The Great Farmer Reset

It has been some time since I did a musing of something a bit more personal about what is going on out here. Below is simply an unedited version of a journaling I did recently. I gave my 50’s do developing our farm. Most of this blog chronicles the building of the place and how things work. Anyone who has followed this over the years understands the ecological and social issues that made us drop out and build this place. For my part, there was a deeply personal aspect to it as well. That being disillusionment made violently manifest. I turn 59 in less than a week. While ages and dates don’t really mean much to me, there is a part of me that wants to see this farm work of art shine and support us in a way that the previous 58 years were not able to. Sure, I give thanks for the fact that I was a successful business person and yes, there is a certain privilege to being able to say the things I have here – so what? This is raw, unedited and hopefully will give you an idea what happened personally to drive us to go where very few have gone. It is my sincere wish that others can build their Shire and escape the trappings of a completely insane culture. We all deserve it no matter what our sociopathic society says. Peace.

THE FARMER’S GREAT RESET.  

TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF.  CREATING NEW HABITS.  LIVING THE LAST THIRD UNAPOLOGETICALLY AND AUTHENTICALLY.  GOING INTO A YEAR LONG RETREAT TO ALLOW EVERYTHING TO TRANSFORM.  

What Is Your Great Reset?

Living on and completely immersed in the farm like an artist or a writer is immersed in their craft.  Leaving the world and going inward.  Finally living without judgment or fear of belittlement.  To transform physically and mentally to let the authentic self have life unapologetically.  

I hate us.  I can’t stand the state of affairs in the world any longer.  Therefore, just like I went no contact awhile back, I am going to become a Hermit or Recluse in my 59th year.  I can’t develop the way I want to as a farmer-artist, painting on my canvas, unless I can slow down, cut myself in half physically, and tune out the insanity of the U.S. We are a certifiably insane species.  The Pandemic illustrated it, exposed people for who they are, and I want no part of it.

I gave my 50’s to creating this farm.  It came out of me like a composition written out by Mozart.  I just kept going and going and, suddenly,  it is all here.  The last piece is to let myself inhabit this canvas and live completely merged with what it can do.  So the last year of my 50s is to restore my health, unleash my true self, and live here as a Hermit would – Cut off from the world, not leaving the Shire, using ordering methods to get things we need, and being the driver or conductor of the farm making this piece of art sing. I guess I am talking about the death of an old self.  “Die before you die and then realize that there is no death.” – Eckhart Tolle.  I deserve to have a life of peace and contemplation.  I earned it.  There is so much about this world in which I was raised and the experiences I have had, to prove it.  Not being wanted, being abused, and the absolute whirlwind of an existence that brought me to this point and still be alive.  This is now on my terms.  The biggest task I have is to “decommission the warrior.”  To let the Hulk go and let the warrior sit by the fire and smoke his pipe.  I don’t need to be armored up like that any more and, as my therapist said, “there is no doubt that if the warrior is needed, you are so good at bringing him up, you will be able to call on him if and when needed.”  I have the battle scars to remind me of it all.  But from now on, the artist, the scientist, the painter, the grower of things, is now in charge.  How that happens is the puzzle, because after 58 years, old survival habits die hard.

To paint on this canvas that I dedicated my life to must be a slow and simple life; A life without the stresses of the outside world;  A life devoted to the simple pleasures that our farm affords us.  It is going no contact with all of society, keeping in touch only to stay abreast of things of normal responsibility.  People make everything up.  They tell themselves stories in order to survive.  In other words, it is all lies and I will not live in lies anymore.  We are a psychopathic, uncaring, lot.  One need only look at the history of the last century, all the wars and brutality and death, to see that humanity is certifiably abusive and insane.  The only way to have a good and peaceful life is to leave.  

Old habits to be rid of:

>Not caring for myself.  Even writing like this feels foreign.  It makes me shake and feel guilty because, after all, this is selfish according to that horrible Calvinist upbringing I was forced to endure.  Priority number one has to be good diet and exercise.  Not powerlifting or biking to god knows where.  Simple stretching, walking and resistance exercises with the TRX Band.  A diet based on JAZ Farm food and the foods we buy in bulk.  

>Drinking wine to calm down.  The substitute for the rev up with coffee and slow down with wine needs to be a complete slow down of my life.  The Thich Nhat Hanh “Just drink your tea” habit applied to everything.  This isn’t a substitute way of doing the same things that caused my pain, it is a complete redevelopment of me.  Thus, I am going full on hermit for my 59th year. It is about controlling my thoughts, stop thinking, moving slowly and deliberately avoiding everything that has caused me such duress in the past.  Calm, Quiet and Slow.  

>As Jennifer Aniston said when asked how she kept in such good shape she replied, “Don’t eat shit.”  That is the foundation of this.  Taking the time to fix healthy food, not drink to escape, and allow myself to isolate and not flee the farm.  After all, I am leaving the farm to eat crap under a tree to try to escape my thoughts and fears….. which, of course, I take with me because they are in my head.  Replace the dopamine hits from fast food and wine with living deliberately, simply and slowly.

So these are the main habits to kick in this year long retreat:  Don’t eat crap.  Don’t drink wine to escape.  Decommission the Warrior and cease the hyper-vigilance.  Don’t neglect yourself.

So conversely then, what are the new habits to develop to allow the farm artist to flourish in the last third of his existence?

> Wake up slowly.  Ease into everything and hurry nothing.  Not even if Zina is raring to go.  Let her do it and follow as you see fit.  After all, you work on the farm every day.  Wake slowly and catch the thoughts that create those awful mountains and make your whole existence seem insurmountable.  Don’t think about all the things that “Have to be done” all at once.  Arise, stretch, go about the morning tasks and chores and let yourself begin the day with a gradual re-entry into the world.  You know that with your back’s side effects you can’t just jump out of bed and get moving anymore.  Take it slow.  You know it can take a couple of hours.  Be accepting of that fact.

> Walk.  Every day.  Walk.  Start slowly and over the course of this year long retreat, become the walker/hiker you used to be.  In other words, embrace the things of your past that give you contentment and jettison the rest.

> Use the TRX Band to rebuild your legs (A TRX Band uses your own body weight as resistance instead of having to use weights or weight machines).

>Stretch

> Cut yourself in half.  Your extra weight is the symbol of all the stress and abuse you have endured and how hard you fought and how much you denied yourself for everyone else.  Lose the weight as the symbolic gesture of not needing the warrior and the armor. See shedding of weight as a victory dance, a giant “fuck you” to everyone that tried to destroy you.   In order for you to paint requires your physical health.  Do not let the world steal this from you any longer – NO fast food.  NO processed food, wheat or sugar.  Eat JAZ Farm food that you cook.  There is no better diet than that.  Stay on the farm and eat real meals and don’t eat snack food thinking that cooking or heating something up is too much work.  All that is an excuse to neglect yourself again.  It is what you did to survive.  Stop self-loathing and your diet will come automatically and sustain you and clear your head.

