This year on the farm has been HARD. No 2 ways about it.
Last year we had a pretty good year, the only downside being the chickens eating all the tomatoes and Sophie not getting bred after being with 3 different bucks. But last year eggs were in abundance, we had green beans from the garden pretty much every night, Phoebe had no problems with her first kidding and we got a beautiful buck and jars upon jars of fresh milk. Last year we did good.
This year has sucked.
Chelsea had a bad delivery. Sophie has proved once and for all that she is infertile and her fate is still up in the air. Phoebe, for all the problems she gave me last year, has been a blessing this year.
And then there was 4 broody hens and a bunch of eggs. Eggs that were supposed to hatch us lots of roosters. Roosters for the freezer. Roosters that were going to feed us through the long cold months and nourish us with their delicious bone broth. 1 of the hens didn’t stay broody. 1 of the hens is a teeny tiny Japanese bantam and can’t hardly even sit on 1 egg. So 2 hens got eggs – 10 eggs each. All the chicks developed but thanks to a spike in the humidity just before hatch day the chicks couldn’t get out of the shells and we lost them all, except 5. And then the 5th one died mysteriously at 2 weeks old. A seemingly healthy very active chick, that started to slow down one afternoon and was dead by the next morning. At this point we’re hoping the remaining chicks are pullets. So scratch the rooster idea.
I didn’t start my seeds on time this year. A relatively mild winter turned into a frozen cold beast of a winter right around April; in time to dampen my spirits about summer and gardening and fresh food. Thus the tomatoes, peppers, and countless others didn’t get started in time. The silver lining to this? I have great neighbours. I was blessed with 20 tomato plants, and 10 bell pepper plants. When they were strong enough Hubby eagerly planted them in the garden. They were beautiful, they smelt wonderful, they were just starting to take root…..and we got a massive hail storm that crushed several pepper plants, knocked the majority of my blueberries off the bushes, and completely destroyed all but 2 tomato plants. Ya’ll I could have cried right there in the garden holding my smashed tomato plants. It hurt my heart.
Then there’s the lack of rain. It didn’t rain between April and June. It did rain in the beginning of June, then didn’t rain again until the hail storm which produced more ice than actual rain. We finally got good rain last night, but it isn’t enough. The ground is dry, the grass is withered, and the dust flies around like you’re in the desert. My strawberry plants are withered and sad. The farmer’s market strawberries are a terrible price, all because of the lack of rain. Oh how we depend on the water! Especially here with our terrible well water. The well has been running low and the amount of iron and sludge we’re sucking up has rendered my fancy ridiculously priced filtration unit useless. When it rains the well water is good enough to get some laundry done. But even then the laundry is prioritized, with work uniforms being the main thing that is washed, and things like regular t-shirts and even bed sheets falling to the wayside to wait until we get another good rain or when I have time to go the laundromat.
It also means less water for the animals. The animals drink the water from the rain barrels. When the barrels are empty it gets dicey. It is simply too expensive to buy water for them. We live across the street from the river so when some of the cottagers aren’t there we sneak onto their docks and fill buckets from the river, but even the river is low this year. A sympathetic neighbour who pumps her water from the river has offered us water from her hose for the animals. It saves us from hanging off a dock trying to scoop water. Oh how we are blessed with such a good community!
When we finally got a good rain in the beginning of June, and all the rain barrels filled up, I went to the pet store and bought some goldfish to help keep the algae and the mosquito larva down. They’ve been doing a great job, but slowly but surely they keep dying off. I started with 8. I’m now down to 4. It’s depressing to come home and find another fish floating on the top of the barrel.
Our apple trees and pear trees seem to be doing well. Hubby bravely faces the mosquitoes every night to water the trees. Although we did plant them too close together and then had to dig them back up again and move them farther apart. We like to do things wrong the first time so we can spend more time doing it again, clearly. Thankfully the trees hadn’t taken root yet and survived the rearranging just fine.
As much as my day job has driven me to the brink of utter insanity, I’m happy that the extra income is there. We’re buying more fencing this year, we want a load of logs dropped off for firewood, I’m going to have to do a ton more shopping at the farmer’s market this year due to my sad garden, and I’m working on a meat order with local farmers to fill our freezer.
Bad years don’t mean you stop, they just mean you dig in a little deeper and hope you can wait it out.
On the positive side, all the kids that were born this year have left and gone to good homes. We are keeping one kid this year, Bailey, the little calico doe that Chelsea gave us.
My freezer is BURSTING with milk. Fresh glorious milk!
I have more eggs than I can sell, and I finally got the rest of the garden planted with beans, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, pumpkins, squash and zucchini. I’m going to attempt to get a row or two of carrots and radishes in too before too much longer. It’s late but better than never.
Don’t ever think the simple life is simple. It’s rough, man! It takes a special kind of determined to keep going even when everything is going against you.
I sincerely hope your summer is off to a better start than mine!