Winter 2020 Update: Solstice Reflections, Farm Stories, and Gratitude

We always begin our winter holiday season celebrating the winter solstice. On this darkest day of the year the sun generously gifts us time. With the abundance of night we can rest with our flames and twinkle lights and practice reflection. We reflect both on the year we are concluding and the year we are preparing.

As this year was the year we got this thing in motion, I’d say we did it. We have learned a lot, loved nearly every minute of it, and experienced the usual growing pains of a new venture. We have gobs of room for growth and, exponentially more importantly, lots of room for improving. Especially given the context of such a crazy year as 2020, we are thankful and honored so many in our community have joined with us as customers and new friends.

Updates

Our CSA was, overall, significantly more popular than we had anticipated. We nearly sold all our broilers this year to our CSA customers! I am so very grateful for our customers commitment and support and patience while I scrambled to figure out how to make it work. Thank you! Stay tuned for next year’s signup and details. We’ll be making some changes to our subscriptions, to better suit everyone’s needs.

We are in the process of scaling up our chicken egg production. Our flock of 50 or so have done an excellent job this year but it is clear they are no match for demand. Plans for next year include building a large mobile layer coop and increasing the layer flock to somewhere in the 200 mark.

Rams. Big guy on the left is our breeding ram. The others are what will be going to slaughter in the spring.

We are expecting another round of winter lambs this year. We have new to us breeding stock so we’ll see how it goes!

We love our duck eggs and we are going to maintain our layer flock as is. In addition, next year we plan to delve into growing a small flock of Pekin ducks for meat sales.

 And some turkeys.

Oh, and probably some pigs. Just a few, to get us started.

Now if I can find an available butcher within a 400 mi radius we’ll be set.

Yes, you’re right. It’s called insanity and I’m victim of it. But here we are.

Farm Life Stories

Here’s the thing about tending animals. Put most simply: they make one’s life better.

A late summer day:

It was a tough draining day. The sort of day that’s not exactly obviously terrible but demanding and endless. The universe cares not for my personal boundaries of energy store or emotional capacity. By the evening I was done. All I wanted was to sit in peace and quiet and turn my brain off. Maybe watch something. Eat something carby and sugary. Drink some wine. Not move a muscle.

I poured myself a glass and made for the living room sofa. I pulled out my phone and started going through the litany of pointless time wasting interneting. Then I remembered it had cooled off outside and we have those two new puppies that need some bonding/training. Fine, I said to myself, I’ll internet and drink outside with the pups. Their training is largely just putting in the time bonding and relating. I headed outside with glass and device and sat on the back patio. Said furry critters licked hello. They had burrs all over their bodies, evidence of a good day of freedom and play. The air was, after a 90 degree day, thankfully breezy and pleasant. I sat. I sipped. The atmosphere livened me enough to decide that I could, after all, sip my wine with the dogs in the chicken and ewe pasture. I envisioned myself sitting cross-legged in the tall grass. I grabbed my boots, stuffed my phone away, balanced my wine with the leashes and headed out. The ewes are new to our farm and the dogs are still learning their smell. All we needed to do was be together. So that’s what we did. I finished my wine to the chicken antics, the orange pink sunset, the ewes relaxing and chewing under the half moon, and the dogs nosing around and then joyfully goofing off.

What was an awful depressing pointless attitude became a serene peaceful joyful evening of mental refreshment and gratitude.

All because I have animals that encourage me to be out with them.

Or the next late summer day:

The duckling teenagers were missing. I hadn’t seen them since Bear the great Pyrenees pup scared them off during morning chores. Ducks don’t wander far and I started to worry. Turns out they were on an adventure of wild discovery. They found the overgrown creek. Read that sentence again. Notice that fourth word?

It was 90 degrees. Again. My children were being whiny and demanding. Again. It was nearly lunchtime. Of course. I poked around looking for the ducklings for a while before reluctantly deciding I needed to actually go find them. I put the children upstairs and begged them to be kind to each other. I donned full poison ivy gear along with my please snakes don’t bite me through my tall muck boots boots. I braved the overgrown. Meaning, I had to stop and breathe deeply and force myself not to turn around at various particularly snaky thigh-high grassy spots. (Read: I do not like snakes)

And when I finally found the ducklings? They were in a little place of sheer magic. You know those forest pools where the creek comes up out of the ground right under a towering ridge of boulders? Where everything is cool and fresh and life giving? There is something primal about a finding a cool mossy forest water source. My animal self knows I can be sustained as long as I know where it is. That must be why it grabs my soul. My imagination knows if there are fairies on the farm that’s where they come to drink.

Well damned it all. Here I was feeling so negative about the situation and turns out now I’m indebted to the damned little ducklings. And the damned dog who forced them there.

That’s what I’m saying. The animals make life better.

Not all experiences turn out like that. But more often than not they do. The critters force me out of my self-absorbed human existence. And I am indebted to them for it. If there was ever a year we needed the animals, this was it.

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