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Summer is a Busy Time on an Urban Farm

Updated on June 10, 2016

A Bit Unusual

I’ve gotten away from writing articles about urban farming. Usually I just write my farming blog and that’s that, but someone asked the other day if I would write another article so here I am.

Truth be told I’m very short on time right now, and that’s because of a variety of reasons, the chief of which is that summer is a busy time on an urban farm.

How busy?

VEGGIES

We just finished the planting this past weekend. I know, I know, we’re late, but oh well. We had about half of it done already and now it’s all in the ground so there you go.

We never got the greenhouse up. Again, we were just too busy, but we did experiment with hay bale gardening, which you can see in the picture, and so far that technique has been very successful.

Truthfully, planting vegetables is an after-thought for us. Our main area of interest on this farm is berry-growing and quail, so the vegetables get whatever time we have left after we tend to our main loves.

Hay bale gardening
Hay bale gardening | Source

The Front Yard

We are lucky to live in a city (Olympia, Washington) which allows homeowners to grow vegetables and fruit in their front yards. Last year we made the decision to get rid of our lawn and grow berries, and we are almost there. We have the entire front yard covered with cardboard and hay, and we have about 90% of the yard planted with different varieties of berries. Some are already bearing fruit. The rest will bear next summer.

I have mowed my last lawn and I can’t tell you how good it feels to say that. I’ve been mowing lawns since, well, for over fifty years. When I was a teen mowing the lawn I considered it a colossal waste of time and I still feel that way. Now our front yard produces fruit, and that fruit will be shared with the community, and ain’t that just too cool? When was the last time you shared your lawn with your neighbors? Exactly!

THE FARMYARD ANIMALS

We currently have over one-hundred quail in the aviaries and over one-hundred in the brooders in the garage. We have twelve chickens, ten rabbits and our two newest additions, running ducks.

Running ducks are hilarious!

As their name suggests, running ducks do not fly. They run! And talk about cheap entertainment…it is worth the price of admission to watch them run around the backyard. We got them and four silky chickens at the same time, as babies, so now those four chickens consider the ducks to be family and where the ducks are the chickens are close by, and it is too adorable.

Killing the lawn in the front yard
Killing the lawn in the front yard | Source
Our farm stand
Our farm stand | Source

Making Money

A month ago I built a farm stand for the front yard, and every Saturday now I sell quail eggs (and chicken eggs when available) from that stand. In addition we sell eggs and quail using Craigslist for advertising, and also sell quail at the Garden and Farm Center nearby. The business is growing and we are encouraged by our success so far this spring.

I also just started going around to restaurants, drumming up business for the eggs, and we are close to securing our first customers that way. Quail are considered a delicacy here in the States, so we can charge what the market allows, which is six bucks a dozen which I still find amazing for miniature eggs but oh well, I’m not arguing with it at all. Bev’s oldest son has a small farm, and he and his wife raise goats and make goat cheese, which they sell at farmer’s markets….anyway, they are going to sell our eggs at the markets along with their cheese, or at least they say they will, maybe, maybe not, we’ll see.

It’s all good!

AND THEN SOMEONE ASKED

“Good God, Bill, where do you get your energy and work ethic?” And in truth the work ethic comes from my parents, but it also comes from a need that runs deep inside of me. You see, I’m a compulsive-obsessive personality, and many of you know I’m an alcoholic with ten years of sobriety, so taking on a task like this is my way of staying busy and keeping my brain occupied. I’d rather do this than drink myself into oblivion, so there you go! For me, this urban farm is self-survival, as is writing.

Running ducks not running!
Running ducks not running! | Source
Incubators and brooders in the garage
Incubators and brooders in the garage | Source
One of three aviaries outside
One of three aviaries outside | Source

What’s Next?

Well, next weekend I’m building a grape arbor that will span the patio, and then I turn my attention to the pond I’ll be installing for the ducks. Ooh, and I want to try my hand at growing red worms…or is that raising red worms? Anyway, I want to bond with those squiggly little buggers, so wish me luck.

