Whirld Wide Wednesday – Farms Are Disappearing

Anyone who has spent time driving through rural areas will notice the growth in number of farming homes and buildings falling into disrepair. It isn’t because the farmers aren’t taking care of their assets, it is because the farmers have been leaving farms in record numbers. Corporate farming has not simply filled the void, they have been creating the vacuum that is sucking the life out of small farms across the globe.

Thankfully there is a growing number of people who are becoming aware of the catastrophic results of this trend and small farms are once again sprouting up across the country. Unfortunately the number of new farms is far outpaced by those that are shutting down, forever.

We may not realize the negative aspects of this as the grocery store shelves are still fully stocked with food. What many don’t realize though is that the quality of the food supply is deteriorating at an alarming rate. Food just isn’t as full of flavor and healthy benefit as it once was. If you’ve ever purchased food from a local farmer’s market and compared it to the food at your local store, there’s no doubt you’ve experienced the difference.

Fortunes are certainly not to be made by establishing a new family farm, but money is but a small price to pay for the health and welfare of our families and friends. There are huge considerations to be made when deciding whether or not to go against the tide of modern humanity in order to save our food supply, but consider it we must.

Whirld Wide Wednesday – Working Vacations

Have you ever traveled to a distant land for a vacation and left wishing you had been able to learn more about the culture there? Because we are not familiar with an area, vacation itineraries are often designed by agencies whose main goal is to support various businesses and venues. The resulting experience of visiting touristy areas often leads to a very minimal exposure to the true culture of an area.

What if there was a way to become much more immersed into the culture in areas you visit? Would you be interested in such an experience? Perhaps you aren’t able to travel, but would be willing to invite someone from a foreign land to come share their culture with you. Here is one way to do just that; Workaway!

What Workaway does is connect people from around the globe that share a desire to immerse themselves in the daily lives and cultures of others. Hosts often need help with daily chores such as babysitting, language learning, or even help around the farm. These hosts will often provide free room and board for the assistance they need. There probably is no better way to learn about someone else’s culture than to actually live in their home and experience their daily lives in a real, personal way.

There is no standard agreement between hosts and visitors and the details are arranged between the two. The stays are often considerably longer than the typical one week vacation, but that is how one learns about a culture, through an extended stay. Sound interesting? Visit Workaway to find out more!

One Year Anniversary for our blog!

On March 3, 2014, we began this blog with our very first post: Whirl’d Works Farm – Day One!

In some ways I feel like we haven’t come very far in a year, but in many other ways I know better than that. We’ve established a place on our property where we can live, eat and play safely whenever we have the time to visit. We are also nearly done putting up our pole barn which has been no small feat!

We haven’t had a lot of farming or homesteading content to add to date simply because we have not been living on the farm for more than a weekend or two each month. This is exciting because I have already learned so much from many of you wonderful bloggers out there and know that some day soon there will be a much greater amount of knowledge to gain and share here on the farm.

In spite of the lack of ongoing farm activity here, we have still managed to compose nearly 30 articles. We’ve gained nearly 70 subscribers to our blog and over 30 followers on our FaceBook page.

With activity and anticipation growing at a rapid rate in 2015, we look forward to looking back next year at our blog’s 2nd Anniversary! Thank you for joining us!!

Whirld Wide Wednesday – Homesteading in Chile, South America

Many, many years ago while serving in the United States Navy, I had the opportunity to sail completely around the continent of South America. As you can imagine I saw and experienced a great many things in those many nations. Several of our port calls were in Chile and the memories of that country still ring fresh in my mind. For years I planned to return to Chile sometime after my Navy service.

Of course that dream never came true and while I have no regrets about not making that move, I still think what life might have been like had I actually achieved that dream.

Recently I came across a family that sold everything they owned in the United States and moved to a small homestead in Chile. They have a YouTube channel that explains their decision-making, cultural adaption and a lot about Chile itself. If you would like to learn more about this daring adventure, consider watching and subscribing to their channel:

Chile Expat Family Introduction

Our Pole Barn – Two walls are up

We haven’t been faced with the frigid cold that has gripped much of the country this month so we have been able to take advantage of our weekends to continue working on the barn. The temperature did start to dip a little on Saturday, but we were able to finish the left side wall and get started on the front. On Sunday the temperature really began to fall and it also began to rain lightly as well.

We knew this might be the case so we came prepared with rain gear and mud boots. The weather didn’t stop us and we were able to get the front wall on. We also installed the sliding door, but I chose not to install the door panels. The wind was just to strong and with the walls still missing on two sides I was afraid a good gust of wind could swoop through the barn and damage the yet fully secured door.

