I'm Tonia and this is my family. There's Hubs, my wonderful partner; Bug, my darling daughter; and Boo, my charming son. We are the Collins clan. We are a homeschooling family who try our best to live out God's will for our lives every day. There are lots of stumbles along the way, but we love each other and this little life we're carving out for ourselves. Recently we found ourselves called to make some big changes in our lives so we're packing up the McMansion and moving out to a little farm in need of a lot of TLC. We have tons to learn and tons to do and we invite you to share the journey as we turn our not-so-new heap into a home.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ups and Downs

This spring has been full of ups and downs. Though I still love the Heap, there are definitely things that are difficult. I've found myself stretched to the limit in so many ways. I'm tired and overwhelmed, but still grateful and content. Life here has just really gotten "real" and we're all adjusting as the infatuation fades and commitment kicks in.

Early spring brought lots of babies- goslings, turkeys, chicks, and kittens. We all love the babies.They are so sweet and really just steal your heart. Unfortunately, the reality is that babies don't always survive on the farm. This is hard on all of us, but especially on the kids, and what is hard on the kids is hard on Momma too.

In the end, we lost 1 turkey, 5 chicks, 1 gosling, and 3 kittens. The heartbreak is eased by the enjoyment we get from the remaining brood- 5 turkeys, 33 chickens (meat birds), 2 geese, and 1 precious kitten named Milo.

The Hubs spent a lot of time building tractors for the meat birds. Tractors are mobile cages that allow the birds to graze and still remain safe. They are awesome and he did such a great job. The cool, wet spring we had really messed with our timing, though, and we just butchered the first batch of meat birds, when we really should have been doing that a month ago.  Our plan had been to do two batches, but I really, really don't want to be butchering in November so we're only going to get one batch in this year. 

Phase two of the garden has been fenced in. There is also a four foot wide area along the back side of the garden. This is where my perennial plants are going. I now have about 800 square feet of garden space, which is amazing. It is also a ton of work.

The more gardening space I have the more I'm learning about my mistakes and what I need to do differently. I definitely plant things too far apart, leaving way too much opening for weeds- which I am constantly battling. I recently stumbled across a gardening method that makes a lot of sense to me and I plan to do things using the "deep mulch" method from now on. Unfortunately, trying to catch up when things are already in place is really hard. Despite that, I have tons of things growing and thriving. I've harvested lettuce, herbs, peas, snow peas, and carrots so far with the promise of lots more. I'll take my mistakes and learn from them next year.

Five blueberry bushes have gone in this year too so we're beginning to build a permanent crop, which I'm excited about. The future orchard has been mowed and is ready for fruit trees to start going in as soon as our budget allows for buying them.

We had a broody chicken that sat on eggs earlier this spring. After nearly a month of sitting, only one had hatched, and it died before it got out of the egg.  That chicken sat in the layers coop and the other chickens bothered her a lot, sometimes even stealing her eggs and putting their own under her so we think that is why it didn't work. Now we have a new chicken sitting and we put her in the infirmary where she won't be bothered. We're all praying it goes better this time.

One thing remains the same- it's still beautiful and peaceful out here. We are confident that despite the challenges this is the right thing for our family. I really do love our life even when I'm tired and overwhelmed.

We still have a lot to do this working season. New windows will be going in soon. The Hubs has lots of fencing to put up so we can get ready for pigs next year. I still have canning and preserving season ahead. We're excited to see things continue to come together out here and I still plan to share as they do, just maybe not as often as I did at first. Thanks for being a part of this adventure!


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