> Slow your daily life down by an order of magnitude.  While there are the daily chores and gardening, nothing HAS too get done in a hurry.  Those days are over.  Using the current pig pasture changes as an example: it needs to get done to accomplish the pig breeding goals, but it doesn’t need too all be done in a day.  What you used to do in a day, do in a week.  Enjoy the process and take care of your body.  You need a lot of rest after your career and building the farm and overcoming things that should have killed you.  Part of the self-care is doing just that, regardless of whether or not someone else wants to run.  Move slowly and deliberately, doing what you want to do and not destroying yourself in the process.  No one you know has done what you have done.  There is nothing to prove…. Just be the farm artist.  No Hurry.

> Stop thinking.  Stop gluing yourself to the outside world via the news and such.  There is nothing you can do for the world that you aren’t already doing.  If you think of something new, great, then you can explore that, but for daily sanity, devote yourself to your craft.  Drop out of society and thinking you have to stay hyper-informed like you did for work and the need to feel safe.  You are safe here and should an event occur that needs your attention, you will certainly find out about it.  As you have told others, “One could drop out just like not following a soap opera, come back in a year and not have missed a thing.”  It is all awful and insane.  Protect your own sanity and your own path of achieved enlightenment and ignore it.  Pay attention only to those things that further your farm art and self-sufficiency.  You owe no one anything.  You tried that and it burned you for decades.  Quit putting your hand in the fire now that you know it will always be hot.

>Continually walk away and leave the insanity to the outside world.  They are not your concern.

To sum up the new habits:

Walk, stretch and resistance train.

Wake up slowly and ease into the day as you need to, keeping your mind calm so as not to catastrophize and build mountains.

Cut yourself in half and eat right using the foods you so expertly raise and process

Slow your daily life down by half, making life a meditation

Don’t think and stay present

Ignore the outside world and only leave the farm to hunt and gather as necessary (not running  to escape – remember, your head comes with you) Escape comes from controlling your thoughts.)

Stop thinking and staying hyper-informed.  Work methodically and when you don’t feel like it….don’t.

Use this journaling to help keep you focused and help keep your true self from becoming buried.

Don’t speak unless necessary.  Don’t argue points because people and their opinions are usually ignorant and uninformed.  Whether or not you are right…. It doesn’t matter. 

Be reborn in the likeness in your head.  Create yourself unencumbered.  Create yourself in your own image.  You deserve it.

After all, it isn’t that you don’t know who you are.  The real you was just bullied into submission for most of your life.  The time to keep doing that to yourself is over.

So who am I and where is all of this leading?

“Decide what kind of life you really want and then say “no” to everything else.”

I am:

An introvert that really thinks his species is a disgusting viral catastrophe incapable of regulating itself or doing things for the common good.  As a result, I choose not to be with them.

Creative.  After all, look at this place.  There is nothing else to say.

Enlightened.  In my reality, I know that the wider society is completely asleep.  I don’t know everything but I know enough and hope to keep evolving towards my higher self.  My old self was completely for defense.  The self that was imprisoned, is real and awake.

A farmer and rancher

A painter on the earth canvas, a nurturer of the land and a rejector of human “progress” and its destruction of the planet.  I seek to heal the small portion of the earth upon which I dwell.

A Prepper.  The threats from modern society are real.  I and the farm proved we are able to endure during this pandemic.  My only hyper-vigilance is to make sure we continue to prepare for the hell scape that is civilization.  If I have a mission that keeps me tied to staying informed it is that.  Water, food, shelter, medicine, defense……. Repeat.  I enjoy doing it and we are pretty far along that path, so it too, needs to be methodically maintained, not done out of panic.  

A weaver.  I want to create my weaving.  I would love to have a presence where people can buy my wares like a painter sells paintings at fairs.  

A Homesteader.  I love raising animals and have them provide us food.  I love gardening and preserving what we have grown.  I love making cheese and making soap and butter and cooking delicious, healthy food. I love the old ways. I am just not able to work as hard to build things as I used to be at the beginning of this escapade and am completely burned out from it.  

A believer in the here and now issue of catastrophic climate change.  There is no prepping for this.  However, the blinders that people have on regarding it also makes me need to drop out.  Ignorance, without a desire to become educated, is one of the greatest disgusts I have for humans.  They have completely exposed their true colors.  Between denying climate change, the refusal to do anything about it and the stupidity revolving around the pandemic, I am through with humanity.  It is quite likely that when I reinforce these new habits, this year long retreat may very well become permanent.  

A lover of animals.  I would have dozens of goats, chickens, turkeys, pigs, donkeys, dogs and cats.  Human beings are not the most intelligent species on the planet.  The animals are.  If you doubt it, come spend an afternoon with the donkey farm gurus.  They will absolutely set you straight.  Shit, I’d take our goat bucks in rut year round over people in expensive cars and business suits.  With the former, you know where they stand, the latter will stab you in the back when you aren’t looking.  

So for the next year, I will be leaving the farm as little as possible.  I will be working very hard at developing the new habits that I deserve and that the farm was designed specifically to support.  I will still be posting and doing the occasional videos and things, but I created my own Shire after throwing the ring of power into the fiery mountain and I intend to take full advantage of that privilege. This is my promise and birthday gift to myself. It is high time someone lived up to their promises – even if it is me promising me.

There is nothing else I care about.  I have, in my book, done it all.  What I have accomplished and endured would have killed most people.  The warrior, still, refuses to let me die.  For that I am grateful.  

The 2021 JAZ Farm Drone Tour

We received several request for another flyover to show the progress we have made over the past year. It was a little more hastily done as being out in the heat this summer has been pretty stifling. We have been up around 95 degrees or more for most of the summer. That and movie maker Aaron was getting ready to head up for a pretty exciting year at school. His senior design classes started today and so he is back in the thick of it.

In this video you will see the newest fences and pastures, the donkeys in said pasture, the new baby pigs, a couple of chickens fleeing the drone, the completed garden all fenced in, as well as the new goat pens and Rosemary the goat with her broken leg.

You will see Sage the dog doing some photobombing with our Basil conspicuously absent. We all miss her very much.

Because the layout of the place isn’t likely to change much anymore, and because I may very well lose my cinematographer to a new career in the next year, this will probably be the last one of these drone movies for a little while. After all, I would need to learn how to do it! There will be more posts and videos as we go, but considering the ridiculous upheavals of the past two years, we have accomplished an awful lot.

