Overall, we had a good year. On the production side, we grew a nice range of sizes of chicken and duck (including some of our biggest), raised two litters of pigs farrow to finish in under a year, and finished our first Angus (and first calf born on the farm). Nira adds: “We had ducks and they lived here and we think they died because a fox did it.” Meaning, we had a fox mama who helped herself to some ducklings, laying hens and meat chickens before we got the voltage high enough on the charger.
On the ecosystem management side, we had a thorough burn on the prairie in our bottom field; the water capture system off the barn worked to catch rain that our new pasture piping system delivered to animals on pasture; the sidehill seep that we tapped in May went dry during peak growing season but provided the cattle with a fresh source of water of labour-free water all fall.
Even with these successes, it became clear early on this season that we need to create more SPACE – mental space and time to enjoy the physical space we have – in order to ruminate on all that we have learned over the past three full growing seasons. 3R stands for three ridges, but it is also for Regenerate, Resilience and Reconnection. We need space to think more deeply on how to put into action a full-farm regeneration plan, create ecosystem and business resiliency, and continue our path to reconnect to the land – and extend this offering more formally to our community.
In order to get more space, we had to make some hard decisions, including sending two of our original animals to the abattoir and reducing our layer flock to a home flock (meaning we won’t be selling eggs this winter, but more on that at another time). We also sold the refrigerated mini-van, with plans to buy another when our scale of production meets the asset value. Although it wasn’t easy, it feels right.
As another way to help us integrate what we’ve learned, we hired a water consultant Zach Weiss of Elemental Ecosystems and the protégé of revolutionary Austrian farmer Sepp Holzer (photo). Zach immersed himself in the farm for four days of farm-scale water management and permaculture design planning. He reinforced a lot of the work we’ve already done and left us a lifetime of work for us to take our 3Rs to the next level – a holistic vision on which we can set our goals and intensions as #waterkeepers and #soilbuilders.
As we sit with all off this, I can’t think of a way to wrap-up this Season Wrap-up because it feels like we are still very much unwrapped – in a tangle figuring things out, in a satisfying kind of way. We will keep you informed on our changes and progress, as it relates to pasture-raised products and opportunities to enjoy this beautiful land with us.
Thanks for your support. We wish you a wonderful new year full of laughter, love and reconnection.