Friday, May 5, 2017

The Grass Is Greener

We've been moving the cattle and horses around to access the best grass available.  This is called rotational grazing.  In the pic below, you can see the grass on the left is brown and eaten down.  The grass on the right is green and lush.  It's separated by 2 strands of poly tape.  It CAN be hooked up to and energizer to keep it hot, but honestly, our animals are terrified of it, we don't have it hooked up.  We do have secure perimeter fencing around this 10 acre pasture, so if they were to get out, they would still be contained. 

Once we moved the animals over, the grass on the left will have time to rejuvenate and grow lush again.  The goal is to keep them on one side for a minimum of 4 weeks to interrupt the lifecycle of any parasites in their poo.  Plus, we have the chickens out there and they are scratching and picking through that manure.  It's an awesome symbiotic relationship. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Master Storage...

I've shown you the major rooms of the camper, except for the master bedroom.  It's HUGE.  Not.  It basically holds a RV Queen mattress (shorter than an average sized one), the surrounding cabinets, and about 18" on either side.  I have mentioned to get dressed in the living room, right?  Please don't come by uninvited.  You may get an eye full.  ha!

 This is our bed.  We have taken out the "luxury mattress" that was sold with the camper because it was hard as a rock.  We invested $250 in a memory foam RV Queen and it is worth its weight in GOLD.  It's sooooo comfy.  I got it on 

On my side above my wardrobe, Shannon bought little $1 totes to hold socks and underwear.  It's a great way to stay organized.  I have a few t-shirts and jeans folded up there as well.

Every week or so, I change out my wardrobe.  I work in a professional environment, and can't look homeless, so I try to keep it casual but nice at the same time.  I have coordinated my outfits with jewelry and shoes so I look like my old self.  I have 2 totes under the camper that I pull from.  Organization is key when living in small quarters.  Shannon has done the exact same thing on his side, so I didn't feel the need to showcase his personals, but you get the idea.  So, this is how we do our room! 

Friday, April 7, 2017


We don't have water on the land.  This has been a bit of a problem for us, as our animals require water.  Our well is expected to be drilled next week, but in the meantime, we had to think outside the box.  So we bought one.  I found these food preservative tanks on Craigslist and drove nearly 2 hours to pick it up.  We washed it out, went to a commercial plumbing store to fit the valve to a garden hose, and we were in business.  We are blessed with great neighbors, and our one neighbor has graciously allowed us to use his well to fill tanks and water troughs.  We may give him some pork for his generosity.  :) 

We rinsed out the tank, and filled it about half full.  We have a F-250, but that tank holds 250 gallons of water.  And that's heavy.  Half of that will last the pigs about 4-5 days.  We park the truck on a hill and let gravity do the hard work.

We connected a commercial grade hose and my ingenious hubby put a water float on the trough.  When the water gets too low, the water fills up.  No more thirsty piggies!

I used to be obsessive about water cleanliness with the pigs.  Then I realized that it's a losing battle.  We do rinse out the troughs every week, and you should see the layer of mud on the bottom.  They come to drink with dirty snouts and that dirt makes for dirty water, and the heavier bits fall to the bottom.  If the water gets too dirty, I do change it out, but as long as it's semi-opaque, I'm happy.  They don't seem to mind.  After all, they pretty much eat all that dirt.  God made dirt, and dirt don't hurt. 

The little ones aren't tall enough to reach over the side and drink.  I love to see their little hooves on the edge. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Weekly Moving

 We believe in pasture rotation.  We haven't always.  But after seeing what livestock can do to pasture (pretty much eating it down to a moonscape, but leaving weeds) I researched pasture rotation.  Since we don't use any chemicals on our farm, and therefore, don't spray for weeds, I wanted to discover how people did it back in the day before nasty chemicals.  They moved their livestock daily, and weekly.  We decided to give it a try.  Pigs are rough on pasture.  It's a fact, but a fact we will use to our advantage.  They are the ultimate tillers, and we plan on exploiting their gifts.  We moved the pigs on the above lot for one week.  Surrounded by 400 ft of electric netting we bought at Premier One Fencing.  We use a 1 joule solar charger.  It's AMAZING!

