If you had told me where I would be right now going into 2020, I would have laughed you out of town. That's pretty fair I think as earlier today I sat on a semi retired 4* horse, pregnant with kiddo #2 watching kiddo #1 canter around on her own pony.
The whole of it all is mind-blowing.
Waaaaay back in December 2009, David and I were both just graduating with degrees from the University of Florida. Our wedding was planned for June 2010 and we both had fledgling careers in our respective fields lined up and ready to go.
Thanks to my undergraduate advisor, for whom I am forever grateful, I canned my thoughts about a masters degree and decided to get on with life and follow my "dreams".
Work started, David and I married in June and together, we jumped off the deep end of life.
By the end of 2011, my job as a marketing manager was winding down and I was gearing up to start my own business. Enter Copperfield Farm LLC.
We started Copperfield with the vision of all things horses and went forward full throttle from there. I was actively competing and training over a dozen client and personal horses, loving every minute. Teaching also took up a good bit of my time. It was amazing!!
April 2013 kiddo #1 made her debut and life took another major shift.
In our first three years of marriage, we "rented" a 1920's cracker house in need of upkeep. Let me tell you, it was less than glamorous - no central heat or AC (ugh!), quirky, ancient wiring and equally as aged plumbing. It was barely a step above camping. The glory of that, however, was multi fold - it enabled us to save, taught us a lot about each other (for better or worse, Haha!), taught us many valuable lessons about property ownership and tested our ingenuity.
In any case, with a kiddo on the way, we needed a safer house which brought us to our current farm. Oh and by the way, we bought it out of a foreclosure situation and aside from the house, the rest of the place hadn't been touched in ages!!! Yehaw.
So, there I was, 7 months pregnant, mowing, hacking weeds, bleaching and digging out a filthy barn and tearing out random bug and vermin infested small structures. It was awesome. Thankfully, the house was more or less turn-key. Whew.
Eldest Kiddo arrived and within two weeks, we had our first boarder join us at the farm. Sometimes I wonder why those first daring clients put their faith in my humble barn, but they did and it was the beginning of a great business that I grew for the next five and a half years.
Part of the value in our new farm was the fact we were also able to enter into a five year lease with an adjacent property. In 2018, that lease expired and caused yet another shift that required us to step away from the boarding and training business altogether.
To be completely honest, it was and is a good change as I needed to recalibrate. One of the biggest learning curves to owning your own operation is how much time and flat physical labor it really takes. Burn out? It's real. Profit margin? Pretty much non existent in the horse business. It may look glamorous, but the reality is rather different when you are in charge.
So, now as we enter into 2020, I have a bare minimum of clients, and the chance to refocus on why I ride and keep horses in the first place. The "career" aspect is venturing off in another direction almost entirely.
The plan for the next ten years is to play an active role in educating (homeschooling!?) my own two children, staying focused on my riding and the interests of the kiddos, and developing a working life with my husband around those broad spectrum goals.
Easy peasy. :)
With the dawn of a new decade it seems appropriate to talk goals. I don't really get into the "resolutions" thing, but instead aim for more of a checklist with steady improvement being the target. So, our farm oriented goals for 2020 look something like this...
1. Add more poultry. Much of our flock is on the aged side, so it's time to add some new cluckers to the crew. I've also had the hankering for some time for a solid flock of "guard" geese. If you have ever been chased by a ticked off goose, you know why these feathered creatures are nearly better security than any dog or donkey.
2. Learn this amazing Leclerc loom. Back in October, I found a great deal on a Leclerc floor loom. We brought it home, unloaded it and it has sat sentry in my living room daring me to start warping it since then. Definitely a conversation piece, but one that needs to be more functional.
3. Promote our Angora rabbit fiber. Last summer, we invested in a pair of English Angora does with the intent of harvesting their wool for marketing to spinners and other fiber enthusiasts. They are glorious little creatures if you like an overwhelming amount of fluffy, functional cuteness. Fluff aside, they produce some amazing garden compost too! Secondary goal with them is to expand the rabbitry as we start earning sales.
4. Have a successful goat kidding season. We finally bred our Nubian does to our junior Nubian buck and look forward to our first kidding season about early April. If all goes well, we expect to be enjoying all the benefits of fresh goats milk in 2020 and will have some lovely kids for sale.
5. Get that garden growing! Our winter garden is well underway, but we have three more large semi-raised beds to revamp and cultivate for the coming season. This will take a lot of elbow grease, but I can't wait to enjoy all the benefits of fresh, homegrown organic produce and cut flowers with a better plan for the 2020-21 growing season.
6. Homeschool 2020-21. This is a biggie for us! After lots of consideration, homeschooling seems the best way forward for us. We lead a rather unique horsing/homesteading/working lifestyle and I can only think the Kiddo's education will flourish being made more a part of that environment than a traditional classroom. Wish us luck!
7. Join our local Farmers Market. For years we have enjoyed the benefits of shopping our local farmers market, but this year I would like to take it to the next level and become a vendor ourselves. Our vegetables, free range eggs and cut flowers aside, I see lots of opportunity to capitalize on our artistic talents and take the opportunity to utilize materials (lumber, architectural reclaim, paper crafting, jewelry making etc.) we've had stashed for years.
These are the "Big Goals" so to speak. We won't even discuss (now) all the peripheral small goals around the house and with the horses that will keep us going too. What's that thing about no rest for the weary? So, onwards y'all! Here's to 2020!
Hey there! I'm Katie. This blog was launched in 2019 to help other families in their horse-ing, small farming, and homeschooling endeavors. Join us on this amazing journey!
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Please note, these are experiences that have worked for us and do not represent the opinions, knowledge etc. of a professional. Please view full disclaimer here.