Society Magazine

First Two Weeks On The Hobby Farm

Posted on the 22 December 2018 by Seliharris @seliharris
First Two Weeks On The Hobby FarmI planned vacation from work for two weeks right upon moving to PEI, with the first day and a half being used for travel - it was a long trip across Newfoundland to the ferry, followed by a beautiful morning drive to our PEI destination. During the rest of my time off, I soaked in as much of the 4 acres I could possibly muster. Beyond just wanting to play on the property, there was a lot of work to be done before winter rolled in, and I knew this was the best chance I'd get beyond evenings and weekends, and evenings are crappy this time of year with it getting dark so early. Of course, there was so much - SO MUCH - to be done in the house as well, having just packed up and moved to a new province. There were boxes everywhere! Allison tackled a heck of a lot of that on her own in the early days, when she wasn't working, and did an amazing job. I was so focused on the outside as we both knew I only had this vacation time to really work; well play. None of this feels like work. It's a project. It's a task, achievements waiting to be done, but none of it feels like work. Yes, most definitely, by the end of the first two weeks I was tired and achy, I'll admit that. My body hurt, having used muscles I hadn't in a long time, if ever. While I've long wanted to live a more self sufficient lifestyle and be on a hobby farm, it's not actual tasks I have much experience with. It was worthwhile pain though; pain that I knew came from achievements. I'll be good and tired next year when we get going, no doubt about that.
I wish I snapped more pictures during those first two weeks, some before-and-afters perhaps, as I tackled each of the things I wanted to get done. I was already having a difficult enough time deciding which of the tasks I'd do every day - Allison often says I suffer from what she calls "Options Paralysis" - let alone take pictures of those tasks. My mind was afire with thoughts and ideas, and I wanted to just putter away at everything until the items on my mental wish list was complete. I did focus eventually though, after the first couple of days anyway. Otherwise, I knew it all would have been just half done and I definitely didn't want that. I'll be sure to capture more photos in the future, especially when we really start digging in come spring. The pics posted here shows a section of the back yard where some of what I'm blabbing on about below took place.
First Two Weeks On The Hobby FarmVegetable Garden:
It appeared that the previous owners only had tomatoes growing in the garden this year - it's a plot about 8 feet by 12 or so if I were to guess. There were some plants left in the ground, 6 in total I believe, still with tomatoes growing, but nothing else but weeds throughout the rest of the garden. I assume they just let it run this summer knowing they were on their way out. This was the first area I tackled, getting rid of the tomato plants first, and then weeding and defining the entire section. I wanted it as ready as possible when planting time comes next year. The previous owners had animals living in the barn right up until the summer before we moved in, and with that we were left with this humongous manure pile beside the barn, which of course will come in handy for years to come. I used a bunch already, spreading several wheelbarrows full over the newly weeded garden. Can't wait to get some veggies going now!
Strawberry Patch:
Adjacent to the veggie garden is a strawberry patch with 5 or 6 rows of beautiful plants going. I wanted time to weed that section as well before covering it up, but I ended up just waiting to do that until next season, focusing on something else instead. I did however, find a 'straw guy', who delivered a bunch of bails to us one day. The patch is now covered with a good 6 inches of it, helping protect for the winter.
Raspberry Bushes:
There are a few patches of raspberry bushes growing throughout the property that I focused on as well, just pruning mostly. There was one section that had some wild cucumber growing over it, which I totally removed. That's something I'm going to have to keep an eye on. The wild cucumber can be quite the beast, so I've read, and I want to keep on top of it as best I can. I'm looking forward to seeing how the pruning helps those berries next year though. We plan to spread the bushes further, and transplant in some different berries as well.
Chokecherry Trees:
There was a lovely chokecherry tree circle not far from the house, with about 20 or more trees evenly placed within a defined area. I say 'was' because we ended up cutting them all down. It was a tough decision, but they were so infested with black knot fungus that they just weren't worth trying to keep up with. My good buddy came over with his chainsaw - I hadn't yet had mine - and in one morning he had felled them all. While he cut, I dragged what was toppled to the bonfire pit, where I'd eventually burn the branches and brush. The rest was cut up and stacked, which I'll use for the other smaller fire pit - something I'll make a lot of use of. We plan to replant some trees in that old chokecherry circle, and fill the rest of the area with another kind of berries, blueberry most likely.
Removing Roots:
I mentioned the wild cucumber that was covering some of the raspberries. Well, there was a small section near the house that had a patch growing as well, crawling up over the other vegetation, mostly smaller bushes and trees. I ended up cutting all that down. I didn't know I was eventually going to de-root the entire section to go along with it. I started in on it one day, not liking how the little stumps were sticking up from the ground. A couple of minutes in and I realized how the incredible soil here made it far easier to do. Yes, still difficult with just an shovel and axe, but I found I could pull the roots out of the soil fairly easily when free enough. I didn't get the entire section I have mapped out done, but I plan to finish early next spring. It turned out that it was likely a garden of some sort in the past actually. I pulled out a small fence that had long since been forgotten and grown over, in almost the exact area I was playing around with. Not so much a coincidence I don't think, as there just being several similar lost items spread throughout. I found another even larger fence further into the woods while exploring...
I wont even get to the forest line where I also played a lot. That will have to be a whole other post. It's one of my favorite things about the property, something I'm very happy that we have. And then there's the grapes! The greenhouse - oh yeah, the greenhouse; that's attached to the house and something I'll focus on later too - has a very old large vine which was growing up through the roof of the mostly glass structure when we arrived. There are 3 rows of grape plants out in the backyard as well. The vines need to be cut way back a little later in the winter, and the fences need to be fixed up next spring as well. A grape post commeth, you can be sure of that.
Those two weeks went by very quickly, but getting to play around the 4 acres was wonderful, and I'm glad I got to do a little bit of everything before snow came. I just caught myself daydreaming actually, just gazing out the window as I try to finish up this post, thinking back to that first morning on the hobby farm. I got up and immediately went for a stroll around the perimeter as the sun was rising, taking mental notes of the many projects I would want to tackle, both this fall and for the rest of my life. It became a tradition, that morning perimeter check. I walked it every day during those first two weeks, and still do it on weekends whenever possible. Most every day I try to squeeze one in, to be honest.

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