As you all know I am leaving for a year to upper New York, well its a 167 acre farm up near West Port New York & a mile away from Lake Champlain. This last Monday I drove over to see Mary my Co-op woman to pick up a oat & sugar order & we talked about her place. I was able to see pictures of it & how its laid out. Her farm is divided by a road so I will be on the non-electric side in an old trailer that does need a bit of work. the roof & floors are sound but from what I understand one wall needs a bit of bracing. Also right now it is on cement blocks but needs to be straightened up a bit so will have to put in more cement blocks & put a wood skirting around it so the air doesn't go through the bottom of it. Sure would make it cold in the winter without it.
There is a few old barns & out buildings on my side that I will have to repair for her....you know the stuff like re nailing in boards, replacing wood rotted boards & mucky them out so they are cleaner. she also has a very small camper that is no longer useful for people but sound enough for the chickens as a coop until I get a new one built for them. I like this because I can move it right up to my trailer so they are close & I will be taking all of my 6 foot fencing with me for their run areas.
I feel this is the best way to keep them safe as there is a lot of foxes in the area plus who knows what else plus in the winter it gets up to 20 inches of snow in December & I don't want to have to dig a huge path to the coop just so I can tend to them. Thank goodness I have tiger urine in a spray bottle so will be using that while there to protect them a bit more. I am sure that smell will freak out any animal that comes by & hopefully make them move on.
Now the other side of the farm has a big house with electricity, a milking barn & a old cow farmer who does not play well with others....lol....Hey just the type of neighbor I want! someone who will leave me alone but who I hope I can barter my eggs for his milk. I would hate for my kids o go without their homemade yogurt in the winter. They sure love it with their warm oatmeal each cold morning.
i will have to carry water over to my side of the farm so will be taking my yard cart to carry it, can't see trying to fill a few milk jugs if there is a huge snow storm going on outside. I will also get a few large food grade 5 gallon buckets just for water. I have a lot of those now with grains, flour & sugar in them but will need some for usable water.
I have lived this way before but I forgot how much it takes to do it when you are used to just turning on a faucet, flushing a toilet or hitting a switch to turn on the lights. I will have none of that....
I am having to re-train my brain to go back to a very basic way of living...if it has a plug it can't go, oil lamps will need enough oil to go thur the year so its on my list of things to get. food can't be complicated, they have to be either able to cook on a small wood stove or camp fire........no 3 layer fancy cakes for me!
So that means I have to have firewood & kindling....Now since I can't chop big ole logs I will have to have someone cut & bring that to me but with the woods behind me I can at least get the kindling & small downed trees...I do have a hand saw & axe. I also realized I need to take as many tarps as I have here as they will be a life saver, not only for covering the wood piles but for lining the inside of the coops, move things or should I say drag things to different areas. Its amazing how many pounds of wood, hay etc you can drag on one of the heavier tarps. I can't see myself out there carrying just a few things if I have a lot of work that needs to be done.
I have already started stocking up on things like oatmeal for the chickens & me, coffee, dried cranberries, powdered milk & sugar. I have enough rice, beans & pasta to get me through the year. I am also creating my own dried soup mixes that will be in baggies in a large bucket that I can pull out & use. Each baggie will contain enough for a good meal.
I decided to barter a bunch of my off-grid, farming & simple life books with my Mary Jane hens for things I will need that they make...things like dried fruit trail mixes, dried veggies, powdered homemade laundry soaps & their dried soup mixes. this way the books I no longer need get used & I get something that can help me.
Now the big thing is if the trailer can handle a small wood stove...I know how to reinforce the floor, add fire boards & so on & have decided instead of cutting a hole in the wall I will take out a window & use a wood board & the fire board for the piping...I will also get a triple chambered stove pipe to go through this as a extra precaution. i think the trailer has one bedroom but I think I will set it up so my total living space is in the front room area.....I can use the bedroom for the food containers, sewing machine etc. When I want to sew I can bring the old petal sewing machine out into the warm room.....
