A Day in the Life on the Farm
Happy Friday, friends! It's been a long time coming for a new Homestead Update, while this is an update of sorts, it's a bit different than our typical Friday show-and-tell. I took the week off of blogging last week to spend that time planting our massive (to me) CSA garden as well as to just be. You know? I've been writing every single day for over three years. That just sounds crazy to me, especially when I so desperately wanted to be a writer growing up and could never seem to find the inspiration to push like I do now. It's been such a gift, but even those that cannot keep their words contained need a few days to reconnect, replenish, rejuvenate. I enjoyed it so much and collected so many photographs that were just fun to take! The days have been growing longer with a brighter, warmer sun. Everything is vibrantly green and full of life. There are sweet spring flowers around every corner. We have been spending our days identifying and discovering what all is growing about our farm; there are so many peonies that I am astonished. We are hoping and hoping that they wait a little while longer to open up and show themselves so that we can cut them for our first Farmer's Market in Cedar Rapids!
On Instagram this past Monday, I shared a "Day In The Life" video series on our Stories. It was so fun! I connected with so many of you over those little 15 second clips. I forget that so many of you really don't get to see exactly what we do each and every day, how we get things done. I remember being asked to share a blog post about how I get everything done each day, and it was one of those topics that I found difficult to write. Mostly because I don't have a good answer other than I just do. I do things all day everyday, and try to fit as much in as possible. One of the things that Jill and I have come to realize with our business is that we aren't really afraid of much... We take leaps and bounds, sometimes too quickly, but we make up for it. Today I want to share with you what we do within a typical week day!
Mornings 6 AM - 10 AM
Mornings around here start around 6 AM. We wake up, sip our liquids of choice (hot coffee for me and Jill, chocolate almond milk for Tad), and catch up on a show before the work day begins. We don't have a lot of time for television around here, and while I don't think that we need to have it, I do love watching a movie or a good show every now and then. Lately we've been watching the new season of Handmaid's Tale and Outlander. So good! Once we're filled, I'll head outside to feed, Pickles, our foster cow. She's a bottle calf, which means we feed her powdered milk in bottle three times a day! She gets her first two in the morning, then lunch and supper. I'll mix up the milk in warm water and place her first bottle in the holder while I tend to other things.
The next task is to feed the ducks and chickens, possibly clean their coop if it's looking gnarly, and let the ducks outside for the day. They are completely free range, though they don't seem to wander far from Pickles' enclosure! Ha! They just stay in the same place all day long near their water pan and apparently have all of the foraging they are satisfied with. It takes them a while to finally find their way outside. At this time, they have to exit through the human entrance to the coop because the chicks are living near the poultry exit. Oops! The ducks are still not too keen about me being close by, so they wait until I wander back outside to feed Pickles.
Once the coop is fluffed and chickens are fed and freshly watered, I make some stops around the garden area. I check to see if all of the plants are still alive and looking okay, if anything needs to be watered or weeded, and decide if I should plant anything or not. If things need to be watered, I'll start up the drip irrigation system or sprinklers and just wait for a while, soaking up the bird sounds. All of the vegetables are currently being watered with the drip system, and we are hand watering the cut flower beds this year. It's been both exciting and a challenge to figure out the more technical side of creating a market garden.
Afternoons 11 AM - 4 PM
After everything has been checked, the garden and transplants have been watered, and the animals have been fed is when the harder chores begin. Lately I have been spending most afternoons plants, though this can be put off often if the weather is not ideal. I have been spending the past week planting through until around 4 PM, even with the hot sun on my back, because we still have lots to get in! This weekend I'll be putting in all of our summer vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, pumpkins, beans, and corn. I still have rows of radishes and lettuce that need to be put in - vegetables with a shorter amount of days to harvest will be sown in succession so that we receive harvests all season long.
We'll eat lunch, and soon afterwards Tad will go down for a nap. After a long morning of playing outside while we plant and tend, he is worn out! I gladly lay down with him for a bit and sneak off to work on the computer. I will answer emails, fix anything that's not operating correctly on our website, and work on some writing. Even though my head is filled with so many ideas for blog posts, I am finding it hard to knock them out with all of the other things we have to do!
Of course, not all days are the same. Usually we choose a day or two a week to run errands like picking up more soaker hoses or restocking the poultry feed. It all changes quite a bit, but this is our normal for right now!
Evenings 5 PM - 8 PM
Suppertime arrives for the farm. We'll water anything that needs it, especially if the day was a hot one. Sometimes crops need water multiple times a day - especially in the summer! But we try to give each bed water at least once every 2-3 days depending on how long they were able to soak. Once the season really gets going, I'll be dedicating this time to heavily weeding and mulching. Right now, it's hard to tell what's a weed and what's a plant as everything is so small. You kind of start to go cross-eyed! The chickens and ducks are fed again and given fresh water. I tend to shuffle the ducks in for the night just as the sun finishes setting. The chicks are usually let out for a bit in an enclosure to get some time on the grass. If we had a moveable chicken tractor, I'd probably put them in that for most of the day! They are three weeks old now. I'll feed Pickles for a final time, and then join the family for my own supper. Most nights I cook, and we tend to use stir fry or noodles with veggies as our go-to because we're all too tired to really care. Ha!
By about 7:45 PM, Jill and I like to go out and capture the magic that's happening on the farm. This is the opportune time to take photos for us! We love the way our photos look at the golden hour. I try to capture everything that's blooming at this point or snap some outdoor shots for the blog and website. I most often shoot indoor photos during the afternoon, like recipes or DIYS. We snapped these photos of the lilacs a few nights ago, and I think they just turned out lovely. They give me hope for what the rest of the season has to hold!
By 8 PM, once the sun has fully set, we say goodnight to the farm and lock everyone up. We wash up after a long day. Living on a farm is hard, but in different ways than I imagined. Yes, the physical labor is hard, but it's something that I am grateful for. I need some physicality in my life, and I hate going to the gym! It's hard work that I love doing. The parts that I didn't realize would be difficult has been finances, figuring out which sorts of things should be invested in and what to let slide this year, as well as farm deaths - crops and animals. We've had two animal deaths in the past week (one of our beloved cats and a chick) as well as some crops that didn't make it (a row of sugar snap peas). The losses are hard, the work is not. It's work that's well worth it!