To Win This War, Don’t Fight, Live Like A Hobbit

I ran across two videos today while making breakfast. Both pretty well sum it all up for me. Neither address climate change, which is the ultimate trump card; There is no preparing for extinction. But in the movie, The Lion In Winter, in a confrontation with his father, King Henry, Richard The Lion heart said, when asked if he knew he was going to die, why did how he dies matter, his answer was to the effect, “When falling is all there is, how you fall matters.” I have long asserted that I have no interest in left vs right politics. I think it is nothing but a distraction to keep the masses fighting each other instead of targeting the real enemies of the state. The truth is, in my estimation, that the battle comes from the top down; Master versus slave, sociopaths versus normalcy. To win this war is really to deprive the rich and corporate elite of their power and to keep them afraid and in check. But in the spirit of Chris Hedges, that fight must be waged through massive movements of civil disobedience and a refusal to comply or participate in the corporate state no matter how violent I would like to get at times (and how much they deserve it.) But then, of course, I get torn by also agreeing with Derrick Jensen’s assertion that “we need it all.” So there is the conundrum. Perhaps it is situational. But I really think that living peacefully detached from the system is a powerful weapon. It deprives the oppressors and planet destroyers of their power to control.

The first video below pretty well describes the problem. The second is the solution we choose to follow here. It describes well what it means when I say, “Live like a Hobbit”. Many changes have happened to us here in the last year, and even just in the last couple of weeks. We are doubling down on our chosen lifestyle. If there is to be a future generation, this at the very least, should be how we move forward in order to help them. Deprive the Orcs of their power and live happily without them. Know your community and build resilience. Strive everyday to increase your self-sufficiency. Peace.

Taking Some Time To Grieve

As I mentioned in the previous Blog post, we have been dealing with Vet issues; a goat with a broken leg, a lame pig, and a pretty sick pooch. Two of the three of those vet visits have failed. The goat will recover. She is looking fine; but the pig and dog are another issue. I am sad to inform you that Petunia the pig doesn’t look like she will recover and will be sent off to the butcher as soon as there is an opening. She can’t be bred, can’t walk well, and, well, that’s that.

The heart break, and why we will be taking some time alone, is that our dear friend and absolutely best companion, Basil, passed away at 6:30 am yesterday, August 4th. I was with her when it happened and she blew her last, very weak breath into my face. We are all just wrecked by this. It came on suddenly and the vet simply wasn’t able to figure it out. Aaron did some Googling and it seems likely that it was a digestive track issue that blocked her ability to move food through her system. It really doesn’t matter. She got very sick and was gone in a week. I told my mother, when she was here visiting, and Basil was starting to head south, that we were going to lose her. Unfortunately, I was right. We thought she would be around much longer. She would have reached her 9th birthday in September. It is the average life expectancy of Labrador Retrievers, but this blind sided us.

We tried, while taking her to be cremated, to eulogize her in our own way. She was with us since the beginning of the farm venture. The pet store told us that she was considered an Alpha Female. The breeder noted that while she was in the litter that Basil didn’t want just her food, she wanted EVERYBODY’s food. We didn’t know what that meant exactly, but she was going to be a farm dog, mostly with just us, so who cared who’s food she wanted? It was only going to be her, and later the inclusion of Sage, four years later. She was just as sweet as the dickens and we loved her to pieces. Because I was the one working from home and then later, just the one always at home, she became my dog. She was always there, always wanted attention, seemed to know when I needed companionship and couldn’t be a better dog to have around. There, she was awesome. She was also a GIANT pain in the ass because she was an Alpha. I think it is also what lent her her charm.

Basil was a very smart dog. Because food treats were involved, she trained up on the basics pretty easily. It was the more involved behavioral issues that could send me into tyrannical fits! We have a line of trees that separate us from the neighbors. She knew, KNEW!! she wasn’t supposed to go into or beyond the trees, but, as if to simply give me the finger, she did it incessantly. I could spank her within an inch of her life and she would just do it again. At the same time, though, she would just come up to me in the house and be the most loving girl on the planet. She also knew, KNEW!! that she wasn’t supposed to be in the kitchen. One, she was a chow hound and two, she was 113 pounds and was easily underfoot while I was cooking. She decided that it wasn’t breaking the rules if she went into the kitchen when no one was there or looking. What she didn’t know is that her toenails tapped on the linoleum and I could hear it when I was in the basement. After violating the rules and raiding the garbage to dig out a ham bone, the fight ensued. She ran into her crate while I chased after her, snapped at me when she felt cornered and the bashing my elbow took landed me in the hospital for 2 days for IV antibiotics due to a ruptured bursa.. She is the reason I don’t wear a wedding ring. It had to be cut off due to the swelling. So there. We are honest. Basil was a big, big challenge and could test every inch of our patience. I was definitely in charge (probably because she knew I could, and did, kick her ass); but it was always a question where Zina stood with her. Basil thought she was absolutely second in command with Zina 3rd and Aaron a non-issue and later, Sage, at the bottom of the heap.

But she was as sweet and docile as they come when dealt with on a day to day basis. When we got little Sage, during all the potty training, etc. that happens with little puppies, we discovered that Basil, was telling us when Sage had to go outside. She would act as though she needed to go out, when not minutes before she had just GONE out. She was helping to train the little one and us, about what was going on. It was pretty amazing. 3 nights ago, when Basil was pretty much losing her cognitive ability, it was Sage who went in and licked Aaron while he was sleeping, to try to let someone know that Basil needed to go out. It turned out to be too late, but if you don’t think there is a language there, you need to expand your horizons.

Basil teaching the kid the ropes

So Basil was a challenge. She was a pain in the ass and the most wonderful, loving animal on the planet. That is what made her so special to us. I wouldn’t have traded the last 9 years with her for anything (although I wouldn’t have said so in the midst of yelling fits). We won’t own an Alpha again but damned if she wasn’t my best friend. So if you are, or know anyone who is in charge of this insane existence, could you please let them know…… I really want my puppy back. My heart hurts. Basil, I loved you to the moon and back. Please walk with me the rest of the way. I miss you more than I will probably miss most people. I love you. I’m so sorry I couldn’t stop you from suffering.

Dad.

Basil the farm dog: 9/11/2012 – 8/4/2021. Rest my sweet friend. May there be sticks and rabbits and an open kitchen where you are now. Sometime let me know how you are doing. I will always be listening.

