Well this week’s blog is more a personal update then the last few have been. It is about 7 weeks until I start my terminal leave from the Army, I will leave the Army for home for the last time on Good Friday and get home right before Easter. The timing is not lost on me that my next chapter will start in full on Easter. We started doing our taxes today and part of that was figuring out how much we have already put into the farm, not including property or the truck we are over $35K in and that does not even count most of the livestock which we will not have or purchase until this year. That is buying mostly second-hand equipment folks and I still have some major pieces to buy, farming ain’t cheap.
That being said, I am still confident this was the right move. I ran into one of my former NCOs from when I was a detachment Sgt in Korea for lunch this week, he was one of three buck Sergeants I had, who basically made my job easy there (except they could not help me for the 2 AM phone calls, nothing good happens after midnight in Korea….), without these guys I would have drowned. During that lunch he was talking about how what I was doing with the farm was so cool, I am still amazed at the number of my brothers in arms who have that same response and I realize how lucky I am to have this opportunity, as I said the timing of Easter this year and my getting out is not lost on me, I have been truly blessed.
Considering the number of Soldiers who are getting out who have PTSD and are just having trouble integrating back into “polite” society I wish there was more programs available for veterans to get into farming, it would help keep them focused and limit their sources of conflict I think and allow them to live and serve on their own terms more or less. Yes, at times I can be a romantic, but the sheer numbers of people who tell me how much they wish they were doing what I am leads me to believe this would be a worthwhile endeavor. Of course, the only way this would happen is through private means, it will not happen through Government programs, big Ag does not want the competition and they own congress. There is a couple of USDA programs out there, but they are not really focused towards veterans, they say they are but basically it is the same programs that are available for all new farmers.
Well enough of the soap box for now, as I mentioned I will be getting back around 1 April, and April 2018 will likely be the busiest month of my life to this point, providing mother nature cooperates. In April, we will start getting our live stock, and as of today, my fences are not yet ready. So that will have to be the top priority upon return, getting at least one pasture secure. As of right now I have two, maybe three trips scheduled out of state starting in April in order to pick up livestock. I need to go to Beloit, Wisconsin to pick up Candy and Evie (a belted Galloway (Belties) cow/calf pair) and possibly a pair of Kinder goats (more on that later!). I also need to go to Hastings Michigan in order to pick up three young Beltie heifers, Storm, Charlotte and Ms Kitty. These five Belties, plus the calf Candy should have in late summer, will be the starting foundation of our cattle/beef operation.
Also, in early April we will be welcoming our first Livestock Guard Dog (LGD). The puppies were born 22 Jan, so come the first week in April, they will be ready for their new home. One of the important part of training LGDs is bonding them to the type of animal they will be guarding at an early age, before 12-16 weeks, and that is one of the reasons for needing to get some Kinder in April. Originally, we were not going to pick up the goats until probably Jun as most of the ones we planned on getting were not to be born in March or April, however when I reached out to the two breeders I will be purchasing from, both said they would be able to get me a couple goats in April if needed. The breeder in WI, actually just had another breeder near her tell her she had two does (a 1 and 2-year-old) that she was looking to find a new home for, and just so happens that breeder is about an hour away from where we are picking up Candy and Evie. It is also on the route back from DC to Mn for me. So, if things work out right I may pick up those two ladies on my way home from DC.
I really hope that works out, because I would really prefer avoiding have to do two trips to Chester Illinois (Where the other Kinder Breeder is located) to pick up goats. Most of the goats in Chester will not be ready until the June time frame and if the ones I Wi does not work out, I will have to go there in April as well to pick up two and then again in June for the rest. So, as you can see a lot of traveling, and we are just getting started on the April to do list! With picking them up in early April that will give the LGD some time to bond with them and the belties. The LGD is already being raised near chickens so hopefully that will help with his transition to our farm and he will already be familiar with them. The catch with this plan is I need to work on the goats living area when I go home next weekend to secure their fences. Keep in mind if it does not hold water, it will probably not hold a goat.
In Mid-April we will have an additional 50 chickens arriving and a couple days later 12 geese and 16 ducks will be arriving, I will need to get the brooding area reset up from last year, which means some re-arraigning the garage. I wanted to get them early as I will be using the ducks and geese for weed and insect control in the fields and I wanted the chickens to be laying and the excess cocks butchered before the fall sets in. In the middle of all this I will also need to start getting the fields prepped for seeding, providing that the ground has defrosted by that time and hopefully get the field peas planted (they are normally planed 2-3 weeks before the last frost, expected early to mid May). Last but not least in mid to late April we are expecting a package of bees in order to populate a second bee hive. As I said busy month.
I am sure there is half a dozen other issues on my April to do list, such as checking on the orchard, getting fresh mulch laid down around the fruit trees but that will just have to get done when I get time! That is all for this week, hopefully I will get time when I am home next week for a fresh update!
|This is what the farm looked like last month when I went home....|