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Life on a Southern Farm

Building Our Home and Our Life, Together

A photo of GaFarm Woman PamWhat are you!? Some millionaire that inherited a big place?

That comment left on my blog immediately brought this vivid image into my thoughts.

Our first home. The image didn't quite look like a millionaire's home.

Farm Woman's first home, a trailer

That was a comment I received once when I had posted this picture of the farm house after FarmMan had remodeled it.

Read more on the remodel here: Farm House Before and After

Remodel of the house Farm Man built

The little rough (well alright really rough looking) trailer looked like this in a year. The most beautiful home my 20-year-old eyes had ever seen.

Trailer after a year of updating

That was over 30 years ago and the road to here sure hasn't been a smooth one by any means, but it has been an adventure.

We haven't inherited any land or house. We got it the old fashion way. Through hard work and being very tight with what money we had.

You can read more about it here if you like: The Beginning

We saved and build our homes without borrowing money. (That's a younger FarmMan up there)

Building our homes ourselves

The early years were hard. Very hard. Saving and working. With 2 small boys. Buying building materials instead of new automobiles, instead of fancy name brand clothes. Driving older used cars, shopping at the salvation army and thrift stores. Sticking to a tight food budget.

In less than 7 years (7 long years) we were out of the trailer and in our first home we built. Together.

Georgia Farm Woman's home in 1984

And it was paid for, plus we paid off the 7 acres of land by then also. We were so proud.

Four years later we had sold the first house and land and bought 50 acres of land.

And were back in a trailer ( that is a slimmer, younger FarmMan up there).

Trailer with the new house taking shape around it.

While we built this house. Together.

The house we built

Then we decided it would be more practical to have less house and more land. So we once again we sold our home, bought 100 acres and built this house. Together.

Plan for the house

Side of that house

Which turned into this house after a few years.

Same house upgraded by Farm Man

So, after 30 years, here we are. Still haven't inherited anything. We didn't have any hand outs. We paid as we went. Still paying as we go. It wasn't and still isn't any easier. I still shop thrift stores. We still haven't bought new cars, trucks, or tractors.

I wouldn't trade the bumpy ride to here for anything!

It has been quite the adventure.

The commenter did comment again later after she saw the post I had written about where we started from. She apologized. Thank-you.

It is hard doing things your way. Hard to listen to relatives comment about how poor you look, about your old car, as you struggle along working and saving.

We did it our way . It isn't the way for a lot of folks.

I can't wait for the next adventure!

You can read more about our adventures on the farm here: Life on a Southern Farm

Have a great day.

Farm Photography: A Collage of Our Life on a Rural Georgia Farm

A photo of GaFarm Woman PamThis is a small collection from many photos I have of our life on a rural Georgia farm that I wanted to share with you.

Grinding oats with the hammer mill. The hammer mill is a  Harvey Hammer Mill from the 1940s. It is old but is still works just fine. The hammer mill is powered by our 1953 Case Tractor.

Harvey Hammer Mill from the 1940s

Our 1953 Case tractor.  We bought it over 33 years ago. The first picture is right after we bought it when we were a young married couple and our oldest son was a toddler. It still cranks right up and is always ready to work.

1953 Case tractor

The water wheel my husband built. We found out that over 100 years ago a water wheel was here on our farm. Now this one sits exactly where the one from long ago turned.

Water wheel built by my husband

The rock bridge/dam that my husband also put back. After we cleared the brush and trees, we could see the outline of the old mill pond.  The pond is back now, also.

Rock bridge and dam

Brown Crowder Peas. One of my favorite vegetables to grow and freeze.

Crowder or cowpeas are probably native to the continent of Africa. They are thought to have been brought to the United States in early Colonial times. They became a staple food in the Southeastern U.S.A. Crowder peas are eaten as cooked fresh shelled green peas (boiled with usually some seasoning and meat like fatback or bacon) or left to dry on the vine for later use, either for seeds or cooked as dried beans.

Crowder peas or cowpeas

Growing and pressure canning Roma green beans. Roma beans are long, wide, flat-podded Italian-style green beans. I like to can green beans. I just think they taste better than frozen ones.

Roma green beans

This is a recipe for canning green beans that I have used for over 25 years.

Canned Green Beans

3 gallons of broken green beans.
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
1/4 cup salt
Combine sugar, vinegar and salt. Add beans and enough water to cover the beans. Heat to boiling.
I usually cook the beans for about 15-20 minutes.
Pack loosely in hot jars. Cover the beans inside the jars with the liquid.
Follow directions for your pressure canner.
The instructions for my canner calls for 10 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes on quart jars. This could vary on different types of canners.

