Monday, February 11, 2013

Starting Early and Some Changes

The mild winter and early fitful spring has allowed us to start the spring push a little early this year and we are back to doing maintenance and prep for the upcoming growing season which means lots of manual labor, a full schedule, and the satisfaction of once again being outdoors more than indoors.

I have never been very comfortable working indoors and find that my temperament is much more suited to physically demanding jobs where I can physically see and feel the fruits of my labors.

However, (there is always a however), we are significantly behind our objectives in turning this long neglected small farm into a self sustaining and financially solvent operation (the drought and my back surgery and physical deterioration have significantly impacted us)  and we need focus and a more structured framework in which to operate. So we are in the process of writing a new business plan that builds on our past 3 years of experience, we are filing as a Licensed Limited Corporation (Stonehouse Farm LLC), we are investing in advertising and infrastructure to build up on and off farm sales, we are seeking technical assistance from the University of Missouri and the USDA Regional Office, and we will have a separate budget where it is easier to manage both operational costs and the true cost of the income generated. I have a business background and looking at what I just wrote I almost want to smack my forehead but if your contemplating trying to make your small farm productive we have learned you have to be even more structured than say a more conventional business as margins are closer and there are so many factors out of your control (weather, commodity prices, injury/illness etc). The first three years have been spent building infrastructure, purchasing capital equipment, and learning the market and now its time to put that to practical use.

The weather has been up and down but overall nice enough that we have all been out working on spring projects and we are starting to shake off the winter blues.

Our fencing of the new property has progressed all the way to the back now where we have set corner posts and will be fencing across the back this next week.

If you own land one of the things that is a constant maintenance issue is the need to keep your roads in good repair. During winter and spring the mud season starts and the roads take a beating with mud pits, ruts and erosion being the primary focus since we don't really get enough snow to worry about plowing.

We just try and stay on top of it before it gets overwhelming and later this spring we will be dropping more gravel.

This is looking at the back southeastern corner of our new property addition and the three corner posts have all been set in concrete and await bracing and barbed wire. The posts were so close to a big Oak and some Cedars that I thought it would be a bear to dig the post holes but it was surprisingly easy back here.

There never was much of a fence back here so we pretty much have a clean slate to work with and didn't have to dismantle an existing fence.

The shot looks north towards our old property line and we will fence across the back here to meet up with our existing pasture fence. Clearing the old brush from the property line so we could fence was the most difficult part of this fencing job.

Looking East and to the back of our new property all you can see is pasture, then woods, and on the other side of the woods way in the back is another couple hundred acres of pasture and then more woods. There is tons of wild life back here and its just peaceful and quiet.
Part of the new property we bought last year was a small wooded area that had been used as a dump site by the previous owners about 15 - 20 years ago and we hauled out this pile of junk to take to the dump yesterday. It was completely screened by trees so you couldn't see it but it really bugged us so it was a priority to get it cleaned up.

I don't know why I didn't take a before picture but imagine this little wood copse being covered with rusted metal, old tires, broken glass and lots of bits of plastic and plastic containers. We plan on mostly fencing it off so the cattle don't start rooting around in there and cut themselves on something buried in the soil but its now a nice and enjoyable place where we will let the rabbits, squirrels and birds have free reign.
We have some seed starts already going in the greenhouse and Holly and Judy have been prepping the raised beds but we will be greatly expanding them this year. The new dirt work in the back of Holly (we did last fall with the left over dirt from the sewer line extension) will support a doubling or more of our existing raised beds and we will be also expanding our market garden area.

This picture was about 2 days ago, its still early February but it was about 63 degrees and sunny....yes! We ere also well supervised by the animals who all like to hang out wherever we are on the farm and in this case Rose the Farm Dog and her buddy Jake kept a close eye on us.

Bandit will chase birds now and again but he never catches anything and mostly just lays around and sleeps. He just wants to be close to the action, not particularly participate in anything strenuous anymore.
This week we work on finishing the business plan, we will be fixing the IH 424 Tractor (replace the water pump), more fencing, and build the new raised beds. Spring is good.

No comments:

Post a Comment