Thursday, January 5, 2012

*BOOK REVIEW* The Joy of Hobby Farming

2 out of 5 stars

This is an awful read. As a matter of fact, I will probably resale this book to re-coop some of my money. I would have gave it 1 star, but there was some decent vegetable and flower gardening tips. This book is a hard read, starting out with the very basics. VERY basic, I might add. I was expecting them to tell me to insert keys into tractor ignition and turn key to start the tractor.

I had hoped from the title that I would be reading about a couple’s adventure on their farm and stories of lessons learned throughout their years. All I took from the first third of the book was a bunch of warnings and how tough it is to farm. No joy was added in the first third. The second third had vegetable and flower gardening ideas and tips. Most were very elementary, but there were a few ideas I had never heard of. Still a difficult read at this point. The last third was dedicated to telling you why you should NOT own each individual farm animal and why they should all be adopted and spayed/neutered animals if you do.
Most of the ideas and pictures that I found interesting, were neither their idea or from their farm, but instead were from other farms throughout the country. If only these other people had written the book, it might have been a joy. The title should read: The Awful Act of Buying a Hobby Farm and Actually Having to tend to it.

Now that I think about it, I think 1.5 stars is more than it deserves. Don’t waste your money or time, unless you want to give it to some city slicker to keep them out of the rural lifestyle. Awful.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

*BOOK REVIEW* Storey's Guide to Raising Rabbits

This is the first of many book reviews to come. I will rate on a 5 star system, with 5 being a "must read", and 1 being a "don't even thumb through it". A blogger that I subscribed to (Brooks Hobby Farm)  advised me on books to read when I first started into this adventure. I took heed of the advise and asked Santa for many of her recommendations. Her advise: Any of the Storey's books that fit your intentions. Storey's Guide to Raising Rabbits is where I started, after all, you have to start somewhere. Knowledge is truly power.

5 out of 5 stars.
This book is a must read if you think you may or are pursuing raising rabbits. This is not a "how to" book for the soft, fluffy, gentle named pet in the corner of the living room. This book is written strictly on a farm supply basis, mostly meat. It details from beginning to end what to expect and how to plan to be successful in your endeavor. It starts out telling you how to set up your rabbitry, select the right breeding stock, maintain your breeding stock, selling any rabbits you wish, and eating the rest. The book is very well written and an easy read.
Any questions you have as far as the book is concerned, I will answer promptly.

New Year = New Post

Where did December go? As a matter of fact, where did September, October, and November go? 2011 was such a blur and went by way too quickly. Life became busy and no time was left for the farm. 2012 will NOT be that way. Time to focus and get back on track.

Santa brought me tons of reading material. I guess I was a good boy after all. I am excited to start reading and learning things that I have yet to discover. I will write a book review on each book I read. I have already finished one and will start on the review shortly.

Our garden got started a little earlier than I had hoped. My son received a science experiment for Christmas which resulted in the planting of seeds. Since we were already planting seeds, why not plant a few more eh? We have decided to do raised, wide rowed beds for our garden. Our soil is not conducive to draining, plus raised beds look nicer. Time to start saving money for landscape timbers and building massive rows.

Here's to a prosperous and happy 2012!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Niche or broken market?

I am a firm believer in planning. I read constantly to learn and discover new ideas and ways to farm. All I have to do is plan until we get moved onto the land. We will not go into debt in this adventure to ensure ourselves of being self-sustainable and avoiding any chance of going bankrupt. So while I sit and wait; I read, I dream, and I plan.

I often see people talking about buying chickens from the feed store, or finding items they need on the feed store bulletin board, so I figured I would go and look for myself. I traveled to 5 feed stores in my area. Not one had a bulletin board that was worthy of even looking at. Nothing, nada, zero, zilch. I thought when I bought the land it was in the perfect spot, right next to a feed store, what a convenience. Not really, they mostly sell cattle goods. Every feed store around really only deals in cattle and horse feed. Okay, I get it, I live in quarter horse and beef capital of the world, but doesn't someone around dabble in chickens, pigs, and meat rabbits? This has got me to thinking, by dabbling in these other animals am I in a niche market or am I messing with something that others have failed at here. I know what I want, I have even got the breed of each animal picked out, but there doesn't seem to be anyone remotely close to me farming these animals. Why? I don't know. In all of my reading, I cannot find the answer to that question. The friendlier farmers around here tell me there is no money in it, the non-friendly farmers just stare at me like I have asked the dumbest question they have ever heard. To the friendly farmers, I say, I am not in it for the money. My business (farm) plan is to simply recoup the cost of raising the animals/produce and to pay the property taxes, while providing my family and friends with the best meat/produce around. I realize this isn't a get rich quick scheme, nor will this farm ever make me rich, but there has to be a market for something other than a t-bone around here.

Hopefully in a couple of years I will be able to have a successful report, but now I have doubts. Now to go read and find out why no one is doing this.
I hope that I have found a niche..........

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Promises of Freedom

Having not been around my wife and children much because of work being so busy, I made some hefty promises. Promises I was not going to break under ANY circumstance.

