This is Roy writing the blog this time. I wanted to add my $0.02 at the beginning of this adventure in Pennsylvania, although in full disclosure, there are numerous spousal additions and improvements to my somewhat pedestrian penmanship!
Beginnings are often fraught with discoveries, excitement and starting new things. This week was no different at Morning Star Meadows Farm, as we shifted our focus away from the tedium of unpacking and more towards turning this beautiful acreage into a productive farm.
Luckily, we have one of the world’s foremost fencing companies close by, and today took a trip over to their warehouse and began accumulating the posts, wires, spacers and the other requisite paraphernalia necessary to initiate our first major project ….. fencing our farm! Although we have put up a lot of fencing in Connecticut, as those who have followed us previously on this blog can attest to, this place will take it to a whole new level with the perimeter boundary fence alone totaling almost a mile, and internal dividing fences likely to amount to a lot more!
And just to confirm our concern about the necessity of our fencing being secure enough to protect our stock as well as to contain them, driving home from shopping a couple days ago we were astounded to see a large black bear bounding across the road about 35 yards in front of the van! It was so quick and agile as it slithered under the roadside guard rail, making us very aware of how much we need to protect animals (and humans!) on the farm.
The other major (and a little bit scary) discovery we made while cruising around the pastures on the UTV was that our fields, from a distance, pure and verdant, upon closer inspection (with a bit of Googled plant identification) is rampant with toxic plants! We have a very toxic weed called dogbane (a hemp plant that would be great if we needed to make rope, and would be awesome if we had an apiary, as pollinators love the flowers, but gets its name because it poisoned dogs!) as well as enough milkweed to feed Pennsylvania’s entire population of monarch butterflies!
Incidentally, and as an aside, I have always thought that the person who named “butterflies” was dyslexic. Butterflies do not look like flies (although they do fly), and they have little to do with, as far as I can tell, in appearance, smell, or predilection towards, butter! So my contention is that our naming expert really intended to call them “Flutter-byes”, as I contend that this is much more apt name, that actually has some relationship with their penchant for “fluttering by”…. but I digress!
So, now we have to find out how to rid ourselves of these toxic plants without disrupting the growth of all the other lush, safe-to-eat plants already there.
And in addition to these adventures and discoveries, we are trying to fall into a rhythm at the homestead.
Firstly, we had our struggle to get enough water. After a great deal of time, patience, and $$, we now have a much deeper well and 3 cisterns in our basement to provide for the water demand of our family.
Our family’s wifi demand is still unmet, with rural DSL being extremely slow and unreliable! I guess Verizon figures us country folk don’t need true high speed internet, so they run the signal way out to the boonies on copper until there is only a trickle of internet coming into our modem.
The boys and I began to erect an Amish style clothesline so that we don’t have to burn through electricity to achieve what God already provided for with all the lovely sunny and breezy days we are experiencing. Although it sounds nice and tame, this is no tidy suburban clothesline! This is a 125 foot line spanning two 12 foot posts sunk four feet into the shale and clay of the Pennsylvania hills! We will wait to post photos of this until completion, and perhaps until the recovery of myself and three of our boys, who are now using muscles not tested for a few months, but will need to be honed for the upcoming fence work.
All in all, though, we are all feeling more at home. The sauerkraut is fermenting in the crock, its frequent “burping” providing a familiar background sound intermixed with the chime of the old clock, running once again after a lengthy time in storage. We have had our first real dinner party – only one guest, but it still counts! School is humming along for the children at full speed. And there is also a continuing education for Robin and me as this weekend we will be attending (after a Saturday morning stop for freshly made Amish donuts just down the street from our house!) the Mother Earth News Fair at a nearby conference center, and next week will be doing a pasture walk at a nearby cattle farm with the county conservation district people. Lots of learning and networking, planning and hard work. The awesome beginnings of something great!