Year one was not the time for big projects. Year one was the time for saving. My mortgage payments were pretty reasonable during year 1 but the banks wouldn’t do a fixed rate mortgage on a tiny house so i had to account for the fact that my mortgage payment was subject to a notable increase every two years. I saved as furiously as i could in the face of ever arising repair costs. But i could dream about bigger more expensive projects i would one day undertake to fulfill my vision for the property. Namely, i wanted chickens. I had always wanted chickens, ever since i was a little girl. They fascinated me. I had dreams of owning a small flock of buff orpingtons. They were supposed to be a good chicken for beginners. They were friendly and in some cases would follow you around the yard in a little group. This notion sounded magical to my dreamy brain. Since they were a fairly friendly chicken, i wouldn’t have to worry so much about them pecking each other to death like some of the more agressive meat birds. I was allergic to chicken eggs so the eggs would be gifted to my friends of course. The idea of these giant fluffy birds walking around the yard just tickled me to death. I wanted the caged-in area around the coop because of hawks. I didn’t want the hawks to be able to swoop down and grab a chicken while i was inside making dinner. However, i had hoped to let the chickens out in the yard when i was out there watching them and allow them to help curb our grasshopper problem and decrese the frequency with which i had to mow the yard in the chicken area. Chickens scratched for bugs with their little feet which often hindered or eliminated the growth of grass in the areas where they were kept. It would have been a welcome effort during the rainy spring we had. The chickens would have to be secured in the coop before dusk as we had plenty of foxes that i was quite sure were not above digging under a fence for a meal. Cashew would probably be their best line of defence against all the things that would eat them while i was in the house. So i drew up a blueprint of what i would need to build and budget for to add chickens to the homestead and i filed that dream away to be taken out at a later date in time when i had the elbow grease, the time, and the funds to make it happen. Shout out to “White House on the Hill” for giving me advice and info on how to safely raise chickens with the proper gear and setup for cleaning out the coop.
The other thing i dreamt about adding to the homestead was a garden. I missed my hibiscus and my roses terribly. At one point i had a potted double blossom butterball hibiscus that was to die for. It had these giant butter yellow blossoms that were just stunning when they opened. However, it was the vegetable garden i was dying inside without. In the past 6 or 7 years i had lived in apartments, i had always had vegetable gardens in container boxes or pots. I grew okra, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, cabbage, zucchini, greens, lettuce, rhubarb, japanese eggplant, beans, bell peppers, kale, spinach, strawberries, celery, and sugar snap peas. Now i had two acres and i was growing nothing. The reason was grasshoppers; hundreds and hundreds of grasshoppers. With every step in the dry crunchy grass the grasshoppers jumped up from where they were hiding. They were everywhere. They were a relentless force of little munchers. The only way i kept the baby fruit trees remotely alive was to cover them in diatomaceous earth. However, it had to be reapplied after every rain or gust of wind and the hoppers would often beat me to it and already have claimed half the leaves by the time i sprinkled more on. I knew, if i ever wanted to garden on the land (without pesticides) i would have to use a green house. I wanted a model the honey bees would be able to enter to polinate the plants so i began looking at models with sky lights that could be propped open for air flow and access for bees. I found one with hooks in place so that you could hang plants in it as well. I would build planter boxes inside using brick (wood would just need to be treated against all the carpenter ants and termites living on my property). I would stack the bricks but not cement them so that water could drain easily.
I picked out a spot next to the extension shed where i would put the green house and another spot in the dog disaster/chicken run where i would place the coop. I set these plans on the shelf in my brain. A retired sheep farmer once told me that farming was not about fixing crises; it was about looking at the list of crises and picking which one was the most pressing, the one that needed your time, money, and attention most urgently. He tried to instill in me that if i wanted to run a property by myself, i had to get over the notion that the crises would one day be fixed because there was always going to be something on that list. For each thing i crossed off, a new thing would arise. I tried to remember my former patient’s words each time i wanted to start a new project. The septic tank, the well pump, or the a/c unit could break tomorrow. The termites could decide they liked the house better than their old tree stump. I wouldn’t add something new to the homestead until i had enough money to do it and handle a couple crises if they arose.