I Guess It Is High Time To Get Caught Back Up

Surprise!! We are all still here! Since the end of the fence construction we went straight into spring. It is the busiest time of year all on it’s own, but of course, just planting isn’t all that goes on. Now that the gardens are well on their way I thought I should at least acknowledge that we still exist. I have been doing this blog for about 8 years now and I don’t want it to get monotonous. Actually, I’m not really sure if anyone actually reads it. I guess I do it for future posterity. Assuming an internet still exists sometime down the road, it is a nice way to record everything we have done here – readers or not.

I am taking time today to do this because I am playing nurse. Basil the farm dog has been with us since we bought this place and launched into this grand self-sufficiency experiment. This past week she just up and stopped eating. Now if any of you have ever had experience with Labrador Retrievers you know that something ain’t right. More often than not she eats her food so fast it is likely that she doesn’t even taste it. Noticing that, she became the third animal in a string of three inside of 2 weeks that needed a vet’s attention. First, we had a baby goat that got stepped on by one of our donkeys and is now in a splint for 2 months. Oh the crying and lamenting going on because she can’t be with her other sisters! We let her out once in awhile just to give her some attention and it doesn’t last long due to the unauthorized hopping and tearing around that ensues. She is alive only because I have other people in my life. We could make another one that looks just like her in short order so you can bet on the fact that she WILL behave. Vet visits are expensive.

Rosemary the invalid

Next up on the vet list was one of our pigs. We have breeding pairs of American Guinea Hogs. It is a bit of a different experience than just buying babies, raising them up and sending them to freezer camp. The adult female, Petunia, went lame. She couldn’t (and still really can’t) put any weight on her front right foot. We read up on it, of course, and discovered to our surprise, that pigs need to have their hooves trimmed. Who knew!? So we figured that that must be the case. It is easy to trim goat hooves and the Ferrier comes out to do the donkey’s hooves, but how does one trim the hooves of a 250 pound hog that is in pain? They are pretty sweet and docile animals, but still…. she wasn’t likely to be terribly cooperative. So we called the vet out. Two of us pinned her to the ground while the doctor set to giving Petunia a manicure. Unfortunately, that didn’t solve the problem. So now, once a day for the next couple of weeks we are hiding pills of Meloxicam inside hardboiled eggs. Evidently, pigs are susceptible to arthritis in their ankles and the pills are helping her to reduce inflammation and lessen the pain. She is a registered Guinea Hog so we didn’t want to give up right away but if she doesn’t improve she will probably have to be bacon. We have a new little pair that I got from Kansas, so we have another female coming up (Polly).

Pedro and Polly. The newest additions to the farm.

Then we come to Basil. She is feeling so badly. Upon seeing her not eat and then realizing that she was likely losing weight, not because of her diet but because of being sick, off to the vet we went. She has an exceptionally high White Blood Cell count, a liver enzyme out of whack, and up until today she had a 104+ temperature when normal is 101. It helps not one bit when the vet calls it “A fever of unknown origin.” So she went on some pills for her liver, antibiotics for whatever the infection might be, and pain pills. After a few days she had not improved. We took her back and they admitted her to their vet hospital and was there for 2 days. So as not to bore you with details, she is now on a different anti-biotic and Prednisone (Steroid). This has succeeded in getting her fever down and she is eating her food – All pluses. However, she is as lethargic as ever and they have noticed that she has an enlarged spleen. This can be a sign of cancer (Which I had been asking about since this started – have had animals go through this before). So now we wait. As Basil is really my only in-person friend other than Zina and Aaron, this has been pretty depressing. How long do you prolong things like this? I guess we will just keep playing it by ear. If nothing changes, then the next step is going to get her an ultrasound. I’m thinking that at that stage we will need to face the music. Labs don’t live that long to begin with, but they totally steal your heart while they are around. She is one sweet beastie. She was an alpha female, which made her almost impossible to train. They seem to think they own the place and you exist to serve them. Personality – wise, she has been quite a challenge. But no matter the challenges, we certainly don’t want her to go. Her little sister, Sage, is very confused by it all.

Dad, I feel like shit

I don’t have many pictures of the gardens this year for obvious reasons. But we have been working diligently on food storage. Due to the Bat Bug Industrial Complex and it’s resulting supply chain disruptions, it has been a real issue trying to source canning lids. After waiting for 18 months, we finally got some from Lehman’s. They are their own brand, not authentic Ball lids, but I trust Lehman’s for their homesteading products so we are pretty well stocked. BUT! So as not to get caught like this again, we investigated Freeze Drying. We already have dehydrators that simply heat up the food and blow hot air on it to make it store-able. We Can, freeze and ferment as well. But Freeze Drying made some sense to add to our food storage repertoire. It retains 97% of the food’s nutritional value and if you store the results in sealed mylar bags with an added Oxygen absorber, it can last for 25 years. Harvest Right makes really the only machine on the market. Fortunately, it has been all the rave on the homesteader websites. So we bit the bullet and purchased their medium sized unit. Since it’s arrival it has run non-stop. We have tried several fruits for fun, and have started to freeze dry our sweet corn and our green beans. Because almost anything that doesn’t have a high oil or sugar content can be freeze dried, this will help to ensure that nothing we grow or produce will go to waste… including meat! We still have many many pounds of potatoes from last year’s harvest frozen in the freezers and this season’s potatoes are just about ready to be dug up from the gardens. By using this contraption we will save huge amounts of room in our deep freezes and it will also last much much longer than had we canned it.

Beans…. never ending beans
The new food storage toy

Freeze dried sweet corn

We have also gotten our little dairy operation going full swing. I have just dried off (stopped milking) two of our little goats. I have been teaching myself cheese making and so far have had great success making Yogurt, Mozzarella Cheese, Colby, Cheddar and Monterey. In the past couple of weeks we have been finally able to cut a couple of them open (after having aged properly) and wouldn’t you know it, it tastes like cheese! They all have a bit sharper taste because of the more tart nature of goat’s milk, but we are fans! So in September we will breed three of our ladies in anticipation of more miking in the spring. Anybody want baby goats?? They are ridiculously cute and we can’t keep them all.

The cheese press in action
Our first Cheddar!

Because our little goat flock has been growing (Between the bucks and the does we are now at 13), it became necessary to rethink our pen situation. Goats are pretty rambunctious critters and we needed a way of separating them in order to get the right one’s out at the right time for milking and to separate the babies at night. Again, with the supply chain disruptions, the new gates took MONTHS to arrive. Finally, they showed up and that created yet another project. No wonder I am so behind with the farm blog. Aaron is supposed to create a new drone video so keep an eye out for that. I think this turned out great and it is so much more practical than the big single pen we had.

