Monday, May 31, 2010

Did you give up on it or am I doing it wrong?

My sister gave the link to my blog to my dad about a week ago. I've been busy in Iraq getting ready to leave and have not taken time to write. This morning my dad emailed me to ask, "Did you give up on it or am I doing it wrong?" The answer is neither. I've been collecting knowledge.

I have been reading about things for the farm. I've gone to tractor forums read and asked questions about tractor types, makes and models, bush hogs and loaders. I've been checking tractor web sites looking at prices, HP, PTO, transmissions, engine size and drive. Based on what I have read, I know the class that I need and the initial attachments I want. I even know the engine I want. Now to find one that will fill my needs and not break the bank. I don't want to be cheap but I don't need new either. I've decided to contact my neighbor, (a recommendation from my brother-in-law, who is checking for tractors in Wisconsin), to see what he recommends, as far a service and reliability for our area.

Then there is the livestock preparation. I have a very long reading list. I am finding that Raising Goats For Dummies is very good. I was able to confirm that I want Nigerian Dwarf goats and I am learning about diet and housing. I also have Raising Chickens For Dummies, which I hope is just as informative. I know you can't learn farming from books but I hope it will give me a leg up from starting cold. This summer and fall will be used to get the farm ready for livestock; making sure fencing is sufficient, housing is available and pasture areas are safe and garden preparation. After reading a blog about a fenced garden, which was still overrun by rabbits, I needed to rethink my fencing preparation. I love that there are so many people blogging about their farms with their trials and successes. The trials help me to know how to, hopefully, prevent some of my own and their successes show me what I have to look forward to.

This last month is both going to fast yet is not long enough. Pretty soon, I will actually be doing, not dreaming. I hope I am ready.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Getting Closer

Realizing that I have only 44 days until I return to the States, I decided that I had better start getting some things into place. I sold my Ford F-350 truck when I came to Iraq and have been looking on and off for a replacement vehicle. I loved my F-350 but it just didn't get enough miles per gallon. I will probably still have to work outside the farm for a while and being that the farm is in the middle of nowhere, I will have to travel 30 to 50 miles to work, if I can't find anything closer.

Now, I am one who likes a bargain. Some people would call it cheap, I prefer thrifty. I have been searching Craigslist Bloomington for a small truck. I found a beauty a couple of months ago but it was really to early to buy something, since it would be a long time before I could pick it up. Last Friday, I decided to check out Ebay. I found this sweet little red truck, a Ford Ranger. It was close to the end of the auction with a very low bid. I thought about it all day, checking the values of a truck of that year, features and mileage and finally decided I would really like to have the truck. I emailed a friend, who only lives about 10 miles from the seller. I asked him if he could pick it up and store it until I got back, if I won the auction. He assured me it would be no problem. That was my green light to bid.

I am no stranger to Ebay and tend to wait until the end to bid. No sense getting other bidders all excited. I set my price and go for it. Since I am in Iraq and the hours are set in Pacific time, that meant the auction wouldn't be over until 3:00 am. Should I stay up waiting or go to sleep hoping to hear the alarm. Knowing my sleep patterns, I chose sleeping on and off with an alarm. It wasn't very restful but I was ready at 2:50 am for my first bid. It was at my low limit. There were three other people, who had bid and maybe one had automatic bids to go higher than mine. I typed in my number, hit enter and waited. A few seconds later, it showed me to be the highest bidder. There were still about five more minutes to the auction. Because the bid was so low, yet, I was sure someone would bid again.I decided to wait a few more minutes and put in another bid about two minutes from the end. Normally, I would wait til there were only seconds left and then put in a bid, but the internet here is pretty slow and sometimes stops all together. I didn't want to take the chance that someone would outbid me. I really wanted this truck. I put in my final bid and waited until the auction had ended. The web page declared me the winner. I would have jumped up and down but I didn't want to wake my roommate...

So, here she is, my 2004 Ford Ranger XLT 4X4 Fx4. Not as good as a sheep or goat but more necessary.

 My new red truck
Now, I just need to locate a tractor and a trailer...

Friday, May 14, 2010

The First Look

The time has come to start my blog. I thought it would be fun to journal my progress becoming a steward of the land. This is something I have wanted to do for a long time but hadn't seriously thought I could do it. The last three years, as a contractor in Iraq proved to me that I could do anything I put my mind to. I may not always do it right the first time but I can learn. That is exactly what I plan to do.

Last week, I finally got to travel to Indiana from Iraq to see the little farm that I purchased with the help of my daughter, Michelle, and her video camera. I found it on the Internet and thought it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. It seemed to have just the right amount of land for me to be able to keep up. The

and ponds

were everything I had ever wanted in a property.

I asked my daughter, who lives about an hour away, in Bloomington, if she would go take a look and make sure that nothing horrible was hidden from the pictures and description. She contacted me and let me know that she had taken video of the place and put it on You Tube. It looked wonderful, so I took a leap of faith and made an offer. A month and a half later, I was the proud owner of my little farm.

I have a lot of plans for this little farm. There will be chickens, goats, Shetland sheep, bee hives, a garden and of course my two English Shepherds. After seeing the farm, I am beginning to think that my 12 hour days, seven days a week in Iraq were a vacation.