After one week, it looked like the above pic.  So, we moved them again.  They rooted up stones, and turned over this rich soil, leaving behind manure. We will let it rest for about 10-12 weeks.  By that time, the whole grains we feed, in addition to the residual grass roots left behind, will have reseeded and it will be lush and thick again.  We will put them back on it.  See how it works?

We moved them to a larger lot full of trees, brush, thickets of ferns and of course, their favorite--grass.  We added 200 ft of fence so now they have an area of 600 ft of fence surrounding them.  They have already started eating the brush and undergrowth. 

Pigs are smart, so a busy pig is a happy pig.  They have friends, and lots of work to do.

They know their job, and they do it well.

Big Momma loves being out on pasture and woods.  Look at her round belly full of babies!

This is the moonscape reseeded.  This is barley, rye, maybe some oats and wheat.  The whole grains in their food, have already started to sprout to cover up the bare earth left behind.  SCORE!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Baking--Camper Style

Ingenuity.  I think you have to have it to survive living in such a small space.  We have to crate one of our dogs, Joey, during the day due to his severe separation anxiety.  The shelter had told us he was rescued from an animal hoarding situation.  He freaks if you leave him alone without the safety of his crate.  Fred, our other rescue, does great without the aid of the crate.  So, every morning, we put Joey in his crate with some toys, and go to work/school.  Breaking it down every night, just to have to put it up again during the day got old, fast, so I'm working with it.  I have limited counter space, so I put my chopping block on the top of the crate and have created an island work space.  Since I'm a midget 5'2", it's the perfect height for me to prep my meals. 


Mornings with kids are hectic regardless of where you live or what you live in.  Now that we are getting into a groove, I thought I'd prep breakfast for the week on Sunday night.  I made these yummy egg muffins.  Full of peppers, onions, ham and cheese, they were delicious.  My kids hated them, naturally.  It called for 8 eggs, which we have in abundance since we raise pastured chickens and eggs. But, I share this with you because I finally used my little oven!  It did great!  I did have to open the door to the camper because it got a bit smoky since the oven was set at 400 degrees. 
I also installed this magnetic knife bar because of the limited drawer and counter space.  I love it!!!!
No more major disasters in the camper since the flood.  Our slide out did leak during a particularly heavy rain, but my camping guru friend has shared how to fix the issue. 

Seriously blessed to have this life!

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Bit Soggy

Tuesday morning, I was flown into consciousness by hearing the middle girl vomiting.  Day 2 of a tummy bug and no laundry facilities. At 3:30 am I changed her pj's, washed her face, hair and teeth, and she slept soundly on the couch dog bed with Joey.  Off to work with Daddy she went.  I took all the laundry to a dry cleaner 2 blocks from my work.  They offer a wash, dry and fold service for $7/load.  When I brought in the soiled linens, Polly, the sweet lady behind the counter scrunched her nose up.  "We charge extra for barf." She says with a twinkle in her eye.  I profusely apologize, drop off the comforter and clothes.  It was ready for me when I left work the same day.  $27.  Ouch.  $20 to launder the comforter alone.  That's more than what I paid for it on clearance at Target.  Oh, well, what can I do?  I don't have time to sit in a laundry mat for hours watching it slowly dry. 

Tuesday night in the camper wasn't so bad.  We ate dinner, the kids watched a movie, little man took a bath, and I cleaned up.  That night was going to dip into the teens so we left the water dripping in the kitchen and bathroom.  We woke up Weds morning with water!  Hallelujah!  But no hot water.  Shannon had to take a shower at the house, 20 miles south.  Luckily, we hadn't closed on it yet and we still could use it.

Before Shannon left, he suggested we leave the water dripping in the sinks to prevent freezing because the high was only going to be 26.  Before I left, I put the dogs in their crates and the water dripping. 

I came home late that evening to a FLOOD.  The camper had flooded.  I escorted the dogs out, 2 by 2, and preceded to freak out.  My nerves were shot, and this was the icing on the cake.  Apparently, the gray tank had frozen, displacing the water dripping from the faucets.  The tub overflowed.  The same tub that held my little cherub the night before.  Why, tub, why, have you forsaken me?!?   We only have 5 towels in the camper, one for each of us, and I used them all.  That barely made a dent in the water.  I remembered that I had a box of towels in the back of the van I was going to donate to the local animal shelter.  I ran outside and used them all.  I called Shannon sobbing that I couldn't handle it any longer.  He was so calm, and just said these were growing pains and just little bumps in the road. Sure.  That just annoyed me even more.  How could he be so calm?  BECAUSE HE DIDN'T HAVE TO CLEAN UP THE FLOOD. That's why.

