March 8, 2013

Growing Things

There are things growing all over the place at the farm! When we were home back in late January for a weekend, I had discovered the emergence of some buds.

This past week, they were making appearances all over the place.

And the daffodils are blooming. I love daffodils. Who can help but love those first bright rays of brilliant yellow after weeks of brown (or in some cases, white) on all surfaces?
While Malcolm was working on clearing the hedge out of the fence lines last week, I did some clearing of my own. Someone planted a lot of English Ivy around the house and it's lovely...
....but English Ivy is kind of like Privet Hedge, in that it knows no boundaries. And I wondered what it might be smothering. So I started ripping it out of a flowerbed last week, and made all sorts of discoveries. It was keeping so many treasures captive beneath it's weighty vines!

There were dozens of bulbs trying to come up through it, as well as several shrubs, and though this Lenten Rose was able to grow and bloom through the ivy, I'm sure it will by happier now that it doesn't have to compete for space.

There are other things growing around here too.
Fancy is at 8 months now, and her baby belly is making itself more noticeable.
It is sometimes lopsided, which makes me laugh. It's probably just the way she stands sometimes, but I like to think it's the baby laying on one side or the other. Let me pretend.
I think her official due date is June 13. That is 330 days from her last breeding. But according to her breeding records, her last two foals went around 345 days, so it could be later. It's going to make guessing how to be off work a little hard, with such a broad window, but I'm determined to be there for this one!
We're considering working clear through the next two months with no break at all, and then possibly taking off nearly all of June, maybe coming home a week into June and staying through July 4th or so. It shouldn't be a problem, especially since we no longer need to take off several weeks for haying like we've done the past two years. We'll just take off several weeks and use them to play on the farm and wait for Fancy's baby. I can't wait!!!

Boy or Girl? Her last two were colts, but this is a different stallion. I've only had one foal from him, and that was Gemma. It will be interesting to see what we get this year, and I'm in touch with Dawn's new owner, and looking forward to hearing from her when Dawn foals in early June. It's going to be so hard here in a few weeks when everyone else starts having foals on the ground and I'll still have weeks to wait!

Even without a foal around, we still have a baby on the farm.
I think he will always be the baby. I think he thinks so too.

He still comes running to meet me at the gate, and he's still impossible to photograph unless there's a fence between us. It's because he insists on being right next to me if I'm on his side of the fence. I used to think I was special to him, but recently I heard from a couple of neighbors who were going on and on about what an "incredibly friendly horse that black one is" and I soon realized Sky has been kissing up to everyone on the street. I felt a little bit betrayed. I wanted to be his special someone.
I know he doesn't turn down anyone with a cookie and from what I hear, several neighbors are passing them out to my little herd.

I've been on the phone a lot over the past week or so, and I think we've narrowed the search down for a trainer, as well as a new romantic prospect for Fancy.

So we're back on the road for a couple weeks, and then we go home for a break toward the end of the month.
Our plans are to enjoy the hopefully fine Spring weather, do some work around the farm, drop Sky and Ringo off at boarding school, and go meet Fancy's prospective suiter and his owners.

Hope the coming days go by quickly. I'm looking forward to being home again! So much I want to be doing, and sitting in the truck is not one of them right now! I'll have to content myself with day dreaming until we get there.

March 6, 2013

Getting to Know Redbud Farm

in September
Things are kind of brown and winter drab here at the farm right now, but there are signs that Spring is quickly approaching.
We went home for about a week to take care of some trucking stuff. It was nice to be home, and even though a little cold snap came through while we were there, we still took the time to do some work outside. And there were a couple of nice days before the chilly weather returned, which made it more enjoyable. Now that things are settled and unpacked inside the house, we are enjoying exploring and getting to know Redbud Farm a little better.

After my "house tour" post, I told you I'd come back to give you an outside tour of the farm later on. I expect you'll be seeing plenty of it over the months and years to come, but here is a quick walk around the place.

