Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fulfilling the Dreams of Long Ago.

Life is Good
Best Friends

     I know that I have shared with you all that when we moved out here ten years ago I was starting my recovery.  My folks had come to us with an idea.  There was forty acres for sale in the country.  They had the money, Michael had the know-how to build a house.  The rest, as they say, is history. We moved out to the middle of nowhere, I took my name off of our bank account and relinquished my keys.  I went into rehab.  When I was finished with that I came home and started to reclaim my life and to help build this home that we all love so much.  We built this duplex, which we share with my mom and dad, out of a big warehouse that was already built on the land.  It's funny, it took me and my mom years to stop calling it "the warehouse" instead of "the house".  This might sound a little strange but being homeless at different periods in my life had a much bigger impact on me then even drug addiction.  I didn't care if it was on old warehouse, it was my home.  Something I could leave to my kids, and them to theirs.  Like it used to be in a different time.  When men and women built their homes and carved out a life for themselves.   It then was passed from generation to generation.  A place where there would always be room for those who needed it.  That is what we have always pictured for this place. 

The Red Bud we transplanted for mom when we first moved out here.

     Once we got things done with the house I turned my attention to cooking.  After all, I was out in the middle of nowhere, and I had given up all my play mates.  Taking care of the kids and getting to know my folks again was a joy.  However, I needed something else.  In my recovery I really strove to not only stop the addictions, but to take it to the next level and really try to get healthy mentally, spiritually and physically.  
     The quest to eat healthier led us to the knowledge that so much of what we eat is garbage.  Not even the "fresh" produce in the stores is as healthy as it should be.  Hence, we built our gardens so that we could grow our own crops.  That is what led me to become a Master Gardener.  I struggled with growing food in Oklahoma and I needed help.  I needed a LOT of help.  I was so blessed that Fran and Brian and the board of the Tulsa Master Gardeners  saw fit to allow me to be a part of this wonderful organization.  I've been in churches that didn't have people as nice and welcoming as the gardeners here in Tulsa.

The best farm hands in the world!

     We came into our chickens about the same time I had learned that the Master Gardeners gave classes to become a Master Gardener.  I had come across them in my many attempts to learn how to garden here.  I had to wait a year till the class was open again.  In fact our first batch of chicks got here while I was still in class.  The coop and run had already been built for awhile.  If you've read any of this blog of mine at all you'll know we do everything in stages.  We decided to get them because I had watched a documentary on how they raise, feed and slaughter them and on everything that is injected to them or their feed over the short period of their lives.  It completely freaked me out!  I could not feed that to our kids!  "We've got the room!  If you (meaning dad and Michael) will build it then the kids and mom and I can take care of them" I begged and pleaded.  Long story short, that is how this whole farm thing started. 

Our babies.

     I tell you all that to lead up to this:  At our latest "Farm Meeting" as we were going over all of our thirteen projects that we have on the board right now, to get an assessment of where we were on each one, what it would take to finish them and to put an order to them I made the comment to my mom and dad that I was not worried about it.  "It's not like we're going to be on the Tulsa Master Gardeners Garden Tour for at least a couple of years" I said jokingly.  My parents both laughed and replied, "This is important and we need to get them off the board and in to operation."  Well I am all for that!  We went over the list and assigned responsibility for the next steps to the right person or persons and concluded the meeting. 
     After Michael had already left and dad and I were still going over some things he stopped and said, "One of these days, after your mom and I are gone, it's going to be the first Thanksgiving with out us.  All of you kids are going to be sitting around the table, with all your home grown and raised foods and you are going to look at each other and say, ''Remember when mom and dad were pushing us so hard to get all these crazy projects that mom and I dreamed up done?  It didn't matter how complicated they were, if mom and I could dream it up then dad and Michael could make it happen."  Yes, tears immediately sprang to my eyes.  It's a day I don't ever want to come.  My parents top priority, in their golden years, is to insure that all their children and all that have and will follow in the coming years will have a the ability to feed themselves healthy foods and have a beautiful place to live while they enjoy it. To look around and see so many projects completed and so many so close to completion is truly the realization of the dream we all started so many years ago.  Thank you mom and dad.  I love you so.  Now, on with the show! 

The love is palbable isn't it?

