Busy Time, Fun Time

It has been a busy few weeks here at Campodimele Farm. It seems as if the work is never ending at times and yet we do have quite a bit of down time where we are brought to a standstill for one reason or another. Medical emergencies meant our focus was elsewhere for a time. Weather also impacts us obviously and means we sit and plan or dream while waiting for the weather to change. At times it feels as if we are wasting time and at other points it feels as if time moves too quickly and we want it to slow down. I find myself growing impatient and anxious at various times wanting to get things done and worrying if that pesky zombie apocalypse will happen before I have everything ready. I have so many things that will cost more money than I can budget and yet we manage to find a way to accomplish more than I think we can.

One son found a large stash of 6 foot high chain link fencing being tossed by a company. They told him to haul it away. We have a fenced area now ready for pigs or hogs when we decide what we want and fit it into our budget.

20151017_091220_resized     One expenditure was chicken wire to enclose a penned area for our little Bantam Silkies. We fixed the little coop for them and one section also holds the start of our quail family. One of the mama quails is sitting on eggs so we are hoping to have babies soon. One of the coop sections also houses a pheasant. We have long term plans to build an aviary set up for several of them soon. We decided to move the ducks into this pen also. We were shepherding them in nightly to protect them after losing so many to predators overnight. But as we had to deal with a family member hospitalized, it was too risky to not have the ducks safely contained in case I couldn’t get home at a reasonable hour to chase them in. At this point the ducks seem ton actually love being there so we’re leaving them in until we can build a bigger enclosure elsewhere for just them.

Remember that budget I am also hamstrung by? Well aside from free fence, we were also gifted with a female goat this month. She was a hand raised, bottle fed gal who needed  20151024_163758_resizedthe fellowship of more goats. Her living situation was in a smaller area and she was lonely. It took only a day for her to adjust and now she is so happy and playful out here with the other goats. In the process we were able to make a new friend – her previous owner who has visiting privileges!

It was only a few days later that we found ourselves awaiting the birth of new kids. Our original female mama Whiskey was expecting. Sure enough once again she had twins, Rose’ and Sambucca!

20151025_17570420151025_175716Mama Whiskey is understandably proud. She is an excellent mama, taking her babies to the stall each night just at dark but bringing them out to explore every morning! Her original twins Brandy and Bourbon are quite the unusual characters! They climb on everything and anything if given a chance!  20151021_102456_resizedWe do enjoy watching them run and climb and jump. Unfortunately it is difficult to keep two un-neutered males. So we made the decision to sell Bourbon. He will be better off not being bullied by his dad Buddy and Buddy will be comfortable remaining the alpha male for a while longer!

We have been working in the feed room and greenhouse enclosure this past week too. We undertook a major cleaning project to get it all more organized. It’s easy to let feed droppings lay but that attracts rodents – something I do not want to contend with if at all possible! After cleaning I planted all new veggie starts and several new herbs so that we will have fresh food all winter. Our winters here in Florida are mild enough to keep gardens going!

We are feeling more and more settled and confident in what we have undertaken. Just sitting and enjoying watching wildlife as well as our own livestock means many hours of peace and pleasure. Even when I feel anxious or stressed with life and all the pressures it brings, we find a few minutes out back is all it takes to remind us that all is well!

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Tiny Steps For Me and You

11665497_10203364543193314_3574891514356635493_n11038720_10203379606089877_8003503068842844025_n          We have been working along step by tiny step to what we hope will be a more self sufficient lifestyle. Obviously we are not in a position to go totally off grid. (Many states are enacting laws against being off the power grids totally.) However we had many reasons to want to be in more control of what we eat and how we choose to live. I don’t want to use this platform to voice too many political or otherwise extreme positions but I will say we  had deeply held personal reasons for our choices. One of the most important to us and hopefully the most obvious to the rest of the world are our personal spiritual beliefs. Our family are Christians and we try hard to let that show in our words and deeds. We may not be as vocal or extreme in outward expressions but we do believe strongly and for anyone who does not know the Lord but would like to know more — or if you just have a prayer need and want someone to stand in prayer with you — simply post a comment or an email. For those who disagree, feel free also to comment but please no profanity or disrespectful insults – this IS my page so I get to delete! 😉

This page is about helping all the newbies to learn to be more self sufficient and maybe to also give some good tips and encouragement to the ones who have been at it a while longer. When the zombie apocalypse is slow in happening, it is easy to get complacent and slack off. For you newbies, I hope you don’t feel too overwhelmed by all the information overload out there. And I am sure many of you have noticed how much disagreement about the best way to handle things exists. Let me share some of our trials and even failures to help some of you! Better yet, I hope you share in the joys of our successes too.

