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Thankfulness List: Farmer’s Edition

I am thankful for all the sunny days, which helped the crops grow and made working outside pleasant.

I am thankful for all the rainy days, which helped the crops grow and made working inside pleasant.

I am thankful for the giant snowstorm this spring, which I can complain about for twenty years before we get another one.

I am thankful that our goats had successful pregnancies this year, which gave us a whole lot of milk to drink.

I am thankful for Nesquik, which tastes great in goat’s milk.

I am thankful that I am healthy enough to clean the chicken coops, which builds character.

I am thankful for all the times that I am not cleaning the chicken coops.

I am thankful for being able to see progress as we work on the farm and the store, which keeps me motivated to keep making more progress.

I am thankful for all of the people that encourage us to keep working on the store, whether it be neighbors or customers or the people who drive by with their heads turned toward the store. You all encourage me to keep making progress, too.

I am thankful for a very long, nearly unachievable to do list, which makes it so that I am never ever bored. Ever.

I am thankful that, despite all of the things we worked on, we did not have any serious injuries or dismemberments, which is why I am still able to type this thankfulness list.

I am thankful for all the people we met through various farming activities, including the summer produce program and the random people I get talking to and find out that they have goats too. You all are really fun to share things with, whether it be produce, baked goods, eggs, honey, stories, or laughs.

I am thankful for pie.

I am thankful to all of our customers, whose smiles remind me frequently why I like doing this whole farm thing.

I am thankful to my family, who either supports this farm venture or is waist deep in it with me.

I am thankful for the baby girl that God blessed my wife and I with this summer. It will really help to have another laborer on the farm.


I am thankful for my savior Jesus Christ, who died on the cross in my place.

I am thankful for the Bible, which teaches me everything I need to know about life and godliness.

And I am thankful for the Holy Spirit, which works on my heart to overcome my unbelief and increase my ability to live more like Christ.




Lessons from the Farm

One of my favorite parts of the farm, which really is one of my favorite parts of life, is learning the life lessons that seem to come up all the time. Some of these lessons are like low hanging fruit. They are easy to see and just begging us to learn them. Even if we don’t see this low hanging fruit, we run the risk of running right into it anyway. And some of these lessons are a little higher up on the tree, and if we want to enjoy the benefits of them we have to get a ladder or climb the tree and go up there to get them.

Of all these fruity lessons that are constantly ripening and waiting to be picked, I find myself frequently bumping my head on the low hanging fruits of delayed gratification. I always knew that delayed gratification was often a fine thing, noble even, but this farming venture has made me get up close and personal with it.

Our culture, when you think about it, is very much centered around our desires and immediately gratifying them.  Are you hungry? Go to McDonald’s, or Burger King, or any other of a hundred food joints that can get your food out to you in mere moments. Want a new car? Buy one on credit and pay it off later. There are a hundred other examples, and I’m not saying that stopping at a fast food place or buying a new car is bad, but I am saying that our culture teaches us that we should get what we want when we want it. And I do think that an attitude like that… one that is centered around me and what I want and how the world can make me happy… is ultimately destructive to ourselves and those around us.

Back to the farm…. I will say that I have very much been raised in the roughly the same culture as everyone else, and it took me a bit of getting used to how things work on a farm… namely the idea that so much of all that we do is for the future. Take the gardens, where you spend countless hours preparing the soil, planting the seeds, watering the plants, and weeding the garden before you can even think of harvesting anything from it. Then, once you harvest from it, half of the stuff gets frozen or canned and put away for an even later date. Another example would be the goats…besides feeding and watering them twice a day everyday and cleaning the barn regularly, we built the goat barn for them. We got a buck and bred them. And we waited five months while doing prenatal care and finally(!!!), we got to have goat kids and goat milk. These are just two examples, but you get the idea. A farm is a place where you put a lot of work in for a long time before you reap the rewards. That is delayed gratification.

So, what is better about having something later as opposed to having something now. Let me tell you. I feel like a king every time I sit down with a cup of goat’s milk and sip it, and the great part is, I have more than I could ever drink. There is great satisfaction in working hard for something and achieving it, and failing along the way only makes the end that much better. Also, I know a lot about goats now. I am by no means an expert, but I am delighted to say that I have learned a lot of really fascinating things… mostly because we had to blunder our way through various issues. Finally, such work builds character.  Hard, apparently unrewarding work is magnificent at developing self-control, patience, and perseverance, qualities which I think we all would admit we could use some more of.

