January. It snows. A lot. We have serious issues with water as keeping our well pumping all the way up the hill to the house proves to be a bigger challenge than had even been expected. Repeated periods of days and days without water nearly have me ready to head back to the old farmhouse. But we love heat and insulation. We love our new farmhouse! We persevere and the water situation is finally resolved.
We also build a goat house and meet the newest member of our farm family. It’s our first wonderful winter on the farm!
February. It snows. More. We can’t get up the driveway and sometimes can’t get down the road. I worry about supplies on days we’re snow-stuck. But, we have a bottle baby! Plus five more sheep. And we have our first experience with shearing sheep (and trimming their hooves). (Poor Mr. Cotswold.)
Never mind the chasing them around the yard for an hour because we don’t know enough to herd them into the pen first. We’re learning! In other excitement, Clover takes a trip!
We’re hoping for babies! (Not Admiral’s!)
March. It’s still snowing. And I’m tangling with Mean Rooster, who has risen to king-like dominance in the chicken yard. It is just the beginning of a battle that will go on for most of the year.
I learn to knit and Coco has an unfortunate affair, which thank goodness does NOT end in babies.
We bring in mounds of compost. We’re ready for a garden and ducklings and chicks and everything that is SPRING.
April. We have a fencing party! Fencing the meadow bottom completes an effort that was begun even before the first block was laid for the house. I am as helpful as can be expected.
It feels like a real farm now. We move the sheep down to their new pasture growing with green, green grass. We lose our dear little Nigerian Dwarf wether Honey, but will soon gain a new fainting goat buckling, Pepsi. We also have a little bit of fun with Annabelle’s tail: Part One and….
….Part Two. And! I also appear in a feature story on West Virginia Public Radio.
May. The leaves are finally on the trees! Spring is so beautiful here!!!! Winter? What winter? We have new chickens and ducklings….
….and a new dog (Boomer!) and a new kitten, who eventually settles on the name Kitten.
We plow the garden and plant by the moon. Life is good!
June. We have piglets! And a miniature donkey. (Poky!)
And another miniature donkey. (Jack!) And I keep wondering if Clover is pregnant and SHE WON’T TELL.
I put the ducks on the pond and move more chickens into the chicken house. Our farm is growing by leaps and bounds!
July. It’s a strange summer, almost cool.
The little hen that couldn’t takes over my heart when she tries and tries to sit on a nest.
We lose her in a raccoon attack and I don’t take any prisoners. We finally accept that Clover isn’t pregnant and plan our next move, a new Nigerian Dwarf buckling. Our garden grows! Let the canning begin. I won’t face another winter in the boonies unprepared.
August. Kitten, and our new “little kitten” Little begin an enduring love affair that continues to today.
The last of this year’s chicks graduate to free-ranging and we lose all but one of our ducks on the pond.
But wait, there’s a happy ending! At least, for now….. Keeping ducks is harder than I expected.
September. We lose Pepsi suddenly. It’s a hard blow after losing Honey earlier in the year. I consider establishing a goat nunnery. We have two new fainting goat does, Sprite and Fanta, and no buck.
Preparing for the winter ahead takes over the farm. After putting up everything I can from my own garden, I’m putting up all kinds of fruits and vegetables scored for free from the farmers market. (I tell you how to do it, too.)
October. I love autumn! It’s my favorite time of the year!
I tell you how I spend an ordinary day. You all name our new fainting goat buckling Mr. Pibb! And my eldest child prepares to leave the nest as he joins the Navy’s nuclear program.
Change is in the air! And some of it is hard.
November. I’m feeling the pressure as the last fruit of the season is put up for winter.
In an unusual turn of events, Clover actually helps me. In other news, Mean Rooster passes away, leaving our battle of wills unfinished. I also head toward the end of the year with just one duck. And in final preparations for winter, we bring in a wood stove and I learn how to use it (or not). Good thing because winter comes calling early. I still dream about a barn.
Some things just have to wait till next year….
December. It’s another homemade holiday as simple crafts and recipes I’ve been working on all year save the day.
Winter arrives in force, and this becomes my photo of the year.
It’s been a year, like every year, of ups and downs. Some hard losses, and some joyful gains. We have sheep and miniature donkeys, and we’re on our way to completing our mini-herds of Nigerian Dwarf and fainting goats. My goal is to keep two does and one buck each. We have more chickens, and fewer eggs. WHICH MAKES NO SENSE. But we keep trying. Perhaps the staff just needs additional training. There’s always hope. There’s always next year. We learn more all the time, and hopefully get better all the time at this simple, complicated, beautiful thing called farming. In the coming year, I hope we will finally make our own farm babies We have spent the last year and a half laying in our breeding stock. Next year is the year we will breed. It’s the next stage in the farm. There will be more ups and downs, more joys…and more sorrows.
But we will triumph over the downs and celebrate the ups. And today? Today is good.
This is my now.
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