Happy 7th Anniversary JAZ Farm!

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December 4th, 2012…… a date that will live in infamy!  After years of searching for land and over a year of negotiating, losing one bid on another place and the stress and strain of dealing with a bank trying to buy a foreclosure, we got the keys to a dilapidated house and garage and set work to putting it all together.  This blog has been a journaling of all that has transpired in it’s transition.  This was a broken down house in the middle of a massive, 40 acre grass field.  7 years later, it is a comfortable home and a fully functional farm with barns and coops, pastures, vegetable gardens, dairy goats, chickens, pigs, donkeys and turkeys.  This was a huge, all encompassing, project that has consumed us since before we were even given the keys.  You can see all of it here and scroll over the years to see just what went into building a life of Thoreauian self-reliance.  This is, and was then, the most all consuming project of our lives.  Between the sacrifices, the enormous amount of physical work and the vision of what it could be, we are so proud of ourselves and are unapologetic for saying so.  Not many have embarked on such a mission.  Even less so at our age.  JAZ Farm, we hope, is a beacon for others to follow.  It was a life changer for us.  We have loved it and hated it….. many times during the course of just one day!  We went to the plains to live deliberately.  We live the old fashioned ways on purpose – and that has made all the difference.

So instead of going over what we did to build the place (which has been more than compiled on this blog) I thought it more important, now that the build out is completed (except for projects that will help embellish and aren’t necessarily needed for core operations) to go over more of the mental challenges that one goes through when deciding to make a pretty decisive break from modern society.  Many come to the homesteading gig through a desire to get out of the rat race, or grow one’s own food, or have a place for animals.  All are valid reasons; unfortunately, many bite off this quest with inadequate financing and pie in the sky fantasies of it being a virtually utopian existence.  As a result,  plans are made, jobs are quit, animals are acquired and fences built.  After which, the funds run out, the animals escape and the makeshift infrastructure fails.  Also, even when it all does hold up, it is discovered that everything that has been built and all the animals are acquired, require feeding and maintenance.  You are awakened before the sun to the donkeys honking, the chickens crowing, the goats baying and and and…. eyes staring at you…. everywhere, hungry eyes.  Many folks leave.  Many go broke.  Many deal with the depression of feeling like failures when the ideal of making a living from their own land, fall flat.  This is a very rewarding way of life… but it ain’t for the faint of heart, and that is where I’d like to go with this anniversary celebration.  After all, it is a Phoenix and we are still standing, when at several points that was definitely in question.

There are many philosophical and psychological  issues that cause people to seek out a homesteading life.  Ours was trying to find some sense of security and mental health in a world that is decidedly losing it’s mind.  We discovered issues like Peak Oil (peak everything for that matter), Financial fraud after having worked in the industry through the crash of 87,  the dot com crash, the 2008 financial collapse, climate change issues, the perverted food system poisoning the population, not to mention, just the idea of being enslaved to the abusive world of corporate capitalism and the never ending treadmill of running east looking for a sunset.  We made the conscious decision to use our resources to attempt to escape to the maximum degree possible.  We honestly think that the future looks bleak.  Some may call us preppers, we call it being pre-emptive.  After all, just a few generations ago, this was just how one lived.  So many issues seem to be stacking up in front of us that could cause serious survivability issues that it made sense to remove ourselves to a safe distance.  Now we can work in the city (where most live), but use those resources to create and maintain a lifestyle that is more recession, depression and collapse resilient.  Not to mention the fact that the food is sooooooo much better tasting than the grocery store or restaurants.  We didn’t think it made sense, once the realities of our supply systems were exposed for the tissue paper strength that they are, to sit around when we knew we could do something about it.  So we dropped out of the rat race.  We built a farm, we grow virtually all of our own food, we are mostly off grid, and have an extremely quiet existence out on the high eastern Colorado plains.

Despite the hardships along the way (which are enumerable but we’ve decided to keep a lot of those to ourselves so as not to hurt others) lessons about living in a pretty inhospitable part of the world, and trying to keep one foot in the urban rat race while decompressing out here, I’m not so sure we would ever trade this.  I can’t imagine sitting in a suburban home anymore.  What do they do other than work and shop?  This place gives us purpose.  It gives us security.  It makes us feel somewhat unique and that we are living deliberately without depending on the fragility of the momma birds importing resources to the city.  7 years in the making…. what a long strange trip it has been.  I hope that passers by to the blog here may gain some inspiration and move toward their goals.  It takes a spine.  It takes a sacrificed spine….. BUT, there is nothing more satisfying than looking out your window and seeing all of these structures and functionalities and that they all work….. and you built all of them.  7 more years?  What a trip that might be.  JAZ Farm… it’s our own act of rebellion and freedom.  Whoda thunk?  I was supposed to be nothing but the family scapegoat.  This world doesn’t belong to the masters of business and AI and corporate fascism.  It belongs to the like minded who go back to the old ways while the former collapses around them.  Mark my words, it isn’t far away.  Happy 7th anniversary JAZ Farm.  Thank you for your existence.

