Thursday, February 27, 2014

Re-construction begins

November 2013 ~

Picture from ontop of the biggest hill, looking across the street over other farms:

(our farm house in the bottom right corner)

Looking down the hill towards our farm house (see the camper - J's current residence, the chicken coop and the shed):

The Barn:

While cleaning up the house, J noticed some additional issues that needed to be addressed.  He started with the outside of the house.

His dad came to help him with the sheathing to make the house air tight:

(South side of house)

Back of house:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Farm House Clean-Up

We debated if this farm house was a good option for us.  It clearly needs a lot of work!

I was of the opinion that it was beyond me.  J was of the opinion he can do it.

He found a job at the local hospital, and moved down there to start making this house liveable.

First he had to clean it up!

Here is his initial progress:

November 2013 - after the clean-up

The living room:

The dinning room (looking at putting in a mud room on the far right where that new electrical box is):

Master Bedroom:

Some old doors that were left behind (would be great to refurbish them):

What is left of the bathroom:

The back room (Emma's bedroom?):

Kitchen to dinning room (from the back of the house):

The bathroom again:

A small room which may have been a laundry room.  We are thinking it would be good as a second bathroom:

The stairs:

Lots of clean up still needed upstairs:

More of the doors  - we hope to refinish these and use them:

Medicine cabinet:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Farm House

Since posting our new farm land, I've been getting a lot of questions about the house.  There is a farm house. However, it is most definitely unliveable.   Yes, really.

Several years ago the owner of the house had to move a couple states away due to their employment.  They rented out the house.  In 2010, there was a 100 year flood that reached the first floor of the house.  Without any flood insurance, he was only able to remove what was ruined in the flood, he was not able to fix the house up.  Since that time the land has been rented out, with the idea that the renter could fix up the house.  It does not appear that anyone has done anything to fix up the house.

We first visited the house in August of 2013.  Now, J has experience with renovations.  I have seen many a run down house when working along side Children's Protective Services.  But I had to say, seeing this home brought me to tears.  The worst was that I saw children's toys laying inside the house, and we believe people were actually living in here (with no water or electricity).

Here is what we saw:

August 2013

Driving up from the South:

Front of the house ~ it's cute!  From this view anyway :)

A shed - this is in great shape.  Looks fairly new.

Before going inside we had to brace ourselves.  We knew there had been some people squatting in this home.  We thought we were prepared.

All the windows were boarded from the inside, so you could not look inside.  It made it dark inside.

We walked through the front door.

Looking in the front door  towards the living room on the left (dinning room the the right):

Just inside the front door off to the left is the stairs in the back of what appears to be a living room:

The dinning room into the kitchen - those are mattresses on top of a table in the dinning room.  In the kitchen there was trash (some actual household trash, some torn down dry wall) that was waist tall on me.

Off to the left of the kitchen, behind the stairs is what appears to be the master bedroom:

The kitchen (the window is boarded up), it looked like at one point there was a sink under the window.  There were a couple of cupboards.

A back room, we weren't sure if it might be a mud room or a bedroom,  The odd thing is the trusses on the right top corner of the picture, they pointed down into the room.  We have no idea how there ever was a ceiling in this room with those trusses like that.

The one room upstairs (along with animal feces *sigh*).  Clearly someone was living here.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

~ sale ~ SALE ~ Fiber Arts ~ SALE ~ sale ~

We are having a sale at our farm etsy's shop!  We can't move all this fiber with us, it has to go.

Take an additional 50% off anything in the store!  Use the code:


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Greener pastures

Last year my husband spent time researching and then developing a new farm business plan for our farm.  This is what ultimately led to our making the big decision to move away from alpacas and start a sheep farm.

One of the biggest issues we have had is the fact we don't have grass pastures.  When we started our alpaca farm in 2007, we looked into a lot of different options.  For example, we looked at buying a farm, but the housing market is what it is and selling our house in the woods was not possible.  We looked at renting pasture land, or buying pasture land nearby.  We looked at different options and decided we would plant grass pastures on the land we have.

Since that time a few things happened:

*  we couldn't grow grassy pastures because of the sandy soil that would not hold the grass after the alpacas ate some of it
*  hay prices more than doubled (from $3 a bale to $7 a bale)
*  sales of alpacas slowed and the price they were selling for was less

All these changes really hurt our profit margin.  The truth is that if we bought alpacas now (at today's prices) and had our own pasture land, we could have had an awesome alpaca farm.  But, we bought at a different time and things changed that we didn't expect.

