Tuesday, July 23, 2013

winter on our farm

Winter has been interesting in our part of the world.  June saw the month's average rainfall come down over the course of only a few days, and then not a drop for the remainder of the month (good thing we DID get a months worth in one go!).  July was warm and mostly sunny, we had our hottest July day on record, which saw many shorts and t-shirts make their way out of the wardrobe a bit earlier than usual!!!  Two days later and almost snowed here!  I love snow, but I do feel for the animals who have to cope with a weather change of 20C in a day or two...  tough times when there is hardly any grass around.  I've seen many small farmers selling off livestock at the moment due to not having feed.  I'm thankful for those sunny days, at least the grass grew a little....

Makes us think about what animals are keepers and which ones we should get rid of.  At this point in time we have four goats, but two are wethers and we keep them because we don't have the heart to sell them (ok I'll rephrase that - I don't have the heart to sell them...), we still have last years roosters that we keep because we haven't the heart to do what needs doing. I think about the term 'hobby or lifestyle' farming - which to me is when you keep lots of pets and don't really farm your land for any food/money.  I sort of think of our place as a working farm, we are producing some of our food, and alot more is in the process of being produced, but how many 'pets' have a place on a real 'working' farm?  I don't know....  we have rescue dogs and I want to help as many animals as possible to have a happy life, but that said, where is the boundary between working to pay for 'rescues' and pet roosters etc and having a self sufficient smallholding....  Interesting questions anyway...  I've come to the conclusion that truly ethical living is not possible, we compromise one thing for another, and I don't think there is an actual right way....

So apart from pondering the details of an ethical life what else is going on here this winter on the farm?

I've bought 24 olive trees to produce our own oil in about 5-10 years time.  At the moment we buy our oil from a local grower - we buy about 30L for a year, and its nice to not have to think about how much oil one needs per week/fortnight.  I only have to write in my diary to ring the man at the right time of year.  Looking forward to another step in self sufficiency and one that doesn't require loads of work!!!  Olives are as tough as nails.

Our cow will calve soon - probably within the next month.  Hoping for a heifer calf, otherwise we are up against one of those difficult ethical living dilemmas....

The goats are having a rest this year and will have kids next year when we will dry off the cow (hahaha, 'best laid plans of mice and men'....).  One thing I've learnt is there are massive differences between cows and goats.  Aside from obvious things, cows are one tough beast, even on the most bitter days our Buttercup is out grazing (she has a nice shed to go in - and she does go in sometimes).  When it rains (even a drizzle), the goats are found like this:

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