I also have to call on more restaurants to see if I can get more egg business, and then there is…..

Well, then it will be time to get ready for winter, which always brings a new set of problems and needs, but it’s all a labor of love so there you have it.

THE THING IS

Bottom line: Bev and I believe in the urban farm movement. We think it is crucial that Americans learn to return to their roots. We think it’s better for the environment and we think the economy is demanding that we do so for economic survival. We believe that urban farms promote community and we believe strong community ties help everyone in the long run.

A green lawn has never done any of that stuff!

Do we make a difference?

I read a fascinating book a couple months ago titled “No Impact Man.” It was written by a guy named Colin Beavan and it chronicles his attempt to live an entire year, in Manhattan, having zero impact on the environment.

After the experiment, Mr. Beavan came to several conclusions. He states that he believes it is practically impossible for any citizen living in an industrialized society to have zero environmental impact. The amount of negative effect we all have is stunning, in fact, and would be depressing if we actually gave it some thought.

He also concluded that even if every citizen in the United States managed, somehow, to live a “no impact” lifestyle, it really wouldn’t have much effect on the world or the environment simply because there are about six billion people who have to impact the environment just to survive, which leads one to conclude that my meager efforts at urban farming are a complete waste of time.

I refuse to believe that! To believe that is to give up, and I don’t have an ounce of “give up” in me.

We have to try!

We have to give a shit!

Do you really want to live in a world where nobody gives a damn?

I read somewhere the other day that 62% of Americans don’t know how to change a tire on their car. I find that amazing and depressing. I also read that 85% of Americans prefer to buy GMO food at a cheaper price than organic food at a higher price. I find that depressing and demoralizing.

Great change begins with a small group of determined people.

That is my hope!

So That’s Where We Are at This Moment

You can find us in Olympia, Washington, on our urban farm, giving a shit.

In the end, our little social experiment may not have any positive consequences on society, but it makes us feel better for trying.

Anyway, I have to get going. Summer is, after all, a busy time on an urban farm.

If you’re ever in the area, stop by and say howdy. And feel free to eat some of those berries out front.

2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 11 months ago from Southern Illinois

      You write like a happy man, doing what you love and that's to be commended. Thank you for sharing. I likes all the photos. Running ducks are new to me. Good luck with all your endeavor's. You inspire us all to do and live better, saving our planet, one step at a time...

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Aw thanks, Ruby! I'm just a simple guy with simple pleasures and philosophies.....I appreciate your very kind words.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 11 months ago

      I love your enthusiasm and love for what you are doing. It's all very inspiring and important to me.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, I honestly don't know how you get it all done, but it sounds like you're happy doing it. I love running ducks. The first time I saw them at the Puyallup Fair I thought they looked like bowling pins. I hope the egg business goes well for you. I would never have thought of selling eggs to upscale restaurants but I think you have a real niche there.

      Thank you for sharing another glimpse of your farm with us. Time to get off this chair and start working--you've inspired me.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Pop! It's easy to be enthusiastic about something you love, and we do love our animals and birds.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks so much, Linda! We are still learning as we stumble along but I do think, in time, we will have a nice secondary income from the eggs.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 11 months ago from USA

      Whew! Your energy level in a day is probably more than mine in a year.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, that's what happens when you realize your days are numbered. :) it will happen to you too

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 11 months ago from Nibiru

      Is that a racoon tail i see there in the first pic?