Tomato Horn Worm – How they  love to eat up tomatoes and vines. Chickens – How they love to eat up tomato worms!

Tomato horn worms and chickens

The farm's sawmill. It has came in handy for sawing lumber as we need it around the farm. The oak hardwood floors in our kitchen came from trees on our farm and was sawed on the sawmill.

The sawmill on the farm

Embden Geese. We had 5 last summer. Now we are down to 1. Too many varmits love goose for a meal.

Embden geese

The kitchen sink. When we were building our house (ourselves), we found the sinks at a salvage store. We bought 2 just like this one. One side is very deep. They are a heavy porcelain sink. We were told they came from an old hotel that was torn down in Atlanta. The other sink like the kitchen sink we put in the downstairs bathroom. We also bought 2 heavy single sinks for the upstairs bathrooms. We paid $10 each for the larger sinks, $5 each for the single sinks. I love the view of the barn and animals from the window over the sink.

Kithen sinks salvaged and recycled

Hatching eggs in our homemade walk in incubator. We have hatched hundreds of baby chicks, quails, ducks, and guineas in it. Even though at first it was a trial and error experiment. It was the thermostat. When we replaced the old one, our hatch rate went up to at least 85% each hatch.

Homemade walk in egg incubator

A few of the cows that have come and gone.

Cattle on our Georgia farm

Our 1960 Ford F600 dump truck. It does all sort of jobs around the farm. It even has a working 8 track tape player!

1960 Ford F600 dump truck

I hope you enjoyed seeing just a little bit of the life I love here on our rural Georgia farm.

Farm Snake: Sharing a Rural Farm with Snakes

Living in a rural area one thing you see for sure is snakes. Here are a few we share our farm with.

We think this is the same snake that shows up every spring.

Black snake in a tree

He is huge.

Black snake hanging in tree

The tree is near the pond where I am sure he likes to have meals of frogs and field mice.

Black snake crawling along tree

He likes to spend the summer in this hole in the oak tree.

Snake in a hole in an oak tree

Closeup of snake in an oak tree hole

We have found snakes in the chicken nest boxes.

Snake in a chicken nest box

Like this fellow. He was full of eggs and just decided to nap after his big meal.

Snake resting in chicken nest box

We see snakes when we take walks. Like this non-venomous snake.

Most of the snakes we see here are Black Rat Snakes or King Snakes.

Black Rat Snake or King Snake

We also see venomous snakes like this cottonmouth water moccasin.

Cottonmouth Water Moccasin

He is named for the white lining of its mouth.

Cottonmouth mouth lining

We find long snakes.

Long black snake

Lionel the cat finds snakes in the back yard.

Cat and snake in backyard

We find snakes in the Corturnix/Pharaoh quail pens.

Snake in the quail pen

Like this one. Notice the bulge. He had ate several quails and wrapped around several more.

Snake after eating in quail pen

Snake found in quail pen

Miracle Eve the goat is excited to find a snake at the wood pile.

Goat and Snake in woodpile

Snake in woodpile

Another non-poisonous snake.

Another snake in the woodpile

This is one we weren't real excited to spot around the farm.

Timber rattlesnake

A Timber Rattlesnake. He had 14 rattlers.

Timber Rattlesnake with 14 rattlers

Snakes can eat up a lot of eggs, quail, and baby chicks. They can also play a role in helping to control rodents around a farm.

Good or bad, snakes are just part of life on a rural farm in Georgia.

Navy Bean and Ham Soup Recipe: Cooking with Dried Beans

A photo of GaFarm Woman PamDried beans. 

I can't say enough good things about them.

You can stretch a dollar and your food budget with dried beans and peas.

A pound bag cost around $1.00 around here. More or less.

Bean soup

Dried beans are also an excellent source of protein and fiber, low in fat and sodium and contain no cholesterol or sugar. Most beans, especially blackeyes, contain high levels of folate, the B vitamin that can help prevent certain birth defects and heart diseases.

Blackeyed peas

Over the years I have stretched a many a meal with dried beans. I usually cook the dried beans one day to have with a meal.

Beans with a meal.

And then I use the left over beans for soup the next day or so. These are navy beans.

Navy beans with ham

Pinto and kidney beans I use for chili. I have used the northern or navy beans also in chili.

Always check the beans for any small stones that may be in with the beans. I have found stones in with dried beans before.  Always rinse the beans good before cooking.

To cook dried beans: I put half a regular size bag of beans (if your family is large use a whole bag) in a saucepan.  Fill above the beans 3 or 4 inches with water and bring to a boil.  Boil for a minute or 2 and turn the heat off. Let the beans soak for an hour or 2. You can even soak overnight without boiling.

