Consider how the wildflowers grow....Luke 12:27 NIV
Living small in our 880 square foot cottage and micro farming on approximately an acre of land.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Little Egg Miracle

Everyone I know in the area who has chickens have been reporting that their hens have stopped or greatly reduced their laying for the winter.  This is fairly common as the birds use so much energy to stay warm and don't have the grasses and bugs summer provides.  Most farmers try to remedy this by adding a light bulb or heat lamp to their chicken coop.  Even so, those that do are still reporting great reductions in egg production.

I have 6 laying hens.  Since they only had a dog-house modified summer coop, we put them in the goat barn for the winter.  They have 4 nesting boxes and an old dresser turned sideways for a shelter.  I've littered the floor with layers of wood chips for the deep bedding method of keeping them warm.  The barn is windowless and has no lighting or heating.  In the morning, we open the doors to the barn and at night we shut it.  In foul weather they simply stay in the barn with the doors open, scratching, nesting, and burrowing into the deep bedding if it gets really cold or damp.  We've had it get in the single digits for a stretch of time and the chickens fared well.  So well, in fact that they are still giving us FULL EGG PRODUCTION!

That means, our birds are laying 4-6 eggs a day!  In one 24-36 hour stretch, we got 10 eggs!  And that was after a 3 day snow storm!

Every day I think, "this is it.  They must be done by now," and yet there's eggs sitting there waiting for us.  I am so grateful and I certainly can't figure out how those around me with more chickens and more ideal cooping situations are getting so few eggs, if any, while I am getting summer production in the winter.

I'm not bragging by any stretch.  It's a miracle in my book.  A promise from God to provide.  I still fully expect them to cease such production.  After all, that's what chickens do in winter around here.  But, every day there are eggs, and so many of them, I am thankful.  As we say in our church, all glory to God!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A New Resolve

Yesterday, I brought home the non-smoked round of meats from the butcher from our pig.  As I filled the freezer, my heart leaped for joy and my eyes filled with tears.  Beautiful, delicious, nutritious security that I raised!  I knew this pig.  I knew what he ate, I knew how he lived.  I was involved in his life every step of the way except birth and weaning.  And he provided for us.  It there even a word for it?  Complete is the closest I think I can get.

Hand in hand with God and the land, we raised our food.  All that work, all that new and unfamiliar work for me mattered.  It makes sense.  It has reason and purpose.

Why have we as a people gotten so far from that lifestyle?  We must have felt the wealthy had it better than us and we pursued wealth and convenience.  To what end?  Frozen pizza, and ramen noodles?  Leisure apparently is worth more than fruitful husbandry?  I think so at times, as evident in my recent posts.  Who doesn't like to put their feet up and have luxuries?

But, now I have a new resolve.  My heart swells in anticipation for next year.  I did so much this year.  I stretched myself farther than I ever thought I could.  Imagine how much more I can stretch myself next year!  My children are older, too, and eager to help.  My husband is on board after our successful run.  We can really make Scott Family Micro Farm Work!

Who's to say God won't bless us with a real working farm?  Perhaps He will.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Penny Saved # 4: Using Every Bit of Oven Heat

In my continuing quest to conserve not only pennies, but environmental resources, I became obsessed with using every bit of my oven heat.  I think I finally have it down pat.

I have an apartment sized electric range.  It came with the house.  I realized earlier in the fall that we have a lot of single-use appliances.  We have a furnace that heats water with oil and electricity.  We have an oven that runs on electricity for cooking.  And I'm running both at the same time!  That just eats up money and resources.

So, now, when I turn the oven on to cook (which is nearly every day since I do just about all my cooking from scratch), I add firebricks and a pan of water during preheat.  The bricks warm for residual heat in my cold kitchen (whoever built this house build the cabinets against the outside wall, so no insulation on the west wall), and the water I use for dishes.  I'll add another pan of water during cool down, too.

Now, I'm even more determined to get a Vermont Bun Baker.  Then, I could more effectively cook, heat, and warm water rather than over using all these single use appliances in my house that run on costly electric and/or oil.

Monday, December 8, 2014

T'is A Hard Thing

This past weekend we started wrapping up the meat-raising portion of our micro farm.  Slaughtering time.

T'is a hard thing.

For thousands of years man has been raising and slaughtering his own animals.  You'd think it would come rather simply and naturally with all that history behind it.  It isn't so matter-of-fact.  And it certainly isn't heartless and cold blooded.

Humble gratitude is how I described it on my facebook post.

My husband was a champion both in humane effectiveness and in vulnerable humbleness.  We did our pig and culled a rabbit that had contracted pneumonia.

It wasn't our first animal harvest.  We raised meat ducks a few years ago.  But, this was more poignant.  This was the first from our serious micro farming endeavors.  This was our first large livestock and our first babies born and raised for such a purpose.

