Winter Doldrums

It’s the middle of January now on the farm, and quite honestly, a little blahhhhh. I still love looking out at the hills and open land that is covered with small patches of snow, but I must say it’s not nearly as pretty as when the sun is shining brightly on a warm summer day. I definitely miss my beautiful ‘front lawn’ that is made up of 12 acres of bright green soybean plants. This is what it looks like now….frozen pond and all…blech!

Thus, I’ve been spending a lot of time inside (actually, I traveled a lot in December – from Las Vegas to a warm weather cruise across the Atlantic, which was a nice getaway from the cold weather!) and settling in on early 2011 weekend mornings enjoying my coffee and daydreaming about warmer weather.

One thing that we are trying to do is make plans for the Spring months when Linus and I want to take on two big projects. One is building a large vegetable garden, with lots of overflow that we can perhaps take to farmer’s markets, and two is adding a few goats to our farm family.

Both seem a bit daunting right now, thus I am happy to have the downtime to make plans. I have been doing LOTS of reading. On the goats subject, I started with the “Goats for Dummies” book. Funny enough, it’s not a bad primer. Our biggest challenge will be reinforcing a large, fenced area that we have for the goats. (We were lucky to already have this large, acre-size space already somewhat fenced in when we purchased the farm. The previous owners used it as a dog pen.) Here’s the fenced in area now.

Apparently goats can easily escape from their enclosed areas. So, as soon as it gets warmer, we will begin the fence inspection and the reinforcing, as well as adding an electrically-charged wire along the top of the fence so the goats can’t jump over it.

We also have to build a shelter for the goats. Apparently, we can use pallets to do this. There are several interesting pallet shelter plans that are easily found on the internet. Again, we’ll start on this once it gets a little warmer.

What will we do with the goats? Well, we’ll milk them. And hopefully pasteurize the milk to make fresh goat’s milk cheese and some consumer items (soaps, lotions, etc.). We’d like to sell the products under our farm’s brand name. Lots to learn about that as well. But my day job is marketing, so we’ll see. I’m more concerned about learning to milk and pasteurize. If we can get that far, then the rest will hopefully be easy!

As for the veggie garden, lots to do here as well. We want to plan it as carefully as possible to make sure we have proper soil and drainage plans. We also have to take extra care in fencing it to keep the deer out. Composting will be important in our garden as well. We have been maintaining a compost for the last 6 months and hope to incorporate several more into the garden spaces.

I have been reading several great books on Kentucky gardening that I would suggest. One is “Guide to Kentucky Vegetable Gardening.” This one goes through the basics of each vegetable. “The New Fred Wiche Lawn and Garden Almanac” is my favorite though. Fred is unfortunately passed now, but he was a well-respected Kentucky gardener and although his book is not really “new” (pub. in 1992) much of his thoughts are still very relevant.

One interesting piece of trivia from Fred that has nothing to do with gardening, but is just a fun fact, is that January is named for the Roman god “Janus.” Janus had two heads and was able to see into the past and the future. I have thought about this as I go through the motions in the cold and overcast month of January. With Janus in mind, I have found it to be a great time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year (actually buying the farm that I have always wanted and thus, creating the simple lifestyle that completely suits me) and a chance to look forward to the fun learnings and adventures on the farm in 2011.

So, lots to do in the next few months – as you can see. It’s definitely a bit overwhelming. But, it’s wonderfully satisfying – and that’s all I can ask for.

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