by Danelle Stamps at The Stamps Family Farm
There are some days when farming and simple living are anything but simple. There are some days where living this life, caring for animals and land and people is just so breathtakingly hard that doing chores in -40 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures with 60 miles per hour winds is preferable to facing the daily realities of farming.
Animals die. Crops get flooded out. Children get sick. And the sun still rises in the East every morning.
This last year has had some hard lessons. We lost 15 pigs total to disease and heat. Preventable disease, but we didn't know enough to have vaccinated them and they died. We lost two llamas to a parasite because we didn't know enough about regular worming. We are armatures let loose to learn hard lessons at the expense of our livestock and no amount of book learning or Internet websites can take the place of these hard realities.
But we are still here. Still farming. And these experiences made us better stewards of our flock. We know more about disease management and animal care and nutrition.
You just have to know, if you are going into farming with no experience or mentors or help, it isn't easy.
That said, I started to sit down and write this week's post about finding beauty in the harshness of winter or farm life or daily grind.
Instead, I'd like to pose a question: What lessons have you had to learn the hard way? What losses built your skills? What things should new farmers know before going into it feet first?
My top four:
Get to know your local vet, explain what you want to do and ask for advice, supply lists, and a lesson in how to administer shots. Ask how or where it is proper to dispose of animal carcass, especially if there is a burn ban.
Practice or list out what to do in an emergency. Who to call. Where supplies are. What and where to go.
How will you handle failure? Really. What things will you have in place to mourn your losses, to do things better, to not beat yourself up when you need to be working on making things better.
Winter food supply for livestock. Last year, mid winter we had to frantically make calls to get more hay delivered. This year, all was purchased in October and stored well. The only mishap we have had is a dropped round bale on our truck (damaged the truck bed door).
As with anything, make time for yourself. Each moment get ready for the next one and live it with grace. That is beauty. That is life.