Year nine on the farm: Older, fatter, and furrier

October 2017 marks two milestones for our family; we have now been on the farm for nine years, and I turned forty.

Turning 4-Oh

Something about turning forty has changed me. With any luck, I hope to live another forty years. It would be a gift of another lifetime! With that, it got my little pea brain churning, thinking about:

  • The importance of living every day to the fullest
  • Celebrating every birthday, and that sending birthday cards to family/friends is no longer optional
  • Planning for a life we’d like to live after the kids have moved out
  • Becoming debt-free so we can work minimally and live to the max
  • Maintaining our health so we can enjoy life to the fullest

I also think about how I have already lived four years longer than my own grandfather did, and how every day is truly a blessing.

On a funnier note, I am trying to understand why, at forty:

  • My body has begun to cling to every single calorie like a person dangling from the side of a cliff
  • God decided that visible nose hairs are not optional just because you are a woman while simultaneously they become more prevalent/darker…yet at the same time, I am losing the hair on the top of my head
  • Any new hair I DO happen to grow on my head is either white and silky or a thick and extremely unruly black menace that sticks straight out
  • I can throw out my back by simply standing up and moving my leg half-inch in the ‘wrong’ direction

These are the things I ponder now.

 Year Nine on the Farm

With this year, we are still working on paying off our debt, maintaining the home and grounds, and now we are downsizing.

While I did keep some baby chicks hatched this year, the new goal is to continue to downsize the flock until we have a nice number of laying hens. Let’s face it: I do NOT get $100 worth of eggs a month that I’m paying for the feed at this point! We do have some older layers as well as several hens who are more like pets, but as usual, we also possess a disproportionately large number of roosters who are getting fat on my dollar.

Now for a review in photos!

October 2016:

That time that everyone got ticked off after playing Sorry:

November 2016:

The cold and wet beginning to our square foot beds:


Our living room/library area after bringing in the ferns for the winter:


Fall foliage:


December 2016:

A beautiful winter sunset!


From 65 degrees to 48 in 47 minutes!


January 2017:

One day, as I was hanging laundry, I looked up to see this ‘mackerel sky’. I made myself pretty dizzy trying to take a good pic.


This year marked the beginning of new beds and a new gardening method: Square Foot Gardening. I love it!!! Jason built the beds. The soil you see was just, well…crappy, but it’s all I had. Now it has much better soil.


2017 was the Year of the Annoying Ladybug/Asian Ladybeetle invasion. Here is a group in our barn, but there were hundreds in the house. Yuck. Glad they do eat aphids, but it would be lovely if they would hibernate outdoors like REAL ladybugs!!!



Being sensitive to sodium nitrate (Read: gives me major migraines), I can only eat uncured meats. Let’s face it, when you live in the sticks, things can be difficult to find. Our local Wal-Mart decided to stop carrying ‘my’ bacon, so I was forced to drive thirty miles to find some. Jason came to the rescue with my Valentine’s gift!


Ladybug invasion continues in the warm sun:


A true ladybug! I found several Twice-Stabbed ladybeetles on our pear trees. Yaaaay!



Another ‘true’ ladybug, the Convergent Ladybeetle. I probably learned more about ladybugs this year than in my last 40 years!



April showers and all of that!


May’s warmth brings out the reptiles! Anoles and rat snakes are in full force!


A cicada emerges!


Swedish strawberry cake:


A new friend emerges from the woods! My first photos of Eleanor, the wild cat.



Happy Fourth!!!

We add another new family member. Meet Esther. Note: Esther is the one without the beard.



Esther enjoys robes and hiding in the mini pantry. This behavior was not endorsed by yours truly. No one likes cat hair in their cereal.



Another new family member! Meet Milo:


2017, so far, has proved to be the Year of the Cat! I also have declared it the year of Returning to the Homestead since I have now deactivated my Facebook account and suddenly have hours and hours added to my day! Amazing, isn’t it? Hope you enjoyed this year’s re-cap.

On to 2018!!!

Snakes Alive!

