Broken Greenhouse Gets A New Life

Our property had two greenhouses when we got here.  This one is the smaller and fancier of the two.  It is closest to the house, but honestly, I was a little intimidated…

When we first moved in, we weren’t ready for greenhouse stuff… we were just learning and figuring out what we wanted to do with all this land.  We let it sit, and then it got filled with weeds – and I was sure there were rodents and bugs, and it hadn’t made it to the top of our priority list.  (And likely wouldn’t for a bit!)

When I was out planting on Monday, I got a message from Facebook from a woman who is restoring an old house and property just down the road from us.  We’d met last year at a mom’s homeschool coffee group, and then I found her accidentally on Instagram and realized it’s the same woman.  She asked if we were using the greenhouse with the broken roof… I said that I hoped so sometime, but not this year.  She said they’re looking for one and were interested in buying it.

We have a bigger greenhouse that we’re using and I can’t imagine that we’ll ever need more space… and it would be amazing if someone could fix and use this one.  They came over about 15 minutes later and looked at it, and thought they could definitely move and fix it.  The next day, they came and cleaned things out and tried to figure out how to make the move.

And the next day was the move day!  David brought his excavator.  We asked him to take out a couple of our trees while he was here… that job was done in less than five minutes and it was like picking up toothpicks… crazy cool to watch.

Carson and David worked together to get the greenhouse up on boards so that it could be lifted and then hooked up the excavator to the greenhouse (or the other way around, perhaps.

And UP she went!

Up, up and away!

Flying through the air on a wing and a prayer!

And onto the truck!

And now we have this empty space…

Maybe a picnic table/resting area for the Makers and Growers Market?  There’s a little brick pathway and some pea gravel there now…   Stay tuned… we’ll probably attack this job this weekend, at least make a decision and a plan!

I ran into my friend – and the woman who sold us the property – at the grocery store this afternoon and I told her about the greenhouse.  She said that this greenhouse was on the property when they moved here 21 years ago and it was broken then, too.  I felt so much better about then! They had to drive to Snohomish, Washington to get replacement parts for it, and got it all fixed up – probably just in time for it to break on our watch!  I love that it has a history and now it has a future – a bright one – with a family who will love and use it!

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Early Spring on the Homestead

We’ve had some really nice weather lately – temperatures in the high fifties and sixties and sunshine, glorious sunshine!  We’ve been able to spend A LOT of time outside.  My kids have freckles and I’m even getting tan!

The kids have been helping with farm chores and loving the animals.

Here are the sheep – Taleggio and Phoenix – waiting for breakfast and to be let out of their sheep shed in the morning.  I’m sure they are baa’ing at me!!

Here’s our greenhouse!  Our neighbor, BriAnn, planted up a storm.  Mine are the ones on the far table with the multicolored popcicle sticks…

which, by the way, are painted and the paint does bleed into the dirt.  Rainbow seedlings!   The rest are hers! I planted broccoli, cucumbers, and two different kinds of tomatoes – cherry and beefsteak.

BriAnn has peppers, corn, carrots, beans, zucchini, some lettuce, and cabbage… and a few others I’m sure I’m forgetting.  She’s hoping to have some starts for sale at our farmstand, and Makers and Growers Markets  (see link for details).

 

The alpacas have been happy with the sunny and warmer weather, too!  They’ve been grazing a lot and eating less hay.  They still are not interested in cooperating with me about getting their halters on and being handled… but they will come and stay close to me while I clean up their poop.  Sometimes, they even stand single file.

When the wind blows through the hay feeder in the alpaca field, it blows the lighter pieces all around the feeder.  Now that the grass is finally starting to grow again, we need to rake up the hay so that it gets sunlight.  Braden helped me get it into piles… sort of.

He loves to help!

 

When Taleggio and Phoenix first got here, they were totally comfortable with me… but nervous around kids and men… they didn’t get much exposure to either on the sheep farm.  Now they love the kids.  Partly because the kids know not to RUN at the them, even if they’re excited, but also because they’ve had good experiences with scratches and loves.  Here are Hattie and Nora getting some sheep love.

Awww…. Taleggio… I love your face! 🙂 

 

Phoenix came in to get some love, too!

Nora loves to say hi to the alpacas, too.  They love kids, and are skittish around adults. 

Zoe is so sweet with the kids. 🙂

See???!!! Spring Really Is Coming! 🙂

Sidewalk chalk on the patio.  Hattie added some special dandelion touches.

And here’s Braden… fixing his truck.  