Goat prison cells

And of course, there is the never ending sourcing of feed and hay. Because of the drought and what seems to be corn and grain crop failures, the bags of feed have increased by about 15%. So I ordered a bunch and stored it in the barn. As our main source for hay irrigates his land to raise it, I was able to get enough to likely get us through to next spring. Gotta get it when you can find it! It is very frustrating to get low and not be able to find it. Answer, don’t get low. 3300 lbs of hay and 6000 pounds of feed…. check. With my back the way it is, I was happy to have Aaron’s help. Not to mention that it has been one seriously HOT summer.

Loaded to the gills

So that pretty much gets us up to speed. Oh ya, we have a new flock of turkeys and Aaron and I need to reconfigure how their coop and run are set up. Not a big deal but we are always looking for ways to make things more efficient. These little guys/gals are “Spanish Blacks”. Very cute with black bodies, white heads and big ol’ eyes. This picture was when they just arrived. They are now out in the world running around in the grow-out pen.

So now that we are into August and the garden is moving into harvest mode, there will be more on how it all worked. We have a goat hut to build, the turkey coop to re-jigger and a pen to make for our boar pigs, but nothing excessive. Oh ya, we are having a battle trying to deter, catch and dispatch an egg eating skunk that figured out how to get into the chicken coop. Gotta be careful because that can be one stinky affair.

I have become the homestead/farmer I had hoped this place would allow me to become. I must say, that by enclosing the place, closing the gates, declaring the homestead infrastructure complete, I am finding a piece of mind I have never had before. I live my life anymore by the acronym “IDGAF”. I realize now that so much of what brought me to this point had been from dealing with a level of insanity that negates any assertion that humans are the “most intelligent species on the planet.” We most decidedly are not. Sane creatures don’t destroy their habitat. So as not to use this new awful word, “Woke”, I will use “Enlightened”. If you want to know what I mean, check your baggage at the gates up by the entrance and come spend some time just sitting with the donkeys. You will see what I mean. Become a Hobbit. Drop out and come to your senses. This way of life will certainly help you do it. Peace.

We Survived Another Season In The Dirt!

Planting this year was relentless.  Going from constructing two major fences to planting in the 50 raised beds was seriously taking its toll on me.  I haven’t had a rest in several months.  I was starting to wonder when this old ass was gonna simply collapse.  Yesterday was brutal.  Got the drip irrigation mostly up and running.  However, as usual, what should have only taken a few hours, took all day.  As with anything, including people, it is possible at times to start to hate what you want and love in your life.  This planting season got me there. Now that it is done, I sit here on the porch looking at it all and think, “You know, this place is pretty neat when the Demons and Devil Sprites aren’t rending me with anal probes.” I think we will survive another season.

My newest addition to the T-Shirt collection. Why? Because we are a hyper-sensitive, overly self-entitled bunch of whiny babies.
Sitting on the porch admiring a job well done!

The Asparagus has become a forest. We are interplanting a row of Strawberries between the two Asparagus rows. Hopefully, this will create a bit of shade for them. Our sun is brutal.
This year we are trying to grow a bunch of food for our pigs. This bed is all Turnips and Beets (blech)
This year our spring has been very wet. Not complaining, especially since it wasn’t hail. However, the weeds and grass around the beds have gone pretty nuts.
As usual, the Garlic has been stellar. We have also been very pleased how the herb garden has over wintered.
It always feels like the end is near when the greenhouse gets filled in.
The plants look pretty happy.
Mission Control: “Drip Irrigation?” “Check, Go Flight.”
And, of course, the key ingredient to growing out here on the Plains (except for copious amounts of water), the shade cloth.

The last project in the garden will be to get the new Blackberry hedge planted. We got the holes drilled for the plants this past weekend. We still need to run the water lines to them and then mix soil and compost together to put into the holes so that we can plant the bushes into them. The fun part of having this much space to grow things is that we can try out new things. If it all fails, it won’t affect our food for the year because it can be grown in other spaces. This year we are attempting to grow Peanuts, the Blackberry bushes, and intercropping the Strawberries with the Asparagus. It is all just one grand adventure; my kind of adventure in that I can do it all right here. Frodo can go to Mordor…. I prefer just staying put.

The JAZ Farm Grew By Overshot

“Get up you Lard Ass you have stuff to do! You don’t get to just sit around!” “Yes Dad”. So goes the incessant voice in my head. The weird part is that I usually do what it says no matter how abusive. Such is the life of an unwanted Rooster.

I got a laugh a couple of weeks ago from something a friend said. He said something to the effect that “He was impressed at what keeps getting accomplished out here on the farm especially considering my “young” age.” The reference was, as others have said, that it is funny how many times I have said that the farm is “finished” and no sooner is that project done than another one pops up in my head and is made manifest here on the land. Part of that comes from the fact that the work here, if you have never done it, is butt bustin’ stuff. It leaves you pretty spent, especially the necessary infrastructure. Every time I said it, I thought I meant it. This time though……….. I have had many signals from said universe (and my wife) to tell me it is time to stop the building and live in the creation. So that is exactly what I now intend to do.

You see, I was sitting down in the craft room contemplating my next weaving project, when it hit me; “This is how a farm is built!” I was looking at a book that uses a weaving style called “Overshot”. To describe it in painting terms we will use the idea of a blank canvas upon which your Monet masterpiece will be brought upon the earth. You start with a blank canvas, you dream something up, and then you start smearing paint all over it hoping something cool emerges (It might not get discovered until after you are dead, but that is beside the point). In weaving Overshot, you actually weave the canvas while weaving the pattern at the same time. So at the end, you not only have the canvas, but you also have the painting. If you think in terms of needlepoint, the artist starts with a blank mesh base to begin from and the stitches form the image as she sews through it. In Overshot, you are creating the blank mesh AND the picture all at once. THAT is building a farm and a homestead. In our case, we started with nothing and as we went along over the past 8 years, we built the canvas (infrastructure) while at the same time allowing the painting to emerge as we built. For instance, the first infrastructure we built was our chicken coup. There was nothing else here but a house and garage. We wanted chickens so we built that piece of the canvas and the painting was the actual chickens themselves. We wanted a big garden and a greenhouse, so we built it (canvas) now have a big garden and a greenhouse (painting). We wanted goats, turkeys, donkeys and pigs, the canvas was fencing and a barn and corrals. We want to rotationally graze animals and incorporate Permaculture principles (irrigation, water catchment and fencing (canvas), having those things incorporated into our farm (painting). You get the idea. The painting and canvas emerge evolutionarily together as you proceed. The funniest rookies I’ve seen online are those that get the animals, bring them to their property and then scramble to house them because they did nothing with the canvas portion first! It is quite the experience to watch someone buy a cow (a 1200 pound creature), and then scramble to figure out how to keep them from escaping! Happens here all the time.