Now we all have our projects and goals that try to teach us delayed gratification, and I am not at all trying to preach to people who probably understand the concept better than I. Instead, based on what our little farm has taught me, I want to encourage others as they undertake or are in the midst of their formidable tasks or are even considering doing something hard where the end is obviously to their benefit. These things have their own form of goat milk at the end, and it is rich and creamy.

Recap: The Honey Harvest

Hey, thanks for stopping by! We thought we’d post a quick update on a project we recently finished working on. We’ll keep this update short and sweet, emphasis on SWEET.

We’ve got honey!!!

That’s it. Short and sweet, right? Just kidding…. We’ll go a little more into depth in case you are interested.

If you didn’t read our previous post about our honeybees, we sadly lost both hives to a merciless wasp invasion in early November. There were two positives we found in the situation: 1. We learned how to prevent that from happening next year (I mean, we thought we knew- now we really, really know!) And 2. We were able to save the honey! Forty-two pounds of it!

Over the next month, we harvested and packaged the honey, just in time for Christmas gifts. The reason it took a full month was because we processed the honey the slooow way, filtering it through strainers rather than using an extractor to spin the honey out with centrifugal force (….we’ll use that next year).

We still have plenty of honey leftover for selling throughout the year and at the store. For now, if you would like to order, you can do so through this contact form here. Pickup would be from the farm in Glen Aubrey OR from Casey & Rachel in Rochester if you can coordinate with one of their trips.

We are selling the honey for $7 in 1-lb glass jars, with the honey being raw (unpasteurized) and unfiltered. This means that the honey still contains all of the natural pollens, unlike the ultra-filtered bottles at the grocery store. The pollens are thought to have anti-allergenic properties if you have seasonal allergies. Some people buy pollen as a health food! Why take out the good stuff?


Any questions? Feel free to ask or comment!

We are very optimistic about next year’s honeybee operation…  We finally found a local source for our honeybee nucs, rather than farming them out from South Carolina. (In general you have to purchase your honeybees, though we have tried to catch them in the wild… it’s just harder that way!) We hope that the local bees will be much more resilient to the cold valley winters.

With the more resilient local bees and applying the hard lessons from the past two years, the third time should be the charm for getting our honeybees to survive. Until then, we’ll count our sweet blessings and share them around. 🙂

Tearing it Down. Building it Up.

Last fall we decided to make the small yellow house a farm store. We haven’t really blogged much since the fall (sorry about that. I will try to do better). However, the lack of blogging may signify a large amount of work in other areas, particularly the store.

This winter my father and I have spent much of our time freezing all of our digits off working on the yellow house. Many hot chocolate breaks and painful numbing sensations later, I feel that I ought to give an update as to how this venture is going.

First off, we had to clean out the yellow house. This was not very appealing work, and the finished job didn’t exactly make us feel accomplished, but at least we were ready to start doing some work that we could be proud of.

P1080648Next, we redid the stairs down to the basement. The setup that was in there was awkward, inconvenient, and took up critical floor space. So we planned out where exactly we wanted to have stairs, and did away with the old ones. We had to build a supporting wall downstairs and replace a few floor joists, which actually went much better than we thought it would. We cut the stringers, put up the stairs, and ever since have been delighted to go downstairs for any (or no) reason whatsoever.

This is a picture taken before the beam was put in.

Then came what I hope is the most difficult task we will have to do for the whole store: we replaced the center beam in the house. This took a couple of weeks of preparation, as well as a prayer that the house would stay standing when we cut the rafters and an escape route just in case it didn’t. By the grace of God, our temporary walls and rafter ties held it all together.

This is us getting the beam into the house.

We put up our beam, and  roughly 143,000 nails later (my arm is s
till sore just thinking about it), we had completed our task. We were then able to wipe out all of the walls and have a wide open building to build in as we saw fit.

This is what it looks like now, with the beam in place.

Naturally, the next step was to build the other walls. We built a wall around the steps, a couple of archways into the two rooms in the back, and framed in the bathroom. This week, we are looking to build the counter for the store, and then the skeleton of the store will be complete. It is already so different than it was in the fall.

There is still much work to do, however. We must replace a window or two and put in our main entrance when the weather is kind enough to let us. On the inside, we have to run electric, plumbing, and heating before putting up insulation and the finished walls. We also have the floor to finish. On the outside, we have some scraggly trees to cut down, a deck to build, and a small parking lot to make, so there is no dearth of work ahead of us.

Our goal is to have the store ready for a grand opening in the Spring of 2017, but in the meantime, we would be delighted to show anybody who stops by what progress we have made. We may even have the store as a useable work in progress later in the summer.

