lessons learned?

This past winter (and I use the word 'past' with hesitation) has been very trying for Cindy and I. While there have been many positives with the farm business, there have been just as many setbacks and hardships. I certainly want to avoid complaining. Our children are healthy. We have a warm bed to sleep in and food to eat. Our entire farm has not been washed away in horrifying fashion as so many were in Japan. Those events that we watched in awe from so far away have served to remind me that things could be so much worse. 

Still though the hardships we've faced were stressful enough and have helped to remind me that I need to be more pro-active and work harder still to be prepared. The snow this year was just too much to handle and wrecked equipment and made it difficult if not impossible to perform farming business at certain times. I have not been able to get to the grain bins for most of the winter. The cost to repeatedly bring in the snow removal company would have simply been too great. The strong winds also blew in under the eaves of the steel grain bins and I had to shovel snow off the piles of grain. Of course, a lot of grain got shoveled out along with the snow. Lesson Learned...plant more fast growing trees and stuff the gaps with something that vents but keeps snow out and figure out better snow removal equipment. 

Even feeding the cattle has been hard. For most of the winter I was able to get the tractor out to the bale pile in the middle of the field. We have a rather large chore tractor with dual tires on the back, even so I had to borrow the neighbour's small tractor with attached snowblower to make a path to the bales. Of course, a week later the wind would blow for 4 days and that path would be rendered invisible. I just couldn't bring myself to keep borrowing equipment so I did my best to pack the snow with the tractor to get back and forth to the bales. Finally about a week ago the tractor became stuck and there is no way to get it out until the snow melts. So, that means feeding 9 cattle by hand from stacked round bales twice a day...not fun. Lesson Learned...stack the bales close to the house and keep the cattle close too (or get rid of the cattle).

This has been a tough winter. Our new property is so vulnerable to wind and bad weather. We need to focus on improving our land through the planting of as many trees as we can possibly handle. I am completely embarrassed for the previous generations of landowners in the area who actually went along with plans to eliminate trees from the ditches and fencerows to allow more cultivatable land. Supposedly our area was treed quite nicely prior to the 70's. I was told this by a family we know that have owned their farm for 100 years. Now I will have to try to fix that as best I can on our own property. 

We have so much work ahead of us to build proper out-buildings to shelter bags of grain and equipment. To plant trees and care for them. To gravel the yard and build or purchase proper snow removal equipment. To landscape and beautify our farm. Most of this work I look at as a challenge and I look forward to. But there is just so much to do and that is a little daunting. 

The weather now holds the promise of Spring. The snow is receding and with that comes renewed energy and optimism. We are so encouraged with all the new friends we are meeting with the flour business and that encourages us even more. See you at market tomorrow at Alberta Ave.!