With a full year of being on “our farm” behind us, it is wonderful to look back on all of our work and all of the new dreams that have sprung from that work.
This year our “spare time” was spent cleaning the farm, particularly cleaning out barn stalls, sheds, and coops to get ready for more animals and hopefully a more efficient running farm. We have cleared out a lot of junk/trash (3 trips to the dump) to start assessing where new fence lines, corrals, coops, and gardens will go. Anyone who did not see the farm before would not think we have done much. Luckily, I took some before photos/videos to remind us how far we have come.
The decision to downsize our 2014 chicken production was hard. We love our customers and we love that they love our chicken so much. Even though we needed to do this to take care of other tasks on the farm, by mid summer, we were already talking about ramping back up for 2015. We don’t have exact numbers, but will probably only do an extra 100 this year. So if you would like chicken in the spring or fall, let us know NOW.
The up-side of the downsizing is having the time to organize something we have been talking about for over a year…offering chicken raising and butchering classes. If you go to our new “Our Classes” tab, you will find 3 different classes to get you prepared to raise and process your own food. Depending on the interest, we may add more classes in the fall.
This year we also became a dealer for Fertrell feed supplements and fertilizers and distributor for organic feeds. We use the Fertrell Nutri-Balancer, Aragonite, and Fish Meal with our layers and meat birds, and we love the results. A little of these products goes a long way and makes a huge difference in the end quality of your eggs and meat. You can find more information on Fertrell products here, as well as, our price list.
My garden did pretty well this year. The layer of cardboard and straw helped a lot with weeds. I was able to can 2 gallons of tomatoes and made about 2.5 pints of chili powder from my own ancho chilis! The mulberry and cherry tree provided us with some lovely treats as well. I started my Hugelkultur garden and will be finishing that this spring. The plan for this year is to concentrate on growing our staple foods…garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beans, peppers, and peanuts.
We lost one of our cows, Solei, but also had 2 calves, McRib and Geri. We let 3 hens go broody and they hatched out a dozen chicks. I love having momma hens! Downsizing meat chickens meant only processing 189 this year. Yes, that is downsizing. Fred and I had an all-time best time of 42 chickens processed in one day. Hard to believe doing 20 with help used to wipe us out.
And…we got married! Fred proposed Christmas 2013 and the following October we had a small ceremony on our farm. In true Fred style, he not only carved my engagement ring from walnut, he cast our wedding rings from 2 spoons from my grandmother collection. Yes, I am lucky to have him. I made my bouquet flowers from rooster feathers and my sister knit my wedding shawl. My niece, Bella, was our unconventional flower girl and she and my nephew, Kees, were in charge of picking pasture flowers for the tables. Our friend Jamie preformed the ceremony in the middle of a circle of family and friends in our pasture. It was a perfect day and so perfectly “us”.