This post is long overdue…my apologies. If that’s not an indicator of what kind of fall it’s been I don’t know what is. I write this as Baby Girl is asleep for her morning nap. She insists on ‘helping’ Momma type any time I sit at the desk, so I thought I’d grab a quite moment to update you all.
October saw the last 160 of our chickens harvested. It was a relief in a sense to see them go because it meant that the load around the farm got lessened just a little bit more. And with the cool nights and the heavy frosts it was best that they weren’t around to get too cold. The sizes this year were smaller than others, but we free-ranged WAY more. Free-ranged so much that neighbours were calling us to tell us that the chicken crossed the road…no joke! But overall, we were extremely happy with our move to organic feed. The taste (we feel) increased again, giving a yummy roast chicken dinner! Shawn’s been having fun going over the numbers…feed costs, total pounds of chicken raised, you name it! He’s a numbers guy. I’m not. But I’m thankful that someone is happy to sit down and see where we need to improve.
Throughout the fall Shawn’s also been working very hard to get our firewood home from the woods. We are fortunate to have about 30 acres of woodland on our property and thus our heat for the winter! However, there’s a lot of work between beautiful standing trees and small, cut logs ready for the wood stove. We made a switch last year to an Wood Doctor, which is an outdoor boiler of sorts. It’s been great but man does that thing eat wood!! Last year it burnt 12 cords to heat our home…so Shawn’s been hauling home A LOT of wood! We have 12 cords home and in our wood barn now, but we’re continuing to take more home. Shawn is also going to work on making the Wood Doctor more efficient over the winter so hopefully we’ll burn less wood. It’s wonderful to be married to an Industrial Electrician who knows his stuff 🙂 Having this woodland means that we get to see our land ‘work’ for us and helps us to be that much more sustainable!
Between hauling home wood, we’ve been continuing to care for the remaining animals. We still have our 24 turkeys who will be butchered for Christmas dinners. They are pretty minimal work, but still take water and feed and letting out and locking up each day! In addition, the 7 piglets continue to roam their fenced pasture section. They are pretty easy in terms of the work, as we switched to a huge hog feeder this year and they have water nipples with a continuous water supply. They’ve been enjoying feasting on apples and pumpkins this fall, which always makes for a tasty meat and a healthy pigs!
The two groups of laying chickens (organic and regular) keep supplying us with lovely eggs, but as they days get shorter the egg supply drops. We don’t put light on them to force them to lay more, but let nature take its cycle. The chicks and ducklings we hatched this summer are almost full grown now and are making nice additions to the flock!
The garden this summer was…well…a flop! Our tomatoes didn’t start to ripen until VERY late (even though I started the plants in March!!) and then we were hit with at least two very early frosts. We tarped them, but we weren’t very successful in saving many. The rest of the garden just didn’t seem to excel as well as hoped. We did have a great crop of yellow beans, green beans and snap peas during the summer though! And the herbs did great – they bushed up well, but I was too slow in keeping up with them! Overall, the main thing was that we got the garden moved! Which was a huge accomplishment! Thank you, Shawn! It wasn’t easy to get done, especially with Shawn working long hours of overtime in the middle of moving the garden, but it got done! We still have to fence it in, but that is most likely going to be a job for the spring at this point. It’s been my dream to have a raised-bed garden, with wide walking paths so I’m very excited that we are working on getting it done.
We have decided to keep our two sows and will breed them around December. We’ve learned a few lessons from keeping them last winter and having an unsuccessful breeding. We have also arranged a warm and cozy barn that they will be boarding in this winter. We are also very excited to be buying the boar that we rented last winter, so we are hopeful for a much better outcome with baby piglets next spring!
Overall, it’s been a busy fall and at times a very challenging fall. With a couple weeks of rain, increasingly short days and a very long to do list it’s got us feeling a bit worn down. I (Leanne) caught a nasty cold bug, which knocked me to the couch for a week, but I’m starting to feel better now and we’re working on moving forward. Shawn and I have taken a few evenings to talk about our dreams and goals for the farm over the next year and are getting excited and our passion for the farm is coming back. If we’ve learned anything from this busy season on the farm, it’s that we need to take time and focus on us and our health.
Winter for us is always a much needed time to slow down, reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead! And we’re excited for all that the next year will bring!