I must admit, while I've been very anxious to actually arrive at our new farm and begin the hands-on-work, I've had an exorbitant (how's that for a big word!) of fun in the planning stages.
As we discussed in this post, we've settled on an achievable to-do list to help keep it all organized once we arrive. That being said, there are still many details to figure out and new skills to learn.
I've been having WAY TOO MUCH fun watching Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm on YouTube. Seriously. Talk about farm motivation. I can't get enough! But then I ran out of episodes…alas, all good things come to an end.
From the show, I've picked up interesting bits and pieces of information that I've found quite helpful as we begin to plan the farm. From hatching chicks to old-methods of food preservation to preparing soil traditionally for growing crops.
I've also learned a fair bit about the benefits of traditional lime wash. Lime wash has been used for hundreds of years as a protective layer on wood, bricks, etc. – it's antimicrobial, so it can really help to keep barn areas clean (think milking stalls). They boys on Edwardian Farm took a lot of care as they prepared one of their outbuildings for their dairy cow, including washing the entire outside and inside of the barn with lime wash. This helped to aid in the sterility of the milking environment, and thus, the overall sterility of the milking process.
Same went for their chicken coop. What a great idea!
Since we will be moving our 15 chicks into an old coop that already exists on the property, I think this is especially important. What if the last chickens that inhabited the coop carried diseases? I could be introducing my sweet little investment into dangerous territory! Not what I'd prefer.
I've read quite a few different recipes and methods of applying and mixing the lime wash, but it seems the general concensus is quite simple: hydrated lime (roughly $7 for a 50 pound bag) and water mixed to desired consistency (thicker, more white color… thinner, more milky color). Slap it on. Slather it around. Booya. It can also be tinted using any color pigment you desire. I originally thought of coloring it with turmeric – wouldn't that be a light, subtle, beautiful color!
Besides being antimicrobial, the lime can also help to preserve the wood. And it's completely toxic free (unlike many standard paints). That means no funky fumes for the chickens. Double booya.
The triple booya (sorry, it needed to be said) is that this white wash can be used on furniture, brick, pavers, or anything that you'd like to have that slightly “aged” look. It doesn't last as long as traditional latex paint, usually needing to be slightly refreshed every year, but that's probably a good practice anyway to have in your milking parlor and coop.
So here's the plan:
The coop will be white washed first thing, inside and out (do you like my insanely awesome graphic? I thought so). The chicks are currently in my parents barn and need to get to their new home as soon as possible. The coop needs a good bit of cleaning inside, after which the lime wash will be applied. After that, some fresh straw for bedding will be added to the six nesting boxes.
The milking parlor will also be white washed, inside and out. Half of this lean-to will be made into the milking station, while the other half will serve as shelter for the cow and calf. A corral will be built coming off of the building, in this fashion:
The fence should be pretty easy to build. It is also one of the first things on the priority list, since the cow will be delivered just a few days after we arrive. A few divider gates will later be installed for separating the cow and calf, but we have a little bit more time for that, as she's not set to calve until August.
What's that? You're confused? If you follow us on Facebook, you would have already heard the good news! WE BOUGHT A COW!!!! Yes. We done did it. My life is now complete. Her name is Kula and she's a purebred Jersey sweetheart:
She is my new best friend, even though we've never met. We'll have a few months to get acquainted before it's time for calving and milking, luckily.
After the chicken coop and cow barn are completely white washed and cleaned, and the corral is built for Kula, we will focus on the garden.
After seeing Quinn's beautifully fenced garden, I've decided to do the same. Because we're hoping to allow our chickens to free-range part of the time, it will help keep them out of the garden. It will also keep our dog and any escaped calf from demolishing it. Hopefully small children, too.
I'd like to do a fence just like this:
It will help to define the garden space. Stuart has insisted we plant flowers and design the garden in an aesthetically pleasing way. I'm thinking he's imagining something from The Shire. And I was a florist for a decade, so I will be happy to see lavender, coneflowers, and yarrow amongst the vegetables.
The garden fence will also be lime washed. Then, we will lay down cardboard. I've done a similar garden previously, here:
Top it off with decomposed horse manure:
And then, at last, a large load of compost for the top.
Even though I'll be leaving before this sweet little bed can see the spotlight, I've already harvest wonderfully from it – the plants were healthy, vibrant, and plentiful! It was a wonderful set up I am eager to try again. Weeding was a breeze and with a nice straw mulch on top in the summer heat, it would have been even better.
Luckily for me, our new house is fairly close to a large organic compost pile run by a local orchardist. I've been in contact with him (I used to work in the orchards as a teenager for him swamping cherries) and worked it out to have the compost available upon our arrival. It's going to be a lot of work getting such a large garden bed prepped that quickly, but luckily for me, Stu's brother Jeremy will be there to help for a few weeks after we arrive, as will my father-in-law. That's Elliott man power times three. I'm pretty sure they can do some serious work with a few shovels.
Last week, I finally put my Seed Savers order in as well. We should have time to plant plenty of greens and veggies for a late summer/fall harvest, which I am thankful for. I'm hoping to grow a good bit of root vegetables (such as rutabagas) to help supplement Kula through the winter months when she will be milking and eating hay. I know this year it may be a bit ambitious, but I'll still at least try to grow a few for her. Next year, I'll have more time to methodically plan out how to grow more for her.
If we can get the garden prepped by the second or third week of June, I should have time to plant spinach, collards, kale, lettuces, arugula, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, green beans, peas, rutabagas, green onions, tomatoes (possibly), squash, pumpkins, corn, beets, chard, and a few other goodies. It won't be a full blown summer harvest, but it will hopefully still at least be something!
Three major projects to get rolling on, but the planning has been a lot of fun. I'm sitting down tonight with a pad of paper and pen to hash out the planting plan for the vegetables. I think I'll have Stuart sit with me to help me design it in a beautiful way – he's got a wonderful eye for stuff like that. Plus, I like to dream with him.
Two weeks from today, we will be heading to Atlanta for a few days. I fly out, with the kids, from Atlanta June 4th. Six hours later, I'll land on Washington soil and after a three hour drive, I'll arrive at the new farm.
Just thinking about it makes me so excited I almost wet my pants.
Sorry. It's the nature of life after having children.
Sorry. But it's true.
I'll try and hold it in. Just know that I'm very, very, very, very excited. I can't wait to get all the animals in their homes!
Did I mention that I'm planning for two hogs come next spring?
I'm going to build them some rock-wall pens off the second little shelter already on the property, true Victorian farm style. It's going to be awesome.
Sorry. I'm blabbing. It's the other thing I do when I'm excited besides wetting my pants.
I'm also enlisting my father-in-law and his friend Lamar (a wonderfully talented woodworker) to build me a traditional, three-legged milking stool.
Won't that be cool?!
Sorry. I'll stop now.
Get out there and get homesteading this weekend, my friends!