2018 held so much for my small business – how exciting it is to look forward to 2019! Here are just a few highlights:
January: Feed planning, repaired/rebuilt existing goat run fence, clearing field for spring planting, overblown greenhouse
February: First batch of baby chicks, our first attempt at goat breeding (1 girl liked Solomon but the other didn’t!), and Darryl suffered the first of many injuries (he’s now happily living indoors with my parents)
March: Started more than 100 tomato and 100 pepper plant seeds, finished coop expansion in time for our neighbor’s chickens to join my flock, had my first experience with culling, Darryl suffered his second major injury – nearly lost a hind foot!
April: seedlings start going in the greenhouse for hardening, I dropped a huge post on my foot and was lucky to escape with only a puncture between my toes, borrowed our neighbor’s goat to breed our other female goat, chicks start moving outside – and I try to stop coming home from the feed store with new ones!
May: Begin barn remodel – tearing out old wall and floor, rebuilding interior wall and adding door, setting posts and constructing fence. More plants in the ground, lots of weed pulling, flower seeds to scatter, grasses to pull for chickens. I was gifted a baby girl goat by a friend and had my first experience bottle raising – she’s such a sweet gal! – and even took her to visit my Gran while she was undergoing rehab from a stroke. A peacock wandered onto the property one fine morning and scared me to death…and a blacksnake appeared on the porch one night!
June: Pool time makes for an excellent respite from weed pulling, harvesting, planting, mowing, constructing, tree and brush removal, and the gazillion other tasks that make up farm life. Borrowing my roommate’s convertible for egg and produce deliveries is another fine perk as summer begins to arrive in all its glory. Oh – I succeeded in bringing home now more chicks…but did bring home a duckling and a turkey baby. Ha! Plants are flourishing and I’m enjoying fresh produce each day.
July: I finished the goat run expansion in time for the first goat baby to be born on our property – such squeals of delight we had! We also purchased two more goats (mama and son) from friends (that was a hot drive but well worth it). I started canning pickles, salsa, and jams. We had yet more unexpected animal visitors – this time it was two horses from just down the street that decided to explore.
August: Friends and family continue to visit the farm – kids love running around and holding the animals. Every minute I’m not collecting eggs (40+/day now) or harvesting produce is spent preserving it. We are getting a quart a milk per day from our goat and starting to make our own yogurt, cheese, and ice cream in earnest. I also freeze milk for use over winter when mama goats are being bred/resting from milk production.
September: We take some time to catch our breath from a busy summer with a trip to our local Renaissance Festival. Baby girl goat #2 was born with no great fuss and is a sweet addition to our herd. We start making weekly trips to a local orchard for apples and peaches – jam is already in high demand and we’re preparing for a market event next month. My roommate started making soaps with our goat milk and decided to start her own small business too (Ask me about Francis Farms products!).
October: Turkey flew the coop – opting to explore the property on his own instead of living with either chickens or goats. As of publication he’s still around…but living on borrowed time. I’m thankful the days are beginning to shorten as I need to catch my breath. Time to start producing goods for sale over winter when egg production slows. Socks, blankets and canned good begin to stack up in my self-described workroom at the front of the house. The sales event is such a success that we book two more for later this year.
November: snow comes early this year. Chickens enjoy cast off pumpkins. Roommate has major back surgery that was wildly successful and she’s feeling fit as a fiddle these days. Colder, darker days mean happy dogs as I’m inside more often.
December: Finish up sales event, work to keep poultry and goats warm and dry through the winter. Willow – the border collie that arrived on our farm last year – needed to have her front leg amputated. She’s doing great and already gets around better than most of us two-legged creatures. I ordered my first ever batch of mail-order chicks – found a great deal on colored egg layers and decided to let go of fear and give this method a shot! They arrive later this week.
So what’s in store for 2019? Well, we’ll breed our 4 goat girls – we plan to sell the Alpine babies and milk those two mamas. If the smaller girls are bred to an Angora and have girl babies we may keep them for the fiber. Most of the produce I grow will be tomatoes and peppers as there is high demand for my salsa – but I’ll grow other things from household use. We plan to add plum trees and beehives to the orchard, plant more wildflowers, seed the lower field with grains for the goats, and start clearing some of the overgrown back property. We’d love to see a return of wild turkeys and pheasants to the property!
Oh – and I’ve promised Leora that any strays that stick around will be turned over to the proper authority so they can find another home – Darryl and Willow spent some serious time (and money!) and the vet this year!
PS: My darling Sumatra turns 10 next month…I may need to make her a cake.