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Anti Peta

Yet another year in the books.

We ended up doing a lot more farming than homesteading this year. Spent more time with machinery, both fixing and operating. Drove miles to make lots of hay.

We had a decent garden and kept up with the weeds pretty well. We are looking at phasing out potatoes. They are an easy crop to do and we like raising them under hay rather than dirt but they are pretty cheap in the store for now. We have the experience and can go back to them if we really need to. Most other stuff will stay around. We tried purple cauliflower last year and it was great we will be doing that this spring. We have decided to investigate a local produce auction for started plants this year rather than start a lot of our own. Again, after talking to folks, this looks like a cheap option and we do know how o do our own starts if we need to.

Having 2 people working full time really puts a crimp on the time available for a lot of things. Streamlining our operation for the time being will allow us to pay more attention to other things.

We sold 3 halves of beef last year and a lot of raspberries. One of our better money making years. We would like to focus on things that will bring in some money to help pay things off so somebody can stay home eventually.

We also made a couple of bad decisions that cost us bit but nothing insurmountable.

We want to continue to improve the land we bought and clean up the sheds that came with it. We accomplished a lot last year but there is a lot left to do.

Overall I'm not displeased with the way things shaped up but we still have some thinking to do on our overall goals.

Well another year is almost done. How are things shaking out? Well, not too bad overall.

We only had 2 calves this year. Lack of room was a big issue this year. I gutted the chicken coop in preparation to building a new one and we kept 2 in there loose. The bigger one (Jethro) ended up banging up the smaller one and it died. So we had to buy another one later on and it was raised outside in the smaller coop. Our garden was pretty good this year but again, the weeds defied any method of controlling them short of constant weeding. We weeded religiously the first few weeks, and seemed to be ahead, then all of a sudden we were inundated. While I was on vacation in late Aug I made good headway but 2 weeks later you could hardly tell where I had been. It would be nice if we could afford to have either Tammy ot I stay home so that we could keep up with this but for the moment we have to accept a weedy garden. The only upside is that we have plenty of stuff for the compost pile. I have noticed that in some cases having weeds keeps the ground shaded and moist. However a good layer of mulch will do the same and look much better. We had what seemed like less stuff planted but did put more away than we have yet so the battle with the weeds is slowly turning our way.

Neighbors and friends are wonderful things to have. Our neighbor (and friend) sold most of his farm this spring but kept a few acres for himself. He let us make hay on what was left of an old alfalfa stand if we promised to give him a few bales for his pygmy goats. We made 3 crops of hay and that will provide the bulk of our winter feed. The guy we bought our place from (a friend) owns the land around us and allowed us to make some hay from a small grassy field. We made 3 cuttings off that as well, not as good on the production but will fill in quite well. We also made 2 cuttings from the feedlot turned new seeding he let us work up this spring and 2 cuttings from our own acre in back. So we are set for hay this year.

Our farmer neighbor planted a bunch of veggies on his land and we traded some of our surplus for some of his. He really enjoys Tammys goat milk cheese as well. Trading and bartering still have a place in todays society.

We tried a new method for the calves this year. We tether them to a homebuit hutch and move the hutch every day or so. Jethro has been out on the back acre taking care of the 3rd crop. And Toby has been cleaning up around the yard. This method works OK but I don't think we will do it again. It does not allow us to work with the calves daily like we used to. I like to have calves that are trained to lead. Makes moving them easier. So next year I am looking at keeping them in a shed overnight and leading them out to tether during the day. But we could use the hutches as tether points for the calves. The bigger yearlings will have to be tethered to trees and stakes.

The goat idea is working out pretty well. We have an abundance of milk even with 1 goat dried off all ready. Tammy has learned to make cheese, and we give the occasional quart or so to her folks. We were able to feed out Toby almost exclusively on goat milk which saved us over 60 bucks in milk replacer. And we hope to raise 2 more next year the same way. So don't be afraid to try new things if they have the ability to get you towards your goal. I think I mention it a few times-be flexible!

