Sometimes you hit a wall, and you need to recognize when this happens. And put down your tools and walk away for the night.
The past month we’ve been playing catch up for an entire spring’s worth of work. We just now are harvesting radishes, which is so behind schedule! Our winter squash plants are just now sprouting, at the same time that the fall cabbages have been transplanted. The ground’s been so wet in this month of June, that even some of the conventional crop farmers are not putting in their crops at all- not enough days for the corn to grow, ripen and dry. Crazy. But their crop insurance covers it. We don’t have crop insurance, we have people who have paid us ahead of time for the work we’re doing, the foods we’re growing and the products they will receive. Yes, the CSA model does imply the customers sharing the risk of farming with us, but damn it, were not about to disappoint our members!
Our first share boxes began 1 month late at the end of May. We included wild harvested foods and whatever things we had. Thank god for the lady ducks laying lots of eggs and for the canned goods I’d stockpiled last fall, they filled the boxes up nicely. Because we are diversified, we can offer alternative products when our main crops are behind. I think our members understand this when they sign up with our farm- we are different, our products are diverse, and we’ll do all we can to get them goodness from our farm.
We don’t just offer vegetable CSA boxes, we also have Chicken Shares, Artisan Meat Shares and Pastured Turkeys. Today we began harvesting for our Summer Broiler Chicken Shares and Artisan Meat Shares. We spent the day with the rabbits, meat ducks and some of the Bubsters. Harvesting animals is exhausting, both mentally and physically. These are the little beings we nurtured and guided through their lives, knowing we’d be taking that back from them at the end. Talk about heavy shit.
My Love of the Bubsters has been ridiculous, as it always is, I just adore them, especially when they get super huge at the end. But I told Andrew last night, after we rounded them into their horsetrailer coop and brought them up to our harvesting area, that I don’t have any problem with harvesting them- it’s their role and purpose, and they are so delicious- it’s just that I’ll miss having them around. Those Bodacious Bubsters! Adorably they were crowing in the horse trailer this morning as I brushed my teeth.
So we were trying to stage today and tomorrow so we didn’t get too exhausted doing this intense work. After he’d harvested 20 rabbits and I’d done the egg chores, we headed into the 14 meat ducks and then the Bubsters. We’d gotten 18 Bubsters harvested, and I was tired. The meat ducks, Rouens, took WAY more time and energy than we thought to even make them presentable (dark pinfeathers – “Rouen my day”). Andrew wanted to keep going after the 18 Bubs, but I could tell we’d hit the wall. We start getting loopy and goofy with our conversation, I could tell we’re getting to that “zonkaroonie” point. Even though we have quite a few more Bubsters to harvest tomorrow, it’s no longer safe to be beheading chickens. So we got the chilled Bubs all finished and bagged and into the cooler, the new and improved harvesting area cleaned up. And now we’ll have some R&R so we can be raring to go tomorrow AM.
We’ve finally settled down a bit, after a few super chaotic months. The weather is lovely, the rain has been coming at rather proper intervals, there’s been no snow! The garden is rocking it (although the weeding is never ending- what’s new there,) our lady ducks are so HAPPY and are continuing to lay lots of eggs, the 3 piglets are growing like crazy and snort and grunt excitedly at dinnertime for their mash of organic grain, duck eggs and veggies. Our rabbits are doing well, a batch of 20 fryers was harvested along with the beautiful Bubs, and distributed to our awesome customers last week. The gorgeous heritage rooster chicks are growing super healthy and spunky- we haven’t lost a single one! and the adorable turkey babies are thriving, we’ve had a couple casualties, but better so far than previously, we’re learning from our mistakes. I am still nursing along one who’s just a strong little fighter, but with a badly splayed/bent incorrectly leg and cuddle with him on my chest when we watch movies at night. The goslings are enchanting and growing close to full size already, they will be joining the turkeys when we move them out to pasture. The biggest bummer is that sadly, our new flock of breeding geese have totally flopped on producing more offspring naturally. The 4 females that were on nests have failed- I even found a gosling had hatched, but was dead outside a nest. Ugggh. Total failure. I think we’ll be simplifying the geese flock and not trying to be a breeding farm- other people are way better at facilitating this, and we can support them and their efforts and business. There’s a place for both types of enterprise, and it is good to know what you do well and specialize in. Selling goose eggs was pretty fun, but it’s hard to figure out if it financially makes sense to maintain them for the majority of the year for just edible eggs. We’ll see what happens there.
The goats, well, they are doing just fine. Since I am not milking this year, I’ve really been rather hands off with them. Hay, water and a check in, but that’s about it. Amazing difference in my sanity level! I sold 2 of my best milking does to a nice couple starting a goat dairy soon. I’ll need to gather some milk for soap making at some point, but we’re STILL eating cheese from last year, which I stashed in the freezer. Some people act like it’s a crime for me to not be milking my goats, but this has been working well for me. 9 years it was, of milking every 12 hours. Say no more. A break is good stuff man.
I’m really happy, really content. The later part of the day, with the late sunset and long evening time to sit and just enjoy our animals, well, this is why I wanted to do this fulltime….it’s just really my dream job, come true. This took so much hard work and risk, sticking our necks out, with basically no pay, but we’re making it work still, and we have our customers’ commitment and support to thank for making this whole thing possible.
I fall asleep quickly, with dirty feet most nights. Living the Dream.