In February of 2009, my husband and I bought our first home located on a few acres in Johnson, Vermont. We live here with our dog, Ollie, two cats: Elvis and Atticus, six Nigerian Dwarf goats: May, Chutney, Poppy, Juniper, Willow, and Jokers Wild, and about fifteen laying hens. And to top it all off we welcomed our daughter, Isabel, into the world on January 11th, 2011.

We're slowly updating our 1850's farmhouse while steadily working towards a healthy, meaningful, self-sufficient life together.

This blog details our endeavors along with our successes and failures- all in good fun. Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you again soon!


May and I enjoying some sunshine


Let there be light!

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Monday, November 9, 2009

We had a wonderful bit of luck this past weekend.  Saturday was overcast and cool but at least it didn't rain, and Sunday was absolutely amazing; sunny and warm.  We took our good fortune as permission to get going on the major project we needed to get done before winter- running electricity to the barn.

We'd been trucking out there after dusk to feed the critters in the dark- half the time to find the chickens already roosting for the night, not willing to descend for their dinner.  We try to catch them before they head off to "bed" but with the time change it is getting increasingly difficult to manage.  On top of this we are always worrying about frozen water buckets.  So Saturday we started right in to digging a ditch to run the wire.

It didn't take as long as we had thought to dig the 100' ditch, even at 18" deep.  We worked side by side, silently going about our work.  Only occasionally did we stop to take a break and comment excitedly on how quickly it was going.  We headed to the local hardware store to get our supplies: outdoor 12-2 wire, conduit, junction boxes, wire nuts and connectors, a new breaker for the breaker box, and of course switches and outlets.  Kyle got right to work running some indoor 12-2 wire from the breaker box to the corner of the workshop where we would connect it to the outdoor wire for the long stretch to the barn.  I got to work trying to push the wire through the non-metallic conduit- this was the hardest part of the entire job I'm pretty sure.

After probably half an hour of trying to force 100' of wire through 100' of conduit and only making it probably five feet I gave up and we went to the hardware store again for a spool of fish tape.  It only took about five or ten minutes using the fish tape to pull the wire through the conduit, well worth the $40 if you ask me.  At this point the sun was beginning to set so we fed the girls and shut them in the barn for the night before heading inside to take care of Shyla and the boys.  Dinner was Morrocan-spice hake wrapped in wheat tortillas with some jasmine basmati rice and plain yogurt.  I'm sometimes amazed that my husband used to cringe at the thought of fish for dinner as this dish is one of his favorites.

Sunday we woke up early, had our Sunday breakfast of eggs benedict with home fries, and got right back to work.  Kyle began wiring the barn while I started filling in the ditch, covering our wire.  I can say that I would rather dig two more ditches than have to bury one.  It didn't take long before I had to stop to take a break.  The sun was shining beautifully and the temperatures were solidly in the 50s so I was glad to strip down to a sleeveless shirt as I fought the piles of soil.

It took me a few hours to fully fill in the ditch but when I was finished Kyle was still working away in the barn.  I went in to help and to patch a few places in the walls where wind would come through.  Of course this whole time May and Chutney just couldn't stand to stay in their paddock- Chutney continually jumped over the divider in the barn to escape.  We gave up trying to restrict them and so let them out to play and graze in the yard in front of the barn.

By about 2:30 Kyle had finished wiring a light and five outlets throughout the barn.  This was the exciting moment we had been waiting for.  Kyle went in to switch the breaker on and I waited as he walked back.  Apparently something wasn't quite right, the breaker kept tripping.  So Kyle began checking his work while I headed inside to clean up the house and get some food in the oven for some company that would be coming over later on that evening.

A short half an hour later Kyle walked into the house, grinned at me and said that everything was set.  One small oversight with the light switch was the culprit and a quick fix.  We officially had lights and power in the barn.  I was ecstatic.  I'm still ecstatic.  Now, if needed, we can set up a couple heat lamps during the really cold/windy nights to keep the gals warm, and we will certainly be installing a heated water bucket shortly so no more frozen water.  Just knowing that we have the ability to keep our girls in comfort throughout the winter makes me a happy homesteader.

We worked hard all weekend, side by side, never complaining about the difficulty but smiling to eachother as we enjoyed some good Vermont beer in the warm sunshine during a well-deserved break.  Ours is truly a happy union.


  1. Donna Mae Says:
  2. makes me smile just thinking about it...you should be proud you guys are doing an amazing job...BOTH of you...:)

  4. Ditto Donna Mae. It's so exciting to read about each new step you make in your homesteading. I'm so glad you're doing this now instead of wishing you had done it in later years. Very wise.