Along the way we tried various options. J tried to grow fodder (a long story there), which didn't work out either.

After exhausting many options we came to the big conclusion that:

We need grassy pastures.

This is essential in having a farm.

We looked around locally but ran into the same issues we did before. It wasn't feasible to rent or buy separate pasture land.  And frankly, Michigan has a short hay season.  We want green grassy pastures, and we want it most of the year.

We decided if we really want to the make our farm a reality, we need to do it full force.  This means moving our farm to a place where there is green grassy pastures most of the year.

This past summer we set out to find our land.

We found this, green and grassy with some cattle roaming:

It's green!

We've had our eye on this land for some time, and now have solid plans to make it our farm.

You can see my periodic land updates here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Old man winter

I'm tired.

Tired of winter. 

This past weekend I was working on some new farm things (more on that soon!), when I traveled back to Michigan. 

The road looked like this:

I am not sure where the lanes are. 

When I arrived home I couldn't get up my driveway.  After some debate, my father in law drove a path (with his 4 wheel drive truck) and then I gunned it.  My dart plowed snow the whole way up the drive.  I made it the 1/4 mile to my house, though not into the garage (the incline on the approach prevented that).  I even shoveled the approach but that wasn't enough. After 2 hours of trying, I had to leave my beloved car outside all night. 

I will say this, I won't miss Michigan winters!!!!  At this point it looks like this is the last one I will endure. 

Friday, February 14, 2014


As we look forward to spring the changes on our farm are hitting me more.

Since we no longer have any alpacas, there are no alpaca shows to plan for.  

Usually at this point in the year, we are looking over the alpaca show scheduled deciding which shows to attend and planning our travel schedule. 

We LOVED attending alpaca shows.  It was fun to show off our alpacas, but it was also fun to meet up with fellow alpaca farmers.  Many of our friends are alpaca farmers and attending shows is when we got to see them.   I also loved the chance to see other cities (some shows we attended every year and we came to have a favorite hotel and favorite restaurant).

After show season was birthing season.  Oh alpaca babies, cria, are so cute!

Not only are the cria cute, but, that was when we would see the success of our breeding decisions. That was the next generation of better fiber.

While shearing day was never a favorite of mine (it's a lot of work!) I do love having those bags of alpaca fiber to spin yarn from. 

As the cria grow there is the cria gang, the group that runs and plays together.  They are blessed to watch.

Good times.  These were all good times.
Right now we have a farm in transition.  

We only have 7 sheep right now, but there are big things coming. 

There are a lot of decisions and changes that need to take place to get where we want to go.

I look forward to the days of many lambs.  I look forward to the days of green grassy pastures and sunshine. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The snow

My day job takes me on the road. I've been know to carry a shovel, winter gear (boots, hat, etc) and blankets just in case I ever am stranded.  A shovel and boots/hat to try to dig my way out. The blanket in case someone is injured to keep warm.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tax time

I hear people talk about tax time with a sound of dread.  Maybe I'm just the odd ball, but I really don't mind tax time.  For one thing, with our farm it almost always means some sort of tax return.  The big thing is to be organized (though it likely also helps that I like math :) ).

All year around I stay organized for taxes.  Well, I admit our first year with our farm it was a mess.  It was terrible.  But from there I decided I had to be organized.  I took that years tax form, and made an envelope for receipts for each category.  Now when I spend money, I throw the receipt in the right envelope.  For example, I buy grain for our sheep, once I get home that receipt goes into the "feed" envelope.   I have an envelope for "fiber and yarn sales" and so forth.  Every sale and expense has an envelope to go into. When the year is over, I add up the contents in each envelope.  Not hard at all.

Our accountant sends us an organizer each year.  I plug in the totals from each envelope on the right line.

Our envelopes:

The organizer the accountant sends us:

I plug in the numbers (he has last years numbers there for reference, so I can glance if they are similar and if not, I can usually figure out why).  Then I put sticky notes if I have any questions.

We go in for a yearly one time meeting with the accountant to go over the organizer.   The accountant e-files it.

That's it!!

With a farm I think it's important to make sure the person doing your taxes has experience with farms.  There are different things you can claim due to having your own business.  While it costs to have them prepare it, their experience saves us money in the long run.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


This winter has been relentless.



More cold.

Lots more snow.

The sheep even seem done with it.

The ewes:


Chocolate (2013 lamb):

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