I don’t usually recap the year, but this past year has been an a bit different and I thought you might enjoy going back through it with me. I’m going to go month by month and remember all the wild, wonderful, and wobbly moments bit by bit.
January: I started the month off by getting my final few farm items moved over to the new farm. I’d spent December of 2018 building structures, moving animals, and getting heavy stuff loaded onto a trailer and brought over thanks to the help of some friends. Every day before work I went to the farm and took care of the sheep, chickens, and pigs in my work clothes. After work, I’d change and head back to the farm to care for everyone and then drive home. At the very end of the month, I finally joined all the animals and made the move to the new farm as well. After five years, this was the first time I actually got to live ON the farm, so it was a very exciting move!
February: I got my hay delivered for my sheep and made friends with a neighbor with a tractor to stack the 600lb bales for me. I got it covered and was pretty satisfied with my beautiful stock of hay. I’d later come to find out that I knew very little about hay tarps and spend one hour every other month recovering the hay once the wind found its way under it. This was a super exciting month though as my three ewes had five gorgeous lambs and none of them had a single issue! They were all born just before 6:00am within two weeks of each other; two girls from Cindy, two boys from Fawn, and a single for Yin’s first time.
March: I got my layer chicks in the mail and put them on the back porch under heat lamps. This worked well for a while until I found out how oddly my house was wired and lost half of them when the breaker flipped in the middle of the night during a stretch of cold weather. Seedlings were planted in the basement and eventually moved onto my balcony-turned-greenhouse. Broiler chicks also started getting delivered at the end of March and my two heifer calves were brought home! A fox also decided to check out the new neighbors and found that I had brought him dinner. After making a meal of a rabbit and a few roosters, I finally sured things up enough that he left everyone alone.
The pigs demolished their first hut, so I built another. The wind blew down the original plastic sheeting for the balcony greenhouse, so I replaced that with clear plastic roofing panels. The pigs had tilled a majority of the garden and I had planted it with all the early spring vegetables I could find!
April: The cows were growing amazingly well. The plants were doing well. All the sheep and lambs were doing well! Overall, April was a decent month. Lots of garden prep got accomplished and I got some tan lines from wearing gloves while working outside! The end of the month was sad as I had to say goodbye to my pal Sam the Ram who had turned into a monster making attempts on my life. After laying me out twice and making multiple other efforts, he had to leave the farm.
May: On May Day, I took the pigs to the butcher. For the first time in my pig raising career, they loaded themselves. It was a miracle moment! I could have danced. I was just in awe of what happened. No fighting, pushing, shoving, yelling, stomping through calf deep mud…they…just…got in…on their own! This was probably the most well behaved batch of pigs I’d ever raised. Not only did they load themselves into the trailer, but they had never escaped out of their enclosure and they grew spectacularly well!
I spent the middle of the month tilling, hoeing, and planting summer crops. Then my CSA deliveries began! This was my first year doing a CSA and it was nerve wracking! Making sure everything was growing well and packing it perfectly! In late May chicken butchering started. I got ducks and a new turkey since the fox made one last kill and took my turkey hen, leaving my tom all alone. Found the lambs snacking on chicken feed and accidentally shut one inside the coop for the night. I heard him having a fit that sounded a touch odd, so I went and opened the door. He came bolting out!
Got my new ram this month too! I named him Cork after the last name of the people I got him from. He’s an odd little fella…everyone kept pushing him around though! Cindy was the meanest of all! May was a busy and interesting month!
June: The CSA was in full swing and the summer was going well. Daily harvests were my main concern along with making sure the plants were weeded and watered. Weeds and grasses were growing as well as my plants being that this was newly planted ground. I was finding snakes everywhere, including in my house and in the trees. Thankfully they were rat snakes and do quite a service around the farm, so I left them to do their work. June was a busy, but mostly uneventful month.
July: Tomato season began with a vengeance in July! It’s always exciting at first, but as the tomatoes begin to fill every vessel in the house, it can get a little overwhelming! This was a very hot month, so it’s a good thing tomatoes like it pretty hot! The animals, on the other hand, find any sort of heat to be nothing short of unbearable. Everyone was panting, one rabbit didn’t make it through the heat, but all of the broilers survived with some strategic moves to get them in the shade at the right times. July also included some fall planting while praying for rain and attempting to “quiet wean” the calves. I got my rain, but not a quiet weaning; they still bawled their faces off for more milk!
August: Fall harvest was just beginning, but the season was still a long way from being finished. Two months of butchering broilers remained and the CSA continued at full speed. This was the month when I got my act together and started an instagram account and bought a true website so everyone could see just what I was up to around the farm. I started writing blogs and telling the farm stories. With the onslaught of tomatoes not ceasing, I was canning up a storm! This means, cooking them down, extracting just the pulp and juice, and then getting them into jars and into the canner to save for turning into soup in the winter.
September: More fall planted was slated for September along with pretty much giving up on weeding. I bought a cheap push mower to make some food for the hungry herbivores and to make mulch for the garden. I started adding recipes to my website and reactivated my twitter account. My garlic arrived this month ahead of the late October planting. Best of all, Cork had his apron removed to get to work so lambs could be born in the spring.
October: At the beginning of October, I had my lambs scheduled for the butcher. It’s always a difficult day, butchering day, but more so for the creatures who spend more time on the farm like the lambs. They spend nine months frolicking through the pasture before they leave. I know they have lived a wonderful and care free existence, having every need fulfilled.
Newsletters started at long last in October and I was rolling blog posts out pretty frequently! Spiders were getting huge and the CSA was winding down as I loaded bags full of fall crops of leafy greens and root vegetables. I was digging potatoes like mad to try to get them all out of the ground before the freeze (hint-I didn’t make it). I got the garlic in the ground and mulched and transplanted some berry bushes.
At the end of the month, my one heifer scared me nearly to death when I thought she had died! I posted about that in a previous blog. It was not a fun experience, but I was glad to get her off the ground and see her limp back to the flerd without much trouble. They say sheep look for ways to die, but my cattle must have been learning a thing or two from that book!
November: The summer CSA finally ended and the winter CSA got started. In addition to my two little Khaki Campbell ducks, three Pekin ducks joined the flock! It’s amazing how squishy ducks are…not bony and sturdy like a chicken or rock solid like a turkey. They are like stuffed animals! Two new pigs came home for their winter work of tilling the garden. This was a new breed for me: Idaho Pasture Pigs (IPPs). They were apparently grazers and liked to eat grass. Odd, but okay, I figured I’d give it a try. They were stocky creatures with stubby noses and no definition.
December: The final month of the year brought ice storms and wind to the farm. (There’s wind storms all year, but mix that with ice and it’s not fun.) However, in November, I had brace the chicken coop so that the ice wouldn’t wreak havoc on it again this year. But December was a pretty good month to wrap up the year. I rendered some lard from the pigs I had butchered in May, made tomato soup, and even found a brewer who needed a farmer to haul away his spent grains! For Christmas, I received 10 new farming books to continue to increase my knowledge and hone my skills. One the final day of the year, I found two more pigs to round out my group and scheduled a pick up on January 1st. It was quite a wild start to the new year, but that was in 2020, so you’ll have to read about that another time!