One Rabbit + One Rabbit = A Lot of Rabbits


We have all heard about how rabbits multiply, but now I can tell you, as one who has come back from a far away land, that I have seen it for myself. The rumors are true. I no longer know how many rabbits we have, but it is definitely more than ten, and in about two weeks, it will be more than twenty.

Oddly enough, it took us a while to get the rabbit breeding going. The first time we tried putting Ty (Cobb) and Cecil (Fielder) together… oh by the way we named them after baseball players with little regard for gender… Cecil (the female) wanted no part of it. We had not expected this difficulty. After all, rabbits are supposed to mate like… well… rabbits. We tried a few things to get Cecil in the mood. Dad even wanted to play Frank Sinatra music to her, and bada boom bada bing, there was romance.

A new zealand rabbit’s gestation period is roughly 31 days, and we waited through all of them patiently. At 29 days we inserted our newly constructed nesting box into Cecil’s cage and waited to see her make a nest out of hair and hay and give birth. We kept waiting. A week after the due date, we admitted to ourselves that Cecil was not pregnant. In retrospect, we believe that Ty’s previous conditions had subjected him to too much heat and made him sterile for a little while.

So we tried again, and this time we knew within a couple of weeks that she was indeed pregnant. She would carry hay in a funny fashion and dig around. When the time came, we put in our nesting box, and let me tell you, she built a rabbit palace for her babies. I still marvel at all the hair she ripped from her body and stuffed in that thing.

With the nest built, it was only a matter of time. I had my suspicions that she might have had them so I went to check, and behold! I saw an ugly little hairless thing crawling around on top of the nest. This was the only sighting we would have of the babies for several days. They burrowed down into the hair and fur to stay warm and grow.

A few days later, we decided to look and check on them. We peeled back a little hay from the top of the nest.. We had expected roughly 5 to 8 babies in her first litter, but these things were as numerous as the stars in the sky. We can now view them by looking in the box. They have gotten big enough that the nest no longer hides them completely. In fact, a baby rabbit doubles it’s weight in six days. However, we have yet to come to a conclusion as to how many there are. At three weeks of age, they supposedly come hopping out of the nesting box and into our hearts. Then we will know. That is about a week and a half away.

Also about a week and a half away is the due date of our other female rabbit, Babe Ruth. I have a feeling that I will very much appreciate the cycle of life as we raise rabbits. One day you are bringing them into the world, the next week you are watching them take their first hop, then a couple of weeks later little A-Rod is all grown up, and then we eat him.

The Hustle and Bustle While the Leaves Still Rustle

That title… I think… is referring to all of the activities we are doing and still need to do before the big cold and white settles down on us. The days are getting shorter and so is the time we have to wrap up the outside activities.

  1. Perhaps the most exciting part about this fall is the breeding of the goats. Now that we have Henry (our billy goat), we are all set and watching the girls for when they go in heat. All in all, the breeding process itself isn’t too exciting (except in Henry’s opinion), but it makes it very real to us that kids are coming in the spring. About five or six months from now, we will have little goats hopping around and our farm will be flowing with milk.
  2. Prepare the gardens for next year. As we finish harvesting the cool weather greens, we will be dumping leaves and seasoned manure into the gardens and rototilling it in to replenish the nutrients of the soil for next year. The gardens were good to us all summer; it is time to be good back to them.
  3. Stock up on sap wood so that it is ready to fuel our maple syruping season. We have the trees down (though we also have some more we would like to cut down), now we need to chainsaw and split it them so that they are all set for for making maple syrup. Seems frightening, but the maple season will be upon us before we know it.
  4. Winterizing what needs to be winterized. This refers to the bee hives and the fruit. We have had a full summer to build up our hives, fruit trees, blueberries, strawberries, and grapes, and now we have to take the necessary steps to make sure they survive the winter. Hopefully this winter isn’t as deathly cold as last year.
  5. Hit the store. As we finish the outside activities, our attention will turn to transforming the yellow house into a store. We will have the winter months to get the inside of the store in working function, as our goal is to have it ready to go in the spring.
  6. Enjoy the fall, and thank God for it all. It is such a beautiful time of year. We don’t want to be too busy to take a moment and look at the rolling hills of color or smell the crisp fall air. What a mighty Creator we have.

Billy Goat Adventures


Assuming you read the title of this post properly, I assure you that I did write billy goat. I know, we didn’t want anything to do with a male goat at least for a few years, so we couldn’t possibly be having billy goat adventures. Except now we are.

This is Henry.