Pour that water off they are soaking in. That water has the gas power in it. (You know, bean gas.)

Refill the pan with water covering 3 or 4 inches because the beans will swell when cooking.

I season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.

You can also use bouillon cubes or meat to season the beans.

When I boil a chicken or cook a beef roast I save the broth and freeze it in ice cube trays. Then I use the cubes for seasoning beans and soups.

Chicken broth frozen in cubes

Bring the beans to a boil then turn the burner down to low or warm and simmer.

Black eyed peas you will only need to cook 30-45 minutes. Pinto, Great Northern, Kidney, Navy beans will need to simmer 1-2 hours until tender.

Refrigerate the leftover beans. I think the beans are always better the 2nd day. The seasonings and flavor mingle over night.

The you can get creative and make soups.

One soup we like is Navy bean and ham. Over the years I have adjusted what we like in it, and you can do the same. Just add or substitute vegetables and ingredients your family likes.

Navy Bean and Ham Soup

1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked navy beans
5 cups of water
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 cup of diced tomatoes (or 1 16-ounce can of diced tomatoes with or without the liquid)
chicken bouillon cube
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 tsp thyme, crushed
1/4 tsp pepper
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic minced
6 ounces of cooked ham, about 1 cup (I use left over ham from the night before)
1 and 1/2 cup shredded fresh spinach or cabbage
(I also add some sliced bell pepper.)
On the seasonings, just add what you have or like. Sometimes I just add a dash of Italian seasoning instead of the other spices. The idea is to save money and use what you have.
Add beans, water, carrots, onions, celery, bouillon cube,basil, thyme, pepper, bay leaves, and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer covered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Stir in ham, tomatoes, spinach or cabbage. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more.
Discard bay leaves.

If you don't eat meat or care for ham you can just leave it out. It is still a good vegetable soup without the meat. With the dried beans it will still has a lot of protein. Or you can add other meat like chicken if that is your left overs on hand.

Navy bean and ham soup

This is great with fresh baked corn bread!

Does your family eat dried beans? What is your favorite recipes using them?

Have a great day!

Pine Straw Mulch and Making Pine Straw Bales

Here in the southeastern states, the pine trees are abundant – which means so is pine straw.

Pine straw comes from several different species of pine trees. The pine trees drop their needles naturally throughout the year. Once the straw drops to the ground, it can be baled, used for mulch and many other uses, without ever having to cut down a single tree.

Pile of pine straw in Georgia. They can provide mulch, bedding for biddies, or nesting straw, among other things.

The pine trees also produce pine cones.

Large pine cones on the picnic table.

Baling and selling pine straw is a large industry here in Georgia. (Bale modeled by Lionel the cat)

Bale of pine straw modeled by Lionel the Cat.

The Loblolly Pine tree is one of several native pine trees and is the most important commercial timber tree in the southeastern United States.  There are also Long Needle, Short Needle, Slash, Spruce and I am sure other varieties of Southern Yellow Pine trees growing everywhere in rural and not so rural areas of Georgia.

We planted about 15 acres of Loblolly pine trees 14 years ago. The trees are now bearing and shedding enough pine needles to use for mulch around the farm. We use the mulch in the raised beds and garden.

Pine straw used as mulch.

The pine straw doesn't float and wash away. It breaks down more slowly so it doesn't need to be reapplied as frequently as other mulches. The pine straw mulch also helps hold in moisture in our long, hot, and usually dry summers here in Georgia.

Lettuce growing in Georgia.

We pile the pine straw heavy around the tomato plants.

Delicious looking tomatoes grow on pine straw mulch.

It makes great mulch for my flowers.

Pine straw mulch is also good on the flowers.

We use pine straw in the nest boxes.

Pine straw in the nesting boxes for our laying hens.

Pine straw is great in the brooder. We found it better than wood shavings because the biddies (baby chicks) can't eat the pine straw.

Pine straw is excellent in the brooder.

We use this pine straw baler my husband made to bale pine straw.

Homemade pine straw baler.

How to make a bale of pine straw.

Step 1 in making a bale of pine straw.

Step 2, mashing the straw.

Step 3, adding more pine straw and mashing.

Step 4, tying the baling string.

Finished bale in the baler.

Stack of pine straw bales.

Looking down the row of pine trees.

We store the bales in the barn loft.

Storing pine straw bales in the loft.

Where the bales of pine straw sometimes serve another very important purpose. A nest to hatch more barn banties.

More barn banties in the loft.

Awww, chicks and their momma.

What do you use for mulch? Do you have other uses for pine straw?

