Life At Cobble Hill Farm FAQ's

Blogging is, for me, a way to share bits of our life and lifestyle.  It's also a great way for me to connect with all of you who are like-minded and share similar goals and dreams.  Lucky for me, many of you actually enjoy what we share here!

We are flattered and surprised at the number of questions we get asked each week about ourselves and our life, mostly because we think we are pretty boring.

Here are some of the more common questions:

Do You Homestead Full-Time?
At this time we do not. (updated 3/18 - we are homesteading full-time!!!) We have regular 9-5 jobs in addition to our business, homesteading and blogging.  I am a Human Resources Director with a company that employs around 600 people and J is a Contractor with a small company in town  {as of September 2015 for J and as of February 2018 for me, we now run our business full-time!}.  Homesteading full-time is the goal we strive to get to eventually, which is partly why we've started our business, Cobble Hill Farm Soap.

Emerson & Oliver
Did You And Your Husband Always Have the Same Goals and Dreams?
Yes and no.  17 years ago, when we met, he wanted more of a simple life and I wanted a McMansion in the burbs.  A few years later, he wanted a nice home in a neighborhood and I started dreaming of a simpler life on property outside of town.  A year or two later, we both had the same dream for house and property but while I wanted animals {LOTS of animals}, he thought maybe a dog and the cats would be enough.  After the chickens came into our lives, our visions began melding toward a life surrounded by more animals.  Homesteading was still largely my dream, however.

It was the same with the garden.  I wanted to start out with a large garden that supplied the majority of our veggies.  He thought that was insane.  We can just go to the farmer's market, he reasoned.   I agreed to a small garden to start and was able to get his buy-in for expanding, gradually, for 2 years to where we are now.  We can now grow about 80% of our veggies we use for the entire year.

We now have a single vision regarding the path of our life.

Did any of this happen overnight?  Absolutely not.  I picked and chose my battles {carefully} and didn't push my vision onto him.  Easier said than done at times, but I knew if I forced it on him it wouldn't end up the way either of us wanted.  We both adjusted our dreams and goals to eventually become an agreed upon path we could both work toward.

One thing we don't agree on, however, is that I long to live without a tv which he finds ludicrous.......

homemade pasta drying
How Do You Juggle It All?
The downright honest answers are:  1. Some days I have no idea, and 2.  Some days, not so well.  Here's the thing.  I am realistic enough to know I can't juggle it all forever.  I am also realistic enough to know that I have a lot of dreams and goals and that I can't just sit back and wonder "what if....".  So, I jump right in and do it.  Crazy?  Quite possibly, but it works for me.

Here's how the "all" started.

As our vision began to meld regarding a homesteading lifestyle, we started thinking about the future.  What do we want it to look like?  We have a few goals for our "someday" future {and a bit larger} farm such as a small CSA, farm store and more animals.  We thought about what we could do here, on our "today" farm.  We thought about jams and jellies, veggies, meat and eggs, and finally decided we would slowly try making and selling soap and skincare products, handcrafted by us.  We would both keep our full-time jobs and wait to see if it worked it's way into a business or not.  Then, things went from bad to worse {actually, worse than worse} at my job and we decided I would leave.  We hadn't even begun making and selling products yet.  I took the next year to get the business off the ground, then I went back to work.  Now we both work equally at our business in addition to each of our 9-5 jobs. (update: we both work at our business full-time now - you can read our full story here)

So, as I said before, although I know I can't juggle all of this for a long time, for now it's a necessity.  A necessity to see if we can build our small business into something that can actually become an income, or if we need to adjust our sails and move onto something different.  In the meantime, we continue to work to pay bills in the here-and-now as well as to save up for the "someday" farm and home.

