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2017

We are back into the routine of milking. It feels good too. The grass is growing well. The milk is creamy, delicious and filled with spring goodness. The wet weather has allowed the grass to grow thick and beautiful, which is a stark contrast to the drought of last summer and fall. That was hard on us and our animals. I am grateful that the rains have returned.

2017 goals and plans have come into clear view for us.

We got bees and pigs. Those will be new projects for us. We got the bees in April. One swarm we caught, and then we bought 2 nuc packages. Getting bees is like being introduced to a new magical world that was always there but you failed to notice it all this time.

A successfully caught swarm

With bees, we have gotten into flowers. We plan to plant flowers everywhere.

 

The pigs are fun too. There is 2 of them. Meet Winston’s butt and Penny’s body in background.

We found ourselves the best farm helper you could ever ask for. He is smart, hardworking, kind, and disciplined, and it will great to have Vallon around for as long as we get to keep him. He likes riding bikes too so that is fun. We are going to get a lot of work done this year and have a good time doing it.

Vallon on right,(Luke on left) getting a grand tour of the area by bicycle.

We will continue to grow our gardens. We live off our garden and the various forms of dairy we create. Quality food, what a rarity in this modern world!

We planted muscadines too. They are just starting to leaf out. We will keep our eyes on those new plant additions.

Don’t worry, the muscadine vines are there, just in that tube.

We will finish our barn:

Watch Adalyn grow:

We will clean up areas of the pasture, like this section under a right of way. This is hitting 2 birds with 1 stone. We will create more grass(by taking away debris, mowing, seeding, and then grazing,) then French Broad Electric won’t need to spray. The cows have enjoyed this little North facing right of way corridor:

We got our eyes on the cheese too. We will continue to work on making cheese, transforming out milk parlor, and setting the groundwork for our creamery.

Lastly, and most importantly, we will have some adventures this year, in the mountains I so deeply love.

 

What have we done this winter?

We have had adventures. Great Adventures. Kate, Kevin, and Adalyn all traveled to Marin County in California for our annual vacation. We spent quality time with family and friends.  Back at the farm, we have played games, read books, went on runs and bicycle rides in the mountains, and ate some delicious meals. We have had a break from milking and for that we are very grateful!

Tartine in San Francisco
Douglas Falls on a Run in the winter
East Peak on a run in Marin County in California
Biking by the beach in CA

2016 recap

I can’t remember all the details of last year, but if I had to sum it up in 2 words it would be dry and hot. We experienced one of the worst droughts since we have been farming on our land since 2009. Asking around, it was one of the driest years that many around had experienced in Western North Carolina. We did not get a significant amount of rain after July. We live on what has long been called “dry ridge.” Rain in the summer is usually dropped off in Tennessee before it gets to our localized area of a few mile radius. Even with that being said, it was abnormally dry. Without rain, farming becomes less fun for me. There is less grazing for the cows, and more hauling of hay. It is hard to keep the cows happy and morale high, when fires all across the mountains burn for weeks and with no rain in sight.

Mountains are usually visible from here. Not on this smoky day in Fall. Over 20 wildfires were burning across the mountains. No grass as you can see. In the center, that patch of green, was a kale cover crop that we were trying to grow, before the hungry deer and turkeys ate them all.
Munching on barley fodder in the Fall.

On the positive side, we continued to milk our 6 cows through it all. We attended 3 farmers markets a week up until December. Our fodder system was up and running and that gave the cows a little extra daily nutrition. We experimented with cheese in December, before calling it quits for the year.

There were also periods of beauty. This full super moon night on October 15, 2016 stands out to me as one of the most beautiful and unusual nights.

There is something about this photo that I just love:

Milking flow

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There is a milking cycle to each and every day. It is not to say that every day is the same, but certain things happen in the same way, at generally the same time. The cows get accustomed to it. Farmers get strongly routinized. Each and every day has it’s own set of challenges and learnings. Although the heart of the dairy farm lies in its routine. This repetition can make life very difficult if we set ourselves up for more work. The idea is to work less, work both smart and efficient. Dairy farming is about endurance, and in no way is it a sprint.

Gardening with Adalyn

IMG_6309It’s nice to watch Adalyn discover the garden. Plenty of sweet peas, birds, and bugs to find. Plants grow from the ground but they all need a little bit of love to survive. Although the work pays off, our plants give us nourishment, and something to talk about and work on together. How sweet it all is!IMG_6319

Feb 2016

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Barn under contruction

New to our farm this winter is our fodder system. Fresh green sprouted barley grass in the middle of winter. You just can’t beat that!

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