My husband bought us two yearling horses in 2011. We'd just relocated from 15 years on the east coast, back to the Eastern Oregon mountain valley I grew up in. We were living with my parents, and boarding the horses 40 miles away. We dreamed of a day when we could find a small acreage and bring them to live with us. That happened in the spring of 2013 when we happened upon a new listing for 5 acres in Union. I loved the house, and could see potential in the rest of the property. It would take work as it had been used for a completely different purpose than what we intended.

Here's what we started with...
Our Homestead as purchased...lots of work ahead of us!

 
That spring we built our first chicken coop, with a secure run. Our first chicks came from the feed store, and we were off and running. We learned so much those first few months - things like: Weeds grow faster than grass!, It always rains on days off from our paycheck jobs. Whatever tool we need, we probably don't have. You get the picture. :)  We loved it. We removed old rotting fence, and broken wire was repaired or replaced. We weeded and mowed, and weeded and chopped, and weeded some more. We discovered the old barn was beyond salvage and turned a loafing shed into stalls. We built a round pen and a paddock for the horses. We sweated and sunburned and loved every minute of it. When the chickens began laying their first eggs in September we were thrilled, and ordered more chicks to arrive the following spring. We began supplying eggs to friends as our supply outgrew our capacity to use them. It felt great. We are proud of the quality of our hens' eggs.

The second year we remodeled another outbuilding into a second coop and installed portable fencing to allow the chickens to access the horse paddock but not the small area we designated for our yard. We tore off the old deck and had a beautiful patio laid. All the lovely compost, complements of the horses and chickens, went into creating flower beds and we had a relaxing area to take breaks in. Fence repairs were constant and we got the perimeter strung with electric.

We had been raising meat chickens for our own use at a friends house while we were living with my parents. We finally reached the point with our repairs and improvements that we could consider moving that to our own place. We built pens and brooder boxes. We raise 2 batches of meat chickens a year, 70 at a time. We raise spring and fall, but not during the dead heat of the summer out of concern for the growth rate of the meat chicken breed. Our animals are raised kindly and with genuine concern for their well being. We feel this is one of our greatest strengths.

Our next adventure was goats, Pygora goats. I am a yarn addict. I love the sight, smell, and feel of yarn. We considered llamas, sheep and alpacas, but when we found Pygora goats we just fell in love with their gentle personalities. We built goat pens and shelters. Currently we have 6 goaties: 2 does, a buck, and 2 wethers. Eventually we will breed a larger herd, and offer roving and yarn as we shear.

Goats love squash. We have now expanded our garden to 2/3 squash & pumpkins for the goats. We have a more planted for the chickens and goats than for ourselves. *lol* And did I mention the small orchard we planted? Peaches, nectarines, apricots, several kinds of apples, pears, and cherries. Now to wait for a few years and enjoy our own fruit, too!

Year three brought a resurrection of previous skills & crafting. I couldn't stay away...the soap, bath & body, skincare products, herbs and condiments called me back. It was a much different vision than my previous business that I forged a new, farmcentric way of presenting what we'd grown and sourced from other local, like minded businesses and individuals.

The fourth year I left my paycheck job to manage the farm & business full-time. I spent the summer doing 2 Farmers Markets & was gone nearly every weekend in the summer to shows & festivals. What a fun (& exhausting) time it was!

So why Cat's Paw? Well, all of our activities are supervised (from inside, behind the windows) by our kitties. Cats land on their feet, and we think that's a wonderful thing to aspire to when embarking on a new adventure and a new way of living!

So far we've done a pretty good job we think. It's been hard, a lot. Cold. Hot. Wet. We love it. We're already working on putting a storefront on our property. It has easy access off the highway & we're right on the edge of our small town. We're working through the beaurocracy that comes with any business venture (permits, zoning, etc.) Stay tuned for more on that progress & shop online in the meantime. :)