Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Family, Farm, & Life Status Report

Well so much for more frequent updates. Wow, have we been busy. I will try to bring you up to speed with life, family, the farm, and the new farm.

I am no longer working part-time for the federal government. I left my position with the Natural Resource Conservation Service at the end of September, before the government shutdown. My role with agency had shifted (wetland determinations, high erodible land determinations (HEL), Conservation Reserve Program monitoring,  and the development of conservation plans) from being one that I found fulfilling to one where portions of our authority and responsibility to make decisions had been stripped away and moved out of the hands of my office. The result of that shift, left my position much more of a paper-pushing office job with little to no creativity or authority. My family and farm needed me more then I needed to keep doing that job.

On our farm we have completed our 2013 production system. In the first two weeks in October, we processed almost 50 turkeys, 100 broiler chickens, 50 stew hens, and 9 lambs. We also sold/traded two cow-calf pairs and just got a commitment on another cow calf pair. At the same time, we have had 5 little calfs born and are busy bouncing around the pasture playing together. We had a catastrophic predator attack on our remaining hens costing us ten hens and all of our two roosters in one night. It was the perfect storm of combined raccoon and fox strikes, and the last gasp for one of our pasture pens that is now being disassembled. The remaining 24 hens that we have left have not been outside since, so the color of our yokes is not as rich as I like to see it right now. One the sales from, we have commitments on all of our whole chickens right now, almost all of our turkeys, and beef continues to fly out the door. Lamb will start moving out this week as we distribute to Ames and Pella. I am pleased with strong sales of our product, especially since it has been so long since we have had some of it available for sale.

Little calves dot the hillside

When I have not been working on finishing the production season, I have been working out at the new place. Janice found a home daycare within 5 miles of the new farm and it is working out well for my son. He likes his environment much quieter then his sister and is fairly content to play with himself. He is doing well there and I am very pleased with the arrangement.

The new farm is a huge task and we have a limited amount of time to get things done before winter.  I figure that we have about 6 weeks to build a complicated drive way, clear off the rest of the trees (building sites and driveway lane), and level out the area where the new building is going. I have all of the trees along the new driveway mostly cleared off, the fence row has beed removed, the trees where the house site is located have been felled, but not cut-up, and the orchard trees we were planning on moving have been moved. We also started digging the driveway from the road. I think the next step will be to work on the driveway front he top side of the site access and pull the hill up. The driveway will enter the site 20 feet and begin to curve to the left (east).  We have to be nearly at grade by the time we cross the rural water line, just four feet past the fence.

Birth of a driveway

Cleared path the driveway will take as it climbs the hill (left/east)

I still feel like the hardest part of this task may have been clearing the trees among the road and just in from the fence. I must have cut down cropped up and largely hand drug over 100 trees in September & October. The pile of logs for posts & fire wood alone is sizable not to mention the rest of the degree. I am excited that I feel like the most tedious work is done. We were held-up a bit because the tractor died on me. It ate up much of a work day to get the fuel filter removed and replaced, and get the air bleed and worked out of the fuel lines, but it got done. I am not mechanically inclined, so I was pretty frustrated at multiple points during that process and am glad it is behind me. 

Family life is pretty good. I know Janice and I would like to see more of each other. We have a date night coming up, yay. We both know what we are working for will pay dividends and we are willing to make that sacrifice. I have enjoyed getting to know my son better over the last three months. He is quite attached to me and travel together a lot. He sits right next to me in the old blue truck and we sometimes break into pica boo with his travel quilt or copy-cat games during travel. My daughter is growing up very quickly. Her vocabulary has increased and the structure of here sentences has grown more complex since she started preschool. She wants to do more things by herself and help out around the house. I feel good knowing that she is at a quality preschool that I like and trust. I try to enjoy the time we get together since she often gets home latter in the evening. 

Vacuuming the living room before a house showing

Play-time with the kids

All and all, we are hanging in there. I have delayed the purchase of hay, because I did not know where we were going to be through the winter, but it is looking more and more like we will likely stay where we are at, since we don't have our new facilities up and running and we have not sold our home yet. Stay tuned as we move forward. If you made it to the end of this, then you are a die hard and I will try not to go a whole month between posts for a while. Stay tuned.