Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Winter time at Harrison Farm

I love my little farm, with all its tedious nuances.  In the winter time, it can be more of a struggle to complete the daily chores.  There were many things that required extra attention today.  The livestock need more calories in this weather so that their bodies can keep them warm, and thus I end up carrying more hay & grain to them through the snow.  They still need fresh water (especially since they are only a few weeks from kidding & lambing), and the ancient frozen water lines of the barn often result in me carrying bucket after bucket of water from the house to fill their troughs.  The chickens do well tucked into their little henhouse, but I have to check for eggs frequently.  In these cold temperatures, the eggs will literally freeze and crack open.  This is the reality of a small farm.

With the cold weather which we have had this week, I have been extremely grateful that my little farm is in a good situation.  I am relieved that I made the decision to scale down my herds, as it is much more manageable with only 30 goats and 15 sheep.  I am pleased that the mothers which I kept are strong & hardy, and are proving themselves very capable of tolerating this weather.  I am grateful that the animals bred later in the fall, and will not be having babies until March.  And, I am delighted that the twin lambs -- who were surprise arrivals in January -- are growing well thanks to a wonderful mother sheep.  In particular, I am happy that my work schedule at Jorgensen Farms has slowed down, allowing me to be home at my farm this week.

I have never lost my amazement at the beauty of winter snow on the farm.  And the resultant challenges just make me more proud of my tough animals . . . And also make me hope that I am becoming tougher.  Farming truly builds character.  That character develops from being frozen and kicked and peed on.  It comes from making mistakes, and learning from them so that future situations are better.  It comes from falling over in the snow while carrying a bale of hay, from spilling a bucket of water that immediately freezes on your overalls, from chasing the goat that always gets out through drifted snow.  Truly, farming is a rare education.

Farmers do take great pride in being "tough".  There are times when I wonder why anybody would farm (Come be a farmer!  Work long hours in bad conditions for little pay with no time off!), but I cannot imagine my life any other way.  I admit that I can fall prey to the temptation to mock those I hear complaining on the local news on how terribly miserable it is to have to walk from their house to their car in this weather to drive to their 40-hour per week job with benefits.  The reality, though, is that every life and every job has its struggles.  I am blessed to have a life that has made me tougher, made me more resourceful, and taught me to value the good things around me.  Farming is difficult, but it builds integrity.  I wish everyone could have the opportunity to deliver a baby lamb and watch it grow.  I wish everyone could learn the reward of accomplishing something that is truly a physical struggle, like baling hay in the hot summer sun.  I wish everyone had to slaughter their own meat at some point, and come to terms with the reality of the cycle of life for both animals and humans.  I wish everyone could have the pleasure of baking cookies with eggs from their own chickens or grilling chops from an animal they raised.  Farming is tough, but there are few things better for building integrity.

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