Sunday, April 30, 2017

Iterum incipit; or, Kleinshire 2.0

It is an anniversary of sorts for Kleinshire, as Rosemary’s and my first blog post was on an April day three years ago, shortly after we bought our little farm in North Carolina.

Incipit was the title of that first post, Latin for “It begins.” I remember writing about how we would be trying to grow as much of our own food as possible. It would be more than a hobby farm, I wrote, but not quite a real farm either.

Iterum incipit, Latin for “It begins again.” How things have changed!

Fr. Tim Welles, our new pastor, blessed the flocks and the fields
This April has been a month transition: A nice young couple made a cash offer in March and closed on our North Carolina house in early April. Then Rosemary loaded the boys and a few of the pets into the minivan headed to Wisconsin.

I followed over Palm Sunday weekend, with the assistance of two of my brothers, one of Rosemary’s brothers, and one of her nephews—assistance for which we are immensely grateful. All told, our caravan was comprised of a 26-ft Penske moving truck, a pick-up truck borrowed from one of Rosemary’s brothers to haul our 16-ft stock trailer, and another pick-up truck borrowed from yet another brother.

Our two livestock guardian dogs, love all the space.
It was ordeal, to be sure: Stories could be told, for example, about how we finally got the horse in the trailer. The brother-in-law and nephew left early Saturday evening with the stock trailer. My brothers and I stayed behind to finish cleaning the house. We left in the early morning hours, with me driving the moving truck and with them taking shifts driving the other pick-up truck, with the two full-sized dairy goats, two cats and the second livestock guardian dog in the truck’s covered bed.

Praise God, 20-plus hours later all the animals were safely in Wisconsin: all 17 chickens, all 20 goats, 5 guineas, 3 dogs, 3 cats (one being pregnant), 2 parakeets, and 1 horse.

Yes, that’s a lot of animals!

The goats absolutely love all the pasture.

But we are only getting started. Iterum incipit, it begins again: for this spring marks the beginning of our full-time farming adventure.

I took three days off from school during Holy Week and the entire week off following Easter break in order to get things started on the farm.  These three weeks have truly been a whirlwind.

Belle, our Saanen dairy goat.
First there was the business of moving ourselves into the farmhouse and, simultaneously, moving Rosemary’s parents into their new house a hundred yards up the road. Then, for me, it was off to finish the barnyard and the electric fence for the first rotational pasture while, for Rosemary, it was continuing to work on making the house into a home. With four boys in tow, that makes for one hardworking, tired mother. Did I mention the exciting news that Rosemary is pregnant?!?!

Farming, in any case, requires some major purchases. The first of them came this past week: a 1964 Massey-Furguson tractor, diesel engine, 62 hp. I had never driven a tractor before, but after a brief tutorial, I managed to drive it 10 miles back to the farm. Later in the day, I moved 20 or so hay bales out of the field with a hay spear. I think my father-in-law was smirking as he watched me learn not to lift the bales from higher on an incline. Never mind that, I got the concept after the first four or five slid off the spear!

For his part, my father-in-law has been an immense help. He and his brother went with me two days later to purchase a three-bottom plow and a ten-ft disc. We had to drag the disc sideways off the trailer when we got back to the farm, and I’m still not sure how we did this without breaking any of the discs!

Well, that would be besides the two discs that were already broken. That’s used equipment for you.

My "new" Massey Furguson 180 tractor, with the disc implement attached.
Speaking of used equipment, the next day I learned first-hand why a good deal of a farmer’s time is spent fixing broken equipment. The hydraulics to raise and lower the three-point arms stopped working, and after exhausting every other option I drove the tractor to Cashton in the frigid early morning air, and there it sits at Portland Implements. Prayers, please, that it’s not an expensive fix.

Snow covered garlic on April 26th.
Did I mention that was snowing on Thursday and Friday?!?! I think that it was 90 degrees in Raleigh at the same time, but I digress. Prayers, too, that some of the blossoms on the cherry and apple trees make it through this unusual cold snap.

 There is so much left to do. I am back in North Carolina for the final month of the school year. Rosemary is holding things together back at the farm. Prayers, please, that things continue to come together during this momentous transition.

Iterum incipit.

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