Our family is not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. We struggle to pay major medical bills as well as month to month stuff. Anything we do towards our homestead has to fit in there. That means the failures hurt a bit more than we like. I work full time in addition to taking care of a multi-generational family. I am blessed that my four adult sons are willing to pitch in here and there as I need. My hubby has been disabled for many years so we work around what he is capable of helping with. He comes from a family of farmers and animal and poultry keepers from overseas. Growing up in post war Italy meant they could not afford failures either so we have the added blessing of their expertise and experiences to help us on our journey. Although he is not physically able to do heavy jobs, his talents and knowledge are freely shared with our sons and friends to get a job done easier.

Moving to this small piece of land was a big dream we held for many years. It was done on a shoestring budget but we are getting there step by tiny step. We joke that we have a two year plan — it’s probably more like a five or ten year reality though. The property had been empty for many years but the buildings were in pretty decent shape. Work had already begun on cleaning and remodeling so we were able to take over the main house and in-law apartment easily. The land and outbuildings were more of a challenge. One of the biggest mistakes we made was to trust the fencing. The entire property was field fenced so we felt confident that livestock and poultry would be safe. Within a few months of moving here, we purchased our first pair of goats. We were told the female was due with twins in April. Surprise! The end of February she delivered. No, we were not ready! That meant a scramble in cold (for Florida) weather to care for her new babies. Our feed room became her makeshift stall until we could finish a permanent one for her two months sooner than expected!

About that same time we discovered the temporary coop was not safe enough for our free range chickens and we lost several to raccoons and we later learned, a bobcat! So failure two meant getting a coop done well before we had hoped to. Is it the coop of my dreams? Not by a long shot! My last coop at our previous home had a window with white shutters and cute red barn paint. This one is plain, simple, functional. It keeps our chickens happy. Our next failure was that the sturdy pen would not protect the turkey poults from the raccoons getting them at night. We were under the false impression that the grow out pen and little coop were predator proof. So we had to go back over that plan and add hardcloth to the fence as a second layer of protection. We also learned quickly that completely free range was not a safe option here because the bobcat decided to show up in the middle of the day right up to our back door! That meant letting our dog roam all over to leave his scent to scare away the predators. It also meant having someone from wildlife services tell us and help us scare that one away. We added lights to our arsenal. Yup. Rural life is way different from city life!

Think we had enough failures yet? Nope. Not nearly! Our goats began finding every low spot or rusted spot in our fencing. So back to the drawing board our plan went. We shelved a few plans to buy enough fence to redo the property. Our one little goat is way smaller than her twin and parents. She managed to fit through places they couldn’t. She enjoyed going on walk-abouts! Her brother managed to get through a few spots but wasn’t as adventurous as she is. He got to other other side and stood there crying because he couldn’t figure out how to get home! Once or twice and he was over that routine all on his own. He figured out the food was better here!

We haven’t been here a year yet but we are settled in nicely. Our plan is still referred to as a two year one. We hope soon enough to also go a bit commercial with our place. We’re considering a license to sell eggs and poultry. Before we get to that stage we still have steps to take for our coops and for expansion. We want to have “all our ducks in a row” first to know we can do this without losing money! We haven’t yet made the huge garden we had at our previous place. That is part of our plan for this spring. Over the winter months we will get the plot ready for spring seedlings. We will be doing a raised bed as before. I did get in a small version of my previous herb garden so we have been enjoying fresh herbs. We planted a few fruit trees and have plans for more.

Does this all sound as if we have more plans than actual actions?  Yes, of course. The reality is that few of us are independently wealthy enough to move into and start up a perfect farm or homestead all at once. Even experienced farmers and preppers will tell you they are constantly re-evaluating their positions. Step by tiny step we will arrive at a positive place – we are already happy and content with the choice we made for our family. We only have two regrets – 1: we didn’t buy more land. 2: we didn’t do this sooner!20150412_193619-1_resized

 

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