Friday, December 30, 2011

Out of the Old, Into the New

I was meaning to do a bit of a yearly wrap up back around the solstice but my lower gastrointestinal tract and I have been sorting out a couple month long disagreement. Truth be told I think it is a longer disagreement than that but hopefully it is being sorted out now. Actually, I find the coincidence of this uncomfortable disagreement timing out with the transition into the new year (2012 no less, if it is to be a significant year after all) to be kind of humorous.

It has been sort of an uncomfortable year for meany reasons. Even my trip overseas, while amazing, had an uncomfortable personal aspect (not counting the fact that it may have served to catalyze this GI disagreement). It has been the kind of year where we received enough rain to produce more hay than our farm likely ever has before, but the vast majority is of rather low quality of which the cattle must eat a great amount and a lot goes to waste. The same heavy rains followed by wind and heat that gave us that hay, gave us a weak garden where at least half of what was planted was drowned. One patch of peas did quite well, and the bush beans weren't too bad. The greenhouse did alright, small as it is, and we had copious cherry tomatoes. I dabbled with herb growing in there for the first time as well, ending up with some success. I am keen to explore this area and could happily fill the whole greenhouse with herbs I think.

Given the weather through our growing season this year, I am still very concerned that our area is on a drying trend, especially if the windiness continues. For someone interested in growing food for a living this is a disturbing trend. On the bright side, after a couple weeks of January-like weather, the last month has been relatively lovely weather. We've had some very windy days but have very little snow and are able to move the cattle over to the pasture every day where they can scratch on trees and wander a larger area. It is a good thing the temperatures have been so mild because if it was normal temperatures with those winds (as was looking like might be the case when I returned from overseas) this would have been a pretty miserable winter so far.

Speaking of the cattle, it has been a fairly successful year. All of last year's calves were sold at market and did quite well. I would have loved the chance to finish them off this winter and market the beef directly in the spring but the money was needed at the time and Dad is very resistant to try a pre-sell on deposit arrangement. I admit I wonder lately just how big the potential local market is here, or rather, how small. Are people in this area willing to pay enough for food grown in a conscientious fashion?

Now, as the yearly cycle begins anew, some aspects of my future that seemed very unclear are finally beginning to take shape. It is now looking very much as though our time on the side of the lake that I have shared a bit here will be coming to an end over the next two years. I don't really feel comfortable talking about details at this point but, emotional response aside, it is now time to make some decisions and do some real planning for the future. There can be no more plodding along as this year has gone.

The main decision seems to be whether to set up a farmstead on our half section of summer pasture land, or to try to find some land to purchase elsewhere. Returning to school to pick up some kind of technical expertise is a tempting option as part of me wonders if it would not be wise to retain the ability to be mobile over the next 10 or 20 years as the climatic/peak oil situations solidify. The biggest problem there might be trying to settle just what area of expertise to pursue. I've never been terribly good at those kinds of decisions.

But, I have some time on my hands for the rest of this winter so I will have to spend it getting myself a little more focused. I've made some good steps over the past couple of years but there are still some big things I need to work out in this quest for balance.

I want to thank those of you who have been commenting and so supportive. It has been uplifting and is sincerely appreciated. I wish you all a peaceful and comfortable remainder of the renewal season. There's so much that needs doing come spring.

Love to all.


Teresa said...

It really has been a rough year for so many people. I hope you get some time to reflect and come up with a plan this winter.

LindaM said...

I had a similar experience with the GI that only started to get better on Christmas day. I hope you found answers.

I think next year will be a better year for us. I hope its the same for you. Happy New Year.

Chris said...

Have you thought about growing hedgerows to substitute poor feed content, and serve as wind breaks?

Not sure if I've commented before (must have been a while ago if I did) but found you through LindaM's blog, Hello it's me!

Jerry said...

Thank you Teresa. I am working on it.

I've been reading about your troubles some, Linda. I sure hope they are sorting out!

Nice to meet you, Chris. Thanks for visiting and commenting. We won't be adding anything now, I am sure, as we are in all likelihood only going to be working the current farm for less than 2 more years. But yes I have thought about hedgerows, although our main fields are oriented with the wind. Therefore we'd have had to re-orient the fields to run north and south in order to really make hedgerows work as wind breaks. If we were staying this is definitely something I would have looked at for the future though.


Chris said...

It's a tough run when you realise your property may not be cutting the mustard, either from loss of money or someone else moves into the neighbourhood, changing what the land can achieve safely.

I remember reading about the industrial outfit that set-up shop in your neighbourhood a while ago. We have a lot of coal seam gas companies looking to do fracking, which happens to be on some of the best alluvial flats where a lot of food is produced for our state.

We're in sandstone country, higher up, so they probably won't pay an interest in our location, but that doesn't mean it won't have a knock-on effect to the environment.

Industrial outfits change everything unfortunately.