I piled all the wet, heavy towels outside and went to feed the livestock.  I called our dearest friends, and we ended up spending the night with them--in a real house.  It was luxurious to say the least.  I slept like a log.  The next day, I retrieved the now frozen towels, and took them back to Cook's Laundry Service.  Another $30 later, I have clean towels.  I ended up hoarding the extras in case of disaster again.  They live under Joey's bed couch.  Just in case there's other flood. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hard Learned Lessons

I had this idea in my head of what it would be like living in a camper. Cramped, irritation oozing out of our pores. The concept of privacy going right out that little camper window. Shannon and I literally have to get dressed in the living room because there is no room in our bedroom to bend over and put on your jeans or underwear for that matter. But also, the idea of not tripping over endless toys and campfires and singing around the campfire. I do believe we will have great moments of triumph, but also know there are going to be times when we are ready to pull out our hair. Our first nights was the sort for pulling out hair.  The first week was HELL. I'm not exaggerating when I say this or put it in bold letters. It was horrible. We moved the camper to a local campground until the utilities on our land are up and running. It's important to have things such as water, septic and electricity. So we moved the camper. It had been winterized at Camping World where we bought it and we had been "living" in it while we were still at our farm. We basically played Uno in it and slept in it (the camper was parked in our driveway) since everything was in storage. We showered, cooked and watched TV at the house. So when we moved it off our property to the campground, it was on like Donkey Kong. We tried to remember what the guy had told us in his brisk walk through of how to operate and dump the various tanks for this and that at the dealership. We had to hook up water, electricity and the black pipe (for the gray and black tank) to septic. We had to slide out the bunk room and the living room. We needed to turn on the heat.  We needed to level the camper. We needed to survive. I was literally in survival mode. We got to work. Shannon hooked up the water. He hooked up the Electricity. No biggie! Right... We flushed the antifreeze from the pipes. All the water and such from the sinks and shower go into the gray tank. All poo and pee goes into the black tank. We also have a fresh water tank with a pump in case of severally cold weather (the tank are supposed to be well insulated to prevent freezing) and in case of camping without a water source. Shannon couldnt really remember how to turn on the hot water heater. Neither could I. He asked for the notebook where I frantically took notes. Taken during the quick run through by a fast talking West Virginian employed at Camping World. It's an oxymoron, I know. I told him where it was in the truck and he came back frustrated that he couldn't  find it. Typical. The kids are excited. They are jumping up and down rocking the camper. Shannon can't get the camper level. He says the jacks aren't supporting the weight of the camper on one side and they are buckling under the weight. So the camper is lopsided.  I call my friend from college who has been living in her camper for the last 18 months with her family of 5. She's the camping Ghandi. She's always calm, supportive and reassuring. She gives great tips and suggestions. She tells us how to turn on the hot water heater. As soon as she tells us the proverbial lightbulb goes off and we remember what the West Virginian said. Yes! That's it! Crisis adverted. Also how the jacks are supporting jacks and not leveling jacks. We will have to hook the camper back up to the truck to put the tires on blocks to level it. Maybe tomorrow.  I turn on the propane stove to start sautéing peppers and onions for our first camper made meal of steak fajitas. The flame isn't that excited. In fact, it's sad. I'm cooking the peppers and onions on a super low flame and when I'm almost ready to add the meat, the flame dies. That's what happens to flames when they're sad. They die. I call out to Shannon to switch over the propane tanks. I can't understand how we could be out of gas already. Did they fill them up like they said they would when we picked it up???  Shannon switches the tanks. They are both empty. Great. No steak fajitas tonight. Shannon says he'll go to the local grocery store and pick up a small tank made for grills and such so we can have dinner. I call in a pizza from Papa Johns because it's 7:30 and the kids are already complaining of dying from hunger.  