Wow, it’s really been a loooong time!  Lots has been happening around the farm.  Since I last wrote, I’ve been harvesting potatoes, tomatoes, and strawberries, and I have planted corn and okra.  I still have several empty beds, but I just don’t know what to put in them!  I’ll probably reserve them for my fall crops now.  Planting for fall will begin next month, starting with fall tomatoes.

About 2 weeks ago, Jason and I came home from a dinner date and found a small ratsnake in the driveway.  Naturally I had to jump out and investigate (I’m pretty sure I’m one of the elite few women in Texas who will do that….wearing flip flops, nonetheless)  Anyway, I picked up its tail and shooed it on it’s way.  So, about 2 nights later, I was walking in the chicken coop to close up the chickens for the night, and there was another scaly friend slipping into my henhouse!  Not in my henhouse, I told it, and I actually caught this one (barehanded, wearing boots), and carried into the house, where Jason was relaxing on the floor.  Poor Jason.  He married the only woman in East Texas that would handle a snake and bring it indoors. 

 Anyway, so then about 2 nights later, I walked out to water the garden.  We have a pair of Dwarf bunnies that reside in our chicken tractor and I heard them running frantically in their cage.  When I looked over there, I saw a large ratsnake trying to strike them through the wire….can you only imagine how terrifying that could be?  This snake was larger than the first two; about 4 or 4.5 feet long.  Armed with nothing other than a flowerpot, I used it to squoosh his head up against the wire so that I could grab his head.  So, I caught him, too, and put him in a little plastic cage so we could release him elsewhere.  I had forgotten about a snake’s sheer will and strength to escape, and while I was out doing something else, he managed to pop the top open.  Fortunately, he only made it to the corner of our shop and we caught him again, this time, we put a roll of heavy wire on the top of the cage. 

Sooooooo, then the NEXT night (lol)  we were in the shop, and I had the thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if there was yet another ratsnake in that same corner”, and I looked up and there was the biggest one yet, calmly snoozing in the upper corner.  Now, this snake was about 5 foot long, maybe a little more, with a girth of about 2 inches or so.  Pretty big for a native snake.  Jason got his head with a rake and I put on my gloves and caught him.  He was NOT happy, either!  You probably don’t know this, but ratsnakes, and many other snakes release a foul-smelling, musky liquid when they’re caught.  It resembles a dead skunk….it’s just really lovely.  Once you catch a snake, you kindof have to ‘clear house’ for a while so you don’t get nauseated from the smell!

So, I have really had my share of snakes for the past week!  They do not bother me as long as they aren’t trying to eat my livestock, and then it’s war.  I do catch and release, I don’t ever kill them, with the exception of maybe a water moccasin at our pond (haven’t seen one yet).  Even then, I’d have to use a gun to do it, as there’s no way I’m getting close enough to a moccasin to kill it with a shovel!  Same goes for rattlesnakes…I have not seen them, but I wouldn’t get anywhere near one, either.  Moccasins tend to be a more aggressive snake, and rattlesnake’s poison is just plain scary.  I am not really scared of either the copperhead (poisonous, but not aggressive) nor the coral snake (DEADLY poisonous, but rear-fanged and shy).  And, as you can tell, as far as the non-poisonous snakes go, they just don’t scare me.  Mind you, I am very, very careful with them, because I still do not care to get bitten, but I have been bitten before, and while it was scary, I got over it. (Obviously) 

I would urge you not to kill snakes if at all possible as they do an excellent job of eating mice and rats.  Of course, unfortunately, they will also eat birds, chickens, and rabbits, too!  But they’re actually basically good creatures with a bad rap.  I know I’m in the minority when it comes to liking snakes, especially being a woman who likes snakes. People always look at me in a really funny way when I tell them I do catch and release, and I’ve even had parts of the Bible thrown at me (Genesis 3:15 – 15You and this woman will hate each other; your descendants and hers will always be enemies. One of hers will strike you on the head, and you will strike him on the heel.”)

I think that’s very sad to take it in the literal sense, after all, snakes provide us with a great service, which is keeping down the rodent population.  While trying not to question Satan’s choice of a serpent as his earthly form, I really wish he would have picked the cockroach.  Now that I can understand. 

Anyway, the next time you see a snake in the road, think of me and don’t swerve to hit it!