Well, for the first time in a long time I have been off the farm for an extended period. Interestingly, everyone’s idea of an extended period is different, and I have to be frank and say that being a way for a whole weekend is hard for me these days. This was much longer. It started with a birthday trip to Florida to celebrate Dad’s 90th with Mom and Dad and my sister (who also flew in from North Carolina). It was great spending the weekend with Mom and Dad and we were all so very grateful to be able to celebrate this mile marker with Dad. The flip side is Dad was not feeling terrific and as his doctor said, “these men of the greatest generation are minimalists and never complain, the flip side is you often don’t know how bad they really are feeling. This is my Dad, definitely among the greatest of that great generation. The long and short of it was we ended up back down there a week later for an extended period of moving them home, getting the necessary medical work done and getting Dad feeling better, and to that end, he IS feeling better. I feel a bottomless well of gratefulness for this. Once we got them comfortably in their house, and moved in, as best as sister and I could do, we all did a lot of hugging and returned to our homes. Turning into the driveway and seeing the farm after being gone over 13 days this month, was an incredible thing. Simply being in the same room as my husband was an incredible thing. It was good to get the rundown on what’s been happening on the farm. I missed a week of “brutal cold”, according to hubby who generally thinks sub-zero is “nice out”, so it must have been bad. By the time I got home it was Mud Season, yes that’s a title. I couldn’t have been happier to put on my tall boots!
Here are other signs of Spring!
I am up to about 4 gallons of sap at this point. I decided to only tap Black Walnut trees this year. We got a little bit of the Black Walnut syrup last year and it was great! Up until now we have been tapping the neighbors Box Elder Trees, but this year we will stay on our land and just tap what we have. We should have plenty of sweetener for the year! I still have a bit of Box Elder Syrup from last year too!
The farm spring round up news…chicks, hogs, and cattle
It is an amazing time of year. Due to the last month being an odd one for me I am behind on a few things, ok, a lot of things! I have been baking and delivering granola like crazy and finally got my chicks ordered and seeds ordered. I may have pushed my limits a bit on the chicks and garden this year, but the chicks arrive on May 11, will be in the brooder for 5-6 weeks in the garage and then we move them on grass each night till late August. It’s a fair investment in time, I think, for enough chicken meat for the year. This year I am going to push to have all livestock have not just two purposes on our farm (as I did for the chickens and hogs last year) but, at the least 3 purposes. Instead of the chickens that we pay to purchase and raise providing us with just meat and eggs, this year they will provide us meat, eggs, egg money (that covers their initial cost as chicks) and a bartering tool. I ordered 50 roos, and 8 hens, of the 50 I will freeze 30 birds in halves so we have 60 halves for the year, that is more than one half a week, or enough for extra people as needed. We eat a half at dinner, so it is perfect for us. I will freeze 5 whole for company, which always looks nice, and then the remaining 15 I will barter with our neighbor or other neighbors for items we need, such as goat milk, or a winter share of potatoes, carrots etc. We are planning 4 hogs this year… if, as the Hog farmer friend told me, “the girls work their magic”. Here’s hoping that they do! I will try to sell 2 in halves or whole, one by piece and for barter, and one for us. The even bigger news is that the cattle will begin to “earn” their place on the farm this year. It’s been almost 3 years since we got the Scottish Highlands, but when you raise grass fed, grass finished beef, you need to be one patient farmer. Well the time has come, which has prompted a lot of research, conversation and exploration. On one of my explores I decided to look for Facebook pages relating to these type of cattle. I proceeded to message a person who had just such a page, and guess what? Not only did they want to help me, they messaged back and forth with me for over an hour answering so many questions we had about upcoming processing, knowing if the animal is ready, and many other questions. I asked this kind man for his address to send him a granola gift, and as of yet he still hasn’t. People can say all that they want about the pitfalls of Facebook, and I agree there are a host of them, but being able to have this easy connection as a resource, and learning and sharing with kind helpful people is wonderful. It made the world smaller that night as I messaged from my farm in Wisconsin to his farm in North Dakota. Obviously, one has to be careful when reaching out like this, but really, getting help from someone who raises Highlands seemed pretty low risk;) After this communication hubby and I feel so much better about our upcoming processing and now I am thinking more about the terrific upcoming soup bones and less about all the worries! I think perhaps I was thinking too hard. I do this. Ask anyone in my family.
Saturday is my birthday and I think I will spend it working up the soil in the mini high tunnel and getting my first seeds in the ground. A perfect birthday. Oh and of course one must plink on one’s birthday too, so maybe a little shoot out with hubby?