After nearly four years on the farm it’s time to review what we are doing and why… Seemed like a good time to start a blog.
More than anything, I’d like this space to be my farm journal where I keep track of what’s happening and I can (hopefully) learn from past mistakes. A mostly un-edited random string of thoughts or sometimes quick announcements…
In the first 3 years on the farm we have had a very good run but over the last few months, a series of animal dramas have made me re-think the WHY of it all.
I should clarify here that our animals are pets and we treat them as such. We will spend the same energy and attention for one of our guinea pigs or chickens as we do for our dog.
We don’t eat them or sell them to some who might. We let them live out their days, then bury them and plant a fruit tree on top. I guess in many ways we are failed farmers! I have this vision of a happy place where animals live in harmony with each other and the humans…. SCREEEECH! As usual reality is not quite as rosy as that but we are trying. Sometimes I think the only cruelty happening on our farm is on the humans who work constantly to keep all the animals happy and healthy. So that’s why when bad things happen I tent to take it very personally and that’s hard.
I have been listening to podcasts lately, from people with their own hobby farms and that’s been really helpful to put things into perspective. That’s just farm life. You work hard, you do a lot of research and you do your best, but sometimes things still go wrong. That’s how nature works and you can’t always fight it.
BUT the latest events have helped me re-think what we are doing. We love all of our animals but maybe we are a little over-stretched so we are deciding where to reduce numbers and effort and where we’d rather put more work. After trying lots of things we are starting to focus on what we like best and gives us the most return, be it in the form of joy or $$.
We currently have 10 different types of animals on the farm and we need the variety for my little farm visit business. I started that exactly a year ago and it has been good. People can bring their families to the farm to meet the animals, for a small fee. This helps us cover at least some of.the ever-mounting feed and vet bills. It’s a way of getting the animals to ‘work’ for us without exploiting them. They just need to be nice and eat out of people’s hands.
So the animal species are not getting reduced but maybe we don’t need so many of each type. I have found good homes for some of my chooks and I am thinking about selling a few llamas too. We’ll see.
In the meantime, I realised we hardly grow any food so I would like to focus more on that. We get eggs, Damian is great at growing tomatoes and berries and he has planted loads of fruit trees, but that’s it.
So where to from here?
- Reduce animal numbers to be able to give more attention and even better care to the ones we keep
- Start growing some veggies
- Try out the ‘quaquaponics’
‘Ququaponics’? I hear you ask. Yes Aquaponics with ducks! We hope to take the nutrient-rich water from the duck pond and send it to some grow beds to water our veggies then re-cyrculate it back to the pond. By then the water should be cleaner. So we hope to be able to clean the duck pond, water veggies and re-cycle the water back… perfect system. In theory at least!