Whenever you move into a new area, you will always deal with challenges. Of course, for us city folk, there’s that challenge of finding the best restaurants and best liquor stores in your new home town. But seriously, one of the challenges, I suppose, is making new friends. I mean, we’ve met some great people so far, including our future next-door neighbor near our property (as well as some of the other neighbors), and our “landlords” at Big Horn Park. On the other hand, we honestly haven’t been very good at looking for social opportunities either. I’ve been working many hours recently and Teresa’s been slaving away on our home plans. (She’s now on revision 11!) So far, our office space has been the hub of our social life. We’ve met a number of nice folks who work in our building.
One of our office neighbors, Craig, is a green home designer who owns his own little business, Rising Sun Design-Solutions. We have enjoyed discussing the pros and cons of our plan with Craig and will hopefully continue to consult with him on the design on our home. Another person we met is Trey, who also does computer work… mostly web consulting. Turns out, he was about to head off to New Zealand for two months and needed someone to look after his parents’ farm where he has two goats and ten chickens. It is a very bizarre farmhouse (more on that below). Consider that it is middle of winter… our property is still under several feet of snow and development is on hold. Last but not least… uhhh… we’re living in a 26 ft travel trailer. On top of all of that, we wanted to get some experience with the farm critters. (Part of being earth friendly, is being more sustainable, so Teresa and I plan on having at least a few chickens on our property.) So the farm sounded like a great mutually beneficial opportunity, and so we jumped on it. It certainly won’t hurt be closer to town for 2-3 months. From the farmhouse, we can get to downtown quickly… it’s less than 2 miles, and takes about 4 minutes by car. So we enjoyed getting to know Trey before he left, but as you can imagine, he was slammed trying to get ready to head on vacation for two months.
Here is where we are staying through the end of May:
And here is the weird part about the farm house. It has a “mystery” room. It’s pretty much like a normal room, with a roof over it, and four walls, but with no entrance and no windows. You can’t get in from the outside. You can’t get in from the house. You can’t get in from the roof or attic. And you can’t get in from the crawlspace. Could this be the final resting place of Jimmy Hoffa? Click on the first two photos to zoom in and see the notations:
Heh… we actually figure it probably was a coal storage bin… if so, the easiest way for the last renovators to deal with the problem of perpetual coal dust was to simply wall it off. Trey and his parents plan on renovating the home. Maybe we’ll attend the “unveiling” of that mystery room? Here’s the rest of the farm:
Back in the day, when Teresa’s Grandma (aka Momo) was a child, she thought their old farm was built on an Indian burial ground, since you could hear the Indian war drums at night. Wouldn’t you know it? This farm house has the same problem… except that I went down to the crawlspace to see who was banging on those drums. I never knew a water heater could make so much noise! It literally shakes the house when the gas is on.
But other than that, the house sitting is working out wonderfully, and we are very grateful to have been given this opportunity. Check out the views from the kitchen window:
And then there’s the charm that the critters themselves provide. The goats, Sally and Scout (lighter in color), are so silly. They are kinda like dogs with serious attitude. Simon likes to sniff the goats, but we haven’t let them meet outside the fence. We’re afraid the goats might head butt Simon and break a doggie rib, so we keep them apart. We do take the goats out for walks every few days around the field. They just follow us around, never straying to far away. If we don’t walk them every few days, they literally bounce off the walls of their barn. It’s pretty funny… We’ll have to post a video of them doing this sometime.
They are likely both pregnant now… given that a billy goat was visiting just before Trey left.
As for the chickens… There is a standard rooster, a bantam (small) rooster, a standard hen, and seven bantam hens. They are pretty funny little creatures, but I think all the bird smarts (what little there was in any case) have been bred out of the chicken. Not the most intelligent creatures.
Of course, we have to share a few chicken stories: First of all, that bantam rooster… he is totally fearless. He will strut right up to you if he wants without a care in the world, while all the other hens are scattering. What’s even funnier is how he puffs out his chest while crowing, making him twice as tall as his hens. Sometimes, he’ll even peck you if he’s feeling frisky. One morning, I went to go check on the chickens, counted them up, and came up missing one. Turned out to be that little bantam rooster. He had managed to get himself stuck in between the barn wall and some framing members of the barn. Silly thing! I had to give him an elevator ride on my hand up from his self-inflicted prison. Ever since, he’s actually been quite respectful around me. Around Teresa, he still thinks he’s king of the roost. 🙂
On a more serious note, the old standard rooster was starting to cause some problems in the hen house. He was plucking out some of the other chickens’ feathers, and he was keeping the bantam rooster from the feed and water. Worst of all, he was trying to mate with the bantam hens. Ouch! The book Trey is lending us, Living With Chickens, describes chicken sex as “short, but not sweet.” But with a standard and a bantam, it’s simply wrong! With blessings from Trey and his parents, we took on the sacred task of actually taking the animal’s life. It is a difficult thing to do, but I firmly believe this is something ALL meat eaters should be able to do. It would definitely make most people think twice before biting into a piece of flesh. I have watched chicken processing a few times in my life, and Teresa had seen it once. It didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped, but we did learn much for the next time we have to perform this sacred task. Once the dirty work was done, Teresa processed him as you might process a fryer from the store. He was one of the toughest birds Teresa had ever processed, but we honored the bird by making a rooster stew and cooking it for many hours until the meat was tender. It turned out OK. Best of all, things are much calmer in the roost now.
As for the other birds, we are thoroughly enjoying the farm fresh eggs. We’ve taken a shot of a store bought brown egg next to a bantam egg to show the size comparison, but pound for pound, the bantams produce as much as the standards:
Before we moved into the farm house, we took some more gorgeous mountain shots of the Arkansas Valley in the throes of winter to share with you. Things have been much warmer recently, but, of course, as I write this, in late March, it is snowing once again:
Simon seems to like it out here just fine. Of course, if you were the best dressed dog in town, you’d like it too:
We look forward to spending more time in Salida, and meeting new folks. Teresa’s been taking beginner conversational Spanish classes, and I hope to join the running club soon. I sure hope they’ll take someone who can only do a 12 minute mile! We hope to get involved with other local efforts before we get tossed into our the mixed up world of being our own general contractors. We hope to meet more wonderful folks soon. 🙂
PS Once we solidify things a little bit on our plans (revision 25?), we’ll try to post them on our blog. Maybe some of y’all could provide us with some feedback?
PPS We hope to post a Salida restaurant and B&B review eventually. Heh… we may make more enemies than friends when we do this, but what the heck. Should be fun! And hopefully it will be useful to any friends who want to visit. Come on out y’all!