It’s been a while…

So it’s been a year since we’ve written anything. A lot’s happened!

To begin with we’ve moved onto the family compound, it took a lot more effort and time than we originally expected and we ended up neglecting our crops during the crucial months right after we planted them. The kale’s doing well, as is the chard. The brussels sprouts and the strawberries are hanging in there. Most of the fruit trees we planted are doing well, we should see something from them this year. We’re in the process of planting for this year and we’re right next to where we’re planting so it’ll be easier to give the garden the attention it deserves.

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We built a barn, right now it’s mostly got everything that was in the garage at our old condo in it but it’ll eventually turn into tool, feed, and hay storage. It’s painted red and everything!

We did much better last year with the animals than we did with the plants.

The ducks have begun producing, we get two eggs a day from them at the moment and we’re incubating them all. So far we’ve got 9 ducklings in various stages of growth and twenty-odd incubating. To anyone wondering: ducks are disgusting animals. Mud an poo everywhere!269

The chickens are very happy and  producing between 14 and 21 eggs a day. I’m conducting a small experiment in animal husbandry. I’ve breed a Buff Orpington and a Red Broiler to try to get a breed that works well as a layer and a meat bird. I’ve got eleven eggs incubating and we should see a them hatching in a couple of weeks.

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We’ve picked up two goats! Lilu and Leia, Lilu’s the black and white Alpine and Leia’s the brown Nubian. Lilu is just about a year old and we’ll be breeding her later this year. Leia’s pregnant, due in March. After the kids are weaned we’ll have goat milk. Yum!

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The rabbits have had a litter each! We’ve taken to calling the offspring baby bunny babbits. They’re adorable and we have eleven of them. We’ll be keeping the black ones for breeding stock and using the rest for meat. Marisa will be learning how to the tan the hides to make things out of the fur.

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I’ve learned there’s always more to do on a farm. My weekends are spent building pens, animal enclosures, mucking out stalls, planting trees, and learning. It’s a lot of work but I’ve come to love it.

It’s weird, I joke at the office that I’m probably the only full time game developer/ part time farmer there is and I’ve come to relish the feeling of accomplishment when something works. I’ve realized that I can’t get everything to go just so but with enough work thing’s do well enough. We’re at the cusp of not having to buy food at a store anymore and that’s an amazing feeling.

We’ll be better about posting on this blog now. I hope you enjoyed the pictures of our animals!

Jason

 

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The Back Forty

“Hey, Mom and Dad? Can Jason and I take over your back yard?”

They responded with, “Sure hun, whatever you want. Just let us know if you’re going to dig any big holes.”

I could sense the disbelief that THIS time it was different, I swear.

So many times I had attempted to do great projects with this untouched slope of clay. Just as many times, all the projects sat for years mouldering and uncompleted.

The property came into my family when my grandmother, Nana, purchased the house back in 196sumthin’ or other. At just under an acre it had everything she wanted. It had much cherished land, a small orchard and to the utter glee of my mom, then in 5th grade: it came with a horse to boot.

Over the years, gardens came and went and the plum trees produced the most astounding plums you ever tasted! Mom tended a flock of sheep in the pens. Rabbit hutches lined the south wall. And I needn’t mention all the chickens! Veal calves were finished and dressed, all the while a flock of the loudest most destructive overly fed fat white geese stripped the hillside bare of every last blade of grass.

Goats came and went and the orchard (planted in 1949) started to die. Coyotes discovered our flock and came for them one by one till every last bird was gone.

And there the back forty, sat, untouched and untended for years. Until…

“Those neighbors of ours are such jerks! Why did they call the city, when they could have kindly asked us to weed whack?!”

Did I mention that we had a storage shack that looked like a tornado had done a bang up decorating job on it? Or that we had over a decade of weeds pupil height creating a thatch that only a machete could pierce? Or a forest of palm trees so dense and untrimmed that only the rats could navigate it?

This was no simple weed abatement job. This was major construction. Massive dumpsters, stump grinders and a bob cat were needed to get the job done. The junk pile that had accumulated over the past thirty something years was finally gone!

And again, the land sat. But each year, it got a haircut. The clippings were left to decompose. The scarce patches of topsoil began to grow. For the last ten years, the land has been slowly regenerating itself. Worms have returned to the soil and every year, a glorious display of wild radish swaths the hillside in violet and green. Bees, butterflies and birds swarm during Spring and Summer.

But that’s not enough.

Only after we can feed our friends and family all year will it be enough. And even then, given my plant addiction, enough will never be enough. With the blessing of my parents, Jason and I have already started the transformation of our back forty.

–Marisa