Thursday, December 13, 2012

A look back at 2012

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Grass-fed lamb in our pasture

For those of you who have been following our progress this year, most of this will be a repeat and you have my permission to skip this post.

But since we still receive a fair number of questions from friends and family such as, "Why did you decide to move to Michigan?" (we're in Wisconsin actually...) we thought a little 2012 recap would be nice for those who'd like to catch up on the missing pieces from the past year.

Our 2012 story actually begins in Dec. of 2011, when we stuffed everything we owned into three storage units, tucked our chickens, 'pacas and cats into various homes and farms across three states, and moved to a Hawaiian coffee farm for the winter.

If you're extremely bored over Christmas vacation you can read all of our Hawaiian adventures here.

We returned to the mainland  in mid-Feb. and spent two weeks madly catching up on farm bookkeeping and taxes.  On March 4th we loaded up our 3 cats into our old Suburban and put Old Yeller on our 16' flatbed trailer.

One flat trailer tire, one pet-friendly hotel, two days of driving, four states and 916 miles later we arrived a bit disheveled but intact in Southwestern WI, lodging at our friend's farm, staying in the very same bunkhouse where I spent most of last summer interning and shopping for a farm.

Alpacas grazing up near the ridge overlooking the farm

On June 1st we signed the papers on our very own farm near Kendall, WI, population 476.

A 100-year old crooked farmhouse and 40 acres of paradise that I still can't believe we actually own.

By this time in addition to our flock of chickens, three cats and four alpacas we had also accrued a flock of 13 market lambs.

{I just did the math... that's 11 chickens + 4 alpacas + 3 cats + 13 market lambs = 31 animals... before we even had a farm!}

New peeps in a stock tank brooder

The rest of the summer was spent in a craze of farm-related activities such as:
  • shearing alpacas
  • trimming hooves and treating foot rot in the lambs
  • {insert the above statement between every statement below} 
  • hauling water by hand from a faucet on the house in 5-gallon buckets
  • {insert the above statement between every statement below}
  • ordering electric net fences and solar fence chargers for moving the lambs around the property
  • mowing fence lines for new paddocks and moving the lambs to a new paddock every other day
  • {insert the above statement between every other statement below}
  • building another mobile chicken coop
  • opening Serendipity Bakery
  • selling cheesecakes, alpaca products and other farm goodies at the Cameron Park Farmer's Market in La Crosse every sweltering Friday afternoon all summer long... 
  • building a mobile chicken tractor for pastured broilers
  • shearing lambs
  • making hay 
  • running up to the ridge after a rain to catch a huge rainbow covering the sky over the farm, or running up there in the early morning to catch the fog still down in the valleys
  • moving the chicken coops every day and moving electric netting for the day-ranging chickens every week 
  • being startled by the intensity of the stars in a place with almost no light pollution
  • raising a batch of 64 newly hatched Jumbo Cornish Cross broiler chickens (moving their pen 2-3 times/day)
  • raising a batch of 18 newly hatched laying chickens
  • raising a batch of five Guinea fowl 
  • raising a batch of four turkeys 
  • enjoying the unending chorus of summer frogs and cicadas
  • losing my job (layoff)
  • panicking about losing our new farm
  • getting a new job with Pathway Health (electronic health record consultant and software trainer)
  • listening to the mournful howl of coyotes at night, and trying to remember if I tested all the electric fences that day
  • sweetie going back to work for Accenture in Minneapolis after an 8 month LOA 
  • sitting on the back porch watching the light fade and contemplating my perfect life
  • learning how to butcher and skin 64 broiler chickens and the security of having a year's supply of locally-raised, grass-fed meat in our freezers
  • canning a year's supply of spaghetti sauce
  • selling cheesecakes, alpaca products and lamb meat at the winter Cameron Park Farmer's Market in La Crosse through mid-December
  • watching orange winter sunrises and pink winter sunsets
  • collapsing into a heap and sleeping through January
Kali and sweetie

What has surprised me the most after this crazy, busy year is not the convoluted way in which we both arrived at the realization that we belong on this farm.

Nor the crazy, convoluted way we're learning how to run things on this farm. 

It is rather, after four decades of restlessness, two decades of moving on average every two years to a new home, always feeling like I was still looking for "something," I have finally found what I was searching for.

A place to sink my hands deep into the soil and my roots deep into the land.

A place to finally and, hopefully forever, call Home.

Cheers -

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