A farm it is then
20 July 2012 Schleitheim Farm
We live on a farm. It’s probably not what your thinking. There’s no big red barn. There are no rolling fields of corn or hay. And there are no sheep dogs to call on. Since we have no sheep why would we need the services of a sheep dog?
No, that’s not quite our farm.
Our garden is simple. Why make it more than we can handle? It’s surrounded by some chicken wire on posts. And one day we may just have a scarecrow in there. We’ll need something. The squirrels got all the melon plants.
At the moment there are rows, running north and south, of earth with some compost and amendment. Some of those rows have tomatoes, eggplants and onions fighting gravity. The rest are waiting. See, we’ve only finally gotten the irrigation problem solved there. Most of it anyway.
The grapes there, just to the west of the onions but outside of the chicken wire, are doing okay now. We almost lost them. They’re babies, new to this growing thing. Just like us. But, the three of them should produce some delicious fruit next year.
And the raised beds? Those are for the strawberries. They were too late for this year, but if you look real close you’ll spot a few berries. They’re still trying. Oh, don’t tell Kimbrah but the kids and I planted some watermelon seeds in one of the empty beds. We don’t expect much from those, but we’ll give them a chance.
Now the orchard. You’ll love the orchard. You may not think it much to look at now, but you can’t just look at what you have. One thing you learn to do quickly as a farmer is change what you think when it comes to efficiency. It may be another year or two before some of the trees produce real fruit. And while that’s inefficient by the world’s standards, that sure is the efficient way God set things up. You might see just leaves and twigs on short stumps. But a farmer sees the pies, the jams, the cobblers, the tarts, the lemonades, and even the sticky fingers from eating an orange plucked right off the branch. In their time, the walnuts, pistachios, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, cherries, persimmons, pomegranates, apples, pears, nectarines, peaches, pluots, apricots, grapefruits, tangelos, oranges, etrogs, lemons, limes, figs, and olives will all do their part.
Did I not mention the yautia? Now that’s a special one. Not likely to find many of those in our zone. It’s a tropical tuber, found in Central and South America, and the Caribbean. I was able to acquire some direct from my homeland. But, I won’t bother you with the details now. Another time.
The chickens, geese, and ducks roam free. While we never lack for eggs, our original batch of chickens haven’t started laying yet. Because of this or that reason, we’ve received older hens that were already laying. Our hatchlings (well, hatched at McMurray Hatchery and shipped to us; still odd to think about) are still biding their time. Oh, when they do, though. I’ll have to get an Eggs For Sale sign prepped.
And the sheep? Well, I mentioned that already. We do want to have goats, cows, and possibly pigs and sheep. A horse? Well, maybe if we snatch up the 2 acres north of us, and those other two right behind us. Would be nice.
The farmers here are much like the farm: simple, imperfect, a work in progress, needing time and patience, dirt and clay that just needs some tilling and amendment to make it healthy and productive.
Our faith, Christians of the Anabaptist ilk, drives what we do here. This farm really isn’t ours. We’re just the farmers. And this farm isn’t just for us. While we are becoming more self sufficient and gaining more freedom, we are also wanting to:
- help families in our immediate community with food and resources
- help families in our extended community (Bakersfield) with food and resources
- educate anyone interested in doing something like us (but better of course) with raising chickens (especially for our urban brothers and sisters), having a garden, and supporting others
- provide chickens and small coops for those wanting to raise their own; or even ducks
- support the creation, maintenance, and promotion of community gardens/farms, especially on church properties (I’ll be writing more about this one; a cataclysmic issue for me)
We would never consider this a ministry, though others may. We are simply living. Trying to be simple. Trying to till the soil. Trying to be obedient. Trying to be patient. Trying to be loving. Trying to keep it all sustainable, long lasting and long producing. Trying to allow the Way of Jesus to dictate or choices, not the the way of the world. Trying to be an example. Trying to show people that you don’t have to be in bondage to the world, to the economy, to the government, to politics. Trying to show that we don’t have to be too busy; in fact we must not be too busy. Trying to shun the idol of money and live by Kingdom economics and be willing to share our time and resources.
We don’t have it all together. We need as much an education on farming as the next rookie. But we’re trying and every day is an adventure.
We do have some major, more immediate needs:
- probably the most important: some regular farm hands willing help out, whether your know about farming/gardening or nothing at all; Kimbrah’s has been having some health issues and an extra hand or five would be a great blessing
- we still need to finish fencing in our property; need an extra 150 ft. or so of the no-climb fencing
- better lighting around the house to discourage four legged predators, and two legged ones, at night
- a real fort or play area for the kids
- more and better fencing around the garden to keep out the rabbits
- to run a water line to the back of the property
- to set up a drip system for the trees in the back
- chicken processing materials
- cheese making materials
- an outdoor dog that will protect the kids and the animals
We also have minor needs. More like projects I will get to when I can:
- pond with a creek for the geese and ducks
- replace the roofing on the current chicken house (only a temporary roof on there now)
- outdoor pizza oven
- garage area
Some of that we need money for. Some only the materials. Some just time. Some a helping hand or two.
Our focus now, doing what we can, is getting the farm established. The till the soil and get a rythm and flow going. Then we’ll step out more.
If you’d like to visit us, let us know. If you want to help, have something to teach us, want to learn from us, have resources that could help us, let us know.