There are many times in which we have written stories where there were "oops" and things that just plain old didn't work. Each year we have them and I think farmers in general let people see farming through rose-colored glasses and do nothing but show nice pictures of their farm, discuss only happy and good things that happen, and do not let people see the real-life of farming. We are guilty of this at times, but scanning farming sites of farmers we know both near and far, we were amazed to see only positives and successes when it comes to showing their customers life on their farm. I am happy to say that we have always been truthful with our customers/followers and have let you see both the good and the bad when it comes to our business and farm.
So while it has been some time since we have updated our journal, I figured a good entry to post first would be about some oops and roadblocks we have encountered in the last 2 months.
-Our beans and peas were planted at an incorrect distance which means I have had to weed them 2 times now. Cultivating and roto-tilling cannot be done because of planting them at the wrong distance. I will be weeding the peas tomorrow. I am DETERMINED not to make this mistake next year after weeding in 90* heat!
-Our first time gilt did not build her nest in a good spot and got too hot in the 80* heat in June. The stress caused the loss of 2 piglets as a result. We put up a cover in order to help keep her cool and keep the family out of the sun. This will be the second loss of piglets on pasture for us in all of our years farrowing outside (this same thing happened last year with a first time mommy; she also lost 2). We have farrowed on pasture for five years now and have farrowed approximately 20 litters on pasture. So four total is not a bad failure rate at all when you think about it.
-We have a heifer that does not fit our mold of our herd (based on body structure) and last October we decided she was going to be our family butcher animal. Well, when the cold weather came two months later, cold enough to prepare for butchering, our oldest son pointed out that her "bag" was getting pretty big. For a heifer, that only means one thing, she is making milk, and she is going to have a baby and SOON! Oops! I guess those bulls that we took to market in July, that were "too young to breed" were in fact old enough, and bred five cows/heifers that were open months before we sold them. Those girls were open (not bred) because we were unsuccessful in breeding them artificially, and therefore were waiting until the following summer to breed them. Calving in winter is never a good idea and it was a tense month as we watched and waited for more calves. Thankfully, the times in which they calved were not too cold and all survived fine in the pasture.
-For the first year we have planted sweet corn in a way that most farmers say can't work, without chemical fertilizers and sprays. We did not put any fertilizer down anywhere on our farm (other than natural from our animals) and have not sprayed any of our farm with anything. Not many farmers can say that. We used cover cropping to keep weed production down. We are still learning as this is our first year using cover crops with our sweet corn. We even contacted Penn State. They told us they were doing the same thing and if we found something that worked to let them know. So if even Penn State hasn't gotten it figured out yet, then we are doing alright in my mind. While our crop hasn't completely failed, we are behind 2 weeks due to failing to get the right combination and our first two patches of corn didn't fair too well. Though I will probably be able to use it for freezer corn for our family. On a happy note, the pigs will love eating in this field!!!
-Our deer fence is up and running. It was a long, hard process and due to Dave's back, he was unable to do pretty much any of it and was mostly a supervisor/spectator. So much thanks goes to Dave's Uncle Jim and Dave's father for their hard work. While it has been a success for the most part and have kept out just about all of the deer, a few fence-savvy deer have figured out how to get over 8 foot high fence in one certain part of the pasture. The ground is lower there, though allowances have been made for it, but a couple of them still found a way. A couple of deer we can live with, the 50 or so that ate our whole field of crops last year we needed to deter from entering. And for the most part, we have.
So like everyone else in this world, we have our ups and downs in farming and do our best to show you the good and the bad side. We have lots of amusing stories, some sad stories, but thankfully mostly wonderful memories that we share and retell often. Failures aren't always bad and we experience them on the farm. For that is how we continue to grow, learn, and quite honestly, provide you with some of the best products you can find, as we are determined to sell you products with no sprays or chemical fertilizers.