In typical fashion, we took our routine “PCS trip” to the farm.  This trip was a bit more stressful with all the changes going on, but nonetheless, we always find a way to enjoy ourselves on the farm.
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The big project on this trip was moving about 600 feet of a main pasture, post and rail fence line out about 4 feet.  This will reduce the mowing on the outer strip between the driveway and fence, and open an additional 1/2 acre or so for grazing animals later.  Then the old fence line had to be removed.  Since losing my horses, I have definitely become more of a “city girl” in terms of my brute strength, so between that and my sprained wrist, I wasn’t much help.  Thankfully, S’s oldest brother lives nearby and loves to work on the farm, so he helped S.  I primarily focused on being mom and entertaining the kids while resting my wrist a bit.  I managed to get a few smaller projects accomplished though.  So, to keep it simple, here is a quick pictorial of our 10-day visit:

First, they drilled post holes. Then set the posts for the new fence line (has the fresh clay at the bottom). Then they tore down the old fence. God truly blessed us for the visit by limiting the rain to about 1/3 of what was originally predicted.

Due to the wet ground, we tacked old rails onto each posts temporarily to prevent the posts from shifting while they settled.

On our next trip, we hope to stretch the 2x4 wire and add a top rail to make the new fence match the adjoining one (seen here) that was installed last year. If you look closely here, you will see little orange flags. I spent one afternoon measuring off our orchard and perennial area, which we hope to plant next spring. The plan is to plant probably 3 each of 4 types of fruit trees (with option to expand later), some berry bushes and grape vines, and an asparagus patch. It was exciting envisioning this little food plot. Once planted, this area will be fenced off with some type of t-post and electrical tape to keep the sheep out. We were disheartened to find they had managed to kill off the 3 apple trees previously growing there.

Next door (about 5 acres away), we were excited to see the progress on S's mom's house. She currently lives in our farm house and takes care of the place, but purchased the adjoining acreage a few years ago. She started building her house this spring, but the wet weather has slowed it quite a bit. Since they had a bit of a dry spell while we were there, the builder jumped at the chance to get the roof trusses up. Unfortunately, he was short on man power that day, so, in small-town fashion, he asked S and his brother to help out. They jumped at the chance to play with wood and big toys (a crane to lift the trusses), and spent most of the day helping out.

The kids and I would periodically walk down and take the guys cold ice water and home-made granola bars. It was fun watching their progress. JR was enthralled and would probably have spent the whole day down there if I'd let him. He has definitely reached an age where his daddy is his hero, and he wants to be by daddy's side for everything. Notice the backwards hat. When we left the farm house, his hat was on with the bill forward. When we got to the new house, he noticed daddy had turned his hat around backwards and asked about it. I explained it was so he could see a bit better with the trusses flying overhead. Next thing I knew, JR had turned his around. I love this picture.

I kept busy with the kids. One of our favorite activities was berry-picking. We would pack the babies into the wagon and head down the drive. All along the way are wild black raspberries that were absolutely delicious. It was impossible to walk down the drive without snacking as we went.

Before long, we got into a routine of collecting every to every-other day since they were maturing so quickly. We found it was a race to get to the mature, sweet, black ones before the daddy-long-legs ate them.

Unfortunately, the berry bushes are thoroughly enveloped in poison ivy plants. We had to keep the babies in the wagon to keep them out, and we tried to save the outer berries for M to pick. I would wear jeans and go further into the brush to pick. Fortunately, I don't seem to have any senstivity to poison ivy, and have, so far, never developed a rash. JR did come down with a small one around his ankles at one point, but we treated it with old-fashioned Fels-Naptha, and it cleared up pretty quickly.

The results of one-morning's picking.

We tried black raspberry porridge, snacking on raw berries, we had them room-temp, outside-temp, and cold out of the fridge. I envisioned making jams and pies. I think our favorite way to eat them, however, was atop a yummy bowl of vanilla ice-cream, and this quickly became a daily ritual! I'm drooling just looking at the pic!

We also ventured out one morning to visit a friend's farm. We got to know her when we bought our farm, as she was the previous owner. She moved just a few miles away and started a new farm, which the kids and I love to visit until we get our own going. She breeds black Irish Dexter cattle, and I will be purchasing our starter stock from her, as well as using her bull for breeding. She has also agreed to let me purchase a few already-laying hens from her when I get there to help us get started.

Of all the animals there, to include horses, cattle, dogs, cats, and chickens, the kids definitely enjoy the baby chicks the most. She always seems to have a new batch in the brooder when we visit.

M loved being allowed to be more independent in holding the chicks this visit. She has really developed into a gentle, nurturing animal lover.

A, on the other hand, absolutely LOVES animals, but is far from gentle at this point. He was fascinated by the chickens though, helped collect the daily eggs (which had been saved for the kids), and wanted to touch as many chicks as we would allow. I had to work on teaching him how to gently stroke them. He was a fast learner, though, and did very well.

I think it has almost become tradition that she lets the kids collect the eggs, then sends all the eggs collected home with us. This time, we received not quite 2 dozen, including this massive double-yolker. Poor hen! FYI, that's my husband's massive hand holding it! In any case, we feasted on omelets and scrambled eggs several times, and snacked on boiled eggs. We even had enough boiled eggs to take some home to CO.

The kids enjoyed their ritual viewing of "The Nutcracker Ballet." I remember being terrified of the bad king mouse as a kid, but my kids love that movie.

 A really neat aspect of this trip was that it was the first time in about 4 years when I have been there in the spring.  I got see all the flowers, bushes, and trees in full bloom.  Gardening is quite new to me, so some plants I am learning about, and others I still know nothing about. I am still envisioning which plants will be left, which will be transplanted, and which will be disposed of or given away.  Some of the larger shrubs may look better if properly pruned, but that is a an area where I have a lot to learn.

Hostas

Ferns

something-oak shrub. I can never remember the name. It has beautiful blooms once a year, but the rest of the year, it is a scraggly, weedy looking bush. I'm still debating whether to keep these, as there are several in the garden.

Hostas and Bleeding hearts

Butterfly bushes. Like the oaks, these things bloom once a year, they attract a ton of butterflies, and actually smell quite nice. The rest of the year, they look like a lush bunch of scraggly weeds. Debating whether to keep, transplant, or throw out.

My MIL likes to give her sheep full access to the barn, but doesn't understand the whole carbon:nitrogen bedding concerns with livestock, so the barn had gotten pretty mucky. We spent one afternoon cleaning it up. S shoveled out the muck and spread it on the pasture, and I spread on some lime and covered it over with a deep bed of straw. It smelled great after that....assuming you think the smell of fresh bedding is great. The sheep have gotten pretty wild, only coming near at feeding time, but we still said HI! a few times. They watched us curiously as we cleaned their stalls, and were very unhappy to be locked out for the day. They are still waiting for weather dry enough to allow the wool time to dry so the shearer can come.

 A big surprise on this trip was a gift from a friend of my MIL.  She was re-doing her house and did not have room for a love seat that she had had for years.  She offered it to MIL, who didn’t have a use for it, but explained that we could use some furniture in the house for our visits there.  The lady happily gave it to us, and we arrived to find it sitting in our living room.  A beautiful antique!  I am envisioning it re-finished in a lighter stain.  What do you think?

It never fails that a trip to the farm results in a great deal more activity then when we are home.  Not long after driving away to head back to CO, we turned around to find this:

M completely unconscious.....but at least it meant she wasn't vomiting!!

That pretty much sums up our trip to Red Gate Farm.  Each time we visit, we feel one giant step closer to being there permanently.

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