Sometimes I wonder why it seems to be taking so long as we are ready for this project to be finished. Then I remember the sweet moments when our toddler son becomes very curious about what is going on and how he can help. We do our best to slow down and let him help as much as we can. He has helped use the drill to drive in many of the screws along the bottom row of the barn and loves to “press the button!”

WhirldWork’s new domain name

© usaskapie We’ve registered our domain name!

Moving forward, you can find our site at:

http://www.whirldworksfarm.com

Please feel free to update any of your bookmarks/links to our site. Please note that it IS NOT necessary to make any changes for your current links to continue working. We have a redirect that will allow anyone still using the old domain (http://www.whirldworksfarm.wordpress.com) to continue using it.

 

Whirld Wide Wednesday – A Farm For the Future

This wonderful documentary examines how a well established farm that has survived several generations must go back in time to restore and enhance some of the more traditional methods of farming in order to survive the demands of the future.

What I found most striking was the comparison in past pictures of the field’s vast biology to recent times as a result of years of plowing up the soil.

Pole Barn Walls Going Up

The pole barn construction continues! The clear and vented ridge went in thus completing roof construction. Just to make certain I hadn’t really goofed on a few dimensions, our son and I put the sliding door together. While the boys were finishing up that chore, my great and talented wife cut and hung the remaining wall girts. To my relief, the sliding door matched up exactly how it was supposed to. Before putting up the walls, it was time for lunch and a nap for some.

We installed the J-Channel trim at the eave and measured the proper distance to allow 1/4″ below the bottom of the wall panels and installed the base trim. The placement and alignment of the first wall panel is crucial. If it is set at any angle other than true plumb, the entire wall will head either uphill or downhill. With great care we set the first panel in position and hoped for the best. Once the second and third panels were installed, it was wonderful to see the constant level line of steel along both the top and bottom of the panels.

Once the third panel was installed, the sun and rain began to fall so it was time to pack up and head back to “real life.”

Beat back the winter blues

© ravasolixShorter days and cabin fever often combine together as a recipe for the winter blues. A time when energy, motivation and happiness can be difficult to produce. Add to that mix a daily dose or two of the unending stream of bad news strumming across the television or internet and one can feel left grasping for anything worth hoping for. Our minds can wander all too quickly to digest upon all the negativity that surrounds us and our outlook of life and humanity will sink to ever new lows. Is there really any hope? Can things really be this bad?

Yes, there are plenty of negative, horrible circumstances and events taking place at this very moment. On the other hand, there are also some absolutely wonderful and beautiful things happening too. While there is no end to the former on the typical news and media outlets, the latter is very much under reported. We can surmise as to the reasons for this unbalanced approach to reporting, but in the end it is what it is. Is there anything that can be done about it? Sure, but it may take a little extra of that hard earned energy to find it. Once you do however, it may just be a surprise to discover the blanket of winter blues has fallen to the floor and the warm rays of sunshine are falling on your face.

It all goes back to that Cherokee legend of the two wolves:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

If you feed only (or mostly) on the negativity this world has to offer, your heart, mind and soul will soak it in until those inputs become the output of your own life. When instead you feed upon the positive things, your heart, mind and soul will reap the healthy benefits of happiness, contentment and joy.

Finding such encouragement and inspiration is a high-risk gamble if you are looking to most main-stream media outlets. Instead, you have to do a little more searching around to find what your mind is seeking. Here are a few sites that I enjoy visiting and I hope you too will find encouragement there. This world is and has been chock-full of violence and mayhem since the fall of man, but God has remained steadfast and at work this many millennia. His grace, mercy and love are not that hard to find if you really want to see it.

SunnySkyz

Our Daily Good News

Daily Good

Good News Network

Huffington Post: Good News

Aside from developing a regular habit of trading bad news for good, consider turning off the television one or more evenings a week and sit down with a good book. It may be a daunting challenge to find a really good book that is worth your hard-earned money, but they are out there. Ask your friends, colleagues, librarians and so on what books of an inspirational nature they’ve read or heard about. You can also visit our WhirldWorks eStore as we will continually seek out good sources of positivity.

Remember that while bad things are happening around us, bad things have always been around; but also that good things happen every single day and God smiles upon those that seek to rise above the fray.

A new year and a new barn

We decided to start 2015 off on the right foot and have already begun our transition to life on the farm. The first order of business is to put up a 20×20 barn for storage and eventual housing of livestock. I spent many hours in December trying to figure out what type of structure to build, and decided a pole barn was the right choice for us. I’m no construction engineer or designer and after several attempts to decide for myself what I needed to buy, the decision was made to order a building kit from Hansen Pole Buildings. Their staff was friendly and helpful in guiding us to the right choice of style and materials.

