At times it feels like time is standing still, but other times it feels like the world is spinning around us.
As we look back at the past year, it seems much like any other year.
Wake up, tackle the to-do list, repeat.
But if we really stop to look at where we were a year ago, things have changed a lot. I would summarize the past year as a year of GROWTH.
Little by little, day by day the little changes have added up to significant changes.
Just about every conversation and decision has been not about where we are now, but where we want to be.
It has all centered around growing the farm.
Two big things have happened this year that have really driven the growth of our farm.
The first is being able to lease the new farm.
Not only did this triple the amount of ground we have to work with, but it opened doors for exponential growth in multiple avenues of the farm.
Previously, we had far too many animals for the amount of pasture we had. This meant we had to be very intentional about our grazing practices, but also had to continually downsize the herd in order to have enough space and grass to feed them.
With the added pasture space, we not only have more options for grazing, but we are also able to separate the herd and better manage the needs of the animals and our ground.
When it is muddy, we now have higher pastures that they can graze. When it is dry, we can open up more ground. When the grass grows faster than the cows can eat it, we bale the pasture and have more hay for winter. We have concrete paddocks to keep the bulls out of the belly deep mud. We have more barns to shelter the cows from the blustery winds we just endured.
We don't have to sell more animals...we get to choose to keep some to grow the herd.
We just have more options to roll with the punches that mother nature brings us.
We have doubled our hay ground.
While this has also doubled the work...and doubled...or maybe tripled the baler repairs, it is another avenue to grow our farm products and income.
The other big thing that has driven the growth of our farm this year is that Isaac graduated from college and moved back home.
We now have 3 full-time off-farm workers and a high school student/part-time off-farm worker, but we have 4 farm hands home every night and weekend.
Isaac has always dreamed of farming and now his dreams of growing our farm are coming true.
He is the driving force behind most of the growth. He is constantly looking for opportunities to grow the herd, grow the land, diversify the income and just build our dreams.
Isaac's ultimate dream is to grow the farm enough that one or all of us can come home and work the farm full-time. Who knows if that dream will ever come true, but if you don't shoot for the stars you'll never capture those dreams.
Isaac has spent the last several months investing in the farm and rebuilding fence for his next venture.
The fence has taken much longer than we anticipated, but partly because so much thought has gone into the process. We aren't just building fence for cows, he is looking to the future for other opportunities.
Yes, the farm is branching out. I think our theme for 2023 is going to be DIVERSIFICATION.
Not only are we looking at ways to grow the cattle and hay business that we already have, but Isaac is looking at branching out with other species.
No, we aren't straying away from Miniature Herefords...they are our first love after all.
The winter storm last week delayed a couple of our plans, but we will soon be adding goats and a donkey to the farm.
Coyotes have become an increasing problem in the area and with such small calves, we are always concerned for the safety of our herd. Donkeys are natural protectors and will "kick" off intruders and keep the herd safe.
Donkeys can also be trained to break cattle. Those hard to break steers can be tethered to a trained donkey and in a few days, the steer is broken and ready for people to work with it. Breaking donkeys are a growing commodity and Isaac is jumping on board to raise breaking donkeys...that also double as our herd protectors.
Besides, the neighbors are very excited about getting to see some baby donkeys some day.
Goats...I know...where did that come from?
Isaac did show a goat at the fair one year, but wasn't overly thrilled with the project. So, when he was adamant that he wanted to raise goats, we were a little surprised.
But...we are coming around. Kids are awful cute.
Santa brought Isaac his first two goats for Christmas (that will move to the farm once the weather improves a little) and he plans to buy more this summer.
The plan is to raise show goats and some for meat. This is a whole new venture for us and we have a lot to learn, but you have to start somewhere. We have great friends who are helping and holding our hands...because we are still at the asking lots of stupid questions phase.
2023 is going to be an adventure as we continue to learn, strategize and grow the farm.
It is going to be a fun adventure...with lots of ups and downs...but we are excited for what the new year will bring us.
We couldn't be happier that the next generation is building upon what we started. There has been a lot of transition and "discussions" (yes, that is the polite way of saying loud talking that sounds like yelling to people that don't understand farm families), but we love hashing out the pros and cons of each opportunity.
Different opinions, different ideas and strategies melding together to grow and diversify this farm we all love.
Hello! I am Heather... the city girl turned mom to manure loving country boys. My husband and I both grew up in the city, but spent weekends visiting grandparents in the country. We are first generation farmers who learn best by almost always doing things the hard way. I hope you enjoy following along with our adventures down on the farm.