It seems appropriate that I'm suddenly full of hindsight on the dawn of a new year, but it really has more to do with the sudden onset of a cold winter and circumstances colliding to make a clearer view of certain choices.
Firstly, it's funny how short a memory can be when things are going well and buying twice as many laying hens as previous years seems like a good idea and a brilliant business decision. Hens, after all, are the lowest maintenance animal there is, aren't they? I mean, they don't eat much, they peck around all summer and stay inside all winter, giving fresh eggs everyday. That whole, giving eggs everyday however, can be a problem, when customers take Christmas vacation from eating eggs and the farmers (who happen to be the main egg consumers) go off to NB for three days. What results is a ridiculous amount of eggs upon return.
So, when we decided to get twice as many hens, we apparently also made the decision to keep our year-old ladies on over the winter (which we've never done before). It seems silly to kill off year old birds who are still producing an egg every few days. That is until you find yourself laid on your back on the icy precipice that is the walk from the coop the main barn (where the water source is), having just dumped the entire water feeder all over yourself when you slipped (and having just filled it that morning). That is until you have a child who refuses to walk and sits on the same icy path, screaming his face off until you respond, two buckets of eggs, and a bucket full of milk in hand, ready for the long trek home. That is until you begin to hate even thinking about opening the door of the coop which houses those dreaded birds that you so enjoyed watching throughout the summer, happily picking through your leaves and lawn.
My vote, having now seen the light of retrospect, is to kill off the old ladies (I don't CARE how productive they continue to be in their maturity) and NEVER ever again order twice as many as we currently have customers for, not matter 'how easy it is to sell eggs' at the time.
And speaking of a kid who won't walk, hindsight tells me that although it may have been always easier to just pick him up and truck him along wherever we wanted to go, it taught him nothing and now makes for a miserable EVERYBODY, as the prospect of a baby sibling who actually REQUIRES carrying, looms near. A battle of who-is-more-stubborn, in the parking lot of every store in Summerside, does not make for a happy mother, thus an unhappy household. It also makes for a cold wet bum of the boy having the tantrum in the slush and a cold, impatient sister. Good times.
Hindsight has also taught me to pick very different marker colours for the rams when I do two different breeding groups. Blue and green turn out to be VERY similar when it comes to separating the ewes and depriving a ewe of any grain prior to lambing seems to make a big difference in the lamb itself. The morning we were scheduled to leave for NB, I went out to the barn, checked over the two ewes I had left to lamb, fed everyone and happened to notice a strange, tiny little white lump curled up on the WRONG side of the barn (the side of the barn where the ewes not due until March are housed). It's mother was at the manger eating away and the little cat-sized thing was pathetically trying to make itself comfortable in the straw. We DID eventually get to NB (for a great visit I might mention) and the lamb continues to do fine, but after letting it out with the rest of the flock for a day, I could see that it was too far behind the rest of the rambunctious lambs to really strive. So, her and her mother have their own deluxe pen in the corner of the barn and she seems to be much happier (she at least isn't getting plowed over and looking so pathetic as the rest of the lambs romp and play). Result? Dramatically different coloured markers and watching the calendar to ensure that the ram is taken out at least a couple weeks before Christmas lambs would be due to arrive. On the upside, I've never seen growth in lambs like I am in these ones. They are all singles, which is really ideal as far as I'm concerned, and there were two rams who were big to begin with, but they seem to have quadrupled their weight in only a couple weeks. Must be that Cheviot blood. Thanks Duncan!
In other news, my Christmas present was the kitchen island I've been nagging for ever since we moved into this house and retrospect asks me why we didn't do it sooner. It's perfect.
And here's after!
Here's a few pics from our Christmas;
At 5am, Wilson was more interested in stogging his stocking chocolate in before someone told him otherwise, than the presents.
Wilson and his Dad inspecting/fighting over the new Massey tractor from Poohie and Grampy. "It even has a manure scoop on it!"
Lucy and I trying out my new pasta machine. It works like a dream and is a great 'helper' sort of job!
Lucy and her Grampy in West Branch having a feed of nuts.
My sister April getting an accordion lesson from Dad, with an audience looking on in excitement and I'm sure, adoration!
It was a beautiful, family filled Christmas and I feel so blessed. The weather outside is chilly, but as it should be this time of year. As I read in a poem a few weeks ago an old man was asked if he didn't hate the Maritime winters after all these years and he replied something to the tune of,
"The pantry's full of food, the shed is full of wood, the loft is full of hay, let 'er come."
I feel the very same.
Have a fun and cozy New Years and a healthy, happy 2011!