 

 

 

Revisiting My Old Crash Pad

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The TFL tear has put me out of commission for awhile.  I did my first look in the mirror since Monday when I felt it give and was met with this lovely softball sized bruise.  I dug out the old crutches and ice packs and began what felt like an old familiar routine.  I spent many a month on the floor on Basil’s Orthopedic dog bed prior to my back surgery.  Today it put me in the best position to apply pressure and ice.  I have to admit that I’m pretty sick of being injured.  The past three years have been a few for the books.  Even the dogs seemed to remember the old routine:  Icing, staring at my pad and puppy piles.  Gotta let this one heal up good and then strengthen it.  Time to change farm directions.

A Hard Couple Of Weeks Here

According to the flight tracker, Zina is in the air on her way back to me.  While the whole trip was hard, I’m sure today was doubly so.  I imagine having to deal with ill parents at their stage of life is pretty tough.  Leaving, all the more so.  We love you my wife. Me, Aaron and all the silly critters.  It is no consolation, but this too shall pass.  It was a rocky couple of weeks but I’m glad you went.  Really.

As with everything we have dealt with this quarter plus century, nothing happens in a vacuum and it certainly doesn’t happen one at a time.  It’s time to rest and let the world fade away for awhile.  Its a rough time on the homestead.

I’m Never Going To See My Wife Again.

Zina took the day off today to be with the new baby goats.  As long as I’m out in the barn with her, she’ll give me the time of day.  I’m thinking about getting a cot out there for her to spend the next few nights on!  Of course, she is smitten with the little duo.  They are ridiculously cute, which furthers my assertions about how babies grow up to be adults…. cuz they are cute!

Everyone is fine.  Momma Ginger seems to be taking it all in stride.  The interaction is kind of fascinating. She talks to them.  She tells them to eat.  She is always cleaning them to bond.  She will nudge them back to her udder.  They are totally interacting with each other.  Momma will come and rub on us as if to get reassurance that she’s doing everything right.

The little doe-ling gave us a little start today.  They both got their first vitamin dose.  Tomorrow is a pro-biotic to jump start their little rumens (how they digest).  Afterward, the doe-ling looked kind of lethargic and was having “wet” coughs.  All seems well now, but with goats this is the time where EVERYTHING can go wrong.  So this gave us some pause.  By the time we left them alone this morning she was up and even chewing on some alfalfa strands.  Zina just came in and said they were jumping all over her…. a very good sign.  Pictures below.

So the coughing activated Zina’s Italian mothering instincts.  I had to hold her back from trying to feed her red sauce and pasta (Food is love after all! LOL!). But I was not innocent of concern either.

The birthing process attracted every fly within a mile radius.  If you’ve never endured fly season on a ranch or a farm, just think annoying like mosquitoes.  So I set to cleaning the barn and turkey coops again with gusto, as well as getting the wood chip bedding freshened.  I also sprayed the barn with fly repellent last night like we have been doing all summer and then realized that these little guys are smaller than a Chihuahua.  So, of course, I worried all night that the fly repellent might do something awful to them.  Nothing like parental or care-giver worry.  I can’t blame mine on my heritage.  Dutch people don’t really give a hoot.  Must be all that ice in Northern Europe.  Must be something else.  Guilt.  We’ll go with guilt along with a little shame if we actually fail at something.  A dead baby goat… its all your fault you .. fill in the blank.

So all appears well, but I miss Zina.  I could go out  there again, but I worked hard again today and breathed in a lot of turkey poop dust while cleaning the coop and am kind of wheezing.  Yes dear,  I wore a bandana as a mask.

Here is more serious cuteness:  Breast feeding in public?  Who friggin cares!