The house, as I told you previously, was built in 1915. I expect Malcolm and I will be spending many summer afternoons in the shade of our porch, enjoying the sound of the creek and the birds, and a cool glass of sweat tea. We are still very much in love with our house.

We love the rest of our property too. We don't know much history about the buildings on the farm. We don't know how old they are, but it's clear that they are not new, and we suspect a few of them may even be as old as the house. They are all going to be project buildings.
This is the big barn. It sits between the house and the small pasture that runs down to the creek. It obviously has some issues. We debate back and forth on what to do with it. The reasonable thing would be to just take it down and rebuild, but I cringe at the thought of doing so, and Malcolm still goes back and forth on it himself. What we'd like to do is try to salvage the center section, but it would be a pretty big, and probably expensive job.
It is a neat old barn, even with the sagging and brokenness of it. We have a resident ground hog that has made his home beneath the barn floor, and in the hay loft we have a barred owl that roosts during the day. We've seen them both several times, though I haven't had my camera handy when they made their appearances.
I still hold out hope that one day down the road we'll be able to tackle the job of saving this barn. But it's not high on the priority list, and so we'll continue to watch it sag for a bit longer while we tend to other things.

Like pasture.
We have a 10 acre farm that has been neglected for a while. While the house was being loved and repaired over the past years, the rest of the land and buildings were unattended to. There is some fencing but it's over grown and in disrepair, and what there is of it is no longer worthy of the title "fencing." On our first day on the property, our neighbor walked down and offered the use of his pasture. We were over whelmed by his generosity and God's providing a solution to a delima so quickly, even before we'd given it much thought really. So our horses are next door keeping his pasture cleared for him, and enjoying being the neighborhood pets (apparently the neighbors all around are buying horse treats and making offerings of apples and carrots, or so I hear from them), while we work on getting our pastures ready.

Years ago, people planted a shrub, called privet hedge, as landscaping. You might be familiar with it. It can be a lovely, ornamental shrub. It can be a huge headache that wants to take over the world.

It is growing on all boundaries of the property, among the trees, and along all the fence lines that are sort of in existence, and it creates an awesome privacy fence as it gets well over 6 feet tall! But it also happily encroaches on every square inch of land that you don't watch closely. As in the picture above, it is trying really hard to take over the world, creeping off the property line and into the woods and pasture. It's even poking it's nasty head up here and there in the landscaping around the house. I hastily pull the random sprigs of it up whenever I find them trying to take root in my gardens and landscaping areas.
We have the one large pasture on the hill behind the house, and then two smaller pastures, one behind the house, and the one behind the barn that runs down to the creek. It was terribly over grown on the fence lines and well out into the pasture. Doesn't look like it in this picture....

...but Malcolm got out this week with the bobcat and started clearing brush and hedge off the fence line. The result was impressive. He more than doubled the size of the pasture, just by clearing out hedge!

He also worked back into the woods, what used to be shaded pasture that had turned into scrubby wooded mess. But now with some cleanup, and then smoothing the ground back down, we should have some nice shaded pasture back here.
We'll also be having a HUGE bonfire at the end of the month. Anyone want to come roast marshmallows?

After pastures are repaired and fenced, we'll be moving on to the building projects. Right now there isn't a building large enough to pull the truck into, so that will probably be the next project. We are thinking about taking down this old machine shed...
...and building a large barn that will fit the truck, but we want to build it to look like it is one of the old farm buildings. We'll probably do board and bat or something like that, and use an older style of barn design on the exterior so that it looks like it belongs.

And after that, we'll tend to the other smaller building needs.

There are 4 other smaller outbuildings. The woodshed/garden shed/catch all building by the house needs upkeep. It's a neat building though and we plan to stay true to it's current style and design. The previous owners did a lot of landscaping around it and put in a chain link dog pen on the back side. I love the plants they chose, and the dog pen will make an awesome chicken yard once we get a top put on it to keep out the hawks. So we think we'll try to reconstruct this building within the current space, so that we don't hurt some of the unique landscaping that's been put in.
Speaking of chickens....
...the old chicken house, complete with concrete floor. It's pretty much a useless structure and a little far gone for help. We'll probably be taking it out completely. See that door on the far end? That would be our two seater out house. No joke! And we're high class here! We have concrete toilet pedestals with wooden seat covers! (and about 1000 crickets and spiders, and the roof is off of it so you and your creepy crawly company can admire the stars while you see to business.)