You see, the thing about having milking goats is that you need to breed them to, you know, get milk out of them. They have to have akid to lactate, and our three girls are coming right up on the time for breeding. The original plan had been to find a local billy goat and pay his owner to let us breed our three goats with him. But we would have had to drive a decent distance, leave our goats there for up to three weeks, and pay for the housing, feed, and care of all three of them. Not to mention, many breeders won’t breed their buck with a doe that has horns (ahem, Rosie). And of course, we would have the same problem next year.

Naturally, our minds jumped to the question of how much it would cost to just buy our own buck. I know, scary waters for the mind to wade into. As God would have it, there was a very reasonably priced proven-breeder, very friendly, nubian buck in Montrose. His name is Henry (As far as I am concerned, he was named after my great-great-grandfather). On September 18th, Henry will be joining us at the Hust Roost. Then we can start naming all of his children Henry II, Henry III, and so on. I am most looking forward to Henry V, for all of you history geeks.

He’s a stud.


Anyway, there is another really big bonus to Henry. He (supposedly) doesn’t mind living by himself. This is great because most goats do mind, and we have to keep the buck and does separated pretty much always besides when they are… doing their thing. So the question at that point was if we wanted to breed Henry to our girls and then sell him or if we wanted to keep him indefinitely and make him the sire of our herd.


We decided to keep him, so this week I have building a little lean to for Henry off the back of our chicken coop (goats and chickens co-exist quite nicely). Nine more days to get it done! Gotta love hard deadlines. If nothing else, I can say I did it for Henry, even though I really did it so I can enjoy goat milk next spring.

A Store is Coming to Glen Aubrey

For quite some time now, we at the Hust Roost have been dreaming of starting a store. This year, we began with a humble little table by the road. The success of that table, along with the support of local friends and customers, has pushed us to work harder to make a store a reality–sooner rather than later.

Consider this a “before picture” of the exterior.

Such a store, we reason, would be a nice addition to the hamlet of Glen Aubrey, providing a place for people nearby to grab some vitals (such as milk, bread, etc.) as well as a place for us to continue our (hopefully) expanding farm business. We are still in the beginning stages of planning what exactly we would have, but ideas are forming. I know my father and I (two devoted ice cream lovers) are all for having a couple of basic flavors of ice cream to offer, both as half gallons and to be served in a cone or dish. I imagine such things as coffee, hot chocolate, tea, and soda would be there, and Rachel has hinted at having a little smoothie bar (she makes awesome smoothies!) where she uses frozen fruit from our farm. At this point, the ideas are flying around, and I would like to think that I have conveyed the idea well enough that you, the reader, can kind of picture where we are going and start to get excited about what we are doing.


Due to a recent change of plans and circumstances, we have decided to make the yellow house the store instead of the white house, as we had originally intended. The benefits of this will be its proximity to the road and visibility, the easier time we will have of setting up parking, a more open interior, and perhaps most importantly: the time and money that it will take to turn it into a store will be substantially less than that of the white house.


If you have driven by our place recently, you have probably noticed the red dumpster sitting in front of the yellow house. This is indicative that demolition is very nearly complete! Actually, I gave myself a little break from the demolition to write this post and get a drink (it is very hot today!). The inside has been stripped down to the studs, and we have a blank slate to work with.

We will be very busy outside with a number of other projects for the rest of the summer, but we intend to work on the inside the house once winter comes, with a goal of having the interior be serviceable for next summer! There would still be lots of work to do on the store, and we still have to decide how we want to transform the outside of the building, but it gets me excited to think that we could have a store up and running within months.

Here Come the Rabbits!

The rabbit area with the cages we built

My stepmother, Cathy, left one week ago today to be with two of her sisters in California while they recovered from a kidney transplant surgery (one of them gave her kidney to the other). With all credit going to God, the surgery went very well, and the recovery processes are going as planned. Any and all prayers for them are very much appreciated.

You may be saying to yourself, “What does this have to do with rabbits? The title of this article definitely mentioned rabbits.” Well, since Cathy was leaving, the rest of us here thought it would be fun to try to get as much done as possible and surprise her. One of the things that we knew would surprise her was if she got back and we had rabbits on the farm. Well, that means we have four days left to get rabbits… and it is going to be close.

We are currently in that wild phase where suddenly the whole venture moved out of concept phase and we have little idea what we are doing but it is happening anyway. I do love this phase. I don’t think my father does though.

So far, we have prepared a place for them, and we know the plans we have for them. Plans to prosper them. That last bit of plan talk was referencing Jeremiah 29:11, in case you were wondering why the writing suddenly seemed a bit weird.