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You Never Understand Until…

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>>> A little size perspective.  They probably don’t weigh a pound a piece and the entrance to that cat carrier is only about a foot.  They are little bitty turds.  We will wait a bit to make sure we are out of the woods.  If the little boy makes it, his name will be Neo.  He will join his daddy and uncle: Tank and Dozer.  The little girl will follow the rest of them and get a name after an herb or spice.  Currently we have Cumin, Paprika and Ginger.  But we reserve the right to re-use names (The dogs are Basil and Sage, so those won’t work).<<<

We read everything about goats.  We had “How To” books, read online websites and all things “expert”.  However, NOT ONE THING  about that stuff makes any sense until said critter is in your lap.  We have had our goats going now into our second season.  We’ve got the adult part pretty well under control.  Then, BABIES!!  We gots this too, but it is one thing to read what you should be “looking for” and actually seeing it.

This morning I walked into Uncle-Farmer-Jon-hood.  It changed the entire day.  “OMG!  She gave birth and didn’t tell us!  Did they get their Colostrum?  Where are the birthing sacs? She ate em?  Wow!  They are so clean and seem to be happy!”  “Ok.  So if they aren’t screaming for milk, mom must have done her job.  Breathe you idiot.”  “But will she feed them and what kind of schedule do we keep for milking that is best for the kids?”  “I got her teat to squirt, so the faucets work, but Nigerians are little goats and I have walnut crusher hands.  I think we need a milker”. Ordered. $$$.

The babies seem happy.  Momma doesn’t seem to have rejected them, but she is a first timer and was bottle fed….. how is all this going to transpire?… answers damn it I need answers!  Someone really moved my cheese today.  I was going to build my new garden wagon, weed, plant and harvest and make Sauerkraut and tomato sauce, but NOOOOOOOO! The universe dumped two new goats on me.  Deal with that control freak!

So I jump on our most informative website.  Funny name “Fias Co. Farms”.  Today I was living in a Fiasco all right.  I felt like Trinity in the Matrix having the ability to fly a helicopter downloaded into her head within seconds.  I’ve been learning factually, that which we knew only conceptually.  Didn’t I already do this 24 years ago?  Do they need a college fund?  What about a bassinet and crib?  I just have these questions!  Aaaagghhh!

So Fias Co.  said that these little hopfrogs like to have a little place to crawl into to nap.  So I took one of our cat carriers, took off the door and they love it!  The humor was that the little buck went in there and proceeded to plop down for a nap.  Sister didn’t see him do it and started screaming like a baby with a wet diaper because she couldn’t find him.  The reunion took place and all is now calm.

I knew that we were going to have to dis-bud (de-horn) them.  It involves taking something like a soldering iron and burning off the buds that will form horns.  I’ve branded, doctored and castrated calves.  These are much tiny-er and it is on their head.  The thing burns at 1000 degrees F. Knowing vs. doing….    So I checked into that as well today.  It is suggested that it is done within their first week!  Crap. I don’t have said soldering iron or the box to hold the kid in.  Ordered…. more $$$.  Now granted, our little herd is pure bred and registered blood lines, so some care and expense is in order.  I was just too pumped on adrenaline to remain calm.  So next week when said branding equipment comes, I get to burn goat buds.  I WILL be wearing earphones.  Just like baby pigs, they can scream like you can’t believe.  What a thrill.

So this evening I went out and put the turkeys in their coop and checked on the newborns and momma.  All seem well.  Ginger wants to get out of the kidding pen, but that won’t happen for another day or two.  Friday she gets to go out and graze a bit.  In about a week, after the disbudding, the babies will get to go out and explore a bit too.

One site says, milk immediately.  Another says, wait 2 weeks or wait until they are weaned.  I guess, like with everything I do, I’ll land somewhere in the middle.

On top of this, my new garden wagon came, the weights for the fermenting croc arrived, all the other animals didn’t disappear or seem to not need food today.  Breathe, breathe, breathe.  As usual, I’ll get this down once my mind processes it over night.  If the babies are still alive in the morning, we’ll take the next step.  After all, goats aren’t endangered and have been reproducing for millennia.  I imagine they will muddle through whether or not I know what I’m doing.  Good job Ginger!

The Gardens Are In

3 days of grunt work and the gardens and the greenhouse are planted.  The tomatoes look kind of pissed off from the recent cold snap that inevitably happens as soon as we take them out into the world from their cushy life in the basement, but as of today, dark green leaves are re-emerging.

For here, we have had a pretty wet spring.  It’s been nice to have the outdoor gardens soaked in this year.  However, we still haven’t gotten into real mountain melt off season yet and the longer it waits and the warmer it gets, the bigger the hail will be.  We are supposed to be in the mid- 70’s with a chance of “rain” every day for the next 10 days.  Fingers crossed that the hail guards were worth the price.  The shade cloth already has been.  It is fun to watch their shadows cross the beds at the height of the daily sunshine.  The Prima Dona squash plants seem to be grateful.

