Time has come to look back on our farming year, to gauge, to assess, to ponder before we start in a matter of weeks to plan more seriously and dreamily for next year (there’s always another year). This has been a really difficult year for the goats and us. The mild wet Winter followed by a long cold and wet lead-into a glorious short Spring followed by a rather wet Summer has been really tough on the animals. We have not been proactive enough perhaps and ended up having to use chemical worming preparations for the first time in all the years of keeping goats. Never again! we have gotten wiser. To make things worse, a recent newcomer from a commercial herd has brought in a rather serious disease of the lymphatic system which is now affecting all, but that we do hope to cure Homeopathically.
In the garden this has been one great year of feeding the slugs. I hope they love us, we don’t necessarily want slugs hugs nor kisses, though. When we harvested our garlic I felt that it was a really poor yield, but we got about 2 kilos and that is really good in comparison to what came from other quarters : 5 black currants (literally), lots of redcurrants that we donated to the birds as we were completely engrossed in hay-making, 17 carrots, 12 beetroots, a decent amount of medium-sized onions, 5 black radishes, 3 celeriacs, a dozen munched-up Chinese cabbages (a slug favourite, L did find enough uneaten leaves to produce a vat-full of kimchee), 250g of beans, a decent quantity of courgettes (but not enough, courgettes are never enough as far as I am concerned), half a kilo of potatoes, a reasonable amount of herbs, quite a few strawberries that had to be harvested before ripening so that neither the slugs nor the ants ate them (until the little creatures got faster/wiser and probably got funny digestive tracts as a result), enough raspberries to make delicious frozen yoghurt and frozen kefir, a decent amount of cherry tomatoes in our tiny green house (mostly green), a small basketful of tiny tiny tiny apples (tiny but delicious), 7 plums. In other words, it has been a disaster. Perhaps, in living memory the worst year for growing food outdoors in the northwest : there will definitely be a tunnel in our future.
However, the cabbages and kale that did not get mauled at the early stages are keeping us relatively happy now alongwith some nice winter salads. Thank goodness for Hubert’s carrots, onions, swedes and potatoes (and delicious lamb), thank goodness for Knockvicar‘s plentifulness. What did we learn (apart from a good way to keep eggs in salt, it works!) ? Patience and understanding, I hope, of the needs of other species, gratitude, again, at not being flooded or hurricaned or homelessed (I was homeless for a short time in my life and I value my shelter). Also we did save good hay and a good lot of branches of ash which L dried hanging under shelter and the goats are really happy with that—we hope we will have enough for them with the briars (brambles) until the growth comes round again. The growth will come round again. There is always another year.
Farming/ homesteading is definitely a delicate balance and a lifelong process of learning. I always said that I would not do something that his so dependent upon the weather, yet I find myself farming the land and growing a rather large garden. It was a tough year for us as well, but we are continuously blessed beyond measure. Keep up the good work. DrJeff7 http://heritagebreedsfarm.com
Blessed in the word isn’t it ? If you go through a year like this one then you really learn to appreciate every little thing you do grow and all the learning, and your neighbours ! Working with the land and the weather is the one way for me to know and enjoy my place on this earth. Good luck !
Yes it truly was a challenging year! I’m thankful for my small (bartered-for) tunnel. You are so right about courgettes fresh from the veggie patch – you can never have too many! Supermarket ones are just bleuch… So sorry to hear about your goats- hope they will recover to full health soon.
Thank you very much for your good wishes. Let’s start a Courgette Appreciation Society, veg-patchers so often decry their plentifulness !