     Life on our little farm is moving right along.  We are even getting a real tractor!  Now if that doesn't make you feel like a real farmer then nothing will.  I'm running through my mental Rolodex and the first thing that comes to mind is WE GOT OUR GOATS!  Yes, it happened and we are the proud parents of Isabella and Pepper.  They are sill on one bottle a day and will be till the 11th of May.  Then they will be weened.  By the end of this year they will be ready to mate and we will be in fresh milk, and all the yummy stuff that comes with it, next spring! 

Pepper and Isabella

     They are Nubian goats.  they really have the personalities of puppies.  It has really surprised me how intelligent and loving they are.  They are also very playful.  We are going to be building some ramps for them to climb in the middle of the pasture and they love to play with basket balls.  They have made the most wonderful addition to our farming family. 
     Getting all the fencing set up was quite the project and took several weeks.  We did ours just like the goat farmer that we got them from did his.  We keep buying 5-10 panels every time they go on sale at Tractor Supply just so we can keep enlarging their pasture. 

You can't see the goats, but the kids are feeding them.

Some more of the goats.

     We are on our second batch of meat chickens.  Boy did we learn a lot this time around.  It is much easier to get them at the first of September and butcher them mid November.  This spring has been so cold and we have lost a few to the extreme weather changes.  A few nights ago it was freezing and barely broke 45 degrees the next day and today was 90 degrees.    

Second batch of meat chicks.

     The very first night we got them we went out to dinner.  We had planned the dinner a few weeks ahead of time.  It was a Sunday.  Our chicks were not supposed to be here the next day, Monday.  So dinner time rolled around and we decided to bring the chicks out to Nate's trailer and put a heat lamp on them till we got home and could bring them back inside.  We have five cats that love to eat the heads of little birds.  When we got home and brought them in there were thirteen that were dead, or so we thought.  They had gotten wet and had slipped into hypothermia.  We noticed some of them moving and quickly grabbed the heating pad, turned it on and laid them across it with a towel over them.  One at a time we blew them dry with my hair dryer.  Sarah and I spent the entire night bending over them and flipping them and feeding them water with eye droppers every fifteen minutes.  We brought all but two of them back.  We were so excited. 
     Then slowly but surely, one here, two there, one there... we lost four more.  Two were Buff Orpingtons and one was the exotic we always get and one was a meat chick.  Then three more died once we got them out to the run.  Any way, after the four we are down because of today's heat it puts us at 39.  So basically all the ones we saved are dead now any way.  I think that going through something so extreme at two days of age is just too much for them. 
     I do need to share with you that at butchering time the whole famn damily is in on it and it is quite the experience.  The best things about raising your own meat chickens?  The chicken we raise blow the doors off the store bought chickens in both flavor and health.  I know what they have eaten, how they lived their lives, The cleanliness of the way they were butchered  and exactly what HAS NOT been injected into them or their food over the period of their lifetimes.

My girls and their boy.
As for my layers, they are wonderful and a joy to have.  We are selling eggs faster than my girls can lay them.  In fact, project number one on the board is expanding our layers coop and incorporating the goats pasture into their chicken run.  Yes, we will be selling pastured eggs instead of the free range we are now!  They will also do a great job of keeping all the ticks and fleas off of my goats.  We currently have 20 RIR's that lay for us.  (wait for it...)  We placed an order for four Buff Orphingtons with the meat chicks.  Three are left plus the exotic is also a hen.  That puts us up to 24 layers.  (wait for it...) We just placed an order for fifty, yes, you heard me right, 50 Leghorns this past Sunday that will be here the 20th of May!!!  This is very, very egg-citing, wacka, wacka, wacka.

The starts of our hoop house.

     The next big break through here on the farm is our 16' x 20' green house that will house a 300 gallon fish tank and 2 12' x 4' x 1'  beds that are raised three feet off of the ground.  This will house our aquaponics system.  For those of you who are not familiar with aquaponics I will do my best to explain.  It is the act of growing plants with out soil.  Instead you use a fired clay medium and the water from the fish tanks.  The fish provide all the nutrients that the plants need and the plants clean the water for the fish.   It is by far the biggest project on the board.  We will start with only one of the beds operational.  This will give us 48 cubic feet of space to grow.  However, once I get the kinks worked with the first one out we will get both beds  going and bring the total to 96 cubic feet  of growing space that only uses 10% of the water that traditional soil beds use.  The biggest help I've received in

The grow beds for the aquaponic system.
this effort is the book "Aquaponic Gardening" by Sylvia Bernstein.  I have wasted so much money on buying "programs" from people that do not offer everything you really need to know to do it right.  I even spent 25 -30 minutes on the phone with Sylvia herself who was kind enough to help me work out the final kinks.  If you are looking to do something like this you need to buy this book.  You don't have to start out with a system this big.  We did it because we have the room and we all believe in the cause.