I go into the bunk room and suggest they watch a movie on their TV so I can sort out setting up the camper. The TV and DVD don't turn on. Ok...I check the fuse box. Everything's fine. I look at the sink and think it would be a good idea to start washing dishes. I turn on the hot water and it's ice cold. I figure the hot water heater hasn't had enough time to heat of that big 6 gallon tank. I fill up a bowl of water and pop it in the microwave to heat up some water. Nada. The microwave isn't working. Ok...  It's at this time the kids come in from jumping around like Mexican Jumping Beans and tell me they need to put on their coats because they are cold. I realize that I, too, an a bit chillly. Huh. I have the heat on. I hear the hum of the air coming through the vents. I put my socked foot over the vent and I feel air. Cold air. What?!  I go outside to check the electric box to ensure we have the breakers on. Nope. They are all switched to the off position. I turn them on. I hear the kids cheer as their TV comes to life. I go in and see the lights to the microwave are on. So the battery for the camper can run lights but not the appliances and energy suckers. Got it. Also, I intelligently deduce that our furnace must run on gas. We had run the heat while living in the driveway all week. That's why we were all out. Sweet.  I warm up my water to wash dishes as I wait for Shannon to get back with pizza and gas. It's freezing in the camper.  I'm doing the dishes in my coat. Crazy. I walk to the bunk room to make sure my oldest has turned on the movie and I notice the hot water heater is leaking!  I grab a towel and hand tighten to knob. It stops. Thank God!  Shannon comes in with the pizza and goes outside to hook up the tank. As soon as he does, it gets warmer in the camper. Shannon comes in, eats a slice of pizza and goes out to fill up the fresh water tank. The kids scarf down the pizza, we get ready for bed and they watch their movie. Shannon comes in and asks about how long do I think it will take to fill the 50 gallon fresh water tank? I said about 20 mins or so. We stand around, delighted with the sudden warmth and a bit deflated by the set up obstacles. It's about 9:30 at this time. On a Sunday. We have to go to work in the morning and the kids have to go to school. After about 20 mins Shannon checks the levels of the tanks on the lighted indicator in the camper. Huh, he says. The fresh water tank is saying it's empty. But the gray and black tanks are nearly full. That's impossible! I say. Could there be a valve open on the fresh water tank and the water is literally going in and out? I ask. Shannon goes out to check. Nothing. So the tank is still "filling" and he sets to putting the panel over the hot water heater on. All of a sudden, we hear this alarm going off. It's one of the 3 detectors in the campers. It's the propane detector that's screaming at us. I hadn't turned off the eye of the stove when the flame went out. Now our camper was full of gas. Nice.  After 20 mins or so, Shannon goes out to check on this blasted tank. "Aimee! There's water pouring out everywhere!" He screams. I told you! I say with a smile and an edge of snarkiness. He gets furious and goes back out. I diligently follow and see the outdoor kitchen has flooded. Yellow water has filled the sink. Overflowing to the counters. I grab a towel from the bathroom and sop up the water. I also grab a pot and scoop out this strange yellow water. Why is it yellow?!  Huh.  Shannon and I are so frustrated, cold and tired at this point. He suggests we deal with it in the morning. With the temperatures dipping into the 20's that night, we decide to leave the water dripping in the kitchen and bathroom. We go to bed. I'm too angry and agitated to sleep so I text my college friend and tell her what has happened. She told me Shannon had hooked up the water to the outside gray tank which overflowed to the black (poopy) tank which backed up to our outdoor kitchen. Great. The outdoor kitchen is currently contaminated with all our pee and my middle daughter's poo. Awesome. That explains the yellow water. Gross.  As I lay there in bed processing the last few hours, I wake Shannon up to empty the gray tank. With the water dripping, the tank will just overflow to the kitchen again. Double gross. So he dutifully gets up, puts on a coat and shoes and goes to hook up the poopy pipe. I hear some noises coming from outside and wait for him to emerge. 5 mins later, he comes in and I ask how hard it was. He says it wasn't but he couldn't hook up the poopy pipe because we don't have the right attachments for the 50 ft poopy pipe so he just opened the valve and essentially fertilized the grass. Good enough for me. We slept pretty soundly. Until we heard our middle daughter call out "Mommy!" And the sound of vomit. Awesome. We don't have a washer and dryer. I pick up all the soiled linens and put them in the back of the van. Get the kids ready for the day, and Shannon takes the sick one to our business and I take the other ones to school. So, there you have it. Our first night in the camper sucked. It was horrible and stinky and contaminated with pee and feces, and vomit.  But we did it. And that was just the first night!