A Year in Review

imageIt has been a very busy year ! Its funny how that is the first thought that comes to mind , but a farm is daily and building a new farmstead  and working away from the farm four days a week is “busy”! Much of the time it seems like I’ll never ‘get there ‘, but , when I get the chance to stop and spend time with the livestock , or , slow down to reflect and enjoy , I can feel a sense of accomplishment and see it all coming together . The enjoyment  of working the farm comes easily when I’m not straining from the work , and , the ‘hands on ‘ time with the animals is a huge stress reliever , even if only for a few minutes . ( unless its feeding time . I don’t like chaos and bullying  at the feeding troughs )  ,

This year I raised four bottle baby bucklings to four months ,so far. We did lose a fifth who was weak with pneumonia and chf , despite immediate  care from the vet . It still bothers me when I recall it . Two of the bucklings will stay on with us as studs . Thats a huge undertaking for such a young herd but we are willing to try it . Along with the bucklings came the construction of a kid pen , later converted to a creep feeder , and an 8×8’ shed (my new favorite) . Two of the goats will be sold for meat , which will give a return on expenses .

Our first and lead doe , Babes , successfully bred and kidded two beutiful kids while I was at work . They have been the healthiest and happiest kids on the farm . The doeling , Rosie , was named for my mother , which made her very happy  and brings new meaning to the farm . We then purchased , through trade coincidentally , a beutiful registered doeling , named Ruby . In one year we have increased our resident herd to six : three does to produce , two studs to … produce , and a wether . Will , by this winter , have sold for meat and put meat in the freezer . Nice ! After the initial fencing and shelter came a remodel of the ‘A’ frame to winterize it . We were all quite pleased with its winter performance and it housed our pregnant doe and wether quite well through a brutal winter . I built a winter pen close to the back of the house and ran power to it on hand hewn cedar posts . Presently , I am working on a separate pen for the studs and a winter pen for them as well , that will bring them closer to the house in winter . Next year I hope to build another 8×8′ house for the ‘girls ‘ .

We’ve experienced bringing a doeling from ‘outside ‘ to our herd , which resulted in some quick action to build a creep stall in the 8×8’ , to shelter and feed the newcomer who was bullied out of house and trough for a week . We were experiencing severe rain storms at the time and Babes kept turning her out into the rain . It was wonderful and a huge stress relief to manage the situation and see the herd get along .

I decided , without much choice , to hold off on replacing our chicken flock because of the amount of work I had committed to . The addition of two weaner piglets was part of that new workload . I built an awesome pig tractor that I am very happy with and purchased electric net fencing , and all the things needed to run it . After months of research and planning Deb and I brought the piglets home and I have enjoyed them immensely . There has been issues with keeping the fence ‘hot’ due to the drought we experienced early on and the subsequent ‘breakout ‘ that I swore would cause another M.I. , and the time Ebony got his head stuck in the cattle panel and I needed to lift his ass up with one hand and saw through the panel bars with the other , but overall it has been a very satisfying experience . A date is set with the USDA meat processor  nearby and three ‘halves’ are sold ! Deb and I will keep our first half of pastured , home raised hog !

The experiences that have presented have taught me more about my property than I previously knew , and so certain plans have been changed for better results in my farming . The east side field is now being fertilized to be cultivated and planted for hay . The lower west side space will not serve as a garden again but rather used to tractor the yearly hogs .

In the course of the last year we have gotten some new machinery . The purchase of a wood splitter will assure I can continue heating with wood . My friend Dennis helped make that possible .  The addition of a cultivator for the atv makes tillage possible . The atv works in lieu of draft stock , and together the pair break large tracts of ground in lieu of my body and my small rototiller . I could not till a hay field with my rototiller ; not on this ground . I would end up in hospital ! I would love to replace the fossil fuel burning machines with draft stock and hand tools , but that would be completely impractical at this time . Currently I am in the planning stage for building my own spike harrow . That will further eliminate some hard labor in finishing  the cultivation process . Last year , after clear cutting a bit of fallow land  and scalp cutting it for several months to kill off the ferns , I used the atv/cultivator combo to create veg crop land . I seeded it with a winter cover crop of perennial rye , red clover and deep root radish . When the pigs were ready for pasture I moved them over this space so they could eat the crop , till and fertilize  . I then disced it again and planted my veggies . I saved a section of cover crop from the pigs  with the intent of cutting it for hay . It worked beutifully . I found that I could cut it , dry it , and feed it to my stock , and they love it ; hence the plan to seed a hay field . I found that to be very satisfying and hope the new field will allow me to grow a winters’  supply of hay , chemical free , specie specific . I would love to get an Austrian scyth to hand reap that hay , further eliminating the need for fossil fuel  . I have started , but not yet finished , a chicken tractor to raise chickens for meat . I am hoping that next spring I will have my layers’ coup and run and pasture enclosure finished , and chicken tractors completed , so we can bring chickens back to our farmstead , and rid our diets of commercial chicken products .

At this point the farmstead is quite sustainable . Decide what you have time and resources for and network the rest . I am still cutting dead timber from the acreage , though that wont last forever . All soiled bedding and manure gets composted to go to the soil . Deplete the earth and you get nothing  , so , remember : put mother first . ( mom would agree !)  I have pasture and browse , I plant seasonally specifically for the live stock . Livestock health and happiness is a priority and will give you better product and avoid vet bills and losses . It comes naturally here from a large dose of respect and affection and it lowers your blood pressure !

Wow ! It’s nice to write things down and read it . It organizes that jumbled mess of time and tasks and allows you to see it all and appreciate it . Given the amount of time it takes me to do things by myself , I would never  have thought I could come this far , so soon . Mind you , I did have help at times when needed – this is the Adams  FAMILY Farmstead  . Let’s see what comes to pass over the next year . Thankyou to our friends and supporters for following along .

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