Monday, January 07, 2013

For the Farm 2013

The past few years have been about pulling back, finding our feet again, and regrouping. We are still in that process, but things are much more manageable than they once were. Our little farm is a lot different than it was a few years ago. I miss the variety of animals we once had, but the changes were necessary. Someday, we may add back animals, but at this time our focus is not there.

We have had beef cows from the beginning. Our cows are pastured in fields belonging to neighbors. Our hay is cut from the neighbor's property. Maintaining those fence lines, pastures, and fields, just doesn't make sense when we are having a hard time keeping our own property under control. The last two steers are about ready to go. That will be the end (for now) of us raising beef. 

The hogs do well in the woods, and I think they are my favorite farm animal. They are pretty self sufficient. They are hardy. Their fencing requirements are simple; two or three strands of electric. The breeding stock are relatively tame, and if they happen to get out of the fence, they follow me right back in. The feeder hogs aren't always so co-operative, but then they aren't around for long, and they are mighty tasty.

We are keeping a boar, and four sows. We need to get another sectioned fenced off so we can rotate our pastures more efficiently. Somehow, we need to get these sows to co-operate and farrow together. We'd like to have two farrow with in a day or two of each other. Even though they visit the boar at the same time, they never seem to farrow together. 

We started a new system for the laying hens. We are buying a different breed each year. Last year we bought Light Brahmas. The breed for 2013 has yet to be determined.  Nolan wants Buff Brahmas. He likes their feathered feet. The idea is if we get a different breed every year, we will have a steady supply of good layers, and I will know which hens are ready to become stew.

We have a good system for raising broilers. We are using smaller and mobile pens to keep them on pasture. We have plans to convert a goat shed for chicken use. This will allow us to raise more than last year. Predators are a constant concern, and I've been keeping my eyes open for the right working dog to help protect the flocks. I've also been dabbling with the idea of raising another poultry species for meat. Still thinking about that one. 

Another project in the beginnings of a plan has me very excited. We would like to clear off several acres of land. The land we are clearing is relatively flat, and will give us more room for vegetable crops, and dare I dream, an orchard! Our property is entirely forested. The only cleared spaces are areas that were cleared for houses or utilities. From those we've carved a couple small garden areas, and we borrow a good sized garden spot from the neighbor, but it really isn't enough. I am so excited to plan uses for that space. A high tunnel, an orchard, and lots of garden space are all in the plans. It will take some time, and likely a lot of deer fencing, but I can't wait to see this project move forward. I hope to be able to use some of that space this summer.

Other things in the realm of possibilities are growing mushrooms, and making maple syrup. Kellen marked off some maple trees last summer. So, now is the time, for us to gather the supplies and make this happen. Mushrooms are another project we can be ready for quickly.

The farm has changed. I do miss having the variety of animals, but we just can't make it work now. Our goals now involve keeping projects manageable and working with the resources of our property. I am looking forward to 2013!


  1. Somehow, I feel a sense of guilt in your post. Gosh, I hope not. What you're doing is ... living! Life is always revolving... changing... transforming. And just like a garden bed, sometimes it needs a rest. And so the need for 'simplifying' comes. I'll just bet, your next round with bringing back any of the others will be twice as enjoyable. For now, enjoy the rest!

    1. no not really guilt, just a little sadness at some of the changes that have had to happen. Thanks for the encouragement!