Spring in the Commonwealth

Backstory: quite a bit has gone down since my last Dec. 26th post. First of all, we are all well into the new year now, with all its messy glory, and the historic Dank House is ours! I have officially named our little 2.5-acre homestead “Smoke and Charm Farm” and I could not be more in love with this property! It’s been a harsh winter, and I am so excited for warmer weather, but, with the freezing ice and snow, there’s been plenty of time for research and trail by error learing on how to care for my backyard chickens and goats. Yes, goats!

Snowy backyard walk out to the goat pasture (with a little Miranda)

The Final Move: we closed on and then moved onto the farm January 15th. It was frigid out, which made for a very uncomfortable weekend, but we cleared out the apartment and set up the house as best we could with what we had. About a week later, the remainder of our things were transferred out of storage and we spent the next several weeks unpacking. I thought we had prepped enough for downsizing, but turns out we needed to shed even more stuff! It feels good to simplify our home space and the cozy 1500 square feet suits me perfectly! The house is still a work-in-progress (what home isn’t!?), but to date, we have upgraded the well water filtration system, added a tankless water heater and propane range top, upgraded the shower/bath fixtures, and added the usual new window treatments and paint. We still have fireplace repairs to tend to and more outside fencing to add, but that’s on hold for the moment.

Back in January after the boxes and furniture were delivered

Chicken Lady: the two hens on the property stayed with us as part of our accepted offer. I discovered they are about 1.5 years old and their original names were Eve and Margo, but seeing as I had no idea who was who, and they did not seem to answer to either of those names anyway, I decided to rename them. I think (not an expert yet) that the gray hen is a Plymouth Rock and the Red/Black hen is an Easter Egger (she lays blue eggs!). So, the more outgoing Plymouth hen, I am calling little Shangy (after Shangela Laquifa Wadley of course!), and the blue egg hen is now called Fancy. It took a bit, but Shangy will take food out of my hand and let me pet her a little. Fancy doesn’t run and hide from me anymore, but she is still not ready for pets yet. I love gathering eggs and seeing how excited the hens get when I bring them dried mealworms and watermelon! They’ve been an absolute joy, and through all this cold weather are producing at least an egg each per day! Guess the mealworms and watermelon are really appreciated!

First of Shangy’s eggs I gathered!

Boarding to Goat Momma: at closing, we agreed that the Sellers could board (free of charge) their six goats on our farm in exchange for them tending to the goat’s needs until the Seller’s close date on their new property in March. Long story short, that isn’t a situation I will likely ever involve myself in again. But, out of it, I am now the proud Momma to four of the six goats! It definitely wasn’t part of the original plan, but over the winter I grew quite attached to the ladies and I am so grateful four of them are now a permanent part of our family! As far as we could gather, the Seller closed on their new property around March 8th and disclosed to us that they did not want to move the two smaller Nigerian Dwarfs, Luna and Samatha, along with the other four larger goats due to pushy behaviors. So, we happily agreed to keep little Sammy and Luna. It felt like our first successful barter! I was overjoyed. Sometime later, on March 23rd, the Seller finally moved two of the medium-sized goats, Moon Unit and Ivy, to their new home. A date for moving them was never really solidified, and so I didn’t get to officially say goodbye to Moon and Ivy. Moon had kinda gotten tied up in my heartstrings a bit because she was pretty affectionate, and I admittedly cried like a baby when I discovered she was officially gone. Around 4pm I heard the two Lamanchas, Cora and Nixie, crying out in the pasture pretty loudly, and when Dixon and I hurried out to check on them, I knew Moon and Ivy had officially moved out. I sat out with the other four, played some ball with Dixon, and Cora and Nixie calmed down pretty quickly. They are the larger two goats and (although they are pushy around food) obviously feel like the herd is under their protection. The following day the Seller unexpectedly (because I had previously thrown out there that I was interested in the other goats if they were trying to rehome them and at that time I was told they were not being rehomed) contacted me offering to also leave Cora and Nixie behind with Luna and Samatha. Amy and I talked it over for about an hour or so and then decided that Cora and Nixie could stay with us as well! Like I said, none of this was part of the original plan, but I just love all four of these ladies and their cute little wagging tails! How could we say no? This past Friday the Seller agreed to be officially moved off our property, and so we spent the weekend finally getting the barn setup a little closer to how I want it. Amy helped me add an additional hay feeder, additional heated water bucket, additional loose mineral bucket, and four new grain buckets. My hope is that with a consistent feeding schedule and separate feeding spaces, Nixie and Cora will become less pushy around food over time. Dixon and I, on the warm days we’ve been gifted, go out to the goat pasture and hang out with the ladies. Dixon chases his large plastic ball all over the pasture while I brush Nixie and Cora. Little Luna and Sammy are still learning to trust me and aren’t really into being groomed yet, but they will take treats out of my hand (finally). Hopefully, as Cora and Nixie feel less food anxiety and become less pushy, Luna and Sam will gain confidence. I’m excited for all of us to learn together! (Now I just gotta figure out how to trim goat hoofs!)

Naughty goats breaking out so they can get into the grain bag!
Cora is the solid white Lamancha, Nixie is the multicolored Lamancha, Luna is the black Nigerian Dwarf, and Samantha is the multicolored Nigerian Dwarf

Bilateral Luxation: in the midst of all of this, Dixon’s back left leg became lame and it took me weeks (as a new client in the middle of the Omicron outbreak) to secure him a vet appointment. My little buddy had both of his back knees repaired about three weeks ago and his sutures were finally removed last week. It’s been heartbreaking to watch him go through it all, but I am so immeasurably grateful to have gotten him in for surgery so quickly! His back legs are growing stronger and stronger every day, and the incisions are improving slowly but surely. I’m excited to explore the nearby Mt. Tom trails with him soon!

Defrosting: as snow and ice melt slowly away, I am becoming more familiar with our small fruit trees, garden beds, and koi pond. There’s also a vacant apiary on the property that I am currently researching how to clean up and prep so that a new swarm of bees will hopefully move in. Seedlings are popping up in my little grow station, along with tulips and other cold-hardy perennials around the farm. I think it’s safe to say that we are all freaking ready for the ground to thaw!

Updated videos and pictures of life around our little farm coming soon!

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