So that is where the comments came from about being “done”. The continuation of the canvas building was because there was something about it that lacked “closure” and that is definitely where I am now – Creating closure. In this past year, while everyone was scrambling for toilet paper, I was out building fences. Aaron and I built the garden fencing during the beginning of the lock-downs. He helped me until he went back up to school, to build the north pasture so we could rotationally graze. When he left, I continued to build the canvas on my own. Now it is on to the closure, both physically and metaphorically. Our property is a big 40 acre rectangle. The portion we use as our homestead is about 15 acres and we lease the back acres out to a farmer that lives across the road, who grows wheat. The way the canvas developed was from the road to our west and then back towards the east. This wasn’t exactly planned, but the shape of the place lent itself to nice 90 degree angles. So nearest the road are the two big pastures. One has the livestock barn, the other is the new grazing pasture. Come back closer to the house and on one side is the garden and greenhouse, on the other side of the driveway is the boy goat pasture, chicken coops and pig pen. In the middle of it all sits the house and garage (which were the only things on the place when we got it). All of this forms 3 sides of a rectangle. But the 4th side is open to the back 30 and then out into thousands of acres of grass prairie. On top of all of that, for all the critters we have and have made the canvas very comfortable for (they aren’t crowded, they lack for nothing, they all have shelter, etc), our dogs don’t have that luxury. Sure they have a hut and a pen, but so they can range and sniff and do dog stuff, I have to be out there with them. The canvas is incomplete. By closing the back side in, they will have 5 acres to run around on.

If you have never lived in a rural setting, people are a little weird about their dogs. They seem to think that it is ok to let them out and then not worry about what they are getting into or where they have gone. Our neighbors are no different. To our north, the family goes to work in the morning and they leave old FIDO out to roam around at will, which usually means he/she comes through the Piece O Crap barbed wire fence over to our place. Having the back side of the canvas unfenced leaves unfettered access to our place for said foreign critters. Being the more responsible adult in the room, I will not have my dogs returning the favor. With this final closing off of the back side of the 15 acres, the dogs can run themselves stupid and I will never have to wonder where they ran off to. In addition, should any of our other critters manage to escape their pastures (Think goats. They are escape artists that can get past you and out into open field before it even registers in your head that they escaped) they will encounter a redundancy. Nothing can get out without permission. Trust me, I over build everything. The pens are all made with fencing designed to keep horses in and this last side is fencing used for cattle. Unless they are high jumpers, they are staying put!

So I have embarked on what will definitely be the last fencing project (The completion of the canvas). YES I MEAN IT! Fence building is ball busting work, and I have to admit that at 58 years old, this construction stuff is getting just a bit too painful. The last fence closes off the back of the farm and completes a very nice symmetrical canvas with an incredibly cool painting on it that we now get to interact with for the rest of our lives.

Not only did this make sense from a physical standpoint, it was very nicely balanced emotionally as well. When I started this last fencing, I had in mind not only to square off the canvas of the farm, but to have it done by the end of March. You see, the end of March 4 years ago, was when I sold my practice and left work. Unfortunately, 3 months later I was in for surgery and that sidelined about a year or so of canvas building; but, 4 years, to me, was a nice square number to finish the construction career. This last fence is the closing off of the farm, the framing of the painting, and with any luck, the walking away from this psychotic society. A good online friend once said, “I don’t understand the world anymore, so I am opting out.” That is where I am. The metaphor of closing off the farm, living in the painting, and opting out of an insanity that I have no power to cure, works for me. If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you have seen what we’ve accomplished. At this point, modesty be damned (thus referencing the injured knee picture) I did it, I am proud as hell of it, and what it can provide and bottom line, we certainly deserve it. For those who have said they are jealous of it….. success comes with blood, sweat, and tears. This is the culmination of a 30 year career, dashed dreams and the emergence of what we consider to be a fantastic success. To quote the movie “The Incredibles” – ‘Luck favors the prepared, darling.’ People are often envious of sports figures who seem to be able to effortlessly perform their chosen activity. What they ignore are the thousands of hours of practice and drilling that got them to that point. Make no mistake, I am a black belt in farm building. We are not novices. We earned the scars and now we have earned this closure.

As of tomorrow I will have hand pounded in another 90 fence posts along 900 feet of fence line. My little tractor just wasn’t up to the task of drilling the holes for the wooden posts so I actually hired that done. A local friend came out with his huge skid steer and punched the holes. What would have taken me 2 days, he did in less than an hour. Well worth the money. The gas powered post driver I bought in order to give my shoulders some relief from the relentless pounding of steel posts (when this fence is complete it will mark almost one full mile of fencing installed by yours truly) gave up the ghost after a dozen – #screwTitanpostdrivers. It seems that it is always better to either do it yourself, or work with someone local. This machine was a complete piece of crap. Oh well, as it really is the last fence construction to be done here, as of tomorrow, I will have no need of it. We are expecting what could be the biggest snow storm here in 9 years this weekend, so my shoulders will get a chance to heal before the actual stringing of the fencing commences (We’ll see about that snow prediction, we had the bomb cyclone here a couple of years back and that sucker was no slouch. If it bests that, thank god we are Preppers!)

During the snowstorm, should it transpire, it will be the perfect time to transplant this year’s seeding, fire up the grow lamps, make Mozzarella cheese, and contemplate my next weaving project….. perhaps a nice Overshot.

“Plant like your life depends on it. Because it does.” – Collette O’Neil, Bealtine Cottage, Ireland

My little tractor rebelled against the post holes this time (went through 3 safety shearing pins on the auger).
Thanks Peter!!! You were a life saver!!
His skid steer has some serious beef. This ground is seriously hard.
Lookin’ a little wobbly without the concrete!
I am an animal!! Each of these posts required at least 50 post hammer strokes to get them to the proper depth. Almost done!!
These are the other fences to the west. Should anything escape they will meet with this new fence enclosure.
Just gives you an idea of the scope and size of this craziness. No wonder my shoulders are thrashed. #ScrewTitanPostDrivers!
Startin’ to look like a fence! Oops, I mean Overshot Canvas

A Cheese Is Coming, My Precious

The last livestock project that we have been learning about has to do with dairy. We could never use all of the milk that would come from a family cow, like a Jersey. At peak production they can give two or more gallons of milk per day! As we are not really milk drinkers, except for cream in our coffee or Zina’s occasional pancakes, it didn’t make much sense to pursue. I have been around cows a lot in my years and I must say that if a bovine were to take up residency here it would be for beef. That being said, however, we do eat a fair amount of cheese. Not mountains of course, but if you have been following along for any length of time, you know that if it is something we can make ourselves, that is what is going to happen. Our goats are little Nigerian Dwarf Goats. They are sweet, easy to handle, and have milk with a very high fat content. In their peak production we get between a quart and half a gallon a day per goat. So to insure that the babies get what they need, we never take them away from the mommas except at night. Over time the mothers will self wean. They can be milked for about 8 months and throughout that time the milk output begins to slowly decline. She gets to rest for a year and then can go again. It also allows us to only milk once a day instead of twice and avoids all the bottle feeding nonsense.

