This Month On The Farm: February 2018 - BIG Changes To Our Life, Wake Up Calls & Thoughts of Gardening

super easy chicken dumpling soup - perfect for cold winter days

If you’re just tuning in, this is a brand new ongoing series in which I document each month of our lives in our transition to a simple, homemade life on a modern homestead. We ditched town and moved to the country in 2008 and we blog about both our successful and not-so-successful ventures in homesteading, switching to natural products, and embracing a whole foods lifestyle.  Check out the entire series here.

February 2018
It's been a loooonnnnnggggg winter this year.  Perhaps it feels this way every year and I just forget.  The snow just keeps coming, in fact, we've got another snowstorm coming tonight.  It's absolutely beautiful, but my goodness we are tired of shoveling and snow blowing.  It warmed up at one point this month and we had nothing but mud all around us.  Oliver thought for sure we were trying to punish him by making him go to the bathroom outside. 
In the mud. 
Five times a day. 
Poor guy.

Hey, I have some GREAT news - I am now working on the farm full-time with J.  Yup, we made the jump!  We've gone back and forth (and back and forth, and back again) for the last two years wondering if it's time.  Well, it finally was.  I guess you never really know for sure, and I realized that you're never really "ready" - something always comes up.  We had thought about getting a couple of big projects on the farm completed this year before making the dive, but have put those on hold.  We have worked on reducing our spending over the past year and a half in order to save 10-12 months worth of total living expenses (just in case), and have no debt other than our mortgage, so, we just did it. 

I truly enjoyed my career with this last company that I worked for.  Yes, there were some jerks (there always are).  Yes, there was a lot of stress and a whole lot of hours spent working.  But I made a conscious effort to learn.  Learn from others, learn from my own mistakes, learn whatever I could about people, business, and myself.  The majority of people at that company were awesome and I made some great friends.  I will definitely miss them, but I am thrilled to start a new chapter.

I realized, within the first 3 days of working from home, how very much exhausted I really was.  We were a bit out of sorts for that first half of a week.  We had a home show the entire weekend so we prepped for that.  But because we hadn't worked out exactly what this would look like, well, we weren't sure what each of us should be working on and how to best make it all work.  Over the weekend, in between helping customers, we created a schedule to go out through May.  We both do best working by a schedule so this was the perfect solution.  In fact, we scheduled our first full week to not "work" at all, but instead, spring cleaning our home including purging and re-organizing.  We thought this would be the PERFECT way to transition and it truly seems to have been spot on.

It's scary, for sure, but we are incredibly happy and grateful to be able to put all of our time and effort, together, into the business.  I will be able to spend more time on the blog and website which I love, and we hope to have time to do fun things once in a while.  Something we've had no time to do for years.....

Emerson & Oliver

bratty pants Jack

The Dogs + Jack
My goodness the dogs are so happy about me being home.  If I could get Oliver to understand that I don't need to get up at 5 a.m. anymore, that would be helpful.  He is such a good boy, barking non-stop at the bottom of the stairs, letting me know that I'm late.  Except I'm not.  Not anymore.  It took a bit to get him into the 5 a.m. schedule so I guess it will take a bit to get him to understand he can sleep just a wee bit longer.

They split their time between supervising me and supervising J since we are typically working out of different parts of the house.  It certainly wears them out, but they are enjoying the extra attention.

Jack attacked Oliver mid-month.  "Attacked" may be a bit harsh, although if you saw Oliver afterward (he is a tad bit dramatic....) you would use that word.  It happened one morning before I had made my way down the stairs.  I could hear Oliver barking (it was 5:15 a.m. and, of course, he was concerned that I was late).  Then I could hear him barking from one of the rooms, not from the bottom of the stairs.  When I stumbled downstairs he was trapped in the living room.  Jack was pacing back and forth, looking like the badass he believes he is.  Oliver was afraid to cross Jack's imaginary line.  I pushed Jack out of the way and called for Oliver.  He stood there, shaking, left eye closed.  I called him again.  And again.  After about the fourth time he came running at full speed.  His eye was goopy and red.  I believe Jack got him right in the eye because every time Jack was even in the vicinity, Ollie would jump and look petrified.  This made Jack very happy.  Because he's a brat who permanently wears naughty pants.  (Oliver's eye was better within 24 hours so all was well in the household.)

The Coop Girls
They are doing great!  Laying eggs like they should, they are not, however, happy about the ongoing snow.  We will not be adding new girls this year.  We've got a nice group and don't want to disrupt it by introducing more to the flock, so we will work with what we've got.

The netting on their uncovered outdoor coop has been ruined by the snow so we'll need to replace that in another month or two.  We net it to keep the wild birds out - no need in spreading diseases.

We were also considering raising chickens for meat this year (I can't believe it's been 2 years since we last raised them!), but I think with everything else we've got going on, including figuring out what the "new us" looks like, we'll hold until next year.  If you are considering doing this on your own homestead, I can tell you that the hardest thing in all of this is finding someone to process.  Someone that you trust (so you get your birds back and not random ones - this happened to us the last time we raised them).

The Business
This is our slow season (February - April) so we are working toward getting some products made in order to build a small backstock.  We are hoping to participate in 2 farmer's markets this year plus craft shows, so we will definitely need product!  We've been planning on adding essential oils to our product line, that should be coming soon.  I'm trying to catch up on everything else before we move forward with putting them on the online store. 

We are also working on potentially adding a few new products.  That should be determined in the next few weeks!

We participated in a home show two weekends ago which is always a great show for us.  This year was no exception and we are incredibly grateful for that.  We get to see folks we don't necessarily get to see at our market, even though they are in the same town, so it was great exposure for us.

dreaming of vine-ripened tomatoes....

The Garden
Nope, it's not time to plant the garden yet.  I honestly couldn't even tell you where it is right now, but it is time to start planning it.  This year we've decided to join a certified organic CSA for our veggies and instead grow more herbs that we use in our products as well as for personal use.   We'll plant a few veggies, but not even close to what we've planted in the past.  We've finally had to realize that there just isn't enough time in a day to do it all.

Odds and Ends
If you've been following the "change your life in 2018" series, I am really finding this helpful.  I started this to challenge myself - chunking down a large goal of making some personal changes, into 12 bite-sized bits allowing me to focus on one at a time as well as time to make each a habit.  The first month's challenge of "let it go" is one I continue to work on as things come up and feel like it's becoming easier and easier as time goes by.  February's challenge of figuring out what you want to do helped me outline what the next chapter looks like and this month's challenge of setting and chunking down goals is what I'm using to plan this year and the next few years.


daisy g said...

It all sounds like it's going well and I couldn't be happier for you, J and all the critters! I hope that you are including in your plans making time to take care of yourself. Sometimes we get so busy (even if it's good stuff), that we forget to take time to care for ourselves as we should.

Rock on, Staci gal!

Melody A. said...

Good for your!! it takes lots of courage to totally walk away from being paid regularly for work and then know you have to do this yourself! but I am with you, it is fantastic!! Good LUCK!! I enjoy reading your blog and the series about Changing Your Life, thank you. Take care from Iowa

Sweet Love and Ginger said...

This is awesome! Congratulations!!

Michele said...

Congratulations on taking the big plunge. You are so well organized and I wish you well for continued success. The 'new' format of your blog is great; so well organized and easy to navigate. Thank you.

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Awww....thank you so much all! We are very excited and are so grateful for your encouragement. :) Michele - thanks so much. The blog "should" get even easier as I'm in the midst of setting up a wordpress site to move it over to. I ended up firing the people who I originally had hired to build it for me so it's just taking a bit longer than I'd anticipated........I'm determined to do it myself. :)