|Front view of the house. The front half of the old pole barn structure is now wide open porch, where we now have our smoker that Mike and his welder buddy made from an old propane tank.|
|The pasture. Not much to see yet... but gives you an idea of the potential.|
There's also a barn, with roofed workshop space and enclosed, air conditioned office space. There's a small pond surrounded by maple and cypress trees, with a creek running along the back property line. It was dry when we moved in in January, but with a couple of solid days of rain this week, the pond is higher and the creek is now flowing.
The plan right now is this:
Step 1: Cut down the huge (and invasive) Australian Pines that line the road. Use these to make fence posts for cross-fencing the field, so that we can have orchard and animals separated.
Step 2: Get sheep or goats. Most people wouldn't think about sheep in Florida, but they do well, and there is even a variety that has hair rather than wool, so it's more tolerant of warmer climates. Obviously this means we wouldn't get the added benefit of wool, but there are so many projects on the to do list that learning to shear and process wool, and then how to work with it to make clothing and textiles isn't too high a priority. I also hear that sheep are easier to handle - more docile and less problematic personality wise than goats. Anyway, we're not sure yet, but we need something to help us keep the pasture mowed, and we do NOT want to buy a lawn mower!
Step 3: Buy and plant fruit trees. Obviously, first we need to do research on the cultivars that will do well in our climate, and then find where we can get them nearby.
Step 4: Work on a vegetable garden.
Step 4 is sort of an ongoing thing, since I just planted my first plants a couple of days ago, given to me by a friend whose yard is an edible plant paradise, and who loves to give garden tours and free plants, seeds and seedlings. I wasn't planning on planting anything right now, but how could I resist? Plus there are plenty of empty spots in the landscaping around the house where I can put plants now, before I get around to tilling and preparing a larger dedicated garden site.
Right now I work for a local farm at the farmer's market, and I get as much free produce as I want at the end of the day, out of what is left over. I've been spoiled by the quality of this food, over the last 6 years of working there, and now I can't bring myself to buy produce from stores. The lack of freshness, the price, and the knowledge that most of it came from so very far away make it so I'd rather go outside and gather some weeds to cook as potherbs rather than buy organic swiss chard from across the country for way too much money.
Since I live in south Florida, the growing season for farmers is backwards - we sell produce at the market between October and May, and during the summer it's impossible to find local produce unless you're growing it yourself (or foraging). This finally brought me to canning, as a way to preserve the wonderful quality produce I had abundant access to throughout most of the year. I love canning and will continue to do it, but really, I want to get to the point where I'm growing enough food that I don't need to rely on my farmer's market job for my produce. So I'm starting small, just a few plants, but I'll be expanding all the time, and hopefully this summer (when I have an extra day each week since the farm season is over), I'll be able to prepare a good sized garden for the fall.
Step 5: Sometime in the fall, build a coop and get chickens! I am so excited for this.
Step 6: Who knows? There is always another project, another thing to learn, a new world of things I haven't even heard of yet. But I guess right now, Step 6 is to keep on keepin' on, maintaining what's been started, but also to expand my interests, knowledge, and skills, enjoying life while I'm at it.
So about the title: I'm looking for a new one. Myakka Cabin Chronicle made sense when I lived in a cabin, but I don't anymore, and Myakka House Chronicle just doesn't have the same ring, you know? So, if you've got any ideas, shout them out! I'm looking for something that can encompass my many varied interests:
-DIY products - hair/skin/body, soaps/household cleaners, and more
Let me know if you've got any ideas!