Blogging about farming/homesteading life is interesting. There are lulls in the winter days and eves as cold winds sweep across our farm here in East Tennessee. Fall too beckons time to write while sitting at keyboard with a window view to foliage and the Smoky Mountains, which in fall seem to call out the poet in everyone. Early spring is also such an easy time to blog as there is truly so much to do, it is worth recording. And second, the new babies at the farm make every day a photographers dream. Summer too, with garden bounty galore, makes photography and blogging about the thrill of seasonal harvest, come alive. But May moving into June – well that is that cross over window that really exists only once each year. Up North in the Adirondacks where we moved our ranch from down to the Smokies – well we call that time stick season. That is when the snows thaw, the trees have no leaves, the melt makes for lots of sitting water which beckons TONS of obnoxious bugs – black flies, mosquitoes and the like. Well, this same window of time down in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee is much more pleasant. And, it is probably why so many people from all over the US are moving to this amazing region.
So, what is going on at our farm here in Tennessee for the last few weeks and moving into the full blown onslaught of summer starting here in June?
First, this last month has been crazy at our farm. As our followers notice, there have been less blogs during May. This was because my husband was up in New York moving the belongings of our ranch from up there down here to Tennessee. This has been a very long move and has taken us quite some time. Over the period of time of our move we have done approximately 15 trips up and down that 1000 mile corridor. But we believe we have found someone who will truly steward that land and for that we feel very blessed. Also, as people who believe everything has value, we have to go through everything to determine if we keep it and move it or if we sell it or donate it. This is alot of work!
Second, I have been maintaining the Tennessee farm by myself full time and boy is that alot of work. I really had no idea how much work there is in a day. When my husband and I do it together we divide and conquer. We meet for breaks throughout the day, and all in all, it is a great life. Running solo all day long creates a very different dynamic.
On top of that, I have been conducting interviews for an article I am writing for an international publication on the topic of mass migration to Tennessee and why this movement is occuring as we speak. I have to say that research has been very interesting indeed.
So, let’s talk about the farm. What gets done in May and early June?
I will take you through the pictures to show that progress – but bottom line – all the babies are out to pasture and not nursing on mamas. I am talking the kids and the lambs. All the chicks, ducklings and turkey poults are also actively foraging and in new pens and ponds with the big boys and girls.
The big moments of May was two things: getting the garden in and going in healthy fashion and getting first cut of hay in the barns. This is always huge and we are always sore as the dickens. But, then again – this is what homesteading is all about. When you do this piece successfully, there is great joy for the remainder of the growing season all the way through fall and into winter.
As well, it is quite stunning out these days. The flowers are all blooming. The bees in our hives are actively pollinating and doing their thing. It is quite the sight to behold.
Let me show you my May and early June efforts as my husband was gone this period. First, I moved in 400 bales of hay so far with the help of my daughter and her boyfriend and 150 bales all by myself. Yes, I have been to the chiropractor since.
Above you can see to the right where all the green lawn is. That was all lawn we put in over the course of May after construction of our riding ring and horse barn were completed.
As per the previous photo, you can see the now completed horse barn and ring that we worked on all winter. Surrounding all side the new lawns have come in after all the soil demolition that was done to build the retaining walls and exacavate to create manageable terrain around the facilities.
The garden is doing great. I had gotten behind on weeding but finally caught up. I am really excited about it. There is chard and cotton that is running all the way along the fenceline at the right that you see. We use vertical trellises and grow our garden UP as last year’s experience was so bountiful. You can see the tomatoes and brussel sprouts in the distance along with summer squash and cucumbers.
Above you can see the ladder from inside our chicken coop and the interior courtyard for our chickens to go outside and play. The smaller pheasants, turkeys, chickens and ducks are inside of the smaller fenced enclosure doing very well and growing quickly.
As you can see above the roses along the fence are in bloom as well as the beautiful flowers shooting up at the left hand corner of this photo. This time of year is spectacular on the farm.
As you can see in this photo, in May we also did some additions to our garden which was to line the interior of our picket fence with chicken wire to keep out the rabbits. This little technique is working very well indeed.