Nora is the 3rd redhead child to love this truck.  It came from a very good friend who has a redhead boy who outgrew it… Braden loves it, still, and now Nora, too!

Here’s Hattie’s drawing of an alpaca! 🙂

And Nora just wanted to have her picture taken!  How can I say no to that face?! 

Lunch outside?! Alpaca lunch! 🙂

More signs of Spring! 🙂

Cute cousins!  Both 2013 babies, nine months (and several inches, and lots of pounds!) between these two.  I hope they’re this close forever.

And… one of the sweetest monents in that day!  My kids, all snuggled up with Becca (Taleggio and Phoenix’s mom) in the sheep shed, looking at pictures of sheep and hearing sheep stories, with Taleggio and Phoenix in the foreground having their snack! 🙂  

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest. PLEASE VOTE FOR US!!

We have so many fun and productive ideas for our homestead – well, I’ll be honest… I have so many fun and productive ideas for our homestead, Carson is easily overwhelmed by my excitement and all my hopes and dreams, and plans and goals.  I think that’s pretty normal.  The problem is that everything costs money.  Even if it’s going to save us time and money in the end, it’s an investment in the beginning.

Water catchment, for example.  There are so many cool ideas of catching water from rain and snow fall – water that we could use to water the animals  and the garden.  And, given the fact that we have a shallow well and we have actually run out of water a few times since we’ve been here (always temporarily, and always with a good explanation, like a pipe leak or someone left the water on) and the increase in garden space every year and animals needing water, it would be a really good idea to try to conserve.

We’ve had a couple of big (for our area) snow storms this year, and I watched the multiple inches of snow melting and dripping into the ground and was sort of panicked thinking how much water that could be for us.  It would alleviate worries and help us feel much more secure if we have a dry summer.  Plus… it seems like the places we have water spigots outside aren’t very convenient for watering the animals… we have long hoses stretched across the yard.  If we had gutters and barrels even just on the animal shelters, we could hook hoses to those.

Carson hears these dreams and sees dollar signs, and work for him.  Poor guy! I am definitely the kid and animal care and paperwork and planning side of our relationship, and he’s the physical labor side!  I’ll jump in and help where I can, but construction and equipment and building?  That’s his department because he’s so good at it!

Anyway… solar is the same way… we could save so much money if we had an alternative source of energy – maybe even wind because, man, does the wind whip through here like crazy!  I’d love to look into those sorts of things and find out what the options are, but it takes money.

We’re also planning to have makers and growers market days on our homestead this spring and summer.  Picture flea market/farmers market with booths or tables set up with people sharing their goods.  Crafts, art, soap, garden goods, flowers, all kinds of things.  I hope these will be community building events celebrating homemade goods.  Sounds amazing, right?  I can’t wait.  Again, though, it takes money to get things set up for this.  We have some things we need to set up on our property to make sure it’s safe for people to be here, we need to do some marketing and strategizing.

And, to be honest, Carson needs to do a lot of the clean up and building stuff… which takes him away from his “normal work”  as a general contractor and, being self-employed, that hurts our income and our ability to pay the bills.

I started looking for grants.  I really feel like the things we want to do are valuable, not only to us, but to our community.  Poeple are really interested in our alpaca dryer balls.  They’re looking for natural alternatives to the chemicals that are in the products we buy at the store.  People want to support local businesses and people who are being creative and doing things differently.  I think we could inspire change in our local community, but also as we share our story and products on our blog and social media, I think we could inspire changes elsewhere, too.  And who doesn’t love a good story about animals?  Who doesn’t love touring a farm where people are doing amazing things? I don’t know anyone who isn’t interested or at least curious!

I found a fun small business grant contest run by FedEx.  You fill out this application with just the basics, giving a quick summary of your business, how you got started and what you’d do with the money (which was a really fun exercise), and add a few pictures, and a video if you want (I didn’t!), and they put it into this cool format.  Here’s the link to our page:

https://smallbusinessgrant.fedex.com/home/detail/72c8f745-7730-419c-a87e-185f20766581#/gallery/detail/72c8f745-7730-419c-a87e-185f20766581

They want votes, and then there will be a cut off of several (hundred?) profiles with the most votes will be judged by a panel for the best businesses.  I want to be on that list.  I want to be considered.  We can do so many great things if we don’t have to worry about the money part of it.  I really believe in this dream and I am so hopeful about it.

Could you please click on the link and vote for us?  Apparently you can vote once each day between now and April 1.  I’m sure not everyone will remember to vote each day (though I will try to remind you again few times between now and the deadline), but even if you voted one times, and maybe shared with a few people you think would be supportive of our dreams, I’d be so grateful.