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I wrote a letter to a couple of friends this past week that points to a milestone.  This time it is real.  It’s funny, since having written about the need to be finished with the general “Bob The Builder” work, I’ve seen several friends I follow on You Tube express similar sentiments.  Not only does it need to be done, it needs to remain fun:

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>>My son and my wife hear it all the time from me. “This place needs to be done. I’m so tired of being sore and tired”. It kind of goes in one ear and out the other. “Ya, ya, dad says the projects are almost done, but he’ll just dream up more of them.” I laugh and kid and let them have their teases, but inside I’ve been saying ever since surgery, “But I really mean it, This. Needs. To. Be. Done.” The Truth is, that I really did have a vision of what the farm should be able to do and what would be needed to make that happen. While I was building the place out (and also working), I worked pretty hard at making each piece produce as it became finished. My dream was looking forward to the time when I got to simply use it all for its intended purposes and be able to retire the tools.

We got the keys to the place 12/4/12. Today, Memorial Day weekend 2019, I dropped the mic – er, hammer, saw, drill, fencing tools, wrenches, pliers, and all the other various and sundry construction devices. It happened. Every piece is in place. Sure there will always be repairs or things that can embellish or improve upon something, but as of today, it’s done. The JAZ Farm project is completed. I get to take the rest of the summer and play farmer. My general contractor days are done. I won’t have to wake up tomorrow wondering what I have to build today. I was burning out big time and it wasn’t fun anymore. There are no more fences that are immediate, no more garden building or greenhouse construction, no more remodeling, no more corral building, coop building, brooder, construction or pig pen building, just tending the farm animals, gardening, stargazing, archery, and weaving (Along with some well deserved ass sitting). My spine was eaten, my knee is shot, all my joints ache, I’m mentally spent, and it all looks amazing. Now I get to retire to it. It might not be important to anyone else, but this was my Everest. Today I summited. We were sitting under the awning of the barn and I had one last part of a brooder to finish. I looked at Zina and said, “This is it. After this bracket, It’s all done. Even if it isn’t, it has to be. I can’t do this anymore. Everyone else gets to play Farmer In The Dell, but when I look in my basket, it always has tools in it. It’s done. I want to play in the dirt.” So at least for the summer, the tools are hung up. It all works, nothing is missing and I get to farm without distraction. That’s the second half of the summer retreat. Just living the “Mostly Off Grid Life.

Six and a half years of building. If there was anything in my life that should overcome all the self-deprication, it should come from simply looking out the window. I will not miss my twice weekly trips to the Home Depot, Tractor Supply, or the local feed store and Stockyard supply stores. They have enough of my money. It’s time to play and use the place for that which was birthed in my mind. It started as a thought and out onto the earth it came. The End.

Mic drop. Done. 5/25/19. What a long strange trip it’s been.<<

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But of course, having pets means that those tools must never be far away.  We have a temporary fence netting around the greenhouse gardens for the express purpose of keeping critters from raiding the gardens.  I’ve seen it keep the barn cats frustrated, and it does keep the dogs out……… so I thought.  Our youngest Lab, Sage, is a little deviant.  I was watering yesterday, and I looked over and the little shit was in the garden area with me!  How the hell did she do that?  With her teeth of course.  Chewed a hole through the net and jumped through!  Now the garden fencing will need to be built sooner than I expected.

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The Turkey Hilton got its “gazebo” today.  The birds in the grow out coop needed some respite from the sun.  Those steel pig huts can get hot in the sun, and since they are a food source and won’t be around in the winter, we need to make sure they are comfortable during the summer. So, when I ordered the shade cloth for the garden beds, I also got a 90% sun block cover for the turkey runs.  To make sure that it wouldn’t get destroyed by the chain link fencing, I covered the fencing panels with cut open foam swimming pool noodles.  Pretty sure I embarrassed my son when we got them at Target.  Had one on each finger (they are 5 feet long) doing the wave through the store while we walked to the check out (it’s amazing the things you’ll do when you no longer give a damn).

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So summer is ready to commence.  The new broiler chicks are doing great.  We hatched a dozen new turkeys, lost two, so ten are in the brooder, the pigs figured out the feed dispenser (pigs iz smart), and the gardens are in.  Now to start planting the fruit trees and berry vines.  Oh wait…… didn’t I say I was done?