As I look back on previous posts I realized it was time to lay out our goals for this upcoming year. Technically speaking we are already 3 months into the new year but for farming most of the yearly goals happen after the snow melts. Since there is still 2 feet of snow on the ground and the temperature is still in the single digits there is a little time to contemplate what we want to accomplish this year on the farm.
First a look at last year’s goals:
- Remodel the bathroom: This goal is still in progress, I would say 1/3 of the way done. We have learned that bathrooms are harder and more expensive to remodel than any other room in the house except the kitchen.
- Roof the barn: Unfortunately the steel for the barn is still in the shed rather than on the barn.
- Cut trees, burn brush, and plant orchard: We cut the trees out of the orchard plot but the brush still needs to be gathered and burned before we plant trees.
- Build a movable duck coop: Goal accomplished!
- Repair chicken coop: The door to the coop has been repaired but the bottom board along the foundation of the barn still needs replacing.
- Mulch vegetable garden, flower beds, and herb garden: All the flower beds were happily mulched this year. We mulched a good portion of the garden but a few escaping chickens destroyed that handy work so we may not repeat it next year. The herb garden still awaits mulching day.
Recap of last year is finished. Many of these goals will be on the list for this year but I hope we have better luck accomplishing them. We have a new baby this year so it is hard to say how many goals I will be able to tick off the list.
- Put new steel on barn roof.
- Finish bathroom remodel.
- Burn brush from orchard
- Mulch herb garden
- Make new nesting boxes for chicken coop and repair outside.
- Fix foundation crack in pig pen.
Most of my goals are fix-it goals this year but buying an old farmstead requires a lot of fix-it work. New babies also have low stamina for hanging out in strollers or bouncy seats outside while mom and dad work on projects so attainable goals are what I’m after this year.
Everyday chores get a little harder to do in the winter time. Especially when the winter starts to seem like the never ending winter from Narnia. For example today is nice and sunny at 21 degrees and we have accumulated about 24″ of snow so far this season in northwestern Wisconsin. I know it is not the harshest winter we have had but we are running out of places to put all the snow.
The critters have hunkered down for the cold season. The goats have been snuggling together to keep warm in the barn. The girls even huddled up with the smelly buck during the 3 day super freeze in January when the high was -17 not including the wind. We put them all together for those days so he wouldn’t freeze to death and not one animal left the barn while it was that cold with the wind as nasty as it was. Now that it is above zero and not snowing (today) the goats are back outside during the day. Even though it is still cold I believe they do better outside than cooped in their stalls in the barn. The girls and the buck each have a shelter outside to get out of the wind.
The ducks have settled in with the chickens, although I don’t think the chickens or the ducks appreciate it. I may have to rethink their housing situation for next year. Right now they are creating a big icy hump in the coop under the water dish because they like to splash around. Trenton built them a beautiful duck house when they were small but they quickly grew out of it. As we learned more about the habits and behaviors of ducks we realized that the house he built was not appropriate for them. It will however make a great contained chicken coop with a run for any broody hens we have in the spring. We usually have one or two but they have never been successful hatching chicks. Hopefully with a pen to themselves the hens will have better luck.
The barn kitties spend half their day huddled under the heat lamp in our pump house. We have never had a heat source for them before and they have done fine in the barn during the cold months but after our house cat was spayed she decided to start spraying in the house. That’s a deal breaker for a house cat so she became a barn cat but it would have been too harsh a temperature change going from the heated house to the unheated barn so we put a heat lamp out there for her. The rest of the barn cats are loving it too. I think we are going to insulate the pump house this year and keep it lightly heated for next winter.
Morning chores are not as fun in the winter. I spend half my time pounding ice out of water buckets and trudging through snow to put animals out. I also no longer have my little helpers out there with me. It is too cold for them and they only have a 15 minute tolerance to being outside when it is this cold. With all that and the fact that I am 9 months pregnant right now, winter chores just stink.
As we step into March I can look forward to three things:
- Warmer Temperatures (Usually)
- Highest Snowfall Month (Always)
- New Baby (Anytime Now)
As a farmer I have to be out there to take care of my animals because I know they depend on me to survive the winter and stay healthy. I may complain about it a little but secretly I like it. It makes me go outside which keeps me healthy and gives me a little better endurance for the elements. It also gives me the drive to finish what I start and I want my kids to have that also. Even though I know I am getting frostbite on my face and hands I need to finish feeding the animals because while I am only in the cold for a short time they are out there all day and they need the food to keep warm.
Hope everyone is enjoying the winter. Technically only 20 days to go until spring, but actually it will be in another 2 months. Which is why we have books, coffee, play-dough, and hot cocoa in between our bouts out in the weather. And why mommy knits scarves, hats, and slippers for little tikes.