Also, please follow and like and share our Facebook page  and Instagram and subscribe to this website so you’ll get updates about the animals and the garden and our markets planned for this summer.

I really appreciate your support!  Thank you for reading this far! 🙂

Phoenix and Taleggio – the newest animals on the homestead

About six weeks ago, our good friend Kelly was coming over and she said she couldn’t wait to talk to us about some sheep.  Um okay… sheep.  Can’t wait to hear!

Turns out, Kelly’s friend Lea’s friend Becca had two sheep who needed a new home.

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They are three year old East Friesian sheep, and they were supposed to be the wethers (the older male “babysitter sheep” who help keep the other sheep calm) at their old farm but the farmer changed her mind and decided she wanted to use other sheep in that role, so they didn’t have a job anymore.  Becca had bottlefed these boys as babies and had watched them grow up, was very attached to them – she’s their mom, and they are very attached to each other, like brothers.  The farmer said that if she could find them a home, she could take them.

It had to be perfect.   It wasn’t just about being adopted… Becca wanted to be involved in their lives, but she didn’t have space on her property for them – she has beautifully landscaped piece of land, and many of the plants are toxic to animals (rhodedendrons and azaleas).  Sheep need space to graze.  They need special fencing to keep them contained, and safe from predators.  They need a shelter where they can get away from the rain.

We love animals. And we loved the story.  And any friend of Kelly’s is a friend of ours… and any friend of a friend of Kelly’s is a friend of ours! 🙂    We have nearly eight acres… we should be able to find some space.  We started to think and plan and organize.   And we talked to Becca, and by then, I was also in love with the sheep.

When Carson and I started to try to map out where on our property we could have sheep, we hit a wall.

Approximately half of our acreage is woods, forest land.  We hope to make trails through the woods at some point but we aren’t going to clear that land… we like that we have our beautiful forest.

We took up a large part of the grazing space in the cleared area with our alpaca enclosure and having alpacas and sheep together is not advised because they poop differently – alpacas poop in one spot and graze elsewhere, and sheep poop everywhere, and don’t mind eating where poop once was… plus there was the risk of introducing additional (foreign) parasites and bacteria to both animals.  Seemed too risky.

We also run the dogs through the middle part of the yard and we need to have that space clear… and then we have the well and septic system… neither of which is good space for livestock.

My heart sunk… maybe we don’t have the space after all.

I had an idea, though. Our neighbor has about 8 acres of field space and has no animals right now.  (She used to have llamas – and horses even further back, we’ve since learned).  I decided to ask if she’d be willing to lease us about 1/3 of an acre for these sweet boys.  Turned out she was!!!  We wrote up a lease agreement and planned out the best space for them.  We decided to have a little bumpout on our property for their shelter, feeding area and nighttime space, and then we’d let them graze in the pasture during the day.

(So, just in case you’re keeping track of all the people involved in saving these boys – that’s Becca, Kelly’s friend Lea, Kelly, us, and our neighbor!)

We met Becca once we knew what we could offer, and she and I bonded immediately! I’m so happy she’s going to be around.  She knows so much about landscaping and ground maintenance, and is willing to jump right in to do whatever needs to be done.  She’s already been such a great addition to our homestead, and to our lives.  We couldn’t love her more!

And now onto the work!  Carson gathered the materials and started building the most beautiful sheep cottage there ever was!

Here are some pictures of the process!

And here it is… in all its glory… all ready for the boys’ arrival.

Seriously… have you EVER seen anything so cute?!?!

Yesterday was the big day.  Lots of planning went into gathering these boys… lots of people were lined up ready to corral them into an area on the farmer’s farm to get them to the horse trailer.  I wasn’t there when they gathered them from the farm, but rumor has it that one of the helpers (who was a former sheep farmer himself!) had to actually jump on Phoenix because he didn’t think it was a good day for a drive!  That was a bunch of brave souls committed to their friend and these boys!  They got them gathered, and got them to the homestead.  We couldn’t have been more excited that it all went to plan!

Now for the unload!!

And DONE!  They’re here!  And Becca is so happy!  She has her boys!  They don’t understand what just happened to them yet…

But they will!  They will be so happy here!  And we’re so happy to have them join our homestead!

(Shaleigh made the sign you see here… it says “Wecome to your new home!”)

This is Taleggio.

And this is Phoenix.

I love that we can see them from the house… and they can see us! 

Welcome Home Boys! 🙂