I began my internship at the Full Life Farm in Carrollton, GA three weeks ago with a tour of the farm and what the owners (Paul and Terra) wanted to accomplish in the winter, preparing for house-building before spring arrived. I received an overview of the chickens and goats and the proper procedures to feed each if the other interns were unable to attend to the feedings and care while the owners were away on a winter vacation.
They returned earlier this week and settled in. My first day is today, and the day begins bitingly cold, what I usually refer to as “New York cold.” It is indeed that cold, near 6 or 9 degrees Fahrenheit, with or without a wind chill. I walked from the farm where I am staying a half-mile away, leaving mid morning dressed in work clothes but not nearly enough to prevent my fingers and toes from growing colder and colder. The walk to the farm felt like I had stepped back in time. There was no sound but for people working on adjacent farms and dogs barking to let the world know they were protecting goats, chickens and other farm animals.
Cold or not, work has to be done on a farm to ready as much as possible for the coming seasons. I spent the morning cutting up wood that could not be used for anything but firewood, extremely necessary if this winter cold continues. These were already cut strips as well as smaller and larger logs. Admittedly, this was my first time cutting wood with a chainsaw but not the first time using yard and garden maintenance tools. The cold made it more challenging, however.
While this is farming on a small scale with significant gardening, weather permitting; it’s also homesteading, albeit a modern version of it, using modern tools and technologies to accomplish what couldn’t be before. It’s surviving and thriving on your land, growing and preserving your own grown foods to sustain a healthy lifestyle throughout the year.
The afternoon warmed up significantly and I spent my time helping Paul with another garden a half-mile away, clearing away underbrush from a makeshift greenhouse to prepare for its return to Full Life Farm at a later date. I cleared the cages and trellises used for tomatoes that had died at the end of their annual lives so that they could be stored until spring. Additionally, I asked many questions and properly began my education in homesteading, discussing the plants that had been planted but didn’t survive the freeze over the last few weeks and the straw that had been utilized for insulation on some low lying plants. It works as a makeshift solution in a pinch and saved a few plants but it didn’t save everything.
While a few months of an internship is not nearly long enough to properly learn how to start my own farm, this is a beginning and I will continue learning as much as possible after the semester is over and into next year regarding the proper seasons to plant, to grow, and to harvest. Come spring and there will be modified cob houses and cob* ovens to be built (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cob_%28material%29). This is why I am here: To learn as much as possible to do it myself later and to feed an insatiable appetite of curiosity.
*Once spring comes and the cob building starts, I will post additional links to cob blogs that I follow for those that are interested.