FROM CITY GIRL TO COUNTRY GIRL…
Early Morning Sunrise lighting up rain clouds, over the Selkirk Mountains
Hi Everyone! I’ve launched this blog because I have much to tell. Not sure if the name of it should be “exiting the city” or “from city girl to farm girl” or some such title but both of those would fit our family’s situation today. Originally, I was never, as in didn’t fathom, living on a farm. Had no clue about it, really. I would swoon over amazing pictures of a vintage farm situated somewhere up in New England – you know, the quaint country road, dusted with newly-fallen red/orange leaves or snow, beckoning the traveler to the most amazing farm house, situated at the end of the not-so-trodden path. Or, the rolling countryside of cows grazing in the most golden of fields, as the sun was setting in the distant west. So many pictures of ‘idealistic” places. Well, in 2011, our family left the very, EXTREMELY busy life outside of Washington D.C. for the very quiet, mountainous, region of Northern Idaho. Not in my varied of thoughts, would I ever think we would settle here. Sure, my husband and I had plans for our family to move out of the city and worked towards that goal but actually realizing it and when it became reality, that was a shocker. As we drove across the country in those early October days, I don’t think it had actually hit me that we were not going back to Maryland, a place we had called home for nearly 16 years. All of our children were born in Maryland; we had friends there (some I still do miss) and our life was established there. But, something else was beckoning us away. We knew we wanted to raise our kids in a different place but it was figuring out how to get there. So, there we were, driving across parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana – all the while, looking out the window and finally realizing that our new life was out in North Idaho. Our family arrived up North on October 6 and five days later, we moved into our home, out in the very middle of a stretching valley, surrounded by the tallest of fir trees, looking out onto a golden field. This is where we settled. No neighbors to see. No jets flying over at 2:30 in the morning as landing gear went down. No sounds but cows, distant trains, wind blowing through the trees, and birds. This was our new and different life.
Beautiful rainbow over dilapidated farm near our house
Living in the North of our country (United States) is a daily lesson in learning. First, there is the weather that changes frequently. No need to pay attention to forecasts because up where we live, “those” forecasts are usually wrong. Snow, you say? Oh, we just had a full day of sunshine. A beautiful, glorious, sunny day? A snow storm just blew through. As we are in fall now, the weather gets wetter and more unpredictable. Leaves are falling from the trees, as expected, but just last night, a powerful thunderstorm with lightening for two hours, blew through. Could signal a new front is approaching. Besides the weather, the stride and way of life is so very different from where we were, back East. The East Coast swagger or movement is more organized; planned and uppity. Out here, people pretty-much keep to themselves and are quite reclusive. They like it this way. But, if you need help, they are there to lend a hand. Our first winter here was much like that – I was stranded in the snow (still learning the ways of the snowy roads) (oh, and two feet might close school! (not two inches)) and along came a driver. He hopped out, set right into motion helping dig me out and then, we were both on our way. Making it home safely was a good feeling that night as the snow came down harder. When it snows up here, and I’m talking when a good storm hits, it can snow off and on for four days, heavy snowing. By the end of this, we might have 3-4 feet. Plowing out the driveway and the stairs are absolutely necessary. Shoveling a walkway to the chickens and goats – required! Anything else – not really needed. I tend to park my car 1/2 way in and our of the garage so I can still do exercising in there and get into the driver’s seat to back out. It has worked so far so we’ll see how it goes this winter. Our driveway is quite long and one absolutely needs a snowblower or better, a front shovel on a truck. Back East, we only had to shovel our few steps out front of our place; out here, we are self sufficient and must do our own work. This is very hard work but there is also a complete satisfaction to working hard and caring for one’s place. We moved here to be more self-sufficient and our way of living has not disappointed! I guess I started this post about weather and end it this way. One more thing, Summers up here are glorious. When the first warm wind of summer blows (and we all know up here which one it is), our minds shift to being on the lake, knowing we have a good three months of time to enjoy God’s wonderful summer season. I especially am thankful for summer – it is a time of recharging and cherishing the heat! 🙂
We live on a small, 10-acre farm. Our location is in a valley, between the Cabinet and Selkirk Mountains of Northern Idaho. When first arriving, there were some leftover chickens from the previous owners. They were still good egg layers and we gathered maybe 8-10 eggs a day. I’m not going to talk about chickens right now but I will say that I knew absolutely NOTHING about raising chickens before living on our farm. Everything was learned through daily on-the-job training. Today, we have about 23 chickens (if coyotes don’t get them at night) and they are laying about 10-14 eggs a day. Additionally, we got ourselves into goats about one year ago. Knowing not a single thing about them, we started with three goats (one female and two males) and got used to knowing what to feed them. Last fall, we added Nibbles, a pregnant female goat, to our group. She had her babies about a month after being at our place. I kept wondering if preparations needed to be made and watched all kinds of youtube videos – love youtube! and in the end, she did it all on her own.
We have Nigerian dwarf goats, by the way. They are a smaller breed, which is what we wanted. Larger goats can be ornery and unpredictable. The Nigerians have proven to be a good breed for us. So, above, you see Nibbles with her two babies. Our family sat down one night and everyone put names in a hat of what to call the two babies. It ended up being that the brown one was called Mr. Tumnus (Chronicles of Narnia) and the black one was called Knighthawk. Today, both goats are nearly full-grown and they were born about five months ago! Amazingly, Nibbles had the babies all on her own. I was thinking we had to go out and help at some unnerving hour of the night but when I awoke, I saw one baby in the chicken yard and the other was hidden behind a hay bale or feeder. They had both been born out in the cooler, spring air but both did just great and eventually, found their mommy and started eating! Nibbles has proven to be a wonderful mommy and very caring to her babies.
