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


A Quick Farm Update

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Monday, August 16, 2010

We recently inherited another ten chickens from our friend who moved a couple weeks ago.  Along with the Buckeye and Barred Rock laying hens were four Buckeye roosters.  As I helped Stu unload them from the back of his truck I was a little nervous; we're on pretty good terms with our neighbors and we'd really prefer to keep it that way.  I stood there at the fence after he left, watching the dynamics of the flock to be sure there wasn't going to be any huge fights, especially with the roosters.  They are still young enough that they haven't developed their spurs so they can't do as much damage.  Things settled down fairly quickly after some dueling here and there with some of the larger Australorp hens and the roosters.  I'm hoping that we'll be able to keep one or two of the roosters so we can replenish our flock, but we'll have to wait and see how noisey they are once they settle in.  It seems like they're doing their job, though, because for the past few days one of the Australorps has been happy to stay in one of the nesting boxes.

The goats are doing well.  Juniper's leg healed fantastically and she's gotten to where she doesn't have a limp and can run and jump just as well as the other two girls.  I feel a small sense of accomplishment with that.  Our attempts at milking Chutney were a bust.  Between her unwillingness to stand still and the small size of her teats due to being a first freshener made it infuriatingly difficult to get much milk.  We've been considering investing in a larger goat that would be easier for us both (especially Kyle since he has larger hands) to milk.  But we'll see how that goes.

The second swarm that stopped by one of our trees left last weekend.  Kyle had just finished building the top bar hive and we placed it under the swarm.  It was getting late in the day and we were both exhausted, so we thought we'd give them the night and the next morning to think about checking out the hive on their own before trying to drop them into the box.  The next morning we awoke and found that they had left.  Our own hive is doing well, though, we're ready to take a few frames out to harvest a bit of honey.  Kyle is hoping it will help with his allergies- the poor guy has been congested for weeks.

Finally, our garden.  I was so excited about the garden this year; I was so determined to make it a success.  Well, my friends, you know the saying about good intentions, right?  Unfortunately we've met some difficulty here as well.  We went down to the garden last week to find something had chewed the stalks of our tomato plants that had been doing so well.  They were lost.  Not only that, the black beans are being systematically attacked by something as well.  They were looking great a few weeks ago, but I checked them one day to find a patch of the bed had been demolished, then a few days later, more plants were gone.  I'm not sure what we'll be left with, but I'm not holding out much hope.

The few plants that appear to be doing amazingly well are our summer squash, carrots, beets, and potatoes.  Of course, its hard to say what is going on underneath the potato plants, but I can only hope they are doing well.  Hopefully we'll have enough to save for seed potatos for next year.  Seeing our difficulty with this garden for the second year in a row, we've decided to re-evaluate our garden plans.  Being such non-green-thumbs, why did we decide to take on such a large plot?  Well, because it is there and we were determined to make it work.  Under other circumstances, perhaps if we didn't have the goats, chickens, house renovations, full time jobs, and a multitude of other things, we could have pushed through and made our garden a success.  But, we're too new at this and it was just unrealistic for us.

So, next year we're going to do a smaller garden.  Smaller, but happier.  We're considering moving it up to be right next to the house, on our small, south-facing lawn.  There, not only would it be potentially safer from critters (because the dogs are up there more often), but it is closer to the spigot so we don't have to drag five hoses all the way down the hill and back to water it when necessary.  But my favorite reason for moving it is that we'd be able to see it easily from our picture window.  When things are ripe we'll know sooner so we can grab them and we'd be more apt to weed more often if we see it every day.  So we'll start small and once we get the hang of that, we'll add another bed or two, and so on until we get to where we want to be.

So thats the plan my friends.  Just because things aren't going well doesn't mean we throw in the towel, we take a step back and see what we're doing wrong and what we can do to improve.  We'll get there.  Rome wasn't built in a day, right?  It takes time.  We'll get there.


  1. Donna Mae Says:
  2. your doing a great job..:)

  3. Rebecca Says:
  4. Don't despair. What you're doing is hard and takes lots of work. I know it. With the goats and kids this year, my garden is looking a shambles, but how am I supposed to keep up with it, my family, the animals, *and* my paying job? There are only so many hours in the day. It's easy to beat ourselves up for not being able to do it all, but when you feel down, try making a list of all the things you *have* accomplished. You're doing great!