Above you can see more squash plants, okra, climbing green beans potatoes, onions, rhubarb, asparagus and collards mixed in with some flowers for cutting. In the back you can see our baby birds traveling along their perimeter to see if mom will give them more treats. I love interweaving the animals along with the garden. They get the free range the whole garden in fall and winter once the harvest is done to add nutrients to the soil.
At our farm there is pretty much an American flag everywhere. This is the home of Vietnam Veteran who has served his country his entire career in military and government appointed posts, working for numerous Presidents to make our country strong and resiliant. This is why we love a white farmhouse with blue doors and red, white and blue flowers.
Everything we do at our farm is really tied to loving our life and loving our freedoms that are so special in this country of ours. Everywhere you go on our farm, this theme is noticable.
Above you see all my medicinals on the left in front of the onions going gangbusters. This is primarly lemon balm, basils, peppermint, dill, thyme, oregano, sage, chives and a few more things. It is time to harvest them and begin to do some major drying. On the right is my mounded potatoes that have gone crazy. In the back left is my winter cold frame with kale, broccoli and cabbage spilling out of the frame. That will stay up all year for year around growing.
We are committed to raising endangered heritage livestock here at the farm. Here are a few of our chocolate turkeys that are very endangered and were the original turkeys of the South before the Civil War.
One of the things I love about living in East Tennessee is that its climate is such that our June months have in bloom those same plants that are in bloom in AUGUST up in New York. To truly have two more months of growing is awesome to us. Here are some of our antique hydrangeas that grace our walking path to the back yard.
Yet more examples of late May’s stunning beauty at our farm.
So above you can see that summer is here. The lawns are green, the flowers are in bloom and ferns grace the wrap around porch which is so customary to Southern living. I have always wanted a Victorian farmhouse and this one is truly one I have always dreamed of having.
One thing I also love about the Smokies is the clean fresh air. I am not sure you can notice, but the skies here are such beautiful baby blue. There is no pollution here and breathing in the fresh mountain air is like breathing paradise. This picture, with its vibrant blues and grees against white really captures for me the purity and cleanliness of good air and good living here in the Smokies.
Yes, this is our definition of a no fly zone, not like cities. I laugh. We just bathed our horses and they are loving the fact there are no flies up here in the ring and they can roll around in warm sand. Happy horses we have!
Behind the red riding ring panels are five foot high block walls. All of this work my husband did himself. I believe it was 70 tons of block. Amazing! As you can see from the photo above, the new lawns are vibrant and gorgeous. The contrast of skies against the reds that are sharpened by the bright fresh green grass is just stunning. And, we get to overlook all of this from our covered porch. This project truly turned out better than we could have ever imagined.
We lived in China for two years in 2012 and 2013. This is a special bell for us that rings deeply and resoundingly. It always holds a special spot out our ranch and now our farm in Tennessee. Once again, flowers that bloom in July and August are blooming here in late May and early June.
Our horses were just bathed and are happy as clams in sand! Here are a few more photos.
This is really a special shot for me. This really captures the work my husband did on the wall and the final product of lots of sweat equity. this shot captures my dream – A Victorian farmhouse with a wrap around porch, with a picket fenced garden and chickens that overlook my horses. In the distance is a big shop for my husband to work on his cars and woodworking and then there is the gazebo to just sit in the shade and enjoy the horses and the skyline view of the Smoky Mountains. This shot captures my childhood dream that is now my reality. I am one blessed lady for sure. God is good.
Above and below are a bunch of shots of what else is blooming and growing on our farm right now. We have quite a few apple trees, some pear and numerous other fruits growing. I captures those in photos below.
Above I never take a shot at this angle of the home. The reason is that while this is the front door, no one ever uses it and go through the kitchen. But, this is the view that looks out over the valley and the Smoky Mountains. It is quite a lovely shot and I thought worth posting. To the left is the garage. We plan on doing an addition in the near future and plan to add a master suite here so we can age in place and never move again!
Well, I hope our photo journey shares the progess we have made in May and early June to advance the landscape and use of our land at the top of our hill. Earlier months we have blogged much about our livestock and livestock barn facilities lower in our valley. This last few months has truly been the one of adding lawns, gardens and beds to our farm.
We hope you enjoyed our journey through life at HiBar for the months of May and early June.
God Bless! L. Davis, #thepoetfarmer