A New Year

night view of hens

It is now the end of January, which is always a time of reflection for me, especially as things slow down a bit on the farm.  2016 was a challenging year.  The long drought created numerous difficulties as we attempted to get water to the young trees and bushes.  Many of the trees on the south slope were stressed.  I ordered a spray tank for the back of the Gator to take water to the bottom of the hill, but it was very slow to arrive and I had to resort to running long hoses down the hill and filling buckets for the trees that were out of reach of the hose.  These are the trees that were planted in the fall of 2014, a brutally cold winter with record low temperatures,  followed by an unusually late hard frost in the spring.  Those trees that survived did not make as much growth as would be ideal, and are unlikely to bear fruit for a few years.   There was no rain to speak of here from May through to September.  In spite of that, berry and currant crops were good, there was an abundance of kale, and we were able to put up many many jars of tomato sauce for the winter.  The potato crop was meagre, mainly because of the drought.  The garlic crop was much better than I expected, and I produced enough garlic to make garlic juice for this year’s holistic spraying regime.  I also made worm balls for the sheep and poultry from molasses, garlic and bran.

2016 was also the year of accidents for me!  An infected finger, a fractured finger, but the worst was a fall resulting in a concussion at the end of August.   I was planning to go out in the evening, so had painted my toenails (I promise this is relevant to the story). The sky looked a bit threatening, and then there was a tornado warning for this area.  Sidney and Percy were right at the end of the driveway munching on a few blades of grass.  Not wanting to damage my freshly painted toenails, I slipped on some Crocs and raced down to get the sheep back up to their shed.  It rained heavily ( I know I said there was no rain, but this was just a just short burst of intense rain and wind).  Because the ground was like concrete, the five minutes of rain did not permeate the soil, but did make the top very slippery.  I realized the gate for the boys to get into their shed was shut, so I put on a burst of speed running down the steep slope to get ahead of them.  That was a bad idea.  I hit the ground backwards, hard.   The first two months was very bad, but things are gradually improving now and I have learned some important lessons!

Plans for 2017 include hatching some black Jersey Giants and Malines this spring.  Excess roosters make beautiful 7-8lb meat birds.  I love both those breeds, and I am glad I decided to work with them.  I have increased egg production and added more layers to the Welsh Harlequin flock.  Two Myotonic wethered goats will be arriving in late spring, and they will be tasked with clearing the fence lines of browse.  I am excited about spring lambing, and if all goes to plan, lambs should start arriving in April.  I would like to plan for some lovely temperate weather, but since that is out of my hands, I will make repairs to my rain water harvesting system, and investigate improved ways of deploying grey-water.

New Year’s Resolutions:

  • wear proper footwear at all times
  • focus on preserving my brain, not my toenails
  • wash my hands throughly after any incident involving skin break
  • use Pippa to stop marauding sheep, not my hand
  • think before acting. Curb my impulses
  • remind myself to work slowly and mindfully, I will never get to the end of the To Do List anyway (repeat three times daily!)

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