Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Musings on disaster.

Yesterday our heat lamp fell into our brooder and burned through the bedding, the plastic and the rolling dolly I had the brooder set on. We were lucky in that we discovered it before it had the chance to ignite and burn down the garage. We were lucky but this Springs chicks were not.

Life on a small farm is not without its successes and triumphs but that is not what this post is about. This post is about failures and setbacks. No matter what you do on a small farm you will have failures and setbacks. I have had quite a few. From hail storm ravaged gardens to rabbits that wouldn’t mother their young. Some are my fault either through ignorance or mistake and some are simple acts of random chance. 

As small farmers we invest so much of ourselves into our farms. From hours carefully tending gardens and herding flocks to time spent constructing pens and buildings we shape and mold our farms to be a reflection of our desires and dreams. For some this may be an intricately integrated vegetable garden with carefully plotted and planted varieties, plants that were selected with promise and tended with love and affection. For some of us it is a flock of busy little hens whose antics and names came to be dear to us over the hours we spend with them caring for their needs.  And when we invest so much of our hearts, minds and dreams in our farms it can be an especially difficult blow when disaster strikes. Failures on the homestead can crush your heart. Any time an animal dies I feel it is my fault, that I messed up in some way in care or prevention of harm. That can be an especially heavy burden indeed.

 There may be some luck few out there that will avoid all calamities but for the rest of us the question isn’t if but when and where disaster will strike. We have had many failures and setback and if you are a homesteader or small farmer than my guess is so have you.  So what can we do about it. First from the outset decide that you will have setbacks and that they may sadden you but that they will not stop you. Stiffen your resolve before it is even tested so that when the blow comes you have something to lean on. Second see destruction as a teacher. If you are observant you will find that every failure has a lesson in it. Whether that lesson is specific such as a hole in your fence or more general such as you can’t control everything is up to you. But I urge you to find these lessons as they will make you and your farmstead better with every realization. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Just a quick update to keep up the habit

   So last weekend we were able to actually start the process of getting the garden ready for the season. We pulled some weeds, turned some soil and removed last year's asparagus fronds. Then come Sunday we got nine inches of snow and I was immediately brought back down to earth. Spring in Minnesota is a time for flexible living. So the snow is starting to melt again and we wait.
   In other news I updated the blog a bit and added a link to my Pinterest boards which I think have some good ideas. I don't know when I might have a chance to put any of them into action but perhaps they might inspire some of you


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Catch up picture post.

Here are some of the things we have done since I last wrote in this blog. From most recent to least recent they are...

We went to Kona this spring and got a chance to see coffee grow. 
 Jess is still amazing. 
 We continue to have our fall festivals every year and raise money for the food shelf. 
 I went hunting for elk in Wyoming
 The views were amazing
 It was a great trip. 
 I backed out of this spot 15 seconds before that branch came down right where I was. 
 Our rhubarb is kind of overwhelming now
  I am getting a little better at catching smelt. 
We are raising geese as our only waterfowl now. 
 Katz's deli 
 Jess looking suitably aloof for springtime in NY. 
 We took a trip to New Yor.
 We cured and smoked some bacon on the farm. 
 The last few winters have been way too cold. 
 I tried to tan a deer hide. with mixed results.
 I got to meet Hank Shaw in person. 
 We have harvested and eaten shaggy manes.
 We added a poly tunnel for season extension. I still haven't got it quite figured out yet but I am getting better with controlling it. 
 We continue to harvest our hops and brew beer with them. 
 We were adopted by a barn cat named Florence. 
 We fenced off a large part of the yard as a field for annimals
 We attended the seed savers annual convention
 We attended a number of great lectures there. 
 I spent a week in the BWCAW 
 I have gotten better at finding morels in the spring time. 
 We made nettel and pumpkin ravioli. 

We hatched our own baby chicks

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring is sprung

Well Spring is the season of new growth. I don't exactly know what the new restart of the blog might entail but I hope to get the blog started back up again.
     We have some big plans for the farm this year. We plan to try raising pigs for the first time which is very exciting. So far I have cleaned out half the bunker and filled it with straw. I have also arranged a heat lamp and made a feed trough for our future piglets.
     We also are planning to raise a significant amount of dent corn this year as part of a project to produce a special corn grits.
    We also kept six of the geese over the winter and while they don't appear to have much interest in laying eggs just yet we have hopes of raising our own goslings this year.

So lots of plans. Hopefully more to come soon!