If the farm depended on my blog entries to exist we'd be in hard times wouldn't we? Thankfully that's not the case. December has been a month of busy busy kids which makes for a tired tired Mom which makes for a very quiet blog. I've got some dandys simmering away though, so expect some new reading in the coming year.
I've hit a bit of a wall when it comes to my sheep since it has been lamb-city here in the past week. I had that one lamb a couple weeks ago and then nothing...until a few days ago when they started coming like wildfire. I've got 12 now with a couple more ewes to go, I think. And it's that "I think" which is driving me crazy. After dealing with a lamb who died because it's mother was old and had no colostrum, etc etc I was forced to face the reality of not devoting enough time to my flock and having to decide whether this was going to continue to be a volunteer 'project' of mine (marginally successful) or a real part of the farm business. I had another lamb I was bottle feeding because his legs mysteriously didn't work (I think I was late in coming along and she laboured too long and he suffered because of it) and so couldn't drink. He didn't make it and I think partly because nature took it's course but I also couldn't get over to the barn as often as I should have to feed it. Mark says I just beat myself up over this kind of thing, and he's partly right, but there's more to it than that. After all, after three sets of beautiful healthy twins, it's easy to erase the failures from memory.
It's that I hate the selling part of the business. I don't mind shipping the lambs, it's not a sentimental thing, it's the action of selling something, my own product. I just want to raise them, not worry about sending them off, getting them cut up, wrapped, dropped off, picked up, whatever. I'm a farmer not a marketer/distributor/retailer. And the only way I get to avoid that is to sell wholesale to someone, and that doesn't exist for organic lamb. Mark suggested we could just sell to the conventional stream, but when I've done our cost of production in the past, because of the time we have to dedicate to moving the fence each week, we'd be pushing it. If we didn't have to pay ourselves we'd be A-Ok, but life doesn't work like that.
And don't even start on my non-existant management this past year. Hence, the Christmas lambing schedule...what is THAT!? and the not culling ewes I KNOW are terrible. Ugh.
I'll have to do a cost of production again soon, since that one is pretty out of date now and I have an on-site shearer at my disposal. And we've refined the fencing much better. So who knows. Lambing is a stressful, sleep deprived time, so maybe once my head is cleared of Christmas sugar and my body spends more time in bed than in the barn at night, I'll have more to bring the shepherding table.
Speaking of salespeople, we're excited to announce that we're expanding the farm operation a little bit by being a distributor for Bio-Ag, a company out of Ontario that sells all non-GMO agricultural products like minerals, salts, cleaners, etc. I know, I know, I just talked about not being a salesperson, but this isn't 'our' product, it's just one we believe in. We have used their minerals since we've been organic and now use their diotomaceous earth, salt and a probiotic as well. We have a barrel of their peroxide as well which we use mostly in the summer in the various water tanks around, but is a popular product for livestock farmers to keep waterlines clean and dairy operations up to spec. Anyway, Mark's next project is getting a corner of the barn ready for storage. I'm really looking forward to being the Island distributor and although it's a small company I think it will be fun to promote it and see where it takes us. The previous distributor here is retiring and the owner is coming in the next couple weeks, to meet us and facilitate the transfer so hopefully we'll be up and running very soon.
I had a really great Christmas, as they always are. The kids are at SUCH a good, magical age and I'm sooo grateful that I got to be around for December and be a part of thier excitement. One of my favorite parts was Christmas morning when I went in to wake Lucy and said, "Lucy, I think Santa came last night, wanna come see your stocking?" and rather than running to see what she got, she instead, went to the kitchen, crawled up on the stool and exclaimed, "He ate his cookies and drank his milk!" The rest was just a bonus.
Although I was in the thro of lambing on Boxing Day, my stubborn father-in-law all but shoved me in the car and we went to NB. I was really glad we did because we stayed the night and I enjoyed some great laughs and drinks and food and stories while Wendell dealt with a dopy lamb in a set of twins. The lamb has come around now and I'm convinced is only alive because of Wendell's early intervention.
Well, with only two ewes left to lamb, I think I'll sleep through tonight and stay in bed until at least 6. Then again, something will probably wake me up at 3 am and I'll lay there thinking of the worst case scenarios that could be happening in the barn until I struggle over there in wind/rain/snow/sleepcoma to find them all chewing cuds, blinking at me stupidly as if to say, "Go back to bed dummy, we're sleeping."
Hope this finds you enjoying every minute of the season and looking forward to a new year of great goals and plans!