The Long-Overdue but Possibly Unanticipated End of the Saga of Buying the Truck

Well, we figured out that we needed a truck, and started looking in all the usual places: Craigslist, Autotrader, Used Vehicle Dealerships, Classifieds, Cars.com, random Googling, neighbors garages*, etc.

*That part is a joke.

Turns out, just like everything else since this pandemic started, trucks are real spendy.

We found some potential candidates, so I drove an hour to try three of them. No go.

Then a different day drove 45 minutes to try another one. Little bit of a mixup with that one. (Got excited about the price of one truck when I thought it applied to a different truck that was pricier. 🙄)

Then the whole crowd got in on trying a truck that was jacked up so high we had to help each other up—turned out to be a little too much truck for us.

Finally, we found a dump truck to try in Homer.

On the way, the dog played the trick she likes of opening the electric windows because she is SO FUNNY*, so I put the window lock on. A few moments later, she suddenly SHOT FORWARD from the back seat barking like she was scared of something.

*Sarcasm

After a confusing moment of investigation, it turned out to be a bee, which flew on to Anna’s leg. Anna leaned down to get it off her leg only to discover that I had accidentally window locked her hair in place and she couldn’t lean down.

Cue ridiculous kerfluffle that eventually ended with the bee back outside, the dog back in the backseat, no injuries, and the two of us laughing until we were crying.

On that note, let’s go buy a truck.

We got there and the truck was HUGE and stick shift. It had…uh…been a while since I had driven stick, and I didn’t want to jam the gears in front of the truck owner, so I begged Anna to be the one to test drive.

The truck was big for us, but the price was good and the allure of a dump truck was really hard to resist every time I thought about shoveling horse crap.

Anna told the guy we liked it, but it might be too big. Offhandedly she asked whether he had anything smaller. It just so happened he did! He told us the only thing was he hadn’t planned to sell it, so he didn’t have it ready to go. Still we could test drive it if we wanted.

We test drove it, and he was right—it wasn’t in as good of shape, but the size was manageable (still big) and THAT is how we ended up buying our truck.

The drive home where it conked out on the side of the road is a different story, but maybe not for the website… One tow and it trip to the mechanic, and it’s good as new. Well, maybe not new… Actually definitely not new.

Anyway, look at that beauty dump!!!

2021 Oh Yeah…

You know how little kids will tell you that they can count to 100 faster than you and challenge you to a race and then it comes time to count and they say “One, two, skip a few, ninety-nine, one hundred”? Uh.. that’s pretty much how this update is going to go! Nobody wants to hear the complete, unabridged saga of how the past nine months has gone! 🤣😂

So it’s been a while since I posted. Turns out starting new projects can take ALL your time.

Current blogging position *

*Note: I wouldn’t be sitting on the ground in the coop if I hadn’t just moved it. Chickens are adorable AND chickens are gross.

Chickens are nosy.

We have 3 baby goats now and the world’s most crooked goat fence. Also irrigation that’s *almost* finished. A propagation house. More baby chicks! Potatoes, zucchini, carrots, artichokes, and ALL the weeds! (Thanks, transition-from-conventional-farming!) We have a big pile of horse poo. We have an old skidsteer named Sweetiepie. We have 9 trillion mosquito bites. We have exciting numbers of ladybugs. We have half of our trellises. We have huge to do lists, and oh, did I mention? ALL the weeds.

Anyway, we’re hanging in there. Learning up a storm and hanging on tight to this adventure!

Raised Beds

The land we’re using for vegetables has been planted to corn for years and has been a low spot that floods for most of that time. Converting it to vegetables is a bit of a project.

One of the tools we’re using is raised beds. The benefits to raised beds for us are mostly three things: 1. Water management 2. Extending the growing season by a week or two because they should heat up sooner and 3. It provides walkways so when we work out there we can reach things without compacting the soil, which means less need for tilling.

Just to clarify for folks who aren’t used to it: in this case raised beds just means plowed parts with lower dirt walkways—no wood or built-in hardware is involved!

We’re using the BCS (an Italian-built, walk-behind tractor) to first dig a walkway with a rotary hoe, then to go back and till the bed.

This year, of course, is a lot of set up. Next year it should mean we need a lot less tilling.

Seasonal change

Well, we’ve got more planted (trying to squeeze just a little more produce out of this wacky year, but a lot of things are winding down.

Pumpkin, onion, delicata, spaghetti squash, zucchini and the melons are all finished or close to finished.
This picture is from several weeks ago when we planted, but we’re sneaking in some broccoli, cauliflower, broccoli leaf, and lettuce. Come on, babies, you can do it!

Still working on getting other parts of the field ready for winter, of course. #OngoingProject

But some cover crop and insect rows are putting in an appearance. Love to see that borage and buckwheat.

Horse Fertilizer

Switching from conventional corn/soybeans to veg is a process and one big aspect of it is trying to build the soil back up.

We have 1 3/4 acre that we’re working with and ideally we would like to have about 10” of manure on the whole thing, which means we need a ton of crap.

We found some names on the UIUC Manure Share website: https://extension.illinois.edu/lfmm/manure so we could start this little project.

One place we found is working out. It’s a horse farm, and we have started the process of taking their pile. OF COURSE, this is a transition year, so we didn’t have any equipment ready. They let us borrow a horse trailer. We went out there with 2 muck tubs and 2 shovels and started working on the pile.

Spoiler alert: It turns out you don’t get too far that way.

Still, look at all these worms—this is fantastic!

(Don’t focus on the fact that I took a close-up of poop) LOOK AT THE LOVELY WORMS!! (Let’s move along.)

For the second load, they used a loader to get it on there, so we only had to shovel it OFF the trailer this time. Still, if you have ever seen the business end of a shovel it may not surprise you to learn that we were inspired to buy a beautiful, old dump truck!!

  • …Drumroll
  • …Fanfare
  • …Singing choir of cherubs,
  • …Etc.

I will try to post the epic saga of buying the truck soon, but in the meantime, I can’t WAIT for load number three!!!

We finished the second coop!

Our box chickens are out of the box! We’ve got them in their movable coop so they’re protected from hawks, skunks, coyote, etc. but still get access to the world.

Our local hawk population would LOVE to sample some chicken.
Those brown leghorns are serious about roosting high (see earlier post about getting them out of the trees). In the other coop it took Tacky weeks to decide to roost high and she is the only one I’ve seen up there. These birds night 1, hour 1 they were right up there wrestling for spots. One tried to sit right on top of the other. Much squawking all around! Of course, the three other empty poles would never do…!
Goodnight, chickens.

Tacky the Eagle

Ok, so have you ever read that picture book Tacky the Penguin? There are all these perfect penguins and then there’s this one penguin who is doing his own thing and is kind of an oddball.

It’s a very sweet book.

I would like to introduce you to Tacky the Eagle:

Oddball probably applies to both of us, but let’s focus on the bird…

The kids call this chicken “Eagle” and it was their favorite chick—they held it a bunch. The whole flock is pretty friendly—puppy chickens, really. Still, Eagle is special.

Eagle is funky because she is a leader—will try new things sooner than the other birds—but also is pretty low on the pecking order. Pretty much all day you can see the chickens doing the poultry equivalent of throwing their hands up in the air and saying, “Tacky!!!”

When a person enter the coop, Eagle makes baby noises and checks them out.

The other day as I was walking in with one of their food bowls she decided to go to the top roost and fly into the bowl. I can’t decide if it was diabolical or accidental, but the others gave a cheer.

Newest trick: Eagle is working on her status in the flock by roosting a little higher:

Tacky is an odd bird, but she’s a good bird to have around.