Apple trees and more are what dot our property up here in the North. A cornucopia of various apple, two plum, and one pear have been discovered on our property since arriving, nearly three years ago. The first year, I attempted to make applesauce but that didn’t turn out so well. I also tried making plum jam but uh, again, wasn’t a huge success. I believe there are a variety of apples but mostly, some I cannot identify and have tried in vain to do so. Mostly, we enjoy picking the apples off the tree and eating them, which we do often, on an early fall day. Nibbles, our goat, LOVES apples – it is her favorite food. Often, I will feed her apples just to watch her enjoy the apple. The other goats are ok with apples but Nibbles could keep eating them until her belly was full. One of the projects I did this summer was pick all the strawberries (mostly all) we had and freeze them. Now, my freezer is chalked full of strawberries. I use them in smoothies for the kids. My attempt at making canned strawberry jam actually worked and I ended up with six pint jars. It will be opened sparingly throughout the winter. I also picked lots of raspberries but we didn’t have many this year. Of what was picked, I froze and used throughout the summer. Produce up here grows fairly well due to the long daylight hours, which start about last week of May and last all the way until middle of August. It starts getting light in those May days at around 3:30 in the morning. That was a shocker to me because we had never lived this far North. Birds are out and singing and light is evident on the horizon at 3:30! Those are neat times to fit in my early-morning run and have it done by 5:00 🙂 Still, I really don’t wake up that early too often but the thought is nice. By deep into summer, nights stay light until nearly 10. Because the daylight is so abundant, certain vegetables and fruits grow like crazy – our strawberries, zucchini, all types of herbs (I love growing herbs), and raspberries, if they are having a good year. By summer’s end, the light appears at 5:30 in the morning and the sun sets at 7:30 or a bit earlier.
I’m going to close today with showing one of my favorite parts of our home – our driveway. I’m not too keen on it come winter time but the rest of the year, love it. This time of year, when the leaves are orange and yellow and a rain has come a top the leaves, there is a beautiful carpet on various parts of our driveway. The driveway looks like it could lead somewhere magical. I love it.
Finally, I love the field we look out on, from the kitchen and deck. This field is so quiet and yet, full of life – various insects, hiding deer, smaller animals like birds, rodents and squirrel. The colors change depending on the season. In the fall, things turn golden; in the spring and summer, a wave of green overtakes every inch of this wonderful meadow. Ecosystems of various habitat roam this lively part of our land. We share the meadow with a southern neighbor but rarely do all of us cross paths. It is that quiet and wild out here.
Today we are working on the goat shed so the goats are warm for the winter. There was a structure already standing on our property and we are adding a wind barrier on the north side as well as painting, today. The next step will be to close up the top, north, inside area. Here are two of our goats, the first being Snickers, taking a break from eating hay:
Here is Mr. Tumnus:
Stocking up hay is very important for the winter up here in the North. This year’s hay was abundant and not too expensive, so, we stocked up early. The goats will primarily eat hay during the winter because they cannot forage outside; also, they will eat a little grain.
Next, I took a picture of the ducks:
the Drakes (or males) have the back feathers that curl up. We have four drakes (one not pictured) and one female. They waddle about the yard foraging on insects and we feed them some grain each day. We also set up a baby pool for them to swim in and they do a lot of swimming.
Finally, I leave you with a beautiful result of the sunrise shining through a rain cloud, over a barn. This barn is nearby and every now and then, I take my phone on my runs and snap some pictures. It is amazing the kind of picture a fairly outdated iPhone can take. Not too bad.
Every day, I collect eggs at around 1:30 in the afternoon. This gives the chickens time to lay most of their eggs. We have a building with egg-laying boxes where the chickens lay. We also have a heat lamp in there which has been turned on because the temperature is dropping more at night. Interestingly, the chickens lay in a select few boxes or on the ground, in the corner. Maybe they like the familiarity of going back to the place they know best. We get about 10-12 eggs a day. Most of our chickens are now adults and the newest crew, (of chickens we got back in April of chicks) are laying medium-sized eggs and will soon be laying full-sized eggs. At first, the eggs are really small and cute. Over about two-three months, the eggs increase in size. All of our eggs are brown. Our chickens roam during the day around the yard. This can be dangerous because there are predators about, hiding in the forest. We have 23 chickens as of now. We replenish the flock each year and raise the chickens from the time they are babies- very adorable babies, I might add.
the eggs we get…
Well, today is a very rainy day. Two systems are over Seattle and coming our way, one from a typhoon that was near Japan a week or so ago. We need the rain, though. So glad to see it coming down. I just fed the chickens and goats. Oh, the ducks have been moved in with the chickens and are still trying to get used to life outside of their large fenced area. Lots of eggs this morning – 10 or so and big ones! When I went to feed the goats, three of them were standing under a cluster of trees near the meadow – rain coming down, there they were getting drenched. I gave them fresh hay and all is well now. Some of our bantams were out in the rain so I gave them grain as well. I do not remember a rain this intense but will not complain. Makes it rather nice to be inside. The temps have dropped considerably, also – 41 degrees driving home last evening and this means it is snowing up at Schweitzer. There is snow on the Cabinet mountains to the East and on the Selkirks to the West. Seems early but maybe this means the ski season will be earlier, which is nice. Ok, so a short post but want to include the picture from the kitchen of the rainy weather: