade stepping stones,  a waterfall for soft background music
 *a covered arena/area for snow days    
*garage/shop -over the shop would be an apartment living space
*mini cow, for making butter, mozzarella, whipped cream, sour cream and cottage cheese- and milk!
*a milk house pantry -   with cold storage to store the eggs and store milk, make cheese & process/jar honey.
*pasture for 2 miniature cows (one for milking, one for raising beef each year (sell ½ a side of beef, keep 1/2)
*a real barn for animal shelter (rather than lean-to’s with doors) - and feed storage!
*landscaping – trees trimmed for park-effect, dedicated spots for naturalized flowers (some deer resistant)
*fenced boundaries

Dream House- Yes, color is important!! I'm always looking for great colored barns. (They seem to have a lot of black barns in Kentucky!)

1) White roof over soft indigo blue wood, (or blue trim and a blue metal roof if the house is straw bale or a log-sided mobile home, lol). Love the blues.
Orange and purple (love Mexican Petunias!) and white flowers to brighten it up, with blue outdoor furnishings (tables, chairs, fenceposts, etc.) to complement and bring it all together.

2) If a red metal roof, over various gray colored stone walls (that protect and hide the straw bale construction), cream trim, apple red on the front door and red window boxes full of red colored daisies and buttery yellow flowers and blue morning glories.

3) Black metal roof, redwood siding and black trim.
*This would be refinished current house which is currently black roof, flesh-colored siding with pine green trim – except where it’s faded- and redwood around the eves!  
Again, using orange, purples, and white as landscaping colors. Hanging bird houses, redwood fencing, butterfly garden, water sources for bees and birds.

4) Log cabin? If it comes to getting a small place by the river...ok I can deal with that. Did you know some mobile homes actually have siding that make them appear to be tiny log cabins? Yeah, last resort.

*If we have to build our own home some day in the future, we want a house built from straw bales & papercrete (construction costs as low as $10-per-square-foot). While straw bale homes are labor intensive they are a great alternative to a new home that can easily come with a $200,000 price tag. A straw bale home built by thrifty owners can easily be built for under $10,000.) 
With a wall of windows across the south (for heat) and facing east (toward dawn light ) and a wide veranda styled like a wrap-wound porch.
We want to be off the grid, but to have access to the internet, and the property must have trees and a year-round stream. Yeah, that's a tall order, especially if we end up making a go of it here.
We named them "Lunch" and "Dinner" so the kids would remember what they were for.
~Jim & Marcy Lilly (High Lonesome Ranch, Inc.)

1 comment:

Leigh said...

Hi Illoura! I wanted to drop by to return the blog visit and thank you for your comment. It's funny, but we've recently started discussion the outside of our house again, which means being able to make my color scheme a reality.

I love your big farm dreams. And your dream house! Building the vision is a tough task, I know. Sometimes we feel that we'll never get anywhere near accomplishing our goals. Still, knowing what you want is so helpful. So many of your goals are identical to ours. It's slow going but we're finding by taking just one step at a time, we're making some small progress. Like everything else, it's one step at a time.