Thursday, September 18, 2014

One Year Anniversary at the Farm

One Year ago we got the keys for the farm.  It has been a wonderful year with many blessings.  We have learned many things and I have recently been thinking about the things I have learned this year.

I have really come to appreciate my family. Our new farmhouse is very peaceful.  The children have learned a lot of new skills both in animal husbandry and carpentry as well as machinery and landscaping.  My husband has worked very hard getting this house and my office ready to be moved into and then turned his energy to getting the old house ready to sell.  He has been working a lot of 80 hour weeks.  We praise God for the good health we have enjoyed.

Our animal menagerie  now includes pigs. We have realized that if you move the pigs daily that there is no odor.  You also don't have to shovel out manure as it doesn't build up.  Pigs love to munch on the salad of a mixed pasture field.  We have learned that if you pasture the chickens after the pigs the chickens clean up the feed and you don't have rodent issues. We learned to our great sadness that small young pigs don't do well in cold wet weather.  They can quickly develop pneumonia and die.  Pigs are friendly and like to have their heads scratched.

I have learned that turkeys stick together.  They will stand and defend their weakest members against attackers.  They are also very friendly and will follow you around.  They like to visit the other animals on the farm.  We also learned to our sadness that it is very important to label your feed bags from the mill.  It is very bad to mix up pullet grower (16% protein) with turkey grower (28% protein). They are definitely not the same and will result in dead turkeys (At least half of them) .  Otherwise we had good success in raising our turkey poults.  The bourbon reds are a heritage breed that free range nicely and are healthy.

We have learned a lot about chickens this year.  We currently have about 220 birds, including 99 broilers, on the farm.  By the end of November there should only be about 85.  Yes, this year we have learned how to butcher birds.  We have also learned that our free range, raised on pasture birds taste delicious!  We have learned that different breeds of birds have different temperments. We have seen good roosters and stupid roosters.  The stupid ones don't last long, but they taste just as good.  We are learning to see that you have to choose whether you are going to be a city farmer or whether you are running a business. We have made some good decisions and learned lessons from the mistakes.  

Animal confab- Chickens, turkeys and pigs

It has been good to learn the responsibility and discipline needed to raise animals.  We have learned that neither plants or animals wait until it is convenient for you to meet their needs.  One can't be lazy or too busy to meet their needs as bad things happen when you do.  We have also learned that taking care of animals is enjoyable!

We have learned that starting a garden from scratch takes time!  That a lot of the ideas in permaculture work great and will be pursued even more vigorously by us in the future.  We love our herb spiral!  We like having very little weeding to do!  We have learned that you never have enough mulch or manure!

We enjoyed the rewards of our labors! 

The kids have learned that a farm is a great place to bring friends.  There is a lot of room to run and many different backgrounds for dress-up photo shoots!  A pond is a wonderful thing to have as well, whether it is used for fishing, swimming, ice skating or just relaxing.

We have learned that having good neighbors is worth a lot, but having great neighbors is priceless! We have great neighbors.  They are willing to pitch in and help in a crises or to give us newbies advice.  They have loaned us tools and tractors.  They have made this first year so much easier.

We have learned to always take time and enjoy a sunset!  I think they are God's way of saying good-night and that He loves us!  We are looking forward to many more years here on the farm.

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