Promise #1: Turn my phone off for the entire weekend I was off. I am never truly off, but I had determined my sanity and my family's attention was more important.

Promise #2: Attend my son's football game and give him a monetary prize for each tackle. I guess this was my way of paying him back for all the days that had passed and I had not seen him. My son being the savvy six year old business man he is, counter-offered my promise. On top of the money, he wanted to spend some time out on the land shooting his bb gun. I countered his counter-offer by promising him to take the real guns if he got five tackles. The promise was written in stone.

Promise #3: Build a ladder going up to the hayloft to make it more accessible for everyone.

I was able to hold to every promise and it felt great! Turning off my phone for the first time in ten years was the absolute most liberating thing I have done in a long while. Paying my son for achieving each and every tackle he so diligently worked for was worth every penny. Building the ladder to make my son and daughters' dream clubhouse more accessible and to hear their minds think and creative ideas flow was the absolute icing on the cake, well, almost. The capability to be able to go out and practice our second amendment right on OUR own soil was the cherry on top. I now know what true freedom feels like. I now know what living the dream feels like. Am I in Heaven? I don't think so. It is just the reward of hard work, dedication, and an undying need of fulfillment. Alas, I have found it.

By now you have figured out that my son got his five tackles. The fifth actually happened on the very last play of the game. What he didn't know was no matter if he had gotten them or not, we were going to take the guns out to shoot them. He had tried too hard to get them to be let down, and I needed to relieve some stress. There is no better stress reliever than wasting some lead, at least to me there isn't.

Promises were fulfilled. Exercises of freedom were fulfilled. Living the dream I have for me and my family is still ongoing, and I couldn't be any happier.

Unwanted Motivation

Eighty plus hours a week at a job (going into the busy time of the year), kids in sports, social activities, a few minor kinks here and there, have put the farm on the back burner. Not by choice, we have wanted to be there, but being physically and mentally exhausted, it has kept us from getting any closer to the dream.

Que the unwanted part: A home burglary while at work. A wife and children coming home to a back door that had been kicked in, has added a new sense of urgency in our plans. Luckily the thugs didn't make off with much; although, we all feel severely violated and uneasy.

Que the motivation: A day cleaning out the nasty barn. Physical and mental exhaustion had found a second wind. On a day I am absolutely positive that I would uncover many snakes, I was thankfully let down. A trip to the dump with a ton of trash, well 2,560 lbs to be exact, left the barn in a much better state than we found it. My son also discovered an idea for his dream on the land. He would try to convince me that he NEEDED the hay loft to become his club house. It didn't take that much convincing. One trip climbing up to clean out the hay loft was all I needed to discover storing hay somewhere near ground level is much less work. This has been an overall good decision, because the children have finally gotten excited about something on the land. Yay!

I promise to find myself more time to blog and more time to work on the land, all thanks to an unwanted A-hole who set up temporary residence in our home and took things that didn't belong to him.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cleaning up someone else's dream

As you can see in the main picture there is pipe laying obscurely in the grass. This was the case on about an acre of our land. We hadn't been able to cut the grass on it for fear of hitting a pipe with the mower. I haven't been able to get out and really work the land because of work, the heat, and a few minor speed bumps that happened in the house we live in now, but getting this land cleaned up has been a priority of mine since we bought it. This weekend brought much needed cooler temperatures to our area and I knew that this was my chance.

My wife and I got up early on Sunday morning and decided that we were going to start the tedious task of removing the pipe out of the field. I had seen 20 ft sticks of pipe on my walks over the land, and I had seen 3 inch pieces. With my wife at the steering wheel of my truck and me working the chains, we managed to pull approximately 3000 lbs of pipe, steel, barbed wire (rolled), t-post, etc. We work well as a team, almost as a fluid motion knowing what each other is thinking, and in 3 hours we had accomplished what I had feared days it would take.

We had all the pipe, steel, etc. piled up, the field was clean and I was satisfied. However, I think my wife, while pulling all of this out of the field, had aspirations of doing something else. What? You may ask. Pulling up saplings and trees and bushes with the truck. That's what. If she could find a paying job that all she had to do is yank trees, bushes, stumps out of the ground, I swear she would have found her dream job. I sometimes think the highlights of our marriage is her being able to "gas it" and yank stuff out the ground. Seeing her laugh and giggle every time she does, makes me laugh and look for more to do.

We took a quick lunch and potty break (the closest public restroom is about 13 miles), I loaded up the mower and went back and finished cleaning up the barn and land, and Shawna mowed our previously un-mowable land. It is a lot of hard work, but since this is ours, the work is all worth it and doesn't seem to feel like work but rather a sense of accomplishment and joy.

The pipe was placed on this land by the previous owner who had aspirations of making a pipe fence and corrals for bulls. His dream had somewhere fell short and the grass had eaten up pipe. So now, I have 3000 lbs of scrap to take to the recycler and a wonderful view of what our entire property looks like mowed. The barn still needs a little TLC and some deep cleaning, but that is another weekend.

Added: After I had typed this, I went to find our riding mower had four flat tires because of the massive thorns on the land.