With the recent births from Ginger and Paprika, we have gotten into full milking swing. Yogurt will be happening soon and we have also made Chèvre (kind of a tart cream cheese). The next one to master is going to be Mozzarella. It is fairly simple to do and it is also the next one I thought was interesting in my cheese making book. Once I get that down, it will be on to the hard cheeses. The press arrived yesterday and now our little dairy operation is staffed, geared up, and making milk.

As with any new venture, there are always some pitfalls. The grumpy old farmer doesn’t always take those in stride. There are two things that can drive me to hysterics: techno – gizmos that think I need to be a computer nerd to make them work and unforeseen hassles where the solution isn’t readily available. Zina and I have both agreed that being raised by perfectionists have set the bars for success at unattainable heights. Ginger is producing a huge amount of milk, but Paprika is not producing much of anything and hates the whole milking process. Well….. why? Why are you doing this to ME!? Stupidity at it’s finest. Poor thing. So back once again to the Google gods to ask for the answers to all of life’s pressing questions.

Paprika is the lowest lady in the flock. She has always been something of a reject by the rest of the girls. Head-butting may look playful, but there is a real dominance, submission thing happening. Of all the flock, she was also the most slender and petite. In fact, we were never really sure that she was pregnant. We probably should have gotten a clue prior to breeding as she was always the one almost desperate to get the treats when we would feed them. She was hungry because she wasn’t getting her fair share of hay.

The Google gods informed us thusly: If a goat is too skinny and doesn’t have much in the way of fat reserves, she will have difficulty making milk. It can cause issues with calcium deficiencies and make it difficult to even make enough milk for her babies. BINGO! It seems that she simply doesn’t have the internal energy for production. With us trying to milk her, it was also depriving her baby of necessary nutrients (Poppy is doing fine, fortunately). So we have taken her out of the milking rotation and will be isolating her at feeding time to make sure she is getting enough to eat and try to fatten her up a bit. I may be a big, surly, grumpy, old dude, but I have a soft spot for the critters even when they piss me off to the point of a stroke. I will be going out to pet Paprika this evening, smooch on her and ask forgiveness of not seeing the signs sooner and, well, just being a dick. Animals are insanely forgiving. We could learn a great deal from them.

Paprika and the kids.

Perhaps if we breed her again after having gotten her the food she needs, things will be different. Next up for breeding, Cumin, Cinnamon and Clover…. Dozer is going to have SO much fun! P.S. The new electric milker is awesome!

Spring Is Actually Arriving!

Spring is actually coming. Of course we are expecting a snowstorm today, but it is the week here to start planting seedling in the basement grow room! Soon the big lights will be running and the new plants will begin their journey to the gardens. The annual garden grid is up and, of course, I do most of it in pencil because it always changes. This year we are moving all of the tomatoes (as usual) and the peppers, into the greenhouse. Some reading up on peppers indicated that they should do much better here under the cover of the greenhouse and the shade cloth. We usually have quite a large pepper harvest but the fruit always look like they fought a bit of a battle. It will be interesting to see if the protection and elevated humidity (versus none) help them out. One gardener said they saw a 500% increase. Doubt we will see that, but if the peppers are larger it would be fun.

But, before the hot weather plants go outside, the cool weather crops get to perform first. As we aren’t even to March yet, there are 3 months until our big plant in dates (usually around Memorial Day). Given the wild weather swings because we broke the Jet Stream, even if it looks like the temperatures are clear, buyer beware. Last year we put things out about 10 days too soon and we ended up scrambling with row covers to keep things from freezing to death before they even had a chance. In the next couple of weeks the Broccoli and Cauliflower and Spinach will get planted into the greenhouse. We still may need to use row covers (I have no doubt), but these three plants do pretty well in cold weather. Next up will be planting out onions and shallots, but that is still a ways off. Once it is time to plant in the peppers and tomatoes, the Broccoli and Cauliflower will be out and frozen and the same with the Spinach.

The newest addition to the main garden space will be the creation of a Blackberry hedge. This will be along the fence that Aaron and I put in last spring. There will be 24 bushes along the south side and will use the fence as a trellis. The irrigation will simply come from an extension of the hoses used to water the apple trees. More plowing, hole drilling, drip irrigation and composting will ensue. We should see those plants arrive sometime around the end of April. They come bare root, so initially they will go into pots and then, when the plot is ready, be planted in then.

In planning the garden we always have to assess what we actually need. If you have enough of something that you might never go through, why plant it, etc. I had planned on using one of our 50 foot beds to plant sweet corn. Out here that can be hit or miss, and we have a great source for sweet corn in Boulder. I have been doing the low carb thing lately so the sweet corn would likely just sit in the freezer and maybe end up getting fed to the chickens. So it was with that thought to feeding the animals that caused a shift in plans. Between that and the enormous potato harvest we had this past year, it was actually getting a little difficult to come up with enough plants to fill up all the beds. Enter the critters. American Guinea Hogs are walking scrap eaters. When we got them all the literature said how great they are as you can feed them on mostly grass and table scraps. Unfortunately, we are lacking in both so we have been feeding them store bought alfalfa pellets and pig feed. That isn ‘t too much of a problem but it is still having to turn dollars into pork. I read an article that talked about planting animal plots. They include vegetables that can be used by both humans and animals so nothing really gets wasted. While raw potatoes can be toxic to pigs, boiled ones are not. Pigs are natural rooters, so things like beets and turnips can be fed to them as well. This way we have ready potential pork to feed extra potatoes to and we can store both those and the beets and turnips I am going to plant in the corn bed, in burlap sacks. While this won’t eliminate the need for purchased feed, I can plant hundreds of root vegetables for a few bucks whereas pig feed is 15 bucks for a 50 pound sack. They will eat the roots, greens and all. Brilliant!

BIRDS EVERYWHERE!

