A Chick named Tiny. Starting a Microfarm with Strawbale Gardening. Building a Tiny Home. (Sensing a trend here?)
It all started: January 3rd — the day Sean broke his ankle.
His family had just left town for the New Year holiday, and we headed out to ski/ride. One loud POP and a failed attempt at a hand plant, Sean landed himself in the Urgent Care. The first doc didn’t see anything problematic on the X-ray, and so Sean implemented a lot of rest and relaxation, thinking things would be fine.
Long story short, Sean snowboarded on a broken ankle (even believing it was healing while in Iceland) until he went back into the doc and had it re-X-rayed, and was told nope — fracture was indeed large enough to warrant a cast for 6 weeks, followed by 6 weeks of PT, following by the possibility of surgery. Our grand plans of taking our annual trip to backcountry ski/ride Norway were crushed.
At this point, one could truly believe Sean’s season was over, and there was nothing good to come out of the next few months, other than planning next season’s adventures and dreaming of life out of a cast.
But here is The Busby Hive mantra: Outcomes in life are entirely dependent on our perception of the problem. In having an open mind, we may find that the “problem” is not really a problem at all, but rather the exact solution we’ve been looking for.
If Sean sat around feeling sorry for himself for three months — which he certainly did for a short while — it would have been a pretty miserable spring. But he didn’t wallow for long. He decided as long as we were grounded to Montana (the problem), we might as well lay down some serious roots in the process, and start a Micro Farm (positive outcome).
Since I’m on board with anything that includes baby animals and fresh fruits and veggies, a Micro Farm seemed to be a great idea. We got ourselves our first round (18 of 32) of baby chicks and ducks of all colors and breeds which in a few months from now, will start laying a beautiful assortment of colorful eggs!
Although you’re supposed to always pick out the chicks that look the most strong and healthy, I picked “the little guy” from a litter of Buff Orphingtons. Aptly, she was named, Tiny and has become more of a pet than anything else. She’s the only chick who will allow Sean to pick her up and hold her without creating a fuss!
Then there were ducks. Because… well, look at the baby ducks. Bonus that they’re great for fertilizing and de-pesting the garden because they don’t mow down onto the plants as much as chickens would.
For the garden, we opted for Strawbale Gardening. Essentially, if you don’t have pre-tilled, beautiful soil, you’ve got to make a massive investment in your land before the veggies even go into the ground. But with a micro-farm and especially using straw bales (which provide a sort of “happy, healthy compost bed” for the plants to thrive in), it allows for the gardner to be efficient and relatively pest free, when compared to veggies in the ground, and then recycle the bales after the season into compost, which then becomes the soil fertilizer for the following season. Recycling at its best!
First Sean had to build the garden from materials around the property (with lots of fencing to keep our local family of deer from snagging treats and an electric bear fence), and then he put in rows with trellises for the straw bales.
Then it was my turn: Conditioning the bales (which I just finished doing this past weekend). This process — especially because we opted for organic conditioning, takes 12 days initially, and then the bales sit for an extra 5 days before planting so the bales cool down and the baby seed starts we’ve been cultivating don’t get burned/killed in the planting process.
Conditioning is basically putting a bunch of nitrogen rich fertilizer on the bales, and keeping them wet and warm (upwards of 140 degrees!) so that the bales start to break down and compost to create a healthy home for plants. You can imagine with over 10 bags of organic fertilizer over here, the scent wafting through the area is… nothing short of delightful (It smells like shit – *thankfully temporarily* ). We intend on planting a few things next week, but the majority during the week of May 16th.
The final component for this summer’s “TINY” adventure is a guesthouse for family/visitors and farmhands on the property. If you know us, you know we’re going to need help with this latest adventure… and while we’re all about hosting people in the yurt, sometimes personal space can be a beautiful thing when you’re living tiny.
We broke ground this past weekend on this new part of our property. Our consultant, Ted Krueger, is a friend here in town who knows a zillion and one things about building homes, but also specializes in permaculture and fusing your living space with your growing space… we have been learning so much from watching and assisting him through this process — it’s going to be a fun-filled summer on The Busby Hive farm and as first time farmers!
We are so grateful for Jim Atkinson of j Designs for our beautiful rendering. Total, the square footage of the house (not including the outdoor living space) will be slightly over 400 square feet. (Yes, that includes the top story!)