Dreaming of Farm Projects

Now that harvest is finished on the Cwach farm and the cattle herd is home from the pasture for the winter, we find ourselves with a bit more time to step back and think about what we hope to accomplish on the farm in 2015. For my husband Dan, it means deciding what crops he will plant in the spring and if he will buy new bred heifers to build the herd up. For me, it’s dreaming about what kind of projects I can undertake on the farm in the new year.

I’m admittedly a bit of a project junkie. One look at my swollen Pinterest board – full of 6,000 pins and growing – and it’s clear that I’ve got ambitious dreams in spades (as well as a little too much time on my hands).

In my first year on the farm, I decided my big contribution to the farm would be raising free-range chickens in Dan’s grandpa’s old chicken coop. My dad, who fondly remembers raising chickens on his family farm in the 1950s, thought this was a great project to get my feet wet with farm life. I researched breeds online and read books like “Pastured Poultry Profits,” “A Guide to Raising Chickens” and “Chickens: Tending A Small-Scale Flock for Pleasure and Profit.” When it came time to buying my chicks, I thought starting with 10 seemed like a good idea. My dad thought differently. “It’s the same amount of work to take care of 10 as 100,” he reasoned. “And you’ve got the room on the farm.”

Well, there was some truth in that. I had access to a spacious coop that was not being used and a huge yard for the chickens to roam, and it does only take a few more minutes to add more feed and water for the extra birds. And there’s really nothing better than seeing free-range chickens roaming the farm- they are funny little creatures that are enormously fun to have around. But I did not stop to think about how many dozens and dozens of eggs I would eventually end up with each week that filled my fridge to the brim, or about doing chores in the freezing winter after coming home from work.

Luckily for me, Dan (bless his generous heart) was willing to help me collect eggs and do all of the things I promised him he wouldn’t have to do if he agreed to let me have chickens. In the end, after we rehomed the last of the birds after their egg production had slowed, I pledged that it would be a while – at least until we have kids that needed 4-H projects – before I attempted hobby poultry farming again (though I must admit, I do miss the unlimited supply of eggs).

Since the chickens, I’ve had a number of projects that have come and gone with varying amounts of success. My dad, whose green thumb I did not inherit, tried his best to help me start a thriving garden three years in a row. I swear weeds must grow faster on the farm, because every time I turned around there was a jungle of weeds in my tomato plants. I tried container gardening with herbs on my porch, but apparently consistent watering is key to growth (who knew?). I did successfully tame a wild kitten that was born on the farm, but was clearly not observant enough during the naming process, which is why we now have a very sweet male cat named Mildred that sleeps next to our door.

All things considered, I’m glad I’ve thrown myself into new experiences on the farm- even if they didn’t pan out exactly the way I planned. Sure, I’m not selling eggs and canning my own produce like my grandma did before me (yet!), but I’m able to contribute to the farm in other ways, like providing steady income and insurance for our family through my job in town.

As for a project in 2015? We’ve got some landscaping to do, and even though my dad says lilies are “very low maintenance,” I’m thinking rocks will do quite nicely.

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