Sunday, December 29, 2019

Transitioning the Farm for Our Next Stage of Life

tractor with wagon loaded with hay in field
Putting up hay with our '54 Farmall Cub
When we first started Our Tiny Farm in 1999, we were finally living our dream of owning a small farm, raising a lot of our own food using organic methods, having farm animals, and making income "off the land". That was over 20 years ago. My husband and I were in our forties. our children were in elementary school, and the economy was good.
vegetables growing in a small garden
Our early vegetable gardens were diverse
We started out, as most new market gardeners do, growing vegetables. We grew a bit of everything including tomatoes, peppers, onions, peas, broccoli, potatoes, eggplants, beans, and summer squash. It was a new garden site so it took a lot of back breaking work to raise organic vegetables. We added so much organic matter and did so much weeding in those early years. It also didn't take us long to figure out that every other small farm in the region was growing exactly the same things that we were! Because of our small scale and doing everything by hand, we couldn't sell our vegetables at a price that would make us any money.
jar of popcorn
Our Japanese hulless popcorn was a big hit with our customers
So then we started experimenting with crops that we didn't see at the farmers' markets: heirloom popcorn, heirloom winter squash, kohlrabi, garlic, shallots, leeks, and herbs.
four beehives
We started increasing the number of hives
Glen had been keeping bees as a hobby for several years but decided to expand the number of hives and do it as a small commercial operation. 
four chickens in a portable chicken tractor
We had six heirloom breed chickens in a portable chicken tractor
big black horse by a gate and barn
Glen built the barn on the left, we fenced the property, and got a horse and donkey
Glen built a barn, workshop, equipment sheds, and other outbuildings. We got chickens, a donkey, and a horse. We were really living the farm life! It was a ton of work, but it was something my husband and I had always talked about doing together. But we still weren't making much money; certainly not enough to justify the amount of work we were putting into it.

two black cattle and a water tub
Two young Black Angus steers. We just raised two at a time.

garlic bulbs
We shipped garlic all over the country for many years.
black and white horse in the field
Boarding horses was lucrative and taught us a lot about contracts and horse owners.
So we started pasture raising a few Black Angus cattle, selling our garlic online, and boarding horses; and finally, our CPA informed us that we were making money! The winning combination for Our Tiny Farm was beef, honey, garlic, and horse boarding. 
Young woman with a freshly harvested garlic plant
Digging garlic was a family operation
And so that is what we did for a number of years. We sold our farm products at the farmers' market, direct from the farm, and online. I held a fulltime job, but for most of that time my husband was fulltime on the farm and at home. 
man kneeling next to two donkeys
Glen with the first two donkeys we boarded
And then the kids grew up. The old horse died. Digging garlic was really hard on Glen's back. And I was really tired of working 60+ hours a week at my regular job and then getting up at 5 am to go to market on Saturday morning. So we starting simplifying our farm. We now raise and board only donkeys. We've quit raising beef. We still raise bees, but our honey is all sold at our friend's strawberry farm just five miles away or online.  
man and boy roasting hot dogs over a campfire
This past summer we took our grandson on his first camping trip
My husband and I are now in our 60s. We still love our little farm and I can't imagine life without the donkeys. But there are other things we would like to do, like travelling around this big, beautiful country, and now seems like the right time to start. We are fortunate to have our son living on the farm, great neighbors to help and watch over our place, and our daughter and her family nearby. So this coming year, the blog posts will be about what we can do on our small farm in our 60s, 70s, and 80s. How can we generate some income but leave time and energy to travel and enjoy other activities. I hope you will follow along and share some of your experiences!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

We extracted the first honey of the year!

Honey in plastic bottles
The first honey extraction of the 2019 season took place yesterday, and Glen worked late into the night to bottle up enough to take to Obermiller's Strawberry Farm in Horse Shoe, NC (close to Hendersonville) for sale. Look at the cute  little honey bears he made up! We will deliver it there later this morning. So come out and pick some strawberries and buy some Our Tiny Farm honey!

Friday, April 12, 2019

We Welcome New Donkeys to Our Tiny Farm

Two miniature donkeys in a paddock
This week two new donkey boarders joined us on Our Tiny Farm. Meet Wilma, on the left, and Clara, on the right.
Four miniature donkeys standing next to a red barn
They are twelve years old and just the sweetest little donkeys. We still have them separated from our two (you can see ours peeking at them from behind the gate), but I think they will settle in quite nicely.
Four miniature donkeys and a man in a barn

Friday, March 15, 2019

Our Tiny Farm Goes International!

