Although the blog has sat here, empty, quietly collecting dust, farm life has continued on. 2016 was a long year, but one that let us take baby steps towards an exciting future. We had some epic success and utter losses last year. Although it can be disappointing, it's just how it goes. If there is one thing farming teaches you, it’s that you have to learn to go with the flow. Just because something flourishes once, doesn’t mean it always will.
Last March we did something exceptionally exciting. We brought home 5 piglets. Our goal was to raise them as feeders on pasture to go to the butcher in the fall. All in all the experience went...really great. We never had any escaped pigs, no big health crises, except for a rectal prolapse. They were healthy, happy, and one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. We had the privilege to provide 5 families with pork raised humanely, on pasture, with no vaccinations, or antibiotics, raised on almost an entirely non gmo feed. One of the customers wanted to come to the farm with his wife and grandchildren, and it was such a great feeling to let them see their food, and our farm. This entire process was probably the biggest highlight of the year.
2016 also saw us participating, very slightly, with our first farmers market. As a quiet introvert this was a huge challenge for me, and not something I was super excited about. However, it gave me the chance to get a little more comfortable with the idea. I didn’t sell any produce, instead sold scented tallow tarts (think scentsy but from tallow, not wax) My mom and I also did some craft shows. Tallow tarts weren’t as much as a hit as I would have liked, however I’ve made more and more handmade soap, and plan to focus on that for the 2017 year. We also officially settled on a farm name, and had a logo made. Although these are small steps, they seem huge, and the direction they point us is an exciting one.
Although I had thought the 2015 garden was bad, the 2016 garden was THAT MUCH WORSE. I basically gave up and walked away. I love the thought of gardening, but it is so much work. I would almost not grow a single thing in 2017, but I have a ton of seed left over. I love starting seeds and tending to them. I just hate weeds! I swear the weeds here are exceptionally tenacious! I’m downsizing the garden this year, and have a few tricks up my sleeve to try and make this garden as productive as possible.
Due to the lack of garden produce, I didn’t can, or ferment anything last year. I thought all the goats were bred in July (cue exasperated gasp), and we had two kid about a week before Christmas. However the rest of them? I have NO IDEA when they were bred or should kid. I made one note of someone maybe getting bred in September, so right now I’m thinking sometime in February. On a more positive, or somewhat positive note, I did sell all of our bucks. I plan and hope to get a buck fall of 2017, so we can have kids born closer together AND in a month a bit warmer than December.
On the poultry front, things went exceptionally well. We had no big, major losses this year, and our chicken count is 42. With a handful of roosters. We got a bundle sometime during the summer that included some of the cutest bantam roosters. I've let them stick around because. Seriously, they are so cute. We still have our main rooster, a buff orpington named Rudy. Ironically enough we also recieved another buff orpington rooster. He ended up having cross beak, so I named him Edward scissor beak. If you are looking to add a rooster I can't hardly recommend buff orpingtons enough. They are big, gorgeous birds with a great temperment! The turkeys, ducks, and geese are also doing great. I successfully hatched over 20 chicks, but only managed to hatch 1 turkey and 2 ducks. Thankfully the ducks and turkey were females, and we got to keep them. I also did successfully hatch a gosling, but he had a foot deformity and didn't make it. I'm so hoping our goose will go broody this year. They are much better mothers than I!
Writing all this out makes me question how good of a year 2016 really was. It definitely had it’s good moments, but I am eager to start another year. Winter is such a depressing time. I cannot wait for spring to return, but until then, I’ll be planning gardens and sipping on hot coffee!
My name is Monica, I'm passionate about farming, food, and the humane treatment of livestock.