Perhaps I was a bit naive to think I could put this thing up almost exclusively by myself in just a week. I didn’t achieve that goal, but here is a recap of the first week of construction:

DAY ONE:

Stuck before the work begins! I drove through the gate and made it about 100 feet onto the property when suddenly my truck sank into the rain saturated mud. I tried to dig it out and  put blocks under the tires, but everything I did seemed to make the situation even worse. I ended up swallowing my pride and paid a tow service to come out and winch my truck to safety.

DAY TWO:

I had set up the batter boards on a previous weekend, so all I had to do was verify that everything was still square and I began digging the holes for the 4×6 columns. The hand auger, which is a dream to use in dry conditions, struggled more than I expected in the saturated earth. I could get down about 2 feet quite easily, but when I hit the wet clay layer, it became much more difficult. Because my hand auger only cuts a 7 inch hole, I had to widen each one by ten inches with a shovel after the depth was reached.

This process was only supposed to take a little more than half the day, but it pretty much consumed the entire 39 degree day. I’m thankful for the cooler weather because those holes gave me a workout! Once all the holes were dug, I filled them 6 inches deep with hand-mixed concrete.

There were a few work delays throughout the day as trucks began to arrive with our building supplies. All but the steel shipment arrived on time, but more on that later.

DAY THREE:

Welcomed by another cold morning, I set to work setting the column posts in position. It was no easy task as each pole weighed around 100 pounds. Getting them upright, plumb and level was a chore that took the entire day. Our dog enjoyed watching me struggle all day and as much as I wanted his help, he was content to roll around in the grass and look at me.

DAY FOUR:

The morning was spent pouring concrete into the holes and making sure everything remained plumb. Because my truck had sunk in the mud on the first day, I had to unload it half way between the gate and the barn. I had planned to use our garden tractor to truck the concrete to the barn, but was hit with another setback…flat tires on the tractor. This meant loading an 80 pound bag of cement into the wheelbarrow and carting it to the barn, then mixing it there. I did this over a dozen times that day and was glad when it was over. The poles were set just before the sun began to sink below the horizon. I had really had enough sleeping in the cold, so I went home for the night to kiss my wife and youngest son…after a hot shower of course!

DAY FIVE:

I recruited our oldest son to come out with me and we got right to work putting soil back into the holes over the concrete and tamping it down. The next step was to get the skirting boards on straight, level and even. With my primitive set of tools this proved near impossible. I ended up buying a laser level and it helped tremendously in getting the boards to come out right. Following that it was time to notch the columns so we could install the trusses.

Now, back to that late steel delivery…I had lined up several friends for Monday or Tuesday to help me unload nearly a ton of steel, but the truck never came. It was on day five that I got a call the truck would be there about 2:30pm. I called all my friends and they had gotten busy over the course of the week and couldn’t make it out. Here I was at 2:15 and only me and my son to unload all that metal. My anxiety was getting pretty high…then…my son said, “Look, a tractor.” I told him it was quite normal to see a tractor come down our road now and then. But then he said, “Why is he trying to get into our gate?” I turned and saw a local farmer who a month previously I had struck a deal with to mow down our pasture so he could grow hay on our land. He just happened to show up 15 minutes before the steel arrived driving a tractor with forklifts! God is good, ALL THE TIME!

DAY SIX:

On day six, I had two wonderful friends come out to help with the trusses as I knew this was not a job I could tackle alone. Thankfully one of them has a great deal of construction background and he was instrumental in figuring out how to get those 20 foot wide, 3 foot tall trusses into the skinny notches 9 feet in the air. We got all of them into place and braced everything off for the night.

DAY SEVEN:

The sun shined down upon us as we spent the day installing the roof purlins. It was here I discovered a grand error on my part. Mainly due to the fact that I do not come from a construction background and am not used to reading drawings, I realized that the end trusses were level with the center truss. This was a big mistake as the purlins were supposed to install flush with the top of the center truss and extend over the end trusses for a 12 inch overhang. My mental gears began to grind trying to figure a way out of this mess. Finally I decided I would just install the purlins from truss to truss and then build out the 12 inch overhang on the external side of the end trusses. It will remain to be seen how well this does or does not work, but it was the only solution I could come up with. I doubt anything could go wrong though as our youngest son was a great supervisor. He even picked up a tool or two to help.

While I installed all the purlins, my wonderful wife cut and fit the first half of the side girts. At the end of the day it was time to clean up and return to the real world. We’ll be back to finish it up soon!

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