What Is A Typical Day For You?
Oh my!  That's different depending on the day.  Here's a brief look at a typical week:
Monday - Friday, wake up between 4:30 and 5, take the dogs out and feed them {J has chicken duty throughout the week}, check emails, pack any boxes I didn't finish the night before, prep lunches, get ready, make a quick breakfast and head out the door.  Work all day and run to the post office to mail Cobble Hill Farm Soap boxes at lunch.  That evening, dinner and dinner clean-up are typically first.  After that:
Monday - I typically take Monday evenings off except for packing any orders that need to be shipped and a blog post when I can.
Tuesday - Make 4-5 batches of soap which takes about 4 hours from start to finish.  Pack orders, check and respond to emails, and add a blog post if there is time.
Wednesday - Make lotion, deodorant, salves or whatever is in need of re-stocking.  Pack orders, check and respond to emails.
Thursday - Write the next week's blog posts {except the Weekend post which is written on Sunday}, check and respond to emails and pack orders.
Friday - J makes soap Friday morning while I'm at work so Friday evenings are typically either running errands and/or wrapping soap.

Saturday - SLEEP IN!!  Ollie lets me sleep until about 6, then I take care of them and make coffee for myself and J {if he wakes up}.  I get the Coop Girls up and their coop cleaned before I try to write blog posts for about an hour, then check and respond to email.  If there are errands to run, we do that in the morning after I make breakfast, then I make lunch when we get home.  Together we make and package any products we are running low on as well as more soap.  The weekend is the only time I don't go to the post office.  The evening is busy with making dinner, getting ready for the farmer's market, and responding to emails.

Sunday - Depending if we need to finish packaging any products, we either get up around 5 or sleep in until 6.  We make breakfast, pack up our products and head off {either one or both of us} to the farmer's market.  Sunday evenings I try to take off with the exception of cooking dinner and writing the "weekend" blog post.

Spring thru Fall add gardening, preserving food, and caring for meat birds to the list{s}.

*Lest you think we  a. don't have any fun or b. don't take care of ourselves.  This list is "typical".  We do make time to do things just for us.  The "us" time is just limited right now.*

garden bounty
Do You Grow All The Veggies And Fruit You Consume?
No.  Someday, perhaps, but for now we aim for about 80% of the veggies and a small amount of the fruit.  We plan to add cold frames to help lengthen our growing season as well as with greens in the winter and continue to re-visit our list of items we Water Bath Can or Freeze for use during the off-season.  I will also be adding beans for drying to the list of things to grow this year.  Additionally, I plan to add Pressure Canning to my repertoire.  My goal is to open my cupboards next November and see only our home-canned products.  No store-bought items.  I came close to that goal 2 years ago while last year was a bit of a struggle trying to juggle everything.

I can honestly tell you that part of our success is the fact that my husband not only takes pride in also accomplishing these goals, he helps do each and every task.

I Want To Add Chickens To My Backyard.  Do You Have Any Advice?
Yes - build your coop larger than you think you'll need because raising chickens is ADDICTIVE.....  On a serious note, this can't possibly be summed up in an email or part of a post, so I'm going to leave you with links to some of the posts I've written on this subject in hopes it answers this question.

Can I get the plans for your chicken coop?
I am flattered that we are asked this question so often, but unfortunately we don't have plans.  I showed my husband a photo of a shed and said "I want something like this but with x,y and z" and he created it.  I would suggest looking in shed/outdoor building plan books at the bookstore and going from there.  I did, however, write a detailed post about the features of our coop, you can find that here.

I have no room for a garden.  What should I plant if I can only use containers?
You can read the post I wrote about container/raised bed gardening here.  Also, if you have any flower beds that veggies can be incorporated into, that's a great alternative for root crops or crops that are quite large for a container.

Will You Raise Birds For Meat Again?  What About Other Animals For Meat?
Yes to the birds, no to the other animals.  For now.  We just don't have the space for other animals and we have eaten rabbit {the only other animal for meat we have room to raise} and found it to be "ok".