We have looked into a couple of places where we can purchase our rabbits. We are starting out with New Zealand rabbits. They are the prime meat rabbit, and they have all white fur so that we could potentially use it for making various things, such as gloves. We are leaning towards starting with four… two bucks and two does. Then some magic can happen and there will be more! Then comes the rewarding part: enjoying their nutritional value. You can read here how nutritious rabbit meat is. Seriously, it is a super food. That’s our motivation for this whole venture.

At this point we need to get some materials. This includes feed, waterers, and feed troughs (or some other type of thing to hold the feed). Then come the rabbits. I would like to believe that we can do this before Cathy comes home. However, if we do not, you can still expect us to have rabbits very shortly. I have no doubt there will be pictures on this website and our facebook site, and if you stop by to visit the farm, we would love to show the rabbits to you. I realize this blog post may have ruined the possible surprise for Cathy, but I figured that it was best to warn her. So Cathy, if you are reading this, be prepared to have rabbits on your homestead very, very soon.

The Summer Wish List

We all have one… that wish list of projects that we would like to get done this summer. Funny how the list always ends up being longer than what time seems to allow. Anyway, this list is to give you an idea of what is on the front burner and cooking at the Hust Roost Farm. This list does not include the daily or seasonal jobs that are routine, such as getting firewood, harvesting produce, and such as them.


This one is happening. It has been on the wish list for months… over a year actually. And now is the time. The items above it on the wish list (goats!!!, free ranging the chickens, planting the fruit trees, bushes, and vines) have all been crossed off. We already have a space for them. The next step is to figure out what we need exactly to build the cages for them, and then we can build them. Then we will find a place to buy New Zealand rabbits (there are more places around here than I would have thought), and we will be on our way.


Dag nab it, this one is going to happen soon too. I am more excited to get worms than would seem sensible, and it won’t take much work to do it. There is a place in Owego that sells the red worms we want, all I have to do is slap together a couple pieces of scrap wood or find a bin for them and go get them. This onewouldn’t take much upkeep either; it just keeps getting pushed back by more urgent things.

More Strawberries

Based on the amount of people that have stopped this summer and the supply we will want to have for our baked goods and jams, we have determined that it would be a great idea to plant more strawberries this fall that could produce next year. That means we need to order them and work on the next wish list item….

Garden Expansion

We have some places picked out to break ground, and one of them is next to the existing strawberries. I am feeling a little sweaty even now at the thought of toiling with the pickaxe and rotatiller, but the thought of sweet strawberries will keepmy heart strong. Not sure how much more ground we will get to breaking besides the strawberry section. Ideally it would be most of the places we hope to, but I make no promises.


I have the feeling that we will get to this one this year, but it could very well be one of those hastily done things that slips in right before the weather turns. We are determined to put one up for the advantages it will give us in the growing season next year, and we hope to sell some starter plants and flowers next spring. We have the spot picked out, and we have been scouting out craigslist for people getting rid of small ones. The other option is to construct one ourselves. We will see.

Chicken Coop Expansion

Let’s face it. We have a lot of chickens now. Off the top of my head, I would say about 130. Many of those won’t make it to winter, at least not in their current location. They are ticketed for the freezer. But we will still have over 50 birds going into the cold months. We have enough room for them, so I don’t know that we will get to this one this year, but we have the perfect spot for easy expansion and the hopes of expanding our flock, so it definitely makes the wish list.

Hust Roost Farm Sign

This is a fun one. It wouldn’t be a sign for the road. For now, our current sign is doing just dandy (though I imagine a Hust Roost Farm Sign for the road will be on a wish list before I know it). This sign would be for the top of the chicken barn. We are picturing ourselves using scrap wood to design the letters, painting them white, then screwing them onto the top of the barn. Not a huge rush on it since it is mostly for aesthetics, but if/when we get to it, it is going to look sweet.

Maple Syrup Evaporator

We really enjoyed making maple syrup this spring, and we have already discussed our plans for next spring. We are about to order a bunch of the plastic maple syrup jugs that everyone recognizes so well, and in preparation for next year’s season, we have discussed buying a cheap, small-scale evaporator or building one. It would greatly reduce the amount of time necessary to boil the sap, and that would be awesome because it would allow us to do more for the same amount of work. At the very least, we figure that we can build a little brick fire pit with a chimney that will keep the hot air in much more efficiently (thus speeding up the boiling process) and keep soot and ash out (don’t worry, we will still strain it a few times anyway).

So, as you can see, we will be pretty bored this summer. Oh. Sorry about that, I apologize for lying right there. We have enough to do to keep us busy! Now you’ll know what to look for if you stop by. Hopefully some of these things will be crossed off at that point.