Our first year of farming..challenges and highlights! :)
It’s been quite a year on the farm. Although it has been described by experienced farmers as a “nightmare” year for growing crops and making hay, it has been a great learning experience for us. We’re so thankful for the support from family, friends, and so many new people we have met. If you have supported us in any way this past year – either with a meat purchase or with your prayers, we thank you so much! It means so much to us.
Here are some of the challenges and highlights from the past year:
Nick and Orville (the farmer we are working with) grew some organic corn. The wet spring made planting a challenge since the equipment can get stuck if it’s too wet. The early snow made harvesting a challenge for similar reasons.
The delayed harvest time due to wet, snow-covered fields and our aging equipment (which wouldn’t start if it was too cold) also made harvesting a challenge. However, we’re thankful that we did get all of the corn off of the field! 😊
Nick also learned a lot about making hay this summer. The weather patterns, with frequent rains, made making quality hay a challenge since the hay needs to dry in the field for at least 3 consecutive days before being baled.
Haylage, which only needs to dry for a day or two before being put in large bags to ferment, is nice to make when there are frequent rains since it needs less drying time in the field. So Nick and Orville made quite a bit of that.
The harsh winter last year also created a challenge for making hay this year, since much of the perennial alfalfa in the fields was killed over the winter and did not come back – which greatly decreased the amount of hay that could be made.
We were able to get a good amount of hay made, but due to the challenges, we will have to buy some additional hay as well to feed the cattle this winter.
We also learned a lot about more cattle this year.
Our plan changed a bit from our initial thoughts about what kind of cattle we would be keeping on the farm. We will be keeping more dairy breeds in addition to our beef breeds since both ourselves and the other farmers love fresh milk.
We will also be able to have more milk to feed chickens and pigs this way, which helps in our goal of keeping the farm soy-free.
We were able to watch the births of several calves, and Nick, with Orville, also “pulled” some calves that needed some help coming out. It was a lesson on life and death for the children when one of the cows birthed twins who were born deceased. We’re all learning so much.
We also raised some pigs, who were able to root up the front pasture to their heart’s content! They made several small ponds to wallow in, as they love to do. They loved all the extra milk, weeds, and extra produce from the garden! We will definitely be raising more pigs next year.
Another big highlight for the farm this year was the start of our private local foods club, which has weekly deliveries of products from our farm and other local farms. We have been able to meet so many wonderful families through the start of the club, and we’re very thankful. If you’d like to learn more, just let me know! 😊
Probably the biggest highlight from this year though is..
The kids love living in the country. They love getting muddy. They love catching chickens and putting them back in the coop for the night. They love collecting eggs. They love naming the calves.
They love climbing on the hay bales and the huge piles of chopped corn stalks that are used for bedding the cows in the winter. They love meeting all of the new children that come to play when their parents are picking up products from the farm.
Thank you to all who supported our farm this year. Every prayer, encouraging word, and purchase helps us to continue our work here and means so much to us.
Nick, Alicia, Sarai, Josiah, Elijah, and Ezra Fulton