2016 was our second full year of farming and I confess to many failures!
Don’t get me wrong - we had many successes as well, but farming was completely new to me when we started in Fall of 2014. I had never touched a cow or a pig before we bought them!
I'm not proud of myself, but here goes!
Confessions with Lessons Learned!
- I left a cow, who was due to calve in a couple of weeks, out with the herd, who was out in the back 70 acres of clearcut where they are overwintering. She hid somewhere to have the baby and died!
I took the horses out and looked and looked. I still haven’t found the body (I know she’s dead because the dogs have been bringing parts of the calf up to the house. Eww!). It’s a BIG loss and I feel terrible for the cow.
Lesson learned: Make certain any cow due to calve is in a pasture free of hiding places!
- I crashed the tractor into a stump.
I know what you are thinking! HOW!?!?!?
I was bush hogging clear cut areas and never saw it. The stump crushed the step used to mount the tractor, wrapping it around the gas tank and bent it so far back that it was interfering with the back tire rotation. I couldn’t even drive it back into the yard! Kevin was not happy . . .
Due to this occurrence (and several others), I’m no longer allowed to operate the bush hog in the clear cut.
3. The door to the chicken wagon got left open one night. I'm going to throw a child under the bus here - this was not directly my fault.
Most of the laying hens were eaten by some predator. This resulted in a decrease from 12-22 eggs a day to about 1 or 2 a day. Not enough even for the family to eat.
Lesson learned: double check the work of children on the farm.
4. The two boars always lived together when they were not “working.”
This summer when we put them back togetherafter a couple of months of separation, there was a huge fight! Kevin and I were not about to get between two 400+ pound fighting pigs.
The result was that the loser suffered a huge gash to his testicles. While he recovered nicely, the vet was concerned that he had lost his fertility and so we decided to cull him.
Lesson Learned: grown boars should not live together!
These failures don’t even begin to cover it! I’m notorious for breaking any machinery that runs on any kind of fuel.
I am in fact on a first name basis with the owners of Power Equipment, who repair my chainsaw; Good’s, who repairs my super duty weed wacker; Abbott’s, the farm supply store (general advice about repairs); and the tractor repair shops (yes, three of them).
Our neighbor, Johnny, never fails to answer my calls with “What have you broken now Amie?” Johnny is a saint and always comes help me repair things (or sometimes to get things unstuck!).
I try not to dwell on my many failures. I would have quit by now if I did!
I absolutely love what I do and plan to be at it for while!
These are all lessons and if I learn from them, then I will eventually be the farmer that I want to be!
I guess I better list my successes as well!
- The house is 98% done and we moved out of the single wide and into the house in January 2016! Ok, that’s not farm related, but it was huge moral booster!
We also sold the single wide and got it off the property! Woohoo!!! It was an eyesore.
2. The pigs are finally paying for their feed. This is a big deal as pig feed is the largest monthly expense.
3. We had our first crop of calves from U2, our Red Devon bull, this year and they look great!
4. Perimeter fence is up around the entire property which means the cows can access the creek over the winter when the pipes are frozen, and I don’t have to worry about finding the bull on the property next door (yes, it’s happened). This took nearly 7 months to accomplish!
5. We converted about 12-15 acres of woodland/clearcut regrowth to rangeland/pasture. Most of our 105 acres was clearcut when we purchased and we run pigs through (instead of the bush hog!) to clear the land.
It's slow going, but it's a big accomplishment that I am proud of.
6. We raised all of the meat consumed by our family between June and December. That was one of my goals for the year and I'm VERY proud of it!
Beef is mostly sold out until May or June when we butcher again - we have only a few cuts left.
Pork is still available. We have sausage and cuts in the freezer. Several more pigs will be processed in the early spring and we should have a steady supply to butcher after that.
We plan to offer duck starting in the spring and goose in the fall.
The chickens we hatched last spring are finally starting to lay! If you want farm fresh non-GMO eggs, then you are in the right place!
I just placed an order for a number of new chicks who will lay blue eggs. Of course it will be 4-5 months after their arrival that we see blue eggs, but that should be fun.
The second crop of Red Devon calves should start arriving in May!
We plan to butcher another cow in June. If you are interested in purchasing whole, half, or quarter beef, please respond to this email get on the waitlist! A deposit will not be due until closer to the butcher date.
Happy New Year!