It’s January 1, so Happy New Year! I’ve got the Rose Parade on the TV and a cup of tea on the table next to me so I’m ready to write. Every January 1 I find myself thinking about my Mom — today would have been her 96th birthday. As a New Year’s baby, she always claimed that everyone celebrated her birthday! So as I celebrate her birthday today I think that she would approve of how the past year unfolded for me and the plans that I have for this new year.
I started the past year by retiring. I had worked there (in several different labs) for a total of 35 years. It was a bit weird to not get out of bed and drive to work Monday through Friday. After several weeks I finally got over feeling strange about it and settled into my new “job” — getting ready to move across the country.
About a week after I went to work for the last time, Bill and I flew to Virginia to look at properties. We found just what we were looking for and set the purchase process in motion. Fortunately, our team in Virginia made the long distance purchase so easy.
Late in the evening of March 13, my daughter, grandson, and I boarded a plane for the east coast. We brought Otis the cat with us. Just after noon on March 12, Bill and our son-in-law (along with the dogs, Hobie and Thor) left California with the moving van and our pick-up truck. Both vehicles were towing trailers with my car and my daughter’s van on them. By Friday of that week, I had finalized our property purchase and everyone had arrived. We were officially living in Virginia! Having us all living on the farm has worked out OK — probably because we have 2 houses so everyone has their privacy. I babysit my grandson (Yay!) on the days that they both work, so the arrangement works for everyone.
Since arriving we have been very busy. I planted the garden and harvested a lot of some things and had many others fail completely. At least I have learned how to deal with some gardening challenges that I never had when gardening in California. We also added chickens, pigs, and cows. They have all come with their own learning curves. There have been fences that needed updating, an unfix-able tobacco barn that Bill dismantled, and reworking part of another barn to create a woodworking shop.
Then there was the house itself. We decided that it would be more feasible to put new siding on the house rather than repair, prepare, and paint the existing siding. The house color changed from yellow to blue and I couldn’t be happier with the decision that we made. There is still a lot to be done inside. I repainted the room where the washer and dryer are located and turned it into our closet. Pretty much all of the other rooms in the house still need to be repainted.
So here I am today thinking about where things are headed in the next year. I have so much coming up!
We are expanding the garden this year and I’m starting the transplants myself instead of buying them ready to plant. Bill is getting more involved in the planning and we are already working on bed placement. With more crops we are hoping to can, freeze, and dehydrate even more food to get us through the winter.
Our female pig, Fanny, is due to spend some time with a boar soon and, hopefully, we should have a litter of piglets this spring. Fanny is such a delightful pig and we want to pass on all of her good traits to future Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs. We will be receiving the first of our pasture-raised pork from our butcher in the next few weeks. This coming Fall/Winter we should have more pigs and a steer ready to go in the freezer. I feel good knowing that these animals have had the best life possible living in our pastures.
We still have another barn that needs to come down, but that may wait for 2020. There’s always fences to repair and pastures to maintain. The cattle pasture is larger than they need so we have to mow parts of it monthly to keep the grasses growing strong. I’m hoping to find someone to bale the cut grass for us this year so that we don’t have to buy as many bales over the winter.
I’ve planted a lot of bulbs in the yard near the house and I’m hoping to get more flowers and shrubs planted near the house in the next few months. I’ve also ordered bare-root fruit trees to plant near the pig pasture as a start to our orchard. It will be a few years before they give us anything. A few years from now all of these investments will really pay off!
We have pretty much ignored our back patio this year — we’ve got plans for that this year. I really miss our wood fired pizzas and we are planing to build a new, bigger, better oven this year. We have a good number of rocks on the property that we can use to create a base to support the oven. Having built one before, we have a number of improvements for the new one!
I’m sure that there are things that we plan to do that won’t get done and we will do things that we haven’t even thought of yet. We hope to continue exploring this part of the country. With animals and crops it can be a challenge, but we can get away for a day or 2 every so often. I am so thankful that my daughter and son-in-law are willing to help us by taking care of things when we are away!
My tea is empty, the parade is over and I need to get the field peas soaking for dinner. I picked the greens yesterday so we are ready to start the new year in true southern style. In looking back over the past year, I think that Mom would be pleased with how it turned out. I hope that she’s looking down and smiling knowing that we are happy, healthy, and feeling fulfilled by this new adventure.
I hope to be back here on the blog more regularly in the coming year. We’ll see if I get that done or if life intervenes.