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


Hooray Veggies!!

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Wednesday, July 20, 2011 0 comments

After two unsuccessful years with my garden at the bottom of the hill I am FINALLY seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  Last year, for my birthday, my Mom built me a handful of raised beds next to the house on our south-facing lawn that previously went unused.  It is a lovely little spot of land in front of our picture window and overlooking the river and a farm across the road.  After a second year of disappointment in our garden, Kyle and I had decided to move it to its current home to make it easier to water.  At its previous location we would have to string along five or six hoses around the house and down the hill (the previous owner of our house, an elderly woman, would carry watering cans back and forth...amazing).

My dearest Mom is a very handy woman and she quickly built the raised beds along with a small, hinged platform to hide the access for our septic tank.  This spring, Kyle filled the beds starting with some empty grain bags to try to keep weeds at bay, followed by some goat and chicken manure and straw from the barn, and finally soil.  I began planting with just one bed for lettuce and broccoli and a bed for spinach.  The lettuce and broccoli were looking pretty sad the day I put them in the ground.  Even the kid across the street, a sweet boy who spends a lot of time over at our farm, commented that he thought they were going to die.

Luckily they pulled through and even flourished!  I've been up to my ears in romaine and have resorted to feeding it to the goats.  Note to self: no two people need thirty heads of romaine.  Although, I never pull them out of the ground, I just keep cutting them any time I want some salad so they keep growing back.

Unfortunately my spinach didn't do as well.  I think the problem was that I was using seed left over from last year and the packet might have gotten a bit wet before sitting through the winter in our workshop.  So I bought some new seed and replanted, so far that is the least successful plant in the garden which really is frustrating because I love spinach and we eat a lot of it.  I'm still working on it.

Finally a few months ago I got the rest of the garden in.  Acorn squash, summer squash, peas, beans, carrots, mustard greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and celery all went into the ground and have been flourishing ever since.  I had a small problem with some cucumber beetles (not sure why my chickens weren't more on top of that) which ate a few of my acorn squash plants.  But luckily I had planted too many in the raised bed anyway so they really did me a favor, as much as I hate to admit it.

I think one of the main reasons the garden is doing so well this year is that I can look out the windows and see  whats going on.  I can walk around the gardens after or before work and see that things need to be weeded- so I take ten minutes and weed.  Water is easily available; it doesn't even take one hose to reach every bed.  I just can't get over the positive results.  Of course, I still have some maintenance to do: the peas and tomatoes desperately need better supports before much longer, but I think this year really will be the year of successful gardening which just snowballs from here.

Here are some pictures!

This is a photo of our raised beds back in the end of April before any planting began.  The photo was actually to show how high the river was during the big flood we had on the 27th, but the raised beds had a cameo appearance.

Here it is today!

Here are some close ups of my broccoli and lettuce:

My tomato plants are looking great and in desperate need of additional supports.

Next door to the tomatoes are the celery, cucumbers and peas

Followed by the beans and summer squash

And finally we've got the mustard greens with the carrots, and the acorn squash.

Hope you folks are having a great gardening year as well!  Stay tuned for some great shots of the kitchen progress and more baby goats!!