With thanks to Chism Heritage Farm for the idea and format – I couldn’t come up with anything original that was nearly as good, so decided to just give credit where it is due.
That would be me, March 2014, wading in the Tasman Sea in Hokitika on the West Coast of New Zealand. I was the only person in my family, I was the only person on our BUS, to take off my shoes and wade in. And yes, I was the only person that arrived at the Franz Josef Glacier 2 hours later with pants that were still damp from the dunking I got from that wave you see coming in the background.
Of course, there are better looking people in the family – here’s the rest of them. A different windy, wet day on the West Coast of New Zealand, this time in Milford Sound. Stunning scenery, totally worth getting all salty and damp again. Good thing we’re sailors.
The most popular post written in 2014 was “Crescendo e decrescendo”, while the post that actually got the most visits this year was written not long after I began the blog: “Joel Salatin workshop part 4-Cattle, poultry and more”. I don’t know if there’s anything terribly profound about either of those posts, now that I’ve re-read them, but whatever.
My Favourite Post:
My husband’s favourite post is the one about our dog, who died a year ago, almost to the day. My favourite post? That’s a little harder. I think it’s “An Alphabetical Summary”, which touches on a lot of aspects of our life here, and has the optimism of spring sunshine in it, sorely needed in this season of frozen mud.
Most Valuable Player:
I could not hold down an off-farm job and manage the pigs and broilers were it not for the rest of my family. Hands down, these three are tied for Most Valuable Player. With hubby and the older teen both working off farm most days, many of the afternoon duties over the summer fell to the younger teen, who was herself working part time for our neighbour. When Hubby and I went to Port Townsend for a couple of days, the two teens looked after the pigs, chickens, broilers and chicks completely on their own, as well as their off farm jobs. There would be no Tyddyn-y-morwr without these three. Love you guys!
I wish I could say the chicken house got the award for Most Improved, but though that was a goal, it is most definitely not an outcome – yet. The Most Improved award for 2014 has to go to fencing, and the pig pasture and chicken pasture fencing will have to duke it out to see who keeps the trophy. I want to give it to the chicken paddock fencing, because that is mostly the result of my own blood and sweat, but it’s really not finished yet, albeit vastly improved, and really, the pig pasture fencing had a more dramatic effect – I was able to move the pigs regularly every couple of weeks so that they didn’t turn the ground into a moonscape. The pig pasture fence was put in by Hay Guy for me, and then I used electric fence to subdivide within the paddock, since two pigs don’t need the whole pasture at one time.
Whooo boy. Well, as we all know here, a lot of books go past me. And I actually read some of them. My favourite? That I read this year? Ummm….Well, for the sake of getting this posted this year, I’ll put my money on Restoration Agriculture by Mark Shepard. He’s about permaculture principles on a large scale. He’s practical, down to earth and no nonsense. I felt inspired as I was going through the book and I know what I read has affected how I think about my future plans for this farm. Favourite fiction? Probably “Pigeon Post” by Arthur Ransome, which I re-read sometime in the summer. This is book 7 in an old English children’s series dubbed “Swallows and Amazons” for the two main families of children in the stories. I loved these books growing up, and have read most of them upward of 20 times each since I got my first 4 as a boxed set when I was 9. They are a difficult read for modern children as they are very detailed with a lot of technical explanation and how to instruction (they are mainly about sailing and camping). I tried them as read alouds with my own children, and we never got past the beginning of the third book. Nor did they find them sufficiently interesting to pick up for themselves, which is too bad, but at least they enjoyed the first two, and understand my occasional references to characters and events in the books. Arthur Ransome was an interesting character quite apart from his children’s books – before the success of the books, he was a writer for the Manchester Guardian and an overseas correspondent in Russia in 1917.
Best Money Spent:
The obvious answer is the trip to New Zealand and Australia, which cost a truckload of money and was worth every single penny. It really was the best money spent. I could go into detail about that, but really, suffice it to say that we saw a lot, had some great family time, had some adventures, and got to see a part of the world that most of us will never see again. That’s pretty good value.
There’s also the little trailer I plunked down about $300 for – it gets towed by our little old John Deere lawn tractor, and I used it this year to haul feed down to the broiler pens on the pasture every couple of days, then later to haul composted bedding out to the field, to haul piles of brambles out to the burn pile, etc. I don’t know why I put off getting it for so long.
Livestock and Animals:
At the peak of the summer, we had 1 cat, 2 pigs, 40 layer hens, 50 layer chicks and 140 broiler chickens. We were pretty busy, as I may have mentioned once or twice. Though I had a few difficult moments, and we lost more broiler chicks than we should have in the brooder, over all, and one of the pigs ate something she shouldn’t have and was sick for a day or two, health was excellent in the livestock. I want to increase the numbers a bit for this year; we’re going to raise three pigs, maybe four. I want to double the broilers, probably doing one batch in early summer, and the other in late summer, skipping the hottest month. I am hoping to raise our own layer chicks from now on from the layers I now have, aiming to get a dozen pullets annually, and culling out a few of the older, non-producing hens each year to keep the flock balanced. We’ll see how that goes. I really, really want to get either cattle or sheep onto the grass to do some fertilizing and mowing, but I think it’s not happening this year – there’s just a lot of legwork still to do to be ready for that (finding a market for the end product, finding transport and processing facility, reaching an agreement with Hay Guy who has been doing the hay here for about 25 years, fencing).
Yup. Quite a few. Always. I need to do better with the bedding in the brooder when I’m raising the broilers. It’s the one thing I’m still really not doing well with those birds. I cannot manage this farm by myself. Not even if I didn’t have an off farm job. My body is aging, and I can feel it. I have to get things set up to compensate for that, and I have to get serious about soliciting some help, paid or otherwise. Plans for this year include making use of Hay Guy’s services a bit more, and getting a good brush cutter (probably Husqvarna, probably at the end of January, in time to start attacking blackberries). Our kids are really responsible, problem solving, resourceful and capable young people. Plus they’re articulate, friendly, funny and caring. When I hear other parents talking, I get a glimmer of just how fortunate we are.
25th Wedding Anniversary:
We met in 1981, started dating in 1982, and got married in 1989. That makes 33 years. Which is the age I was when the eldest daughter was born, and how old I was when my mother died. To celebrate this togetherness, we took a couple of days out of our impossible August schedules and headed over to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula for a little getaway. On the way we explored Hurricane Ridge, which we’d last visited the week we got engaged, back in 1988. It was a wonderful break, and I loved being able to spend time with the one person in this life who really gets my logic (weird) my sense of humour (quirky) and my moods (highly variable). I don’t know what he gets in return beyond good meals and clean socks, but whatever it is, he’s stuck it out, and for that I’m incredibly grateful and hugely humbled.