The bathtub will be my clothes washer as well for bathing, but since it will not be hooked up, will take rain guttering hooked up to it under the trailer to move the gray water to the areas where there will be flower beds. I will be using earth friendly soaps so it won't hurt the soil. During the winter the clothes will be hung in the bathtub area & when nearly dried go into the living area by the wood stove to finish.
All the water will be recycled into a 55 gallon drum outside by the main door that I use for washing up dishes. I have special charcoal pellets that will be used with this drum so when I turn on the bottom spicket it will be filtered enough for watering plants or cleaning up my dirty hands.
I plan during the winter to use as much snow as possible for everything, I can filter it for drinking water for me & the chickens & use it for everything else as well...this way I am not depending on the main house across the street for my water during that time.
Another thing I am having to rethink is clothes...do I really need a party dress there or fancy pants? What kind of winter clothes will work best to keep me comfortable if I was to run out of wood. What clothes will keep me the coolest in the summer with out fans? Also what clothes will be hard to wash up & dry in the winter & are they worth the extra work?
Now because family is so worried about me I have decided it best to break down & get a pre-paid cell phone & small solar charger for it. this way if I am in one of the old barns working & hurt myself I can get help instead of trying to crawl to the mail house across the way. I hate it but at 53 with back ailments I understand it would be very stupid of me to let my pride get in the way. I am doing this for my mental health so I guess I also need to realize my family needs to know I am safe while I am on this adventure.
Since the main house has electricity I am taking my power tools, table say, rip saw, drills etc to help me repair the out building...now if I was really young I would say no to this & use my more antique tools but really!!! I am there to help her besides myself & do I really want to take 6 months of hand sawing boards for a barn when I can do it in a month? But that I can handle since it will help her have safe building later on when they eventually move there.
There is a old chicken coop & a horse barn on the main farm that I have to repair for her as well.....The horse barn I am excited about cause it has a loft, they will never use it as a horse barn so I am hoping I can work on it since its in good shape & make it livable...I would love to see a small wood stove in it & the loft set up with a old wire bed...now how cool would that be? It won't have electricity but what a fun thing for when the grand kids come to sleep in, would be like camping out for them & I know if I was a kid I would love this.
My main goal besides getting my head together is to work on the horse barn, old chicken coop, build a chicken coop on my side of the farm & put in 2 large gardens again on my side of the farm where she wants them. Everything else is secondary. I hope to get the gardens started/dug in this fall & prepare them for the spring. I do plan on using one for me this coming year with things I can either dry or use up without a frig.
Mary has access to tons of pallets with the Co-op so I am hoping I can convince her to bring some each time she comes to visit. This way I can use the wood for the new coop & use the rest for fire wood. Mary is hoping someday to turn this farm into a manageable chicken farm for selling eggs. she doesn't want a herd of chickens but enough to feed her family & sell for chicken feed & extras. She also hates it every time she has a bunch of roosters hatch & has to give them away. she wants a coop/run area just for Roosters so she can keep them more as pets than mating roosters.
so anyway that is what I want to do if I can. I understand I am not a young chick so things will be a bit harder for me, but I welcome that for the most part or I wouldn't be going this route.
I was able to collect a few smaller pallets & this coming week I am building a solar veggie dryer to use & to take with me...it will have removable legs that can be stored in the dryer when not used...also am building a solar oven with the same type of legs.....Will let you know how they turn out & hopefully have pictures as well....Today I am off to the local farm to get pig fat so I can finally make my lye soap with the wood ash we made last summer. Have been wanting to do it but no pig fat to be seen anywhere & I refuse at this stage to go buy lard in a store....that to me is cheating for what I am wanting to do.
Ok I have rambled on long enough so best close, hit the coffee pot & do something besides typing...oh before I forget the Library of Congress wrote me & will take a copy of my book for the library & I have sold all the books I had printed.....so am one happy hen right now.
Until next time have a wonderful chicken day...M' & crew