The long summer days are hot and dry in Maryland. And we have had some big excitement on the farm. Our farmer neighbor harvested his wheat! It was so much fun to watch the big combine working its way across our hills! So, the plan! We want to plant pasture and hay grasses on most of our land. Pretty much anything that isn’t trees is getting replanted. The best way to do that is to plant a crop like wheat that comes off early enough that the grass can get established before fall without allowing time for weeds to take over. The land had been fallow for a year before this and while most of my pictures of the land look lush and green, those are almost entirely weeds.
The wheat serves two purposes for us. One is to choke out weeds, and the other is to serve as a cover crop to protect the newly growing grasses. And our farmer that has agreed to help us gets something out of it as well, the wheat! Now even though he was more than happy to help us when we asked, it’s important to note here that we did pay him for his time and wear on his equipment, but for most farmers, it’s more about the time commitment than the money. Farmers are very busy people, even if you don’t see them out in their fields, there is always a job to be done, and we appreciated his willingness to help us get started. We have encountered such support and love from our local farming community. Often older farmers are quite willing to lend a helping hand if you reach out to them with humble kindness. As many books as you’ve read and farm tours you’ve been on, these guys have been through it all. They are an invaluable resource and if you want access to their knowledge, I have found it very fruitful to ingratiate yourself a little bit.
So after his wheat was off he no-tilled our pasture and hay seed for us. Our seed: we spent A LOT of money on our seed. It has been one of our most major investments to date. The way we see it, these fields are our animal’s food, home, and the base source of our farm’s income. Buying cheep seed to save a little now, will only put us way behind later. We bought through a seed dealer. They are all over out in farm country. Just ask around where your farmer neighbors buy their seed. We went with a company called King’s Agriseed. After speaking to a few different people that intensively graze we decided on Kings Grazing Mix for our pasture and GrassPro for our hay fields.
We had nearly perfect weather for establishing our seed. I cannot express how thankful I am for that. Someone up there is definitely rooting for us! Thanks for that!
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Well friends, we bought an RV.
Hubster, the boys, and I had been living with my parents after we sold our condo and before we could build our new house. We are finally ready to start building now and we need a place to live that is closer to the build site. Staying in a hotel or rental was going to be WAY out of our budget. So….the plan is to buy an RV, live in that ON our property. Then afterwards, we can either keep it for vacations (HA! Yea right!) or sell it and make some of that money back. I had a few qualifications when we went looking, I didn’t want to have to make and unmake a bed every morning and evening, and I wanted an actual door that separated mine and Hubster’s bed from the boys beds. Once we found the perfect one, we still had to make a few modifications to accommodate our family’s needs. We took out the bottom bunk to make room for the pack and play. It fit perfectly in that spot! I also sewed covers for all the furniture, we have toddlers and we need this thing to stay in good shape if we are going to resell it. I also took down those terrible window shades. Not my taste. If i have to live in 127 sq. ft. with three other dudes, I want it to look a little nice. Here’s some before and after pics of the inside.
Hubster had some gravel delivered to make a pad, we mowed a little “yard”.
We also had power hookups added and got some internet too!!
We are still getting everything all set up and moved in, so there will be more updates and pictures soon. I am excited and nervous for what the future holds.
On this new adventure we will need more than just our own two hands. Luckily we are going in to this with a fair bit of experience! But we have none of the tools we need to get going. This is something I did not account for. I knew we would be spending money on our home, barn, fencing, and large equipment, but I forgot to add in the minor expenses that add up. We are moving from a third floor condo…we don’t own the things you take for granted like a wheelbarrow, or a shovel. Hubster has a set of socket wrenches, a drill, and hammer. So we are pretty much a blank slate here. Much more so than I even originally thought.
So we needed a piece of large machinery to do the big heavy jobs around here. The item that immediately comes to mind is a tractor. But we decided to step sideways a bit from that. We have a farmer down the road that has promised to help up plant our pastures, so our immediate need for a tractor has been resolved. We ended up purchasing a second hand skid loader from an auction for $8,000. And on a whim, picked up a plow blade for it also (that was not authorized, but I am sure it will be handy to clear snow from our 1/3 of a mile driveway. Here is a picture of Hubster and my father-in-law unloading it.