Getting the sweet potato field plowed.
Russel, the wonderful friend who plowed our field.
     There is a couple of other things that I would like to wrap up with.  We are planting a field of sweet potatoes in the spring.  We already have the field plowed and are preparing the soil for planting next spring.  My dad's friend Russel was kind enough to bring his tractor over and plow it for us.  It's great having wonderful friends. There are two reasons that we are doing this.  1.  95% of all the corn on the planet now is genetically modified.  It is in 90% of all processed foods.   It is horrible for all of us.  We, as a family, are working towards not eating Frakenfoods any longer.  We do however eat our livestock and the things they produce.  Sweet potatoes are good for all of us.  We can replant them without Monsanto suing us, and most importantly it is real food!   2.  Our feed bill from the feed store will reduce drastically when we, our dogs, cats, goats, chickens and what ever else we end up getting are eating food we grow.  Thank God we have the room to do this too. 
     We have also planted a good variety of fruits this year.  As it stands right now we have three different kinds of apples, plums, peach, mulberry, raspberry, black berry, black raspberry and pomegranate, lemon, lime, and orange trees.  If I'd done it from seeds six years ago when I thought of it we'd already be getting fruits.  Oh well, we are doing it now. 

The field of dreams.
     These last two items I wish I had pictures of because they warm my heart so.  The first being my Master Gardener in training, sweet Sarah Anne and our future livestock manager, awesome Austin.  She's going with me to many of my MG events.  She'll be the first one to tell you why she's there.  I can't step out in the gardens or out to work with the farm with out her being by my side.  My grandson Austin is the first to step up with the livestock and the tough jobs that go with it.  By next spring he wants to be raising and selling his own goats.  They both do.  I hold high hopes for the future of

Poppa teaching Austin the ropes.
this farm with the generations that are coming up behind us.

     The second item is the field trip that we had out here this last Saturday.  A group of MG's from the new class came out to meet us and check out what we are doing here on the OSM Farm.  We've got another one scheduled with a very special group from Crossroads in Tulsa penciled in for September.  I am both blessed and honored to be able to pass an anything that can help others in their journey to living healthy.  You don't have to live on a farm to do it.  You just have to start where you are. 

God bless and God speed till we meet again.
One of the best investments of my time I've ever done.


  1. Kym, pretty awesome what you are doing with your recovery life. It sounds like your homestead keeps everyone busy. I went to the Bear Creek Planting Festival a couple weekends ago. There were two speakers there that talked about the Monsanto GMO seed control and health issues. It's interesting to me how pollen from the GMO can contaminate heirloom crops in someone else's field and when that happens it becomes property of Monsanto. Is that screwed up or what?

    I've just started planting for this garden year. The weather has been so bipolar swinging from 29 to 100 degrees with in three days. It's been starting to even out at daytime 80s and night time 60s. I did get one patch of sweet corn planted and will be setting out my tomatoes and green peppers real soon. The cool weather crops are a bust for this spring as it just never dried out enough nor warmed up enough to get them out. Oh, well, I'll give it another try in the fall.

    Have a great day in the garden

    1. David, I was blown away to see you here on my humble and too infrequently updated blog. Thank you so much for taking the time to read it! As you can tell, I just saw this comment.
      Now that things have slowed down a little I'm dusting off the keyboard and writing another entry. This property has been vital in the last ten years to my recovery and I love being a farmer, even if it was by accident, lol.
      Monsanto drives me crazy. 37 countries have banned it yet we keep getting led by the nose to the slaughter by our government doing nothing to protect us. It is my hope that we will rise up and demand that they do. We are trying to get to the point that we don't buy anything from the store but things like toilet paper, benadryll, and the like. Go Vermont!!!