Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Tuesday, December 25, 2012 9:43 AM
This morning, I read a post entitled "I Love My Life... No Really" by my friend Rachel over at Dog Island Farm. After talking on the phone with my breeder Sarah from Castle Rock Farm last night, discussing how much we're both ready to put 2012 behind us, Rachel's post really hit home.
"Sometimes as I'm trudging down to the goat barn in the dark, wet from rain and mud, to do my twice daily milking chore I have to wonder why the hell am I doing this?"Her post is well worth the read. And I couldn't have said it better myself.
The rains this winter have wrecked havoc on my barnyard, and due to a number of unexpected factors my garden was less than spectacular last summer. Heck, I never even got a winter garden in. But I sit here on Christmas morning with my box of seeds, seed catalogs, past garden plans, etc, a cup of coffee, and no worries about the rain outside as I start making plans for my 2013 garden.
I have a freezer full of meat that I've raised myself, a pantry of home canned fruit and veggies, more eggs than I sometimes know what to do with, and a couple of 3 gallon carboys with homemade cider happily bubbling away in the hall closet. This morning I picked oranges off one of my trees to enjoy with breakfast. Yes, I had to trudge through the muck and mire out to the barn to feed all the critters. But Tony greeted me with a number of gobbles, and Candy and Lulu bleated loudly to remind me they are in standing heat and wondering why I haven't made arrangements for their romantic tryst yet. Soon, my sweets. Very soon.
Sammy always wags his entire body as he runs over to greet me, and Pappy just wants his mutton chops scratched. Nali and Snow were snuggled together in one corner of the barn, and Gretel was happily munching away at the hay feeder. The rabbits come to the door of their pens when I stop by to feed them, several allowing me to give them a good rub behind the ears. And while the chickens and female ducks are happily munching away on the scratch I've tossed out, Spanky my drake is chasing at my heals protecting his ladies. Of course, I always squat down to give him some good rubs on his back with only the slightest protest. It's like a game for us.
This winter I've had to set up a pump in order to drain away standing water in my barnyard. I've shoveled and moved more mud and muck than I want to think about. And I now have a sandbag berm (pictured above) built to keep the water out of the hay barn and goat shed. But the animals are dry in their shelters and the rains are truly a blessing after last years winter drought. When I'm trying to get the pump to work while standing in 8-10" of standing water, or slopping through 4-5" of mud, it's hard to be thankful for all that water. But deep down, I truly am. We need the rains.
Around my homestead, winter is my downtime. The farm is in maintenance mode. And I have time to relax in my warm house and plan the upcoming projects for the spring and summer. I've returned to work after 7 months out on disability, so I'll have a regular paycheck coming in again. Once my taxes are filed, I'm hoping to have enough of a return to be able to afford to have a drainage system installed in the back yard. That's the big ticket item. I also want to build another raised bed under the picture window in the front yard. And I'm giving serious thought to a narrow concrete walkway around the perimeter of the barnyard. I plan on replacing my compost bins with a more stable wooden structure and with any luck I'll have enough time, money, and energy to finally build the goats a deck up on the barn extension.
Yes, those are some mighty big ideas. Some may happen, some will be pushed off to next year or beyond. But for now I'll spend my morning deciding which varieties of tomatoes and peppers I want to plant, and when I need to get them started.
Merry Christmas everyone! Here's looking forward to 2013!
((( HUGS )))
Kitty and the Critters