As far as the meat birds, we were thrilled with the quality of chicken from those raised last year and will be raising around 75 birds this year {and adding another freezer in the house}.  The cost was less than purchasing organic chickens from the store or market and they weren't much trouble at all.  We won't process our own birds only because it's so much easier with the proper set-up when you are doing that many.  We don't have that proper set-up.  Raising them in the heat of summer won't happen either - we'll do Spring and Fall only.  We just felt too bad for them last year and don't want to see them suffer from the extreme heat and humidity as they got bigger and bigger.

homemade animal cookies
Are You Going To Get Goats?
I have longed for goats - we both want goats but the town said no.  What about dwarf goats, I pleaded to the Town Clerk, they're roughly the size of a dog?  NO!  She demanded without an ounce of personality.......  Why must people be so miserable?  That being said, our neighbors have them, which is fine and dandy, I just don't want to take the chance of getting them and then having someone turn us in.  It would be heartbreaking to have to give them up.  So, for now, no goats.

What Things Will You Be Doing Next?
This is a funny question.  I have a ton of goals, as you already know, so it's always a challenge trying to figure out what I can fit in next.

Business:  we plan to add men's products and the skincare line next.  I will probably not add any more products this year after those are out.  We are in a much busier farmer's market this summer so although we had originally planned to branch out to Wedding shows in addition to craft shows, this year we will work to keep up with the market.

Blog:  I really, really, really want to post regularly with articles such as DIY projects, recipes, chicken keeping and more.

Next "life list" item:  I am bound and determined to teach myself how to create an online magazine {homesteading/homemade living themed} and get at least one edition out this year. {completed as of 6/2015!!}

Homesteading:  we will be adding many more meat birds this year and planting as much as possible to try and achieve growing at least 80% of our veggies again.  I want to learn to pressure can and  attempt preserving/making all of our canned goods.

And now a sincere thank you.  We are so grateful for all of you who stop by our little part of the internet and share in our lives.  It is so much fun corresponding with each of you.  We are grateful for the very kind comments and emails.  And those of you who insist you are bothering us with all the questions - you really are not.  Keep 'em coming.  :)

Thank you!!


Lauren said...

Love this post. We are essentially doing the same thing right now, except we are also raising meat rabbits in addition to the chickens. I am also trying to get a clientele built with soap and I have a memory/keepsake bear business as well. It's so good to know that other people are doing the 9-5 and making it work with a dream too. Thank you!!! <3 <3

Mickie said...

I love reading your blog with all the wonderful information and the pictures and animal stories. Wish I lived where I could have chickens but alas the POA won't allow it. Just placed an order and anxious to try your soap and deo.

Liz said...

What an informative post! But you made me tired just reading your weekly schedule! I sure hope that your dream is met on publishing that magazine. I would be one of the first on the list of subscribers!

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Lauren Ann - yes, it's definitely do-able, at least for a period of time. :) I wish you much success!!

Thanks so much Liz - your ongoing support is very much appreciated!

Mickie - thank you so much!!!! I hope you love the products. :)

Cindy said...

I don't think you will have any trouble mastering pressure canning with all you have accomplished. Girl, I was exhausted after reading this! I love canning most of our food. Be sure you can some of that chicken, it is so good for soups and casseroles. Don't know what your budget is on the canner, but if you can swing it, go with the All-American. Fantastic piece of ewuipment.

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Thanks so much Cindy {for your faith and for your advice on a canner!}. I will definitely take a look at that pressure canner. Yes, chicken is on the list. :)

Amber said...

Thanks for writing this post, Staci! I always enjoy reading about the lives of other homesteaders! Too bad about the goats. My daughter is currently trying to talk her daddy into getting her a couple of goats. I, of course, would willingly jump right on the goat bandwagon, but Brad is the more practical of the two of us and takes into consideration boring things like the finances behind feeding more animals! lol. I guess we balance each other out!

daisy g said...

It's wonderful to see how you organize your future plans and how you take the necessary steps to foster your dreams to fruition. You are so ambitious and hard-working. I really admire both you and J. I'm convinced you can do anything you set your minds to.