Chicken Nesting Boxes Made on a Rural Georgia Farm

A photo of GaFarm Woman PamWho would have thought that a farm couple in rural Georgia would have an online chicken nest box business?

Not us, the rural farm couple.

(Here’s a photo of us.)

Pam and hubby

It all started with my blog. Life on a Southern Farm.

Life on a Southern Farm blog collage

I had started blogging as a hobby, sharing our farm life through pictures, stories, recipes and things my husband builds. My husband loves to build things. Lots of things. Plus he is good at it.

He had been building nest boxes for years to use here on the farm. The ones he made had the wooden front roost.

Nest box with wooden front roost

When I showed photos of those nest boxes on my blog, I had several e-mails and comments wanting to know if we had any nest boxes for sale.

FarmMan (as he is known on my blog) thought about ways to ship the nest boxes assembled, but that front roost was a problem. It would make the shipping boxes very wide, which would be much more expensive to ship.

He is used to overcoming obstacles, and he did again. He invented a wire fold up roost.

The wire roost is 1-inch-by-1-inch 14-gauge galvanized wire on 9-gauge rods complete with a wooden strip for the chickens to perch on.

6 hole chicken nesting box made in the U.S.A.

Since I am his biggest fan and cheerleader, I agreed it was the best looking nest box and roost I had ever seen!

Now the roosts could fold up so we could ship the nest boxes completely built. No assembly required.

He even hand made the hooks for the nest boxes to hang on.

Handmade nest box hooks

Handmade hooks in use

The nest boxes are made from 26-gauge galvalume (aluminum-zinc alloy coated sheet steel).

The are strong and sturdy – and pretty, too.

With the thicker metal it was hard to bend the metal around the holes. So FarmMan came up with the idea of using plastic strip guards around each hole opening. He wanted the boxes to be safe for people and hens.

Plastic edging on nest boxes

All the nest boxes have removable nest bottoms for easy cleaning.

Removable bottoms

I didn’t have any idea how to set up an online store site. I looked on the Internet and found one that looked easy to set up, and I could try it for free.

It was a store site. Now changed to Highwire Commerce.

It was easy to set up and easy to add pictures of the nest boxes. We thought HenPals Chicken Nest Boxes was a catchy and simple name so we went with that.

I already used Paypal, and it was easy to set that up as a payment on the store site.

HenPals Chicken Nest Boxes was open for business!

HenPals Nest Boxes banner

In only 2 days we had our first sale. We were so excited! And we had feed back!

Happy to be your first customer for the Hen Nest! It feels so good to be able to buy from an individual who takes pride in building a quality product. Even considering the safety of its future occupants and their “people,” too!

We learned as we went along. We still are learning as we go along.

We started having a few more orders then more and more orders! UPS came to our farm and picked up the nest boxes.

Nest boxes ready for shipping

FarmMan was very busy building nest boxes. I was busy on the computer.

FarmMan building nest boxes

Our youngest son helped out a few days last summer.

Many boxes in process.

Last year we sold over 400 chicken nest boxes. We try to keep the prices of the nest boxes reasonable.

Different options for nesting boxes

We certainly haven’t gotten rich, but it is our main way of making a living right now. With our farm’s property tax more than doubling in the last couple of years the business was right on time.

We are so grateful and thankful to have our HenPals Chicken Nest Box business that we can operate right here on our rural Georgia Farm!

Using Sawmill Lumber or I Knew My Floor When It Was a Tree

A photo of GaFarm Woman PamAnother ongoing project we have here on the farm is the wood for the downstairs floors.

The wood goes on quite a journey.

This is my husband putting the boards he has run through the planer in the barn loft to finish curing.

Putting boards in the barn loft to cure

It began last summer when we cut the trees at the back of the property to use for the chicken house.

Building the chicken house

We went ahead and cut extra to use on the floors.

The trees that were cut

We hauled the logs up to the sawmill.

Wood on the truck on the way to the sawmill

Where my husband cut the logs into slabs on the farm’s sawmill.

Cutting logs into slabs on the sawmill

Logs on the sawmill

Then cut the slabs into boards on the table saw.

Cutting slabs into boards

Then … stacked the boards so air could get between them to dry the moisture out.

Stacking sawmilled boards to dry

So that by spring time we can start putting the new boards down.

Here is the kitchen floor that we did a few years back. From scratch.

Kitchen floor from sawmill boards

I knew the kitchen floor when it was an oak tree.

The trees we are using for the other floors are poplar, black gum, sweet gum, sycamore and oak. We thought it would be pretty to use different types and colors of wood.

We have the wood floors down in the living room now and hope to finish the downstairs floors this spring.

Living room floor from scratch

Just one of many projects. Life is never dull here on the farm.

Have a great day!

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