Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back and Moving Forward

last sunrise of 2014
The end of the year seems to make everyone feel somewhat nostalgic and retrospective, looking back over the good things that happened in the past year.

At the same time, we feel some sense of anticipation for all the yet unknown things that are yet to be.
Right now, there are folks all over Internet-land sharing their best blog posts of the year.  There are others making and posting their resolutions, or claiming their one WORD to represent their emphasis for the New Year. There are stories of big accomplishments and ambitious goals.

And, me…

I’m over here…like…I have no utter idea what to write.

No.  Really.

For the first time in a long time, writing isn’t coming easily.  But, it seems like I should say something….with the New Year and all… (maybe it will get me out of my slump,too)  

Here on the hill, one season just kind of slides into the next.  Even when one project is finished, we’ve already got another one going and something else is moving up to take its place on our priority list. There is no actual finish line. It’s said that farmers are always thinking ahead at least three seasons (and I can personally attest to that)…maybe that’s why it seems like nothing ever ends around here.

Our New Year’s Eve will be fairly similar to New Year’s Day…and even the Thursday following it (and the next Friday, Saturday…Sunday…) There won’t be any late night parties or big-time celebrations. I’ll be doing the late night/all night thing during lambing season and I need to “pace myself”.

We didn’t have any big changes here on the hill. But, all the talk of past accomplishments and learning opportunities got me wondering just what did go on around here in the past year.


I visited some old blog posts of my own. While there didn't seem to be anything wildly note-worthy...

Here’s what I found:

Looking back, 2014 was a pretty good year.  

We’re healthy and happy and our successes far outnumbered the failures. (that’s ALWAYS a good thing!) 

just another week until....LAMBS!
Lambing season was successfully un-eventful. THREE sets of triplets really helped our reproduction stats. (even though it did mean some extra work) And, we only ended up with one lamb in the house! (that was only overnight) This year’s lamb chop crop was perhaps the most delicious in our history! Here are a couple last season's lambing posts.

Then it was Spring! (well, sort of)

We had a colder March than anyone could remember and it did truly affect sales for much of the season.  There were no strawberries to speak of this year. And, tree fruit was virtually non-existent. (not just us, the entire Valley had a peach and apple shortage) The cucumber and squash plants FROZE twice.  I am certain that the Boss and I spent hours covering (and uncovering) broccoli and onion transplants. But, we actually sold MORE fresh broccoli than ever before.  And, we still have onions for sale. (go figure) And, the Brussels sprouts did extraordinarily well, despite Gus and his propensity for destruction. Did you read  this one?
we sold LOADS of Brussels sprouts

All that considered, our personal sales at the Market were at an all-time high.  That was despite our worst opening to the season since…well, in what seemed like forever.  But as one of our friends likes to say “when you’re dead last or you start out at the bottom, you can’t go anywhere but UP!” 

I did a week-long series for Farmers' Market week that starts  HERE.

Summer was what summer always is around here…a somewhat chaotic, frenetic dance of planting, harvesting and sales.  The temperatures were below average, although it was still plenty hot when I was out there picking (picking, picking, picking….) green beans. 
I picked well over 500 pounds of green beans
by hand

…and before we knew it, it was fall again. 

Then, Market season was over.
empty baskets at the end of Market
-TLWomack image

With the end of the Market, our attention turns to other things.  Like home improvement and getting all that filing done before tax time.  We are both still admiring our flooring job and wondering why we didn’t go ahead with that project YEARS ago. (and I actually finished the filing!) I also completed my second year of blogging every day in November.  Did you read "30 days of Lessons from the Farm" ?

In late December, we always take time to have our annual “corporate” meeting.
You may think I am joking, but, I am not.  We are indeed incorporated (for tax purposes) and as a corporation, we are required to have at least one annual meeting (complete with note-taking and officer signatures).  While the term conjures a bunch of suits sitting around a conference table, the reality is that it’s just the Boss and me….sitting at separate computers reviewing facts and figures and plotting out the upcoming season’s planting schedule. …making notes while talking over our successes and frustrations (and wondering out loud if we’ll ever get that one group of stupid hens to go inside at night!)

Since our space is limited, real estate is at a premium, those frustrating, problematic crops need to be eliminated and so other more sure-fire items can take their place. We don’t make these changes lightly, but our sustainability and profitability are more important that growing every single vegetable possible.

This year, an accidental, surprising discovery in the gardens changed our carefully crafted revisions.  After more than two months in the ground, there had been absolutely NO signs of life from the garlic and we had come to the conclusion that the crop was lost.  It was a costly loss that there was no way to re-coup at this point (garlic is planted in October and harvested in June/July) but, these things happen.  We had also decided that maybe we’d just skip the garlic from now on. (the garlic can be unpredictable and requires a long time in the ground…) Then, as I walked through the garden (on my way elsewhere) I looked down.  And, what did I see?  Yep.  Little spikes of garlic poking up through the soil!  That changed our planting schedule completely. Back to the planning board! On the up-side, we should have garlic and garlic scapes for sale this year. (yay)

tiny garlic sprout

Our review and revisions in place, we are ready for the arrival of 2015.

After taking an inventory of the seeds on hand, it’s time to make those big orders for the growing season, while trying to keep some focus on the “off-season”.  All our winter-time customers are looking for spinach and lettuce and anything green, so we will do our best to satisfy them (to some degree) despite the cold, dark winter days that are sure to come. To that end, one greenhouse is cleaned and organized and I’ll be sowing lettuce and spinach later today. Cleaning the other greenhouse and working in the hoophouses may just be the way we start the New Year.
working in the hoophouse is a year-round proposition

lettuce seeds

Because…well, the cycle of life, y’all.  There is always something to seed, plant, harvest (or weed) around here. See what I mean about one thing just sliding into the next?

But, still…

2015 promises to be a year to remember.  

the BIG announcement

This is due in part to this exciting news posted by our eldest daughter and son-in-law's dog.  While our becoming grandparents doesn’t directly affect the farm…it DOES affect EVERTHING!  Congrats to our kids! (and Savannah, the dog) We are so very happy and excited.

And, I KNOW for a fact there 

will be other exciting things 

happening in the New Year…

even though much of what happens around here will continue to be a lot of the “same old, same old”. (personally, I find the rhythm and routine…the sameness…of our lifestyle to be a comfort and not a bore)

Soon there will be lambs and chicks and little seedlings…the sun will shine and the sky will rain (hopefully) and we’ll head off to our 18th year as Market vendors. 18 years…I truly cannot believe it’s been that long.


Here’s to 2015!

                           …and all that it may hold. I honestly can’t wait to see what lies ahead. 

expectant ewes eating breakfast
any guesses as to how many lambs...?

                                      Expectation…now, there’s a word for 2015...

Thanks to all of you who have read along with me in 2014! I hope you'll keep following and commenting.

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