Two jars of honey
We aren't really doing international sales, but a customer bought a box of jars of our honey yesterday to take to Korea as gifts! Thought that was pretty cool!
Two donkeys
Chester (on the left) and Meadow (on the right) are enjoying the mild weather and sunshine we have had lately. Little do they know that in a few short weeks, they will have two more donkey companions. Glen and I are looking forward to have new boarders.
Daffodils blooming
Daffodils are blooming on the farm. This is my favorite time of the year with buds bursting, grass turning green, and peepers peeping at night. It's a good time to plant that woodland garden you have been thinking about all winter. My book on how to do just that is on sale for $30; that includes shipping. If you can't see the Paypal buttons on the right to order it, you are probably on a mobile device. Just scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "view website" and the right sidebar will magically appear!
page from Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and Other Woodland Medicinals book

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Donkey Changes on Our Tiny Farm

Donkey being loaded on trailer
Last weekend was bittersweet for us on Our Tiny Farm. Our longtime boarders, Faith, Hope, and Cory, left our farm. That was the sad part. But the happy part was their owners finally had their own new farm, barn, and paddock all ready and waiting for them.
Donkeys being unloaded from a trailer
Their new home is beautiful and the owners love having their ear longears right there with them. We all hope to stay good friends, too!
Woman with two donkeys
Initially our two donkeys were confused and kept looking for their herd. Then they were upset and didn't want us to even pet them. That made it interesting when we had to blanket them when it got so bitterly cold for a few days. But yesterday they decided we were all good once again.
Three donkeys looking through door in barn
So, we are accepting boarders again. If you need a loving home for your horse or donkey, just contact us. We take excellent care of our equines. Just ask these three!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Key fob button protector (so you won't mash a button when you don't mean to)

We have a family member, who will remain nameless, who accidentally bumps buttons on his key fobs with undesirable, and sometimes unknown, consequences. I went searching for key fob covers/protectors and found they were all very large and needed two hands to operate. So today I made one. It works so well that I made several for other family members, too. Here's how to do it.
Materials to make a key fob cover
Gather these supplies:
  • A thin plastic flexible cutting board (they are sold in multi packs)
  • A ruler.
  • Scissors.
  • Sharp paring knife.
  • Paper clip.
  • Self stick Velcro buttons.

I made a prototype first with paper to get the right dimensions and test it out.

Simple homemade key fob cover
Then I just cut a length of the cutting board with the scissors, made a slit with the knife for the ring on the top of the fob, slid a paper clip through the ring, used the paper clip to pull the ring through the slit, folded the plastic around the fob, positioned the Velcro buttons, rubbed the Velcro buttons on firmly (using the handle of the scissors against the table, not the fob), and it was finished! Make it any color you want.
Another view of finished key fob covers

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Heading into Fall on Our Tiny Farm

Five donkeys in the pasture
Currently we have five donkeys on Our Tiny Farm. Two of them, Chester and Meadow,  are ours. The other three are boarders.  We have Faith, the mother,  Hope,  her yearling daughter,  and Corey Love, her son who was born just a few months ago. They make for a very happy,  and entertaining,  little herd.
Black steer under a tree
We have Black Angus steer on the farm again. These two aren't ours.  They belong to a friend,  but I missed having the big boys on the pasture so we are happy to give them a home.
Vegetable garden
We grew a small garden this year,  mostly for the family. We have enjoyed delicious summer squash, lots of tomatoes, a wide variety of peppers,  eggplant, sweet corn, and peas.
Square bales of hay
In late June,  for the first time, we had hay from our pasture cut and baled. We are very pleased with the quality and it will make for a good savings for us this winter. We plan to do a second cutting in October.
Woman holding a freshly dug garlic bulb
In May we received about 21 inches of rain in a two to three week period. This was bad timing for our garlic crops. We lost all of the elephant garlic. The hard necked garlics survived but the bulbs are small. We cured them and they taste good,  but because their quality is not what we like to provide to our customers,  we will not be selling it this year.
Beekeeper working a hive
We did have a great honey crop this year. Most of it was sold at the Obermiller Strawberry Farm nearby during their strawberry and blueberry seasons.
Thanks for checking in with Our Tiny Farm. And as always, you can order a copy of my book,  which I will sign for you, by clicking on the appropriate button on the side bar.  If you don't see a sidebar, you need to scroll to the bottom of this page and click on the view web version link.  Thanks! Jeanine