Yesterday was the early spring cleaning of the chicken coops. This is probably the nastiest job on the farm. Unfortunately it is a job one can’t ignore if you grow food without fertilizer. Chicken crap is pure gold. It goes from chicken feed to eggs to poop to tomatoes (Both the humans and the pigs eat the eggs). We have never added commercial fertilizer of any kind to the beds since we bought the place. The animals make all we need. However, that cleaning job is a real butt buster. Not only is it simply no fun (it is after all just cleaning out an enormous bird cage) it is insanely dusty. In my case, and Zina’s too, being a bit asthmatic, that dust just locks up your lungs. As it is also quite a bit of exertion, the choice is made whether to inhale the dust and not be able to breath that night, or wear a bandana and pass out from lack of oxygen. It usually winds up being a combination of the two. Truly, if my locked up lungs last night are any indication of what a bad case of the Roney Virus is like, I am not going out into the world ever again.

However, the birds are all cleaned up, the new compost from it is over in the garden area waiting to be used, the coops smell nice again, and I like eggs and fresh chicken….. things could be worse.

As I had posted previously, we put an outdoor brooder in the barn this year. We did it because we were wanting to eliminate the need to have to start baby chicks in the house. They need to stay in a warm environment for about 4 weeks while they feather out and then they go out into a grow out coop before either going in with the flock or to the freezer camp resort hotel (You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave). We have 52 roasters coming next week (52 because that is where there is a price break). Of course, weather being unpredictable like it is now, we are expecting the first part of March to be too cold for them to be out in the new brooder (even with the heat lamps). We lost a bunch last year for the same reason….. live and learn. Soooooooo, back in the house comes the big tank, heat lamps, wood chips, and feed in anticipation of many small cheepers taking up residence in the basement. Fortunately though, after about 10 days to 2 weeks (instead of 4 weeks) we will be able to move them out to the new cage as they will be partially feathered and the lamps out there will be ample. The last week of a 4 week stint is pretty nasty. The whole house starts to smell like chickens and there gets to be a thin layer of dust settling over everything. This way shouldn’t be all bad. By the time they go out into the grow out pen, it will be April and they will have their adult feathers. Besides, you have never eaten chicken until you have had one raised right outside your door. This is a bit of a hassle (processing is a big job) but we never complain at dinner time.

THE GOATS HAVE EXPLODED!

We have posted about our new goat babies. I don’t think there are many animals as cute as baby goats. By now they are about 3 weeks and are hopping about playing dodge the donkeys. It is always so entertaining to see them learning howt to use their springy legs and seeing the wide open world under momma’s supervision. After 2 weeks the milking begins. This is Ginger’s second round of babies so milking her is pretty simple. Because she had 5 kids she is pretty full and I imagine having some of the milk removed in the morning is a welcome relief. That little lady is producing about 1/3 of a gallon in a morning! Momma Paprika is a completely different story. She is petite to begin with and doesn’t seem to understand this whole milking thing (“What are YOU DOING back there!!??”). To be fair, it is her first time, I am human, and neither one of us is known for our patience. When she doesn’t want to be touched she simply kicks at you and lays down. I pick her up by her tail, she kicks and lays down. Oh well, it will come around. But not all goats are great milkers by volume either. While Ginger has opened up the flood gates, Paprika is a bit of a trickle. As milking is why we have them, one needs to evaluate. I won’t breed her again (as we are only getting about a pint from her) so she might have a date with our local community sale barn to be sold as a pet (Nigerians are sweet little kid friendly buggers and Paprika is very cute).

The one thing that makes things a bit of a challenge while milking, is the way it is done. Me milking a little Nigerian Dwarf Goat by hand would be akin to Andre the Giant milking a Hummingbird. No way that is happening. The milker we had been using is a good one, but it was simply a hand pumped device. If you have a skittish goat like Paprika, all that additional pumping commotion doesn’t help matters. So, UPGRADE! We have gone all modern and got an electric milker that doesn’t require pumping. Once it is on and in place the little motor does the rest. The thing, of course, has a fitting name: The Udderly EZ milker. Yep…..

If I could convince Zina that we should have a Jersey Cow, it would work on her as well…….. but for the goats, especially when I am out in cold weather, this thing is awesome. So for those thinking I am some kind of Luddite, think again. This, plus the new filter for processing, is going to save me so much time. By the sound of the dogs barking their fool heads off as I write this, it sounds as though the new cheese press has arrived as well. Time to start making some righteous Cheddar.

So this was kind of a mish-mash of things. It is typically what happens as spring starts to appear. Last year at this time I was finishing the last of our raised beds and hail guards. This year, I am going to finishing our last needed fence. My goal, weather not withstanding, is to have that fence done by the end of March. The gas driven post pounder has come back repaired so, hopefully, I won’t be driving t-posts by hand like I did for the most recent pasture fencing. My shoulders can’t handle that impact much anymore and there are over 100 to do. So far this year I have thrashed my shoulders, popped my right knee again, broken the middle finger of my left hand and sprained the one on the right. I always thought that the old farmers in Iowa, hobbling around in their overalls, must be some really ancient old codgers who have been around the block a few times….. I really need to not look in the mirror. As POGO said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” I are one. Maybe I just need a shiny new pair of overalls and I will be all fixed. Add some Bondo, a few bearing and U joint repairs and I’ll be all set to go. Or not. As my t-shirt says, “Everything will kill you so choose something fun”. Peace.

Phase One Of The JAZ Farm Oasis Project

As I mentioned in a previous blog, the next evolution of the farm is to work to regenerate the land and try to create something of an oasis in a sea of dry grass that is on it’s way, according to climate models, to becoming the Sahara. The first piece is putting in the necessary earth works. It will include swales and other water catchment systems as we progress, but the first piece is to allow for better rotational grazing of animals. It’s important to be able to move the grazing animals around so that any one pasture doesn’t get over grazed thus killing the vegetation that is there. Today I finished the new north pasture. I hand pounded 140 posts, drilled in and cemented in H braces and Corner braces and tied on and pulled 1750 feet of horse fence. Actually, I have a last 100 feet to do tomorrow but in essence, it’s done. Using portable fence netting we will be able to direct which paddock the animals have access to. Between the 4 pastures I figure we can block out 8 different paddocks thus rotating the goats, pigs, chickens and turkeys from field to field so they can graze and peck and actually help to heal the land. I do have one last humdinger of a fence to build so that in case of a possible escape by said creatures, they run into a back stop. It will also give the dogs about 4 acres of their own to run around on without us having to wonder where their dumb Lab butts ran off to. After having to pause to throw a bunch of hay into storage (about 60 bales – gasp), I will start on the second fence. The goal being to have all this infernal fence torture done by planting season (Memorial Day). After that, the fun jobs start…. I actually can’t wait for that. Being the gardener and Permaculturist will be so much more enjoyable than pulling galvanized steel fencing around (It weighs about a pound a foot and they come in 200 ft rolls). Pretty tired of construction, but it comes with the territory I guess.