Today was my first day as a self-employed full-time farmer. Previously, I have farmed full time for others, or farmed "full time in my off-time" for us. With the CSA kicking off in June, we decided that I needed to be full time in March in order to get everything done. I am so so happy to be here, right now. If you had told me a few years ago that this was even possible, I probably would have laughed at you. I had this dream of farming, but it seemed so intangible for much of my life. I was encouraged not to pursue it, first by mentors/educators, and then later by some people in my life (many of whom are no longer in my life for that reason). But I had this pull towards farming that wasn't to be deterred. And so here we are. I am grateful.
Now, for what my first day looked like! We kicked off the day with a new batch of bunnies! Bun Bun (named through our CSA fair activity) had her first kits this morning. I haven't had a chance to count them yet, I'm a little hesitant to upset the very nervous mother for a few days. I know for sure that one kit was a still born, and I was able to remove it from the nest. I'm betting there are at least four more (hopefully more) in the nest. I'll wait a day, and then see if I can get Bun Bun to relax a bit while I check out her work. I set up a heat lamp to help keep the little ones warm, though mama built a fine nest of hay and fur to keep her young cozy. Better safe than sorry though with the winter wind still blowing.
After morning rounds, I came back inside (morning rounds start at about 6, finish about 7) to eat breakfast/coffee and make lunch for Kim to take to work. About 7:40 I headed back outside to work on the barn, the sheep are tired of their winter pen and have been using a a section of chicken wire as a scratching post. It didn't take long to get the barn more sheep-proof, an by 9 Badger (one of the pooches) and I were headed to the bank and to my in-laws. We used to keep our sheep there, and had our garden there last year. I needed to retrieve the sheep fencing, and pull up all the old garden fencing so Kim's dad can get in there and mow this year. It was probably well over 400 feet of fencing all said and done. It took most of the rest of the morning to take apart the fencing/pull up posts/move everything. But then I got a surprise lunch from Kim's grandma! The fencing was just behind her house, and she saw me working all morning and decided to fix me 3 sandwiches and a cupcake. I won't lie, I ate every last bite.
After lunch, I headed back out to finish up loading the fencing in the truck. We had half a role of page wire that had to be loaded, and it was a bit of a struggle. Those roles of wire are exceptionally heavy, and I'm no weak link after working at the flour mill. We generally lifted 3,000lbs before lunch in 50-100lb increments, so I'm pretty used to that. But this fence was awkward, and aside from the weight, the gate on the truck only works when the mood is right. Apparently, today was not a good day for it. Anyway, I ended up using the pasture gate as a ramp, and rolling the damn roll up to the gate of the truck, and then standing the roll on it's end and then finally tipping it into the back of the truck. It was quite the production.
By now, it was about 1:00 and I headed to Agway in Millerton to pick up some supplies for our pets and the chicks. We were almost out of organic starter, and the meat-birds pound feed all day long. While there I also picked up a salt wheel for Bun Bun, thinking she might be a bit depleted after kindling. I made it back to the farm around 2:00 and got the truck unloaded. This is where things got a little bit lost. I planned to start working on some of the fencing, but forgot to buy a new set of bolt cutters, and you can't use standard wire cutters on that type of fencing. I did managed to get some wooden posts cut down, but the ground was still a bit hard to be pounding them in (sigh, impatience always gets me) so I need to just wait until later this week when it warms up enough to make it easier. It's all part of doing most of this work by hand. I switched gears to start adding a smaller pen inside of the chicken coop for the meat birds. I got the pieces cut, and started attaching them when the screw gun battery gave up on me. Ugh. Luckily, there is so much work to be done, I just switched gears again, and headed to clean the rabbitry.
I must admit that I think I lost a bit of time screwing around with the fencing and that not being able to get the pen done was just annoying. I like to start and complete projects, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. But at least now the rabbits are cleaned up, and tomorrow I have a game plan. I need to get the workshop/rabbitry/chicken brooder cleaned up and more organized first thing. Then, it's back to the barn to finish the pen and move the meat birds out of the brooders. As always, Cornish Crosses grow three times as fast as any other breed, which means you have to keep on top of increasing their space.
Phew. It was a good day. Now maybe some dinner?