Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Looking Back: Things We've Done Right

Things we’ve done right in our three years here:

1)  Getting chickens.  That includes having our own layers and learning to butcher our own meat chickens.

2)  Getting Dexters.  While Sara is not the best representative of the breed, she has given us a marvelous heifer, and Siobhan has convinced us that we love cows, particularly Dexters.  The very helpful and friendly Dexter breeders we’ve met have also contributed to our enthusiasm.

3)  Getting pigs.  Herb getting to meet the Large Blacks at Nature’s Harmony Farm changed his perspective on pigs, and he caved in to my pleading for a pig when I found some on craigslist.  Now we’re both pig fans!

4)  Getting Muscovy ducks to eat flies in the barnyard.  Besides doing exactly what we raised them to do, they are beautiful and fun to watch.

5)  Finding Jeff McBryar, our butcher, and Jim Gifford, the breeder of our Berkshire crosses.  It’s so helpful to have local contacts that we can trust for their expertise in their particular area.

6)  Getting a smoker and vacuum sealer.  We are hooked after smoking our own bacon and ham, and Herb will probably smoke anything that lies still, including fresh salmon at Christmas.  The vacuum sealer will prevent freezer burn in our meat and produce.   It has even been useful in packaging bubble-wrapped bottles of homemade liqueur for air travel.

7)  Reading blogs.  I have learned so much from reading blogs, particularly Farming in France, Hope Refuge Farm, Sugar Mountain Farm, and Throwback at Trapper Creek.  I used to follow Nature Harmony’s Farm blog when they still had one, and this led us to their summer Farm School which was a tremendous help in giving us insight and direction—and leading us to pigs!

8)  Getting a generator.  It could have been a serious mistake not to get one sooner, but Herb managed to find one in time to save our meat last time the power went out.

9)  Making improvements over the past three years.  These include:

  • Getting our Kubota L-series tractor, one of the best decisions we've ever made.
  • Fencing our 20 x 30’ garden.
  • Fencing the barnyard.
  • Fencing the Home Pasture with no-climb horse fence so our tiny Dexter calves can be safe.
  • Hiring a crew to link all our fences and give us the large new pasture we call Kara’s Pasture.  They came with ideas that saved hundreds of feet of fencing, made our pastures more functional, and got the job done in a fraction of the time that Herb could have done it alone.
  • Converting half of a surplus shed into a brooder house.
  • Building a large chicken coop and moving it to the safety of the barnyard with water and electricity handy.
  • Piping water to the barnyard—it has saved us carrying countless buckets in freezing weather.
  • Running electricity to the barn—enabling us to have motion-detector security lights, unfrozen water in the winter, and a barn ceiling fan for hot weather.  A future project is to connect it up to the brooder house so we won’t need to run multiple extension cords.
  • Getting a head gate set up with a chute, small round pen and simple sweep gate.

10)  Doing this!  We love what we are doing for ourselves, for our children and grandchildren, for our animals, for this bit of creation God has given us to steward, and for friends and acquaintances we can share these blessings with.

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