I've been struggling in this new year to really settle into my goal of reducing my use of social media in favour of working towards my goals of writing more, reading more, playing more guitar and just generally being more present in the now. That subtle addiction to short, intriguing Instagram posts and videos is unbelievably powerful.
After making an action plan for how to combat that omnipresent pull to pick up my phone, I decided to check out some old blog posts. when I used to share farm and family stories weekly, or even more frequently. Seems like 2010 was a banner year for posts on For the Love of the Soil and this post from October had me simultaneously laughing and incredulous that I have very little memory of the life detailed within. I know my house was fairly chaotic at that time and it's inevitable with little kids that things will be unruly, but I am so thankful that I documented all of it!
And thankfully, re-reading those old posts has inspired me to take back up the sharing of stories from the Barnyard. They're decent reading, but more than anything are an invaluable snapshot of life that I am so thankful to have to look back on. Future Sally will inevitably love these posts as much as current Sally is enjoying the old ones.
So here's a start:
Last week I picked up our pork and beef from our favourite butcher shop. Our three pigs, Destiny's Child, and Thor, the jersey steer came back in banana boxes and the 6 of us worked hard to get them all vac-packed and in the freezer quickly. That large vac-packer was probably overkill for the CSA at the time, but it's been incredibly useful, however infrequently. That said, I think I'd like to try wrapping some things in butcher paper next year. The roasts, and chops with bones don't do so hot with the vac-packer, often puncturing the bags and missing the point.
What a blessing and glorious fruit of our labour to have the freezers full of the meat we raised!
(No, we're not selling any. Seems we 6 humans eat an awful lot!)
We FINALLY got some snow after what felt like a never-ending mud season in January of all months! It wasn't a HUGE dump or a terribly nasty storm, but there's enough to cover the fields and make some drifts. The kids have been taking advantage of two snow days off school to wear the bottom off one of their (expensive) LL Bean snow tubes but hauling it behind the four wheeler and seeing how many of three can stay on while the fourth tries to whip them off by doing donuts. Lucy hit the frozen, heavy concrete planter by the front step hard enough to knock it over, so they're getting velocity and momentum!
The Belties are doing great and thoroughly enjoy their barn. One of the OGs, #25, came into heat late last week, but by the time we managed to get her in with the bull, we had missed the heat, so it's on the calendar for next month. I was torn about breeding her now as it'll mess a bit with the schedule for next year, but it seems more prudent to have her calf in October than let her get too fat all summer on grass, only to get bred in September.
I'm trying to take the positive out of this situation, which is to say that I THINK she's the only one who came into heat, which hopefully means that Beowulf, our bull, did in fact manage to breed the rest of the herd.
We castrated the little bull calf that arrived on New Years, Buster, which was a bit sad, given that he is purebred to fancy genetics, but my management capacity can't at this point manage two bulls with the mere hope of selling him as breeding stock. (That's one thing I was stunned at reading my old blogs. It seems we had unlimited optimism and confidence as younger farmers! Breeding sheep, getting a dairy cow for the first time, purchasing extra chickens, making first-time dairy products, all with multiple babies underfoot and almost no experience with any of it! I don't read much doubt or worry in any of the posts. Just a wide-eyed wonder and enthusiasm that seems to have more-than carried over any hardships. While I don't feel "old" I think that is a defining characteristic. Am I overthinking it all now or was I under thinking it all then? Good on ya young folks, you're what makes things tick along at break-neck pace!). So all that to say, Buster will likely be our first taste of Barnyard Organics beef at some point in a couple years!
Mark's new blue tractor is meeting all expectations and making him a very happy farmer. There's some talk about PTO problems or implements not matching the power of the tractor or some such thing, but generally things seem to be working fine. Here's to optimism for planting season!
Our farm hand, Browen, is away for the month of February, which adds some challenges in some ways, but also reduces Mark's mental load in ensuring valuable work for someone else. It also means I'll have to step up to be the feed miller more reliably, which is fine.
The kids are well. I'm really enjoying raising teenagers (which is incidentally the mantra I repeat when Lucy is particularly difficult to deal with).
I don't want to risk losing my audience (is anyone even out there?) too soon so I won't go on with further details just now, and I have to get out and make sure my bull has water on this chilly morning but I'm thrilled to be back! Stretching these particular writing muscles feels like a deep, delicious yoga I'd almost forgotten.
May this find you feeling some winter sun on your face and crunchy snow under your feet!