SIDE NOTE: for those of you that have thin wallet syndrome like us, buy all your *new* equipment used. You DO NOT NEED the newest model, shiny and new off the showroom floor. I would even go so far as to say, don’t buy them from dealerships in general. Tractors and other farm equipment are not like cars. They don’t wear out as quickly so they are valuable way beyond their car counterparts. And they are much more easy to service if and when they do break down. I know of many 1960-1980 models of tractors that are not only still going strong, but have many many ore useful years left in them. How many 1980 model cars are there still kicking around?
So off I go to our local Ace Hardware. I’m purchasing a wheelbarrow, pointed and flat headed shovel, rake, metal and plastic pitchfork, and various pliers and cutters needed for fencing. I am sure it will be one of many trips in the near future. Maybe I should start looking on Craigslist?
What have you all done to save on the essentials?
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In 2011, my mom Connie, my husband Dan, and I were struck with a lightning bolt of luck when we found the property that is now our home. It took us almost 2 years of driving all over central Maryland and looking at run down property after run down property, but when we saw what is now BlueLand Farm, we all knew it was perfect.
Ever wondered what it might be like to build a whole farm up from nothing? Yea, I hadn’t really either, and so when I set out on this adventure I had very little to go on except that it would be a lot of work, and a pretty big chunk of our savings. My only experience with building something like this from scratch is when I watched my parents build their own home when I was 12. Not exactly a lot to go on. And this “farm” was just a field that had had corn and soybeans growing, no buildings, no house, no fences, not even a driveway.
Closing on the property was an adventure in and of itself. The family joke is that it took Dan and I less time to make a baby, than it did to close on this property. There were issues with deed overlap, and issues with extremely old deeds (the last time they had been updated was 1940), and the title company was dragging their feet.
Closing got so involved and Dan spent many nights hunched over PDF copies of Microfiche deeds from the 1920s reading about meets and bounds. Our real estate agent asked him if he was a property attorney…nope, just a farmer with a lot of motivation to get this done right!!! Buying a new property or house is always stressful, and so I wasn’t surprised or concerned. We persevered and now I can say; all’s well that ends well!
We got a lot of support and advice from local farmers, soil conservation, and anyone else we could think of to ask. So if you are out there in internet-land reading this, THANKS!!!!
When faced with many tasks, I find it best to make a list, just randomly point to something on the list, and start with that. But this time, we decided to be a little more organized. We needed a reliable way to access the property, so we started with a driveway. Our driveway was going to be ⅓ mile long and gravel. We did some adulting and, we got some quotes and settled on a “guy”, henceforth know as Driveway Rick, who ended up doing a great job, we were super happy.
At the same time, we started work on the never-ending project that haunts my dreams now. I call it simply “the fence”. The first phase of “the fence” was relatively painless and did not provide any foreshadowing of the pain that would come later. It did not require a lot of man hours on our part, but we paid the price….literally. It was really ‘spensive ya’ll. It was beautiful, convenient, and FAST. But the downside of it being twice the price of a DIY fence, we could NOT afford to keep THAT up without drying up our money pot too fast.
Plan B, buy the materials and install the fence ourselves. We are not shy and delicate flowers; we are sturdy, rustic, do-it-yourselfers! So we thought, we got this. But almost a year later, it just keeps dragging on and on and it’s one of the hardest things I have ever done (I planned, and executed a 100% DIY wedding for Hubster and I back in *mumble mumble mumble*, ahem, several years ago – this fence was worse then that – maybe because it isn’t quite as fun). We’ve done about 2,000 feet ourselves already, and Hun, it STILL ain’t finished. I can’t, I just can’t talk about the fence any more today. I’ll save that for another day I promise.
But that’s the beginning of our little farm’s story. And the idea is that this blog will take you on a journey through that story, with some sidebars about cooking, sewing, maybe some homeschooling…..who knows where my brain will take us. But hang with me and I promise it won’t be boring!!!