Hello GRIT Friends
I have not blogged in quite a while due to unforeseen setbacks. We relocated last January from the Northeast to North Carolina, and between the transition, re-settling, finding jobs and setting up our new homestead, life was full of changes and bumps in the road.
I confess that I allowed the bumps in the road to steal my joy, and discouragement set in. Even with forward motion sometimes life can become a drudgery. Part of our forward motion was starting a new flock of laying hens. Well, that too brought some emotional down-turns. At 6 weeks old, the flock developed Coccidiosis, and I lost two of the babies. This was my first experience with this terrible illness. After a month of antibiotics, we seemed to have everyone healthy and that battle won.
And for another first, I ended up with three roosters in my flock of 28. I thought about keeping one or two but soon changed my mind after seeing the aggressive behavior and watching the hens walking around on egg shells when the boys came around. So all three boys got re-homed.
I did have some accomplishments though that were enjoyable. I always wanted to have Blue Wyandottes and have added them to my flock. Here are two of my four blue girls.
As for our crops ... due to a late hard three-day freeze, we lost a great deal of our plant stock that we sell by mail order. This was a huge setback, financially as well as inventory wise.
I have always managed to find a free source of manure to add to the solid red clay that North Carolina is graced with. Well, in our personal gardens, which I keep separate from my selling stock, I added some manure from a local stable to our two 1/2-acre gardens. It didn't take long to discover that something was wrong with the manure when I kept losing entire crops. The tomato plants all got leaf curl and sparse growth, green beans germinated but died almost immediately after, and it stunted the potato crop drastically. After much research, I concluded the hay fed to the horses at the stable I got the manure from was grown with an herbicide. Fortunately, this can be corrected fairly quickly and will not stay in the soil long term.
So with lots of cover crops, compost only from our own farm and Fall leaves, we hope to remedy this problem by next year's growing season.
Needless to say I have felt beat down. We have had to buy vegetables from a friend who farms, and I don't even want to think of the time and energy lost. I have tried to stay busy to keep from crying so I have canned lots of pickles since the cucumbers were not planted in an area that I worked the manure into. Thankfully I had not used it in the entire acre.
I felt I had nothing to blog about, no successes, no abundant garden photos, no new veggie successes to share. So I succumbed to what I call "turtle syndrome." I went into my shell and said to my husband, "Why am I killing myself doing all this work?" His reply was, "You have been farming for 12 years and this is your FIRST bad year? Get over it!" Well, he was right, but it didn't put the joy back in me. I feared I had lost my passion forever.
I got home from work and heard a lot of noise coming from the coop. Cackling. But not just one hen cackling, a lot of cackling. So I walked over and went inside the coop to find six of the Girls all standing around talking loudly. So I bent down to look in the nest boxes and didn't see anything. We are expecting our first eggs any day now. As I was turning to go out I noticed something in between the nest boxes on the floor. Yes, there it was our first egg! And our first Blue egg to boot! This is the first flock that I have had Ameraucana hens, we have two. So not only did we get our first egg on our new homestead from our new flock but we got our first ever blue egg.
Suddenly I felt indescribable joy. I started cackling right along with all the girls who were celebrating their sister's first egg. As I held it and looked at its perfectness, I smiled and teared up a bit. Yes, it is ALL worth it.
Homesteading is not easy. There will be setbacks and there will be deaths, in crops and livestock. But we must keep moving forward. I can't imagine not having my feather friends or selling my tiller and growing a lawn where vegetables once grew. Life is hard, and there will be tears and frustration and discouragement. But there is hope, joy and songs of cackling ... all in one little blue egg.
May your Summer be filled with songs of cackling. Oh, and it's good to be back with you all.
Itzy Bitzy Farm
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