I thought I’d start a series of monthly posts that would give a snapshot of the first year on our homestead. Sort of like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book The First Four Years? This is the Black Fox Homestead’s answer to that: The First Twelve Months.
I intend for these to be very honest including the lows as well as the highs, the surprises: good and bad; as well as the major events of each month. In addition to this being our way of documenting this momentous first year I thought this might be helpful to anyone else looking to do the same thing whether that would be in an urban or rural setting.
So then Month Number One:
The most major event was of course: moving in. Another “major” event although not quite as momentous was making a deposit on eight Rhode Island Red chicks to be picked up from a local hatchery in June.
Major additions to the homestead: a dehydrator. Ok. Maybe this isn’t major, but it has already been used several times stocking our pantry with home made items to help stretch our grocery budget.
The biggest surprise: Experiencing culture shock. I never expected this to happen by just relocating 40 miles east from where I was born and raised, but yes, for about two weeks I wandered about in a bewildered daze. Life in the country is just different. People perceive you differently. Things move at a much slower pace. Life is very simple. The town is very small. Newspaper headlines in the wake of a major election feature (I kid you not) the blooming roses in front of City Hall. Even though the change of pace was refreshing and welcomed it required adjustment on both our parts.
Biggest challenges included:
*Getting our appliances converted from natural gas to propane. This may sound obvious to someone who has used propane before. We hadn’t. And we weren’t informed when we closed on the house that this had not been done. So we moved into our home and began to settle in unaware that we could not use the range or the dryer.
*Distance. Whether it was the 40 mi trip into the city that we initially thought would be no big deal (it is), or the walk 300 feet down to the curb to retrieve the trash can; distance was an adjustment. We really are pretty far out here (and we love it).
*The Wind. One of the lines in our state song boasts: “Oklahoma! Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain…“ Being OK born and bred I grew up hearing it, but living on a mostly unprotected treeless plain it takes on a whole different meaning to me. The wind blew constantly the first two weeks we lived here with gusts up to 40mph sounding like they would lift the roof off the top of the house. They didn’t. But they did blow the trailer into the side of the barn and blow away our still empty rain barrels.
*Gardening in the country is an entirely different ball game than gardening in an urban back yard. A lot of this is, I believe, due to the wind. I’ve dealt with drought. I’ve dealt with pests and disease. I’ve never dealt with wind. This truly is a challenge and one that at times, I will confess, overwhelms me. When we made the decision just a year ago to transition from the city to the country it was only to be just that: a change of address with more space to garden. But since that time our vision has widened to include so much more than what we had originally planned, and our garden will be more than just a hobby. We look at what it is now: a tiny patch planted late (due to the move) that isn’t coming along as fast as we would like (although it is growing). Then we look at what we hope for it to become: the lifeblood of our homestead. Standing out in the howling wind and weeds I’m tempted at times to feel overwhelmed by the challenge. But before we moved we made a pact with each other that we would not give in to discouragement. We would instead use it as a motivation to find creative, workable solutions. I know a thriving garden out here is possible. I’ve seen the hoop houses at the homestead down the road (and envied them). It is just a matter of figuring out how to make it work. So, needless to say, the winter months will be devoted to researching fast growing wind breaks and how to implement them.
Our goals for next month:
*Planning the spring crops and ordering seed
*Planting the seeds for our first “market crop”: spinach
*Hosting a visit from a potential client interested in our produce