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 11 months ago from United States

      I really enjoyed this Bill and it reminded me of my roots, as well. In Georgia farming and growing our own crops was a way of life. Thanks for the nice memories. Great work my friend. whonu

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 11 months ago from Hereford, AZ

      Enjoyable article. I have quail running wild in my back yard. Those and the rabbits keep my dogs occupied. I put piles of brush and mesquite trees that I have cut down into piles in the back part of my 4 acres for them to hide from the dogs. The dogs can't get to them if they run there. I have to have raised beds for my plants because the rabbits will eat them if they are lower. I am getting some of them built, but the wood is expensive so it is taking a while. I have one in the front with roses in it. I have another one for vegetables in the back and I am building one next week for herbs. I have a bunch of pots on the porches with all of my herbs in them. I also have tomatoes in some buckets alongside the back porch.I do not have lawn at all, because you have to water everything you want to grow here. I have to mow the bunch grass to help protect from wild fires. I have thought about getting some goats or a cow to keep the grass down, but would not want to buy hay to feed them during the winter. I think a cow would keep it down and be able to munch on it all winter, but not sure how a cow and the dogs would get along. One of them is a herding dog and might try to herd it so much that it would not be able to eat. They did that with some sheep that a neighbor brought over until he could get them located where he wanted them.

      My son comes out and does that and helps me with the garden. He has a bunch of fruits and vegetables in his yard in town. He grows enough that he passes some on to me. I can, he does not. I also have a chest freezer and he does not.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 11 months ago from Oklahoma

      Sorry to say I didn't get anything planted this year. Love hearing about your adventures in agriculture, though.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 11 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Really cool man. I got a peaceful easy feeling reading this. Partly because you never let me down.

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 11 months ago from Europe

      I love your writings about this issue. We like to farm as well, in the kind of proportions as you are doing, that is to say without the quail. Keep it rollin', Bill. You're doing a great job!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 11 months ago from southern USA

      A berry-laden front yard ...wow, that sounds divine in my mind! I remember growing up and our backyard backed up to woods and plenty of wild blackberries to pick. Then came the construction and away went the lovely woods and berries. However, your article here proves that we can still have our berries no matter! What is the purpose of the cardboard?

      Thank you for sharing the lovely update on your urban farm. I remember reading of Rebecca on Sunnybrook Farm, and now we have our own, Bill and Bev and the Urban Farm.

      The temperature was 96 yesterday here ...

      Peace and blessings always

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 11 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great stuff and urban farming is an opportunity to survive and to teach others more on how to not forget their roots.

    • kimbesa2 profile image

      kimbesa 11 months ago from USA

      Sounds like you are doing very well, and having a good time with your farm and poultry! I'm old enough to remember a time when lots of people had something going on in the back yard, and glad to see those times returning.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 11 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Loved your post because its very inspiring. I must find out if we have an urban farm movement in the Western Cape - Cape Town . Loved the photo of your farm stall. Do you have passing trade? We tried using our bottom room of our home against the mountain, that we call the Wisdom Cave for selling books, then we made it into a library, ( it has a small kitchen and bathroom facilities, then a community venue for Clovelly. Now its used by a friend who works on her online business because of the WiFi and she sleeps there 4 days in the week. We do not charge any rent because we go through that section into our own home. Now and then she and her 16 year old cooks for us all in our kitchen and they work in our garden...The best arrangement we ever made.

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 11 months ago from Florida

      This was very interesting and fun to read. You are a busy bee I see. :) I'm so glad your urban farm is flourishing with wealth as far as product and finance. That's exciting! Best of luck to you and Bev as you continue to find ways to live simple and happy. That's what life is all about. :)

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 11 months ago from United Kingdom

      A gentleman farmer, a writer, savvy businessman, environmental activist, a modern-day renaissance man. Is there anything you can't do? lol

      Bill, I am impressed. You've accomplished so much in a short amount of time. Well done, my friend. Well done.

      Although you've done away with the lawn, you've put the space to good use. Our next-door neighbour got rid of his lawn and replaced it with wooden decking. His backyard is ugly and soulless now. Sure there's less work but there is also less nature. So sad.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 11 months ago from sunny Florida

      You and Bev are pioneers...farming is lot of work...grew up on a small farm (15 acres or so) by comparison that is small and it was a 24/7, 365 proposition. But we always had great "stuffs" to eat and much to share as well.

