The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

The sound of one rooster fighting

Designated rooster

It's been a rough few months on the homestead.  Mark had two close family deaths, which entailed two long trips and one shorter trip plus a lot of emotional anguish.  Then there was the surprise major dental work that knocked him out for the better part of a week, and another illness that he's still recovering from.  All told, my poor husband has been out of commission from a farm-work standpoint for a significant part of the season, which means I've been trying to do both of our jobs...and cutting a lot of corners in the process.

Cockerels in isolation

One place we cut corners was with chicken killing.  Our australorp broilers should have gone in the freezer at the end of May...but we only got around to them on July 1.  Letting heirloom broilers grow past the three-month mark means the cockerels start fighting and are a bit ornerier during processing day (plus, you spend more money for every pound of meat you get back), but the heavier birds will be a treat this winter.  And we now get to enjoy the lower entropy resulting from having only the designated rooster remaining in our pullet flock.

Firewood cutting

With winter breathing down our necks, we also decided to hire Kayla's husband to come in and cut a few trees into firewood.  Mark's been wanting to open up the area in front of the barn for years, so I figured those trees could come down (despite my deeply ingrained tree-hugging tendencies).  A few walnuts and one dead box-elder filled up about a third of the woodshed, so hopefully a few more evenings of Andy's hard work will get us back on track in the winter-heat department.

Walnut firewood

Overall, while it's been tough (and less fun) running more of the farm by myself, it's also empowering to know I can do long as I put in a few extra hours' work here and there.  Just a few years ago, I think everything would have crashed and burned (or, rather, would have grown up in ragweed and poke over our heads) if Mark had been forced to take a few weeks off the job during the summer.  I sometimes wonder what the farm will be like when Mark and I are old and gray, but this experience makes me hopeful that Mark's right --- we'll have everything so streamlined that even octagenarians can handle the labor.

Easy flowers

In the meantime, I'm pleased to be able to report that Mark is starting to feel better, and the farm is starting to come back into shape.  If you want to send your happy thoughts his way, though, good energy is always appreciated.  Thanks for sharing our journey!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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My condolences to Mark and his family for their recent losses. One is hard - two close together would be extra difficult. And then the dental and illness issues - I'm glad he's beginning to feel better. Congratulations for handling things yourself - and knowing when/what to let go, and when to get help. Here's hoping that everyone/thing will be back to 'normal' in the near future.
Comment by Rhonda from bBaddeck Wed Jul 2 08:02:25 2014
So sorry to hear of your family losses, and Mark's illnesses. Wishing Mark a speedy and complete recovery. How wonderful to know that one of you can carry on and maintain the farm, if the other partner must take a break!
Comment by Maggie Turner Wed Jul 2 08:18:16 2014
Glad to hear Mark's feeling better, I know it's always better when we're able to work as a team. Hoping the rest of the summer is calm and peaceful.
Comment by Teresa Lee Wed Jul 2 10:01:37 2014
Anna I am sorry to hear life has been giving you trials. I would love to send you a small gift. May I have a shipping address?
Comment by Kathleen Wed Jul 2 11:32:28 2014

Best wishes, Mark! Take care of yourself.

Anna, you too! Don't work too hard!

Comment by Roberta Wed Jul 2 12:33:23 2014

Thank you all for your kind words (and good advice)!

Kathleen --- You are too kind! You really don't have to send us anything, but if it's not perishable, you can send things to: Anna Hess, PO Box 733, St. Paul, VA 24283. If it's perishable, drop me an email and I'll share our non-public mailing address. You certainly perked me up just by caring enough to suggest such a thing. :-)

Comment by anna Wed Jul 2 12:51:55 2014

So sorry for your losses. Glad you are keeping up & that hubby is getting better.

Peace & blessings, Terry

Comment by Terry Wed Jul 2 13:10:05 2014
Hope all is well with the both of you soon. Winter breathing down our necks - goodness, I know you will do this. Death and illness makes it hard to stay focused and on track, but also a part of life. Mark has the time to recover and you have the opportunity to remind yourself how awesome you are. Looking forward to the updates. Peace.
Comment by Laura Wed Jul 2 13:25:23 2014
I wish you and Mark the best.
Comment by Brian Wed Jul 2 13:31:19 2014
Best wishes for continued healing on the farm. My farm partner hurt his back this I can relate to having to adjust priorities. Good job delegating work to's what we need to do sometimes.
Comment by Paula Wed Jul 2 13:55:14 2014
I come here regular but what is the long term plan? You mentioned 80s. Likely yes you'd have much honned exactly right but what is the real goal. Henry d. Thoreau had set time plans. Also kids?
Comment by jim Wed Jul 2 22:02:45 2014

Sorry for your losses and all the other surprises! Glad to hear things are looking up. You're in our thoughts and prayers for sure.

I can't believe you were able to keep up the blogging schedule through all of it! Kudos to you!

Comment by Jak Fri Jul 4 02:17:18 2014

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