I prepared myself for the harvest, finding that balance that every thoughtful farmer and hunter has to.  And as the deed was done, and some criticism from those around us fell upon our ears, I understood deeply that no one has any right to call a thoughtful farmer heartless, cruel, or inhumane.

In our forgetful and convenient modern world there is a place in between survival of the fittest and pet spas.  You can lovingly and carefully raise an animal, slaughter it, and eat it without a hint of heartlessness.  It is called animal husbandry, stewardship.

And it is teaching me to be more thoughtful, more heartfelt, more careful, more environmentally concerned, less wasteful, and yes, even less of a meat-eater.  When your meat comes to you that slowly, over months of care, you learn to ration it more appropriately than just grabbing chicken nuggets out of the grocer's freezer and gobbling up as much as you want.

It is a hard thing, but it is a good thing.

UPDATE:  My pig dressed out at 250 lbs!  Not bad for the runt of the litter!

One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.  The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.  Romans 14:2-3

Friday, December 5, 2014

Vintage Charming Glarming

Among the farm girl pinups I looked for to use in my last post, I found this gem!  The Farmer's Wife magazine!

This is great!

It joins my two worlds.

Maybe Glarming is possible, even if just in little treasured snippets.

Like last year when my husband admired that moment when I was wearing my vintage yellow sun dress, strappy white sandals, had my hair retro-coiffed, and wearing red lipstick in preparation for a vintage flea market excursion while hanging out in the pig pen with our newest shoat.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Is there a such thing as glarming?  Glamour farming?  There's Glamping, so why not glarming?  Maybe because when you get down to brass tacks, farming isn't glamorous at all.  Open toed high heeled strappy sandals with white socks?  Girl, you ain't been in the pig pen, have you?

Growing up, I had girlhood dreams of classic Hollywood quality of that well-dressed and quaint housewife, tidy, airy, beautifully decorated farmhouse, abundant flower garden, neat vegetable garden, and a red and white farm beyond.  I dreamed of woodstoves, and mending, and the scent of rose or lavender or lilac.  I dreamed of preparing homemade meals for strapping boys and sweat-smiling husband coming in with the faint waft of hay behind them.

Then, I started micro farming.

I don't get to wear pretty dresses and hang out in the tidy farmhouse making meals and smelling of roses.

I wear torn, stained jeans, work outside, my cottage gets messy and tracked up, and I smell of pig poop and goat.

I don't have time or money for a decent flower garden.

I pass up the vintage dress at the flea market because I have to buy animal feed.

We can't earn sole income on a micro farm, so my husband doesn't get to wander in from the fields like a romance novel cowboy.  And even if he did, he wouldn't smell of hay.  He'd smell of pig poop, diesel fuel, and body odor.

Woodstoves are great and I do want one, but they are messy and make everything smell of woodsmoke or bacon, not roses.

And thus my cottage would get messier and I hate messy clutter, especially in such a small space.

The American Dream gets lost in the translation to reality.  And I wonder how much of this desire is based on true farming passion and how much is based on that little girl's fantasy world.

Can I have both?  Can I Glarm?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Considering Goat Dairying Full Time

Back in early November, the goats were returned to their owner to be bred.  I enjoyed having the goats, and I am enjoying not having the goats.  I am very grateful for the experience and the goat's milk, but I am wondering if full time goat dairying is really for me.

You see, I'm enjoying sleeping in on weekends.  I like having time in the mornings to exercise, read, shower, dress, and work online before the kiddos wake up.  I like getting homeschool started on time.  It's nice that I can keep up on the household chores.  There are days I don't even have to go outside because my oldest son is willing to care for the remaining animals.  I relish time for my hobbies.  Do I really want to give all that up again?  I don't really mind for a season, but for a good portion of the year?

While I cared for the goats, I wondered how I'd do this if I fell ill.  I occasionally get vertigo that either leaves me bedridden or bathroom-bound.  And it can be serious enough that I absolutely cannot muscle up and do basic chores.  What if that happens?

Plus, I was just babysitting the goats.  I didn't have responsibility for their medical care, hoof trimming, etc.  I just fed them, cleaned their barn, and milked them.  So, it was actually a savings for us to have them.  If I actually OWN goats, would it end up costing us?

But, oh, that milk!  The self-sufficiency.  The quiet, rhythmic times of milking.

The good news is, circumstances may dictate my answer, anyway.  We moved the chickens to the goat barn and they've pretty much taken up permanent residence.  So, unless we can afford a goat barn in the spring, no goats at all.  IF we get a goat barn, then I still have the option of goat-sitting rather than owning.

Perhaps the answer is not now.  As my children grow older and less dependent on me and more able to contribute to the running of the farm and household, perhaps goat dairying will be more lucrative.  It would be nice to have two available milkers.

I suppose we'll just see where life takes us in 2015.