      And we had chickens and geese and goats and hogs...the geese loved to chase me around the yard.

      I know of the fun you must be having even though there is much work involved...there is something so very good for the soul about growing things. My growing is limited to a ton of plants which bring me that great feeling of being a part of the earth's rhythm or some such really grand feeling. I wish that I could receive some of your foods from your efforts but will enjoy just by hearing of it. Once again the tireless Angels are headed to you and Bev. Shared all over ps

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Clive no, that's the handle to a tool. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Whonu, always good to have you stop by. Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for sharing all that, Becky! Getting a cow or a goat is a huge commitment, one we haven't been willing to take on for the exact reason you gave. They are eating machines and they cost money in the winter.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, Larry, good Lord willin' there's always next year.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, me and the Eagles....LOL...thanks my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Buildreps...I would love to have some acreage, but then I'd be so busy I wouldn't be able to write. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, you keep those temperatures right there, thank you very much. I love hot weather as long as all I do is read about it. LOL

      blessings and thanks, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you DDE...where there is a will there is a way.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad too, Kimbesa...I think this movement is gaining momentum and it makes me happy. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Nadine, that sounds like a fantastic trade to me. Well done! Yes, we have passing trade, and it is increasing with every new week.

      Always good to hear from you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Missy, thank you so much. It took two years to reach this point, and there is much work ahead, but hard work has never frightened me.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Zulma, there is a ton of stuff I can't do....for instance, I can't dance. Of course, the chickens don't care about that, so there you go. LOL

      A deck? What a waste of wood.

      I hope you had a wonderful weekend, Zulma. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, I totally agree....this is good for my soul and we love it. I don't know if I could handle fifteen acres but I'd love to find out. LOL

      hugs and blessings heading eastward.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 11 months ago from Cape Cod

      This article is just like you Bill - a treasure. Nuff ced.

    • Anne Harrison profile image

      Anne Harrison 11 months ago from Australia

      About to build the chook shed, and am thinking of getting quail (we had a few once before) - once more your hubs inspire me, thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so very much, Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Anne, I'm so happy to hear that. Best of luck with those quail and thank you!

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 11 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      My wife and I recently stayed for over a week on a hobby farm (8 acres) an hour's drive from Kalamazoo. We loved it. They have 2 dogs; 9 hen chickens of various breeds that produce lots of eggs; 1 rooster; an artificial pond with bluegill, bass, frogs, and turtles; a beehive; a vegetables and berries garden, and a grapes garden. Soon they will get goats whose hair they will spin into yarn. The fields are native grasses and wildflowers. Beyond the fields are woods. There are many wild birds. It was a joy being there.

      Several homes in our neighborhood have front yard gardens that attractively mix flowers, herbs, and vegetables.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Brian, I would be in heaven if I had a large pond. My goodness, I would never leave my property if I had acreage, and just imagine the number of critters I could have. Sigh! Something to shoot for. Thanks for fueling my daydreams today.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 11 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I have gotten way too busy with teaching (administrative duties - my least favorite) and I seldom take time for HP. Today I did and what a refreshing delight to find your most recent urban farm piece. Loved it. Back to grading - my summer class just started. See you on the Scrabble, no, Words with Friends battlefield. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Theresa, you are wearing me out with that schedule of yours....I hope you can take time to smell the proverbial roses. :) Thanks my friend!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 11 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, you ARE making an impact, for everyone that buys your eggs and believes in what you are doing is like minded. Everyone that reads Life at Boomer Lake believes in me and my cause. There are many good causes out there that a lot of folks believe in and support. There have been a lot of petitions and a lot of changes. After all, not everyone wants to eat GMOs, and we ARE making an impact.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 11 months ago