There's an old grain barn that is neat. Somehow I've managed to not get a picture of it. We'll have to fix that. It's actually in pretty fair condition and as we look at it, currently being used as a tool storage building for Malcolm, we both can see it renovated into a little guest house, or play house. I think it would be neat to make it into Malcolm's gun house with all his reloading stuff and such. But if he won't claim it, as he seems reluctant to do, I have no problem taking over. It's going to make me a BEAUTIFUL little sewing/craft play house! He better speak up soon if he doesn't want me to move forward and stake my claim on it.

Though our buildings are in need of some serious TLC, I still love them. It's a frustration to me that they are so far gone, because I despise the thought that we are going to tear them down, after they have survived so long. But it's impractical to try and salvage them all. So I've made it my mission to try and save at least part of the big barn, and sacrifice the others.

I don't have to cross the creek to go visit the horses, but I like to. It's easier to just walk on the road, but I like to cut across the pasture and wade through the creek with my waterproof boots on.

It is about 1 1/2 feet deep at our crossing with a nice sandy/pebbly bottom. I envision hot summer afternoons wading in cool water. It should be pretty cool water as the creek is spring fed from somewhere across the road. I'll have to take my nieces wading with me this summer. We'll hunt for crawfish (Malcolm and Dad found a fist sized one earlier this winter), and pretty pebbles, and have fun splashing each other and getting good and wet and cooled off.

In our exploring and walking around the property, we keep making discoveries. As with all old farms, things were tossed aside when they were no longer needed or wanted, but they weren't always hauled away. We have found some interesting things hiding in all that privet hedge I was telling you about. Back at Christmas, Malcolm was working with his tractor on a patch of brush, and discovered an old fuel tank, the remains of a Sears manure spreader, and then later he pulled this out of the brush to show me.
It has a huge hole in the side of it, which was disappointing to me. It would have been neat to set it up somewhere. It's tempting to do so even with the hole. I could grown some pretty flowering vine on it or something like that.

There's some old farm equipment lined up in the pasture behind the house that we've got to haul off or at least move.
Treasures tucked in every corner, or at least treasures to some of us. Even if they have no use, they are still historically of interest.

We have other treasures too. There are these four fruit trees.
By the time we bought the property they had shed their leaves and there was no trace of fruit left on the ground (probably thanks to our resident herd of deer), so we have no idea what they are. I'm leaning towards thinking they are cherry. I know they are not apple. But we'll have to wait for warmer weather and baby fruit to know for sure.
There is a huge pecan tree in the back yard and I'm hoping it will bear plenty of nuts to share. This past year, I suspect the squirrels carried them all off because we only found a handful on the ground.

There are also these two trees...

...which were loaded with these tiny speckled berries in September...

...which the birds had managed to devour by the time we got moved in. I have no idea. Mom has no idea. In fact, I haven't been able to track down their identity. A cousin suggested perhaps they are Autumn Berry, and that's the closest thing we can come up with. Any other suggestions? The fruit is about the size of large chokecherries.

I can't wait for things to turn green again. There are traces of green in Tennessee year round, but the full out green that means warm weather and beauty has arrived is just around the corner and I can't wait. Spring Fever has hit I think. There are signs all over of bulbs emerging. I have daffodils blooming among other things, and I fully expect that giant Redbud by the house to be blooming when we get back home in two weeks.

There is a lot of work to be done on Redbud Farm to get it back into shape, but it will be a fun project, and with the coming of Spring, we both are looking forward to being outside and getting our projects underway.

Every time we pull up to our yard, returning home from being on the road, I feel so overwhelmed by how blessed we are. This place has surpassed all my years worth of day dreams about having an old farm house and living on a farm.