Thursday, December 22, 2011

Year in Review 2011

It seems hard to believe we are nearly at the end of 2011. I sometimes still catch myself thinking its 2010.

Many things have happened this year, mostly good, some not so good. My grandpa always says "there are better days ahead".

The farm as a whole is increasingly getting back to its diverse livestock species that it once had before. We added about 25 more laying hens to add to the bug and frog and mouse patrol. The free ranging girls sometimes surprise me with nests in the most bizarre places (i.e. in a hole in the lawn that used to be a rabbit nest, under the porch steps, atop the round hay bale stacks, in dog houses out behind the house, etc etc). The flavor and color of the eggs is incredible! I've found a small market for my all natural, free range, free of antibiotics or hormone eggs. I truly do appreciate their egg production and their ability to eat most any insect or small creature they can find. They also keep me entertained with their antics and social rankings.

I added three gilts and a boar, all from farms that believe in pasture raised, natural feed, just like our farm used to do. Our first litters should be sometime in the spring. I'm eager for the homegrown pork again and I know my family and friends are too! If you'd be interested in some pork please do contact me. with all of the trips I go on it would be easy enough to bring along!

The sheep are ever amazing me with their ability to forage on grasses and forbs the cattle would overlook. Their condition going in to the breeding season was pretty amazing, and the quality of wool looks as promising as ever. The sheep this year paid for many things and I was able to sell more purebred registered sheep than ever before! The word is slowly getting out that the Shetland can do it all: raise twins with ease, grow a soft, fine fleece, be used for crossbreeding with no ill effects, continue to flourish on a grass fed/rotationally grazed system with little input from the shepherd. if I can continue to progress with the sales of these sheep and utilize local feedstuffs as well as neighbors pastures i will be able to NOT work off the farm at in 3 years. If I want to, will be another question. I love the solitude but I AM a social person. Those that have met me, will understand!

In cattle news, our Simmental cows were bred again to a neighbors Red Angus bull. The premium on our calves at the local auction barn were over 2.20/cwt on average(!!), more than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime at a local auction. Privately, grass fed beef is worth its weight in gold. I hope to get in to that niche market in the upcoming season. The Simmental x Angus or Simmental x Red Angus crosses are a hot commodity and I look forward to utilizing my UK genetics that I imported in 2009 again in 2012. It is difficult to breed seed stock that is of UK bloodlines when no one else here in the US seems to be on that trend (which is a shame). Its also hard knowing that the crosses bring so much money in our local market and we don't have to feed or overwinter any calves. Makes chores in the winter much easier.

I have had a stellar year with the dogs in the show ring and with the one litter I had in April. I was really pleased with the pups from Daisy's litter and kept back a boy and a girl from it to grow up and see how they do. The boy already has both majors in his two attempts for a major :) I also finished two Champion titles from the Bred by classes and looks as though I will have both of them with their Grand Champions in the next show or two. I'm so fortunate to have had the agreement of many judges with the virtues of my dogs.

I've looked back at my goals for 2011, which can be found HERE. I have done most of this with few exceptions. I'll be thinking more over the next week about what I wish to try and attain for 2012 and beyond. When I decide I'll be sure to let you all know :)

I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by a huge network of friends, mentors, fellow farmers, breeders and buyers. This is why I love farming and will always do it. So thank you all for making my 2011 such a great year and I can't wait to see what 2012 has in store for us all! Thank you to those who believe in what I do and have purchased meats, wool, pelts and breeding stock from me. I truly appreciate your business and truly appreciate YOU.

Merry Christmas my friends and have a Happy New Year!

1 comment:

Kelly Bartels said...

And a Merry Christmas to you too my friend.
:)

A breed I can't stay away from

its true I guess that I would be first known for the fine wooled Shetland Sheep that I have procured and traveled across the USA and UK to ...