Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Welcome Lola!

This weekend we added to our menagerie with a new dog.  Meet Lola, a 7 year old chihuahua who has been 'rehomed' to us from a local family who no longer could care for her.

She is a complete sweetheart!   We love her so much...and our little chihuahua-cross boy (Blu) is even more in love.  He has a new lease on life after twelve months of deep doggy depression.

Other farm news...
We started planting vegetables this last weekend.   It was beautiful warm weather and the soil in the raised beds was moist and warm.   Of course living in Maine means that we could still have frosts until the end of May, but we are taking a gamble.   The kids helped plants some seeds in starter jiffy pots in doors the previous week...and so we had some corn and butternut pumpkin plants ready to roll.  Bush beans went right into the soil.  Potatoes are in tires (an experiment).

After the chickens decided to attack the new garden (and we lost about half of the corn shoots) we put wire around the beds to keep them out.....an early and frustrating setback.   But we love that our chickens free range...and so we had to compromise.

I continue to read and study ways to make our farm more 'farm-like'...but have come to the realization that the primary income will always have to be my full time job, and that tinkering is about all we can do.   But its fun to tinker and dream when spring is here!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring has arrived! (yipeeeeeeeeeee)

It finally feels like spring on the farm.  After just a few weeks of warmer weather (read above freezing) the snow has now all gone and we have managed to make a start on some outside jobs.  We have started to prepare the vegetable beds, planted strawberries in front of the house, cleaned out the chickens winter coop and worked on some of the electric fencing.  The animals are happy - and when we get to wear T shirts and not ski parkers, we are happy too!

Our bathroom projects have come close to being done.   We have tested the upflush loo system and all works great!   We seem to have a leak in the water fittings behind the shower...so there is our next rainy day project :(  We have to do some trim work, add some kind of a ceiling and we are done.   Still, in the meantime it is functional so number one daughter (who is currently working in a volunteer project in Costa Rica) will not have to share a bathroom with the rest of the family :)

Now we are making plans for how to spend our little bit of savings on the farm this summer.  Fences are my plan...but we might need to rent a tractor to clean up the horse fields and maybe try and clean a spot for a riding arena.  If we had the cash we would buy a tractor...but at around $20K its not in our sights.  We don't even have the cash for repayments as yet - but we are working on that plan.  We will do without with the occasional rental to get tasks done! :)

Still...its getting warm and spring is here.  So all is happy and good on Murramarang.  Life continues to be good!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lots of water under the bridge - and a killer winter!

I know.  I have been a slack blogger!  Sometimes life just gets in the way of communication :)

First things first

In November 2013 our wonderful tenants in Colorado signed the paperwork and official bought BluBelle Farm.  You could probably hear the shouts of joy and relief from us all over the plant.  It was such a nice feeling to no longer be the owner of the Colorado property...and leave the world of 'landlord' behind.   Yes - we learned a few lessons:

1. Don't be a landlord
2. If you are going to be a landlord, live right near the property so you can deal with things quickly and by yourself.
3. And finally, don't ever be a landlord

Still, it all worked out in the end - but it took almost five years to sell the farm and cost us more than it should to take it through to the sale.    We really did not take a financial step forward with the ownership considering the blood sweat and tears we put into the improvements.  We would have liked to walk away $50,000 better off and not break even.  But, them's the breaks!   It's gone.  It's over.  And that, my friends, is a bloody nice feeling!

Back to Murramarang

Our farm in Maine has been developing very slowly.   Two things have been hampering our movement forward. The first was not knowing when the Colorado farm would finally sell and be off our hands.  The second was money.  Added to this has been a long and bitter winter forcing any improvements being done inside.

With the arrival of our eldest daughter to stay a few months we decided that we really needed more bathrooms.  When we bought this farm we had the plumber add a second toilet in what was a strange 'cupboard' off the master bedroom.   That little room ended up being a storage room with a loo - than a real functioning bathroom.   With a lack of funds but a load of time, we scrounged the local dump each week and finally found a nice bathroom sink etc for just $1.  With a coat of paint and a new set of fittings it looked great.  We finished the walls and painted the 'cupboard' (now the "ensuite"), laid some new vinyl tiles onto the floor and then installed the renovated sink.  A few lights a fan etc and our little brown duck became a wonderful swan.

We then started on a whole new bathroom/laundry area in the basement.  This tested our plumbing skills as we needed an upflow toilet that would pump the waste up and into our septic outflow.  Once we worked out the new toilet process we added a sink, shower and even a hookup for a laundry tub!   We build walls, sheet rocked, added power, light, fan and more.   Quite a project indeed.  As I write we still have to paint, add the flooring and test it all :)  

Outside we still have so much snow.  Its almost the end of March and last year I had started seedlings.  This year we will not see our vegetable plots for another few weeks...and then probably will not be able to plant for a month or so after that.  So vegetables will be a late process.

Our chickens continue to produce.  The five girls give us around four eggs a day and Harry Potter the Rooster does a good job keeping them safe.  Our little hen house worked well through winter with the chickens being given run of the barn during the day.  They are now escaping to the small patches of grass and mud around the farm to forage and scratch.  They can't wait for warmer weather.

Our plans this summer involve fences.   We will not be able to get the whole place done, but I hope we can fence the top few acres with something better than the temporary electric fence so Maggie the horse is more confined.

Life is godd - and we can't wait for spring to really arrive!