Our little hobby farm is on 22 hilly acres in southwestern Pennsylvania. One year in, and we’re still just getting going. The biggest challenge has been setting aside time to work on our to-do list. We’re thousands of miles away from the farm for much of the year, so we try to account for that by scheduling travel though the area whenever possible. This year we were able to sneak out for a week in March to tap the maple trees, then come back in May to get the gardens turned over and planted.

Late summer is very busy on the farm, so we try to spend most of August and September locally.

Over the past year, we were lucky enough to cross these items off the list:

  • Turn over one acre of land to start our garden.
  • Plant that garden full of veggies.
  • Clear out a couple acres of poison ivy and non-native Japanese honeysuckles and multiflora roses.
  • Clear out a mile-long hiking/jogging path through the forest. The path weaves through the property, up to the top of the ridge, then back down again.
  • Harvest and bag over 100 pounds of native black walnuts for use in all types of recipes over winter
  • Build a hen house and raise a dozen Buff Orpington chicks up to laying hens.
  • Clear out the stream which feeds the small pond on the property, which is loaded with fish, crawdads and toads. The water turns over more frequently now and should help the fish get bigger!
  • Revive two very old apples trees, make pies with the apples and jar up apple pie filling with the rest.
  • Start a new bee hive to help with pollination of the fields and fruit bushes and trees.
  • Tap the native red maples and make maple syrup. More boiling than with sugar maples but the syrup is every bit as delicious.
  • Install a security camera to keep an eye on the chickens at night. We’re working on an simple app that will interface with an SBC to allow us to automate some of the coop chores – from locking the doors to turning on the heat lamp. It can even alert us if one of the hens hasn’t come into the coop to roost at dusk, so we can ask a neighbor to check on her. All while 3000 miles away!
  • Planted the first row of ever-bearing black raspberry plants. Lots more fruit trees and vines to go in as we have time.
  • Clear out a long grass loop so the kids can safely ride the go karts and minibikes.
  • Start several self-reseeding wildflower gardens that should help attract lots of pollinating bees for years to come!