Youngsters Elijah (L) and DeNiro (R)

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Footsteps Farm Journal

Started July 20, 2003

This is meant to be a journal of our farm experience by our whole family, Craig, Sheryl, Jeffrey and Kevin.

Each will take turns making entries here about our farm so we will have a complete record of our beginning and our progress towards our long-range goals. Anyone of us can add to a topic discussed by another, or they can make a new topic. This is a work in progress


Our Beginning

The dream of bringing back our ancestral way of life and being able to profit from that lifestyle is what started this farm years ago.

Now in an effort to realize another dream, that of retirement from the Postal Service, it has come time to make the dream into reality. Sheryl and I both hold full time jobs at the Post Office, her day is 9 hours long and mine is 9 ½, so farm chores really add to both ends of our days.

While each family member has their own reason for wanting a farm, we all agree that faming is fun, healthy, a lot of work, and many laughs. Farming is becoming good for the spirit as well as the soul.

Rhode Island Red Rooster

We started in earnest in 2002 when we laid plans to start a farm. It wasn't until March 18th of 2003 that we actually had another batch of chicks in our basement. We already had Barred Rock chickens and Rhode Island Reds, totaling about 13 birds. We had a small chicken coup (8 X 10) that also served as a food storage area for the birds and tool storage.

In addition we had 9 peacocks, including gorgeous white peacocks, in a cage approximately 16' X 30'. And we had about a dozen Guinea hens. We rescued 3 in 2001 but lost two fairly quickly. A month later after thinking they were all lost, we found one with a bundle of chicks in the grass. They run anywhere they want, as they are great for eating bugs, especially ticks.

We have a large fenced-in garden area with raised stone beds which covers an area approximately 130' X 25'. Other fenced in garden beds include a fenced in asparagus bed measuring approximately 30' X 20", a herb garden with raised beds of stone, and a berry bed measuring 90' X 25'.

We own 15 acres outright, and own collectively with my brothers Curt and Cody we have approximately 45 more. I had discussed the idea of a farm with other family members and we all seemed interested to at least try it.


May 2003

A few of our cattleIn May 2003 we purchased from Nat Joslin of North Stonington our first Highland Cattle: Penny, Sarah, Mr. Williams, Bullseye, and Monique. Nat has been the biggest help of all, he is a great guy with tons of knowledge.

Also in May I met with CPA William Bullichi to discuss the proper steps I need to take to start a farm. During this month I e-mailed for and received the different State and Federal tax forms and permit applications that I would need to become an official farm.

And I joined the Connecticut Farm Bureau, and purchased a subscription to "Farming", The Journal of Northeast Agriculture.


June 2003

In June I met again with CPA Bill Belucci. He paid a visit to our farm and applauded our efforts and praised our plan. It is my intention to do this a correctly and professionally as possible.

This will be a FOR PROFIT farm. We don't plan on selling any meat for 3 years in order to build our herds on a shoestring budget (actually our budget is about the size of those little plastic things on the ends of the shoestrings).

We may have to change this plan in order to comply with the IRS rule that a Start Up Farmer must make $2500.00 per year for 2 years in order to qualify for the tax relief benefits.

We designed our farm log and made our letterheads and business cards on our computer.

In July while on vacation I read the entire federal tax law pertaining to farming. I am leaning toward the accrual method of tax law

July 5th: Installed : "QuickBooks" on the computer to help with financial records, now I just need time to learn how to use it.

July 10th: Sarah had her calf, a gray bull. We had a contest for to give him a name, and ended up with Isaac.

July 25, 2003: Carl Runkle of Lebanon had called me to ask if I wanted a Horned Dorset Ram at no charge. They wanted to get rid of him as they already had an older ram and this young one (2 years old) was causing a problem. I picked him up on Friday night and he is temporarily staying with Cody who has two ewes there. We named him Cheerios. Carl told me he would call with the previous owners name so I could get him registered in our farm's name.

July 26, 2003: Received $500.00 from Sheryl to be used on the farm. Ordered wire, fence post etc to fence in half of the 5-acre Lot. Permission received from Uncle Ray.

July 27, 2003: Heard from good friend Kevin Hauser, he is willing to help with web site design.


August 2003

August 4, 2003: Finished fencing in half of the 5-acre Lot and moved the cows in there. WOW were they happy!!!

August 6, 2003. Moved the cows back out, as we have discovered too many cherry trees and further found that 3 wilted leaves if eaten will kill a cow.

August 18, 2003. Penny had her calf, another bull...damn!!! He's dark brown. We decided to call him Elijah, to go with Sarah's calf Isaac.

August 21, 2003. Update, have mowed the lot twice, have painted with flourence orange paint all 387 cherry tree stumps and then covered them with total vegetation killer.

October 9, 2003. Update, been too busy to keep up with this but I really need to. Been using "QuickBooks" and keeping it pretty much up to date. Kevin has joined 4H and went to his first meeting last Sunday, he says he enjoyed it. Purchased 3 ewes and a ram from the Runkles and they arrived the last Wednesday in September. They weren't used to an electric fence and were very "shocked" to find out what it was. They have been in the paddock ever since their arrival. Last weekend we did try to move the new ram in with the cows, evidently neither cows nor sheep knew what the other was and they would have no part of it. My plan is to move the cows back in to their original pasture which surrounds the paddock, that way they will all get used to each other, I'll give them a week and then open the connecting gate.

Kevin and I built a sheep shelter and used one of our many skylights in hopes that it would provide some heat this winter. The sheep seem to like it. They are fun to have and their voices add a certain peacefulness to all the other "voices" we have here. I have been clearing in the small lot between Curt and Cody and have the stone wall almost exposed; a day or two of work there and it will be ready to fence.

The South 5-acre Lot has also been worked on during this period, I have dropped about 50 choke cherry trees and have a path cut all around it, now to haul the brush to piles and accomplish the final clearing of fence line. As soon as I can get the posts in the ground and the wire put up it will probably be well after a good frost, I should be able to move the cows in to there around November, then I can start on the 4-acre Lot...never an end to it.

Sheryl helped me haul brush this past Tuesday, sure was nice to have her out there with me as I have done 99% of this work by myself. I am really concerned about the condition of our pastures and the lack of food for the cows; hopefully we can get 3 or 4 more pastures cleared and grass growing for next year.

Bruce has offered to pay for the fencing that is on his property so I will turn that money into having Agway spread the 6 tons of lime I need in the pastures that are now cleared.

Have sent yet another e-mail to Phillip Bartz to get an ad put in the Red Dorking newsletter, I want to purchase some chicks next spring, am also planning a trip to Indiana for our first Tamworth hogs.