One nice thing about autumn is the waning daylight hours. While I may very well regret the lack of sunlight in the coming months, at present I am relishing it. The darkness of night forces us to quit working outdoors and settle in for the evening, allowing us to eat dinner at a reasonable time and get some much needed paperwork (and blogging!) done before bed.
Fortunately along with the reduction in daylight hours comes a reduction in duties, or at least that’s the idea. With as many animals as we have our work is never done, but the weeds have slowed down and we’re no longer planting new crops so we have a little more space to breathe. The farmer’s market season has ended and we’re in the home stretch of our CSA, with only three weeks left. At the end of October Sam will be leaving the farm, and Andrew and I will be back to the drawing board, coming up with new ideas for next year while we keep our little wood burning stove alight.
This season was quite a whirlwind. Some random highlights include:
* The switch in seasons as marked by the transition from horrible buzzing mosquitoes to horrible buzzing cluster flies (it turns out our home built house is NOT air tight. Surprise surprise.) I (along with the many spiders in the house) have become an insect serial killer
* Making homemade kombucha, water kefir, sauerkraut, mead, tomato sauce, jam, pickles, dilly beans, picked beets, chicken stock, salsa, preserved lemons, applesauce, apple cider vinegar, noccino, and shrub (to name a few!)
* An (unsuccessful but fun!) overnight trip into the mountains to try and see the Aurora Borealis
* Farm yoga sessions with our friends at a neighboring farm
* Three hours spent chasing our brand new ewe who escaped into the “wilds” of 100 or so farm acres
* One edible trout we finally caught in our “backyard” river
* ~600 broiler chickens successfully slaughtered at the farm by us and an army of volunteers
* Zero major injuries, despite Andrew’s repeated attempts to ride “piggy back”
With the craziness of another farm season under our belts comes some powerful lessons. We have learned that there is way too much going on for just the two of us, and even with Sam’s help we were often overwhelmed. We’re going to have to figure out how to make our vision sustainable for the long haul, especially if we plan on raising a family some day. Additionally, owning our own business has been a lesson in fiscal responsibility and management. Next year I will need to invest in some software to help me better track our accounts. Stashing crumpled receipts in our Carhartt pockets or the truck dashboard to be added to Excel spreadsheets later is probably typical behavior for farmers, but not so great for business owners!
Unfortunately this season I have been struggling with a general lack of energy, likely caused by a combination of stress, irregular eating habits, and an underlying blood sugar issue. It’s a difficult dilemma, because work on a farm is truly never done. When the sun sets I spend much of my evening writing emails and catching up on paperwork, when mostly I just want to crawl into bed and sleep for twelve hours. This is part of why I have been so bad about updating this blog! We knew going into this that this farm gig wasn’t just a job, but a lifestyle. We are so lucky to have found something we’re passionate about, and I would never complain about our (chosen!) circumstances. It is important to be honest though, and admit that there are times I feel a real apprehension about this life. I have met many farmers who feel chained to their land/animals/crops, and never seem to find time to take a break. This is not how we feel yet, although with our growing animal herds it may prove harder and harder to find a good “farm sitter.”
My solution to that problem is to take a vacation this month while Andrew and Sam hold down the fort! Next week I’ll be visiting my sister in Maine, and get to meet my baby niece Juniper for the first time! My dad, uncle, and spouses will also be there so it will be a wonderful mini reunion. I’m looking forward to some time away, where I can rejuvenate my body and soul (and take hot showers on the daily!).