      I enjoyed reading your article, so refreshing to visualize the farm! I am one who will pay more for organic, natural foods -- yes, I get laughed at for this but I like to think I am much better off. Hope you get your quail egg business off and running soon.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I believe that also, Deb, but it was nice to hear you say it for confirmation. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dee! I love that you are willing to pay more for organic. I, for one, am not laughing. As for the quail egg business, we've hit a snag. More later.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 11 months ago from Shelton

      urban farming is hard work, but I can feel how relaxing it makes you feel as per this hub.. bless you :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you kindly, Frank! I do find it very relaxing but then, this is a small farm. I doubt I'd say that with twenty acres. LOL

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 11 months ago

      Encouraging and uplifting article pointing to the roots where the happiness, health and joy of the living begins. Bill and Bev have chosen perfect direction toward total prosperity.You my friend have noticed by now stabilizing of your physical health, for simple reasons such as touching/working with dirt/soil cooperating with the nature, accomplishing tasks always "now" for the next is coming-up , besides you would be running out of time to entertain some illness or God forbid to take time for doctor visit due to boring pain. In my busy life working with 'dirty hands',"impacting'' everyone I come in contact with is proving that many people are teachable and willing to imitate your idea of planting and harvesting. . .

      (It would be sad scene to witness number of population starving themselves to death when trucks cease delivering to superstores and electricity would be three months or so unavailable. Just my first hand experience of ww2 survivability.)

      Sighing.

      May you continue to be blessed and a blessing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael my friend, you bring up some interesting points and beliefs, which I happen to share. I think this type of lifestyle is important and I do think it has health benefits. Thank you for sharing and may blessings follow you throughout your day.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 11 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Well my friend, you sure do have your hands full with a lot of things. Lovely pictures. I'd love to do some home farming myself, and, in fact do, with whatever little space I have.

      This read reminded me of the fascinating time I had at the farm growing vegetables and flowers, and raising chickens.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Rajan, it is a labor of love, for sure, emphasis on labor and love. LOL We do enjoy it even though it keeps us quite busy.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 10 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      I've missed these hubs, I'm really glad to be catching up with the urban farm and where you folks are at.

      That's good news on the quail eggs. Over here normal free range eggs go for about that price in the supermarket (we tend to go for the 'barn raised').

      Great to catch up on 'the farm'

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Lawrence. You are welcome on our farm any old day, my friend.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 10 months ago from Central Florida

      Bill, it seems you and Bev have taken the 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today. Your dreams and inspiration have transformed into a way of life for the two of you. Kudos on ya, my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, we're trying. We keep making mistake after mistake, but we bounce back and get it right eventually. Thank you and yes, the Shuttle was, in part, inspired by my desire to have a self-sustaining farm. Good call!

    • Happymommy2520 profile image

      Amy 9 months ago from East Coast

      I have started small in my gardening, I am starting to think about what I am planting for the Fall. Your article has inspired me to do some seed shopping today. I used to live in Port Orchard Washington when my husband was in the Navy, it's one of the most beautiful states. Good luck!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Happymommy! Thanks for taking the time to visit. I've found that once people visit this area, it will always rank as one of the most beautiful states to them. We are lucky here for sure.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 4 months ago from London, UK

      Wow! A lot of work must have gone into that and the land is huge but it's so worth it. Healthy and organic. Well done!

      As much as it's hard work, I'm guessing you find it therapeutic. :-)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I do find it therapeutic, Lady E. I love animals and that, I think, is the key. It's good to hear from you again. Thank you, Happy New Year, and blessings to you always.

    • Athlyn Green profile image

      Athlyn Green 5 weeks ago from West Kootenays

      It is such a blessing to have a yard to grow things in or raise animals in. I find myself always feeling so peaceful when out in my yard amongst natural things.

      Lucky you! Luscious berries. I hope you are making pies and jams and all those good things.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Athlyn, you can bet we will be making pies this fall. We should have more berries than we know what to do with. :) Thank you!

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