We will be buying about 7 acres of land directly behind us. Along with the old feedlots we have been working with it also includes and old turkey shed and a fairly decent machine shed. When our neighbor was running beefers we didn't worry too much about our hay supply he usually had excess we could buy at a decent price and we trust him to provide good stuff. But now that he's out of the biz we were looking to provide our own. Being able to work the old feedlots for free was a nice idea and we were grateful for the opportunity but we always felt that we were running on borrowed time. It was no secret that our friend was looking to sell and would if he could. So we took a big leap and put in an offer. Now any work I have done won't be wasted, and we don't have to worry about someone building a house right behind us. The turkey shed is in pretty bad shape and will take a lot of work just to save parts of it. We will need to get water and electricty out to them but we are confident that with a bit of work and a little investment we should have a decent place to expand any part of our operation we would care to. Tammy has visions of milking lots of goats.

Our chickens did well this year again. We upped the price to 8 bucks a bird due to feed costs and we sold 65 out of the 100 we started with. If we can get the word out a bit more I would like to expand the meat bird setup. Our layers are looking good and should be laying this month or next. We will have to see how that market shapes up.

We sold a few rabbits to our brother-in-laws brother for his pet store but that's kind of petered out. Tammys brothers are looking to buy a bunch to eat. We hope to be down to 2 does and a buck and any little ones this fall. I am looking at raising redworms and using rabbit poop for that. There are a bunch of old live bait machines in the machine shed we are buying and maybe I can talk our friend into letting me have one. We live near a popular river and the bait biz might be something worth getting into.

Still haven't bothered with pigs. I do not feel that I know enough about them to jump in yet. Haven't had time to research like I want to. With the price of corn where it is I need to find more info on pasturing them and that's not too easy to find. I do know a guy that raises them and sells them individually and we will be buying one from him sometime in the future. We may need to add a goat or 2 to feed out any if we decide to raise some ourselves.

So like I said, not a bad year all in all. We tried some new things, improved on some old things and are doing pretty well.

So far I have learned a few things.

Our original intent was to have a milk cow and a beef cow. With less than one acre available for pasture this has proven to be rather tricky. This summer with the lack of rain our pasture was pretty well decimated and we needed to buy in hay. Something which I was happy to do for winter but not so happy to do for summer. I believe we will do away with the milk cow.

We tried goats milk and discovered that it is a very acceptable replacement for cow milk. Plus Tammy can make soap with the excess and sell that.

So we will trade our idea of 5 gallons a day from a cow for 1 gallon a day from a goat. This will allow us to raise our beefer better and cheaper. Hopefully the pasture will suffice for one cow during the summer. The goat tethers around the property and doesn't interfere with the pasture.

Rabbits are very pricey to raise on pellets alone.

With the large amount of bunnies we had this year I was unable to tractor them all. Due to lack of space and grass. The mill wants 13 dollars for 40 lbs of pellets. Fleet wants 9 for 50 lbs. A bag doesn't go far. The plan right now is to butcher all the rabbits and not do them again. However if we were to keep 1 doe and buck and tractor the offspring it might be OK to do. Otherwise I believe for the amount of meat it's not worth the price.

CornishxRocks do better if you restrict their feed intake and allow them access to pasture. And they should be butchered around 8-10 weeks.

The first year we did these birds I kept their feeders full all the time and lost about 15 or so out of 100. Last year I decided to only feed twice daily and lost 0 out of 50. this year I lost 0 out of 77.

This year the birds came around June 14 and we butchered most the last week of Aug and first week of Sep. We had good looking carcasses with little fat. We didn't get 11 done until the last week of Oct and they had tons of fat on them. All that fat makes them a pain to process and since we don't use the fat it is expensive to feed them that long.

Only plant what you really want to eat.

2 years now we have planted broccolli and nobody wants to eat it, so it basically goes to waste out in the garden. We are going to look carefully at our garden plans for next year and only plant what has been proven to be used. Maybe 1 or 2 experimntal things but those results will be noted and factored into the next garden.

I like mulching better than composting.

After the original planting and a couple of weedings we put a lot of old bedding down between rows. It rotted down well over the summer and kept the weeds at bay. It works into the soil well in the fall and spring.

It also works well when used for planting potatoes. We work the soil a bit, place the eyes on the soil and cover with a good layer of old hay or bedding. We may have to add a bit over summer to keep the spuds covered. The bedding rots down well by fall and it's a lot easier to fork aside the mulch to get your spuds than digging them out of the ground.

Overall the most important thing I have learned is that you need to be flexible. Have a goal and a basic plan, but allow for changes in the plan as long as they will help you toward your goal.