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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Storm Shelter Blunders and Waiting Projects

We are now entering our 6th summer living on the farm.  Isaac, just like each of the other kids when they were born, accompanied a major life change. (Which makes me a bit curious to see what will happen with this baby!) We moved into our partially finished house on the farm in October of 2008, and Isaac was born in November.

I would think that after 5 full years of living on the farm, we would be a bit more settled in. With Ethan still working off of the farm, however, and with the kids at home and homeschooling, there is still much settling in to do.

If you would switch one of the above - either Ethan being on the farm full time or myself being on the farm without kids, I'm sure we would be settled in.  The fact is, starting up our farm would be impossible without Ethan working extra jobs, and we have kids.

I have had a number of young couples considering farming and family ask me if it is a good idea to start a farm and start a family at the same time or if it is a good idea to start a farm with a young family.

My response . . . it is hard.  It would be so much easier for me to not have children right now so I could be a better help to Ethan in our farm setup. Either I could go to work and provide more income to allow Ethan to be on the farm more, or I could do more of the farming. Everything would move along so much faster - getting settled in, getting the business established, and turning profits sooner. But I wouldn't trade our kids for any of that. They are a blessing, and they add richness, joy, and fullness to what we are doing. I can't imagine farming without them.

So with that introduction, here are some projects that I worked on today. Projects that I wish were further along then they were, in terms of weeks and years, but they aren't. Projects that I'm sure would be done if we didn't have kids or if I wasn't expecting, but projects that will get done in due time.

First off, the storm shelter. The picture below (sorry for the post in the middle) shows the dirt work around our storm shelter before last spring.  It was roughly done with a skid loader when they installed the shelter in 2010, and for 3 years after that it was used by any animals that made it to the yard (which the cows and sheep did often before we got our yard fence in) for king of the mountain.

The dirt work badly needed to be redone, not just for visual appeal and the ability to plant on it as I wanted, but also to keep the storm shelter insulated properly to be used as a root cellar.  It had been put on hold amidst our settling in for too long, so late last spring I spent 8-9 hours one day with a shovel on the storm shelter moving dirt and shaping the storm shelter mound.  I remember vividly because it was about 98 degrees that day and I ended up sick with mild heat stroke that evening. (Yes, having children slows me down, but I am also very stubborn when I want a project done badly enough.)

Even so, I got the project done.

Or so I thought . . . until this winter.

One day, after a thaw and refreeze, I went to go get some produce from the storm shelter, which was packed with potatoes, apples, carrots, and squash. 

I would soon discover that with the dirt work I had done the spring before, I had made the lowest part of the storm shelter's base right in front of the door. Perfect for melting snow to collect and refreeze into a solid chunk of ice, making it impossible to open the door.

Thankfully, Ethan came to my rescue a couple of times and chipped through inches of ice so that I could gather up a couple week's worth of produce to store in the house to be used, but with his full schedule of off farm work, I only asked this of him a few times.

So the majority of the winter my produce was frozen shut in its cozy root cellar. By this spring, bags of potatoes has sprouted (I used them for my seed potatoes) and the squash and carrots were done for.  Thankfully, the boxes of apples remained good and are making rounds through my food dehydrator to be apple chips now.

This spring has been a slow spring for me.  Since the start, this pregnancy has knocked me down a bit more than the others. I have just entered my 5th month and have been over the sickness stage for a couple weeks now, but I can still tell that this pregnancy is effecting me a bit differently.  The humidity of the last week or so has especially been hard, mainly making the air feel much heavier and more difficult to breath than it has before.

All of that to say, I am a bit behind where I would like to be concerning all things outside. But it is a season, and one that is well worth it.

So this evening, seeing that the forecast was bringing rain, I decided to start my grass seeding - hoping that it isn't too late yet.

Over the last week I have very slowly been trenching out around the storm shelter to provide proper drainage in front of the door. I finished up tonight by tilling the area I trenched to smooth it, and then I seeded it.  My kids by the way, joined me by helping rake seed in and bringing the straw over in a wagon and spreading it. (If you look closely, you will see the rock walls I made last spring on either side of the door to prevent erosion, along with the fence that surrounds the shelter to keep livestock off! There are also marigolds starting to grow which self reseeded from last year's flowers.)

Along with tilling and seeding around the storm shelter, I also tilled up and seeded two areas of hard packed dirt on the side of our house, another project that has been waiting to be done since we built our house, as the construction equipment followed by heavy traffic areas of feet and market loading (from the sliding door) has prevented grass from growing. (You might also notice the tree cages stuck in the straw that I put together in the shade of the porch today - for trees that I wish I could have acquired and planted the year we moved to the farm.)

And then there is the garden. This afternoon, when my lungs were telling me to move at a snail's pace, I did a bit of weeding . . . or mostly eating strawberries straight from the patch. I am kind of embarrassed to put a picture of my garden up. Most everything is planted now, but it is all weeks behind schedule.  I would also like to have it mulched by now, but I will hit that the next cool/non humid week that comes up.

The reason for my post. My personality is one that likes to have my ducks in a row, things tidied up, and checks flying across the checklist of things to do. I often look around at all of the projects I would love to have done here on the farm.  Projects that fall behind running the farm and projects that fall behind being a wife and a mom.  Projects that I wish would have been completed years prior and projects that rely on seasons which are passing quickly.

But more important than seasonal projects are the seasons of life. And as I have been slowed down even more this spring, I have been remembering the gifts of the season that I am in. A season to anticipate another blessing in our family, and a season to invest in the 4 blessings we have already been given. 

A season that I wouldn't trade for a list of completed projects by any means.

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sevenoverb said...

Hi there, I've just recently begun reading your blog. It sounds to me like you are getting an amazing amount done with small children (not to mention being pregnant!). I, too, would like to contribute more to our productivity (either through working outside the home or by getting more done). Yet I know in my heart that my kids are getting the best upbringing possible. I feel that, at this stage in our lives, it is not what I can earn but what I can save that helps us most. I think your family is very lucky to have such a hardworking and resourceful mama!


I too am a planner, a list maker, I need to have a goal to be productive & when it appears that things aren't going according to my plan, I get a little harried until I take a minute to remember that everything happens as its meant to & almost always for a way better plan than my own.. I love reading about your farm!!

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