January at the farm is a month of rest before we start preparing for lambing and kidding, when all animals linger around their barns and shelters and everyone stays put where they are supposed to be. It is curious how the months that are supposed to be the slowest, pass by the quickest.
It is the month in which we try to get a lot of our year planning done. Fueled by a year without much direct human interaction, we are preparing for more opportunities to spend time with you at the farm than we ever have. We have more courses to learn about farming and homesteading, pasture walks to empty your head after a week of work and fill it with knowledge about pastures, grazing and ruminants. We are planning three farming themed movie nights in the field to spend time in a safe way with you and your family and enjoy the summer evenings.
We are also preparing the launch of a whole new way to connect with our farm and your food. I have to keep it a secret for a little longer, but you’ll be the first to know.
It is safe to say I’ve never looked forward to a farming season as much as I do right now.
Sadie & Shelby
In January we also make sure all the animals are ready for the season to come. We brought our guardian dogs to the vet for their yearly check up. Sadie and Shelby are luckily healthy and don’t need much to do with the vet (besides the time last summer that Shelby tried to eat a porcupine and had a mouth filled with quills that were too tricky and painful for us to mess with). We do keep them up to date with their rabies vaccines and anything else they need, since they interact with wildlife.
Stuffing two 100lbs dogs in one truck with two children, two adults and Felix our English Shepherd wasn’t my idea of a relaxed winter afternoon, so we split up the dogs and kids between two cars and made it to the vet with everyone still intact.
It would be impossible for us to keep sheep and goats in the way we do without these two dogs. Since we live in a tent it’s even more clear to us how many coyotes roam around these woods, and I would not close an eye listening to the yipping around the farm if it weren’t for the ferocious barks of our two white dogs.
In return, the only thing that these girls want is a bed of straw in the winter, two nutritious meals a day and a whole lot of belly rubs. On these cold days they start with a bowl of bone broth, some chicken feed, a cup of raw milk or organ meat we have extra of. In the evening they usually get a bowl of good kibble with an egg on top to be prepared for a night of standing guard.
The sheep and goats have an actual hay feeder this year, instead of an improvised cattle panel bent around their hay bales. It saves us a whole lot on hay, and the less hay we feed, the less fossil fuels are used to run haying equipment and the less money we spend on buying in those hay bales.
Once a week we roll a fresh bale from the hay barn to the goat or sheep paddock, usually helped by two little boys that love nothing more than working together, After we push the bale into the feeder and the animals start to attack the fresh hay, the kids climb on top of the bales and hand out extra delicious bites, or trampoline jump on top of the springy hay.
Spinning The Sweetness
We spun the last of our fall honey right besides the heat of the wood stove. To have a room smell like midsummer while outside it is snowing is such a treat. It is again an activity that our little ones feel so serious about, though this time it might have to do with all the snacking on comb filled with golden honey. Everything and everyone ends up sticky, and kid bedtime didn’t happen until 9pm because of sugar high little bodies, but it is one of my favorite memories of this month.
We take another few breaths, try and use these long nights for sleeping, dreaming and planning and eat all the deeply nourishing slow cooked winter meals that prepare these bodies for another season of farming.
I can’t wait for spring, but in the meanwhile will revel in this month of rest as much as I possibly can.
Marleen, Dan, O&O