Keeping an eye on things!

Saturday, December 31, 2016


What an odd word. Miriam Webster Dictionary defines reflection as:
1.  the production of an image by or as if by a mirror
2.  the return of light or sound waves from a surface
3.  a thought, idea, or opinion formed or a remark made as a result of meditation
4.  consideration of some subject matter, idea, or purpose

When I peer out of my office window on this December 31st day, and see the ducks playfully enjoying a rare thawing of their water in the pond, each of those definitions seems relevant. The sun is producing a light show as it bounces off the surface of the water. The ducks have an upside-down mirror image of themselves mimicking each movement they make. I see several potential Spring projects that need to be tackled on the island, the gazebo and the edges of the pond. Lastly, is the feeling of accomplishment I have as I realize the amount of work that was put in on that pond over the course of the year.  Back-breaking, muscle-aching, dirty fingernail kind of work that resulted in an exuberant weeping willow tree only beginning to reach it's full potential, flowering bushes and perennial plants now hibernating for the winter, and my Grandmother's bright blue gazing ball adding much needed color to the otherwise drab December landscape.

Oh yes, and the orange fence. That ghastly orange fence that surrounds what proved to be a very fruitful garden this year. I have great ideas for that fence and it does not include the color orange. I will reflect more on that later.

2016 has been for us a year of major changes, new adventures, hard work, heartbreak, sacrifice, and celebration. Sounds like every year everyone ever has reflected on doesn't it? Nothing new, or as the saying goes, same story...different version. It seems strange though how new life, new projects and new goals makes everything seem different.  Take for example the pigs. We finally got them to the processor two months later and 50 pounds heavier than expected, but to our delight were told that our pigs were some of the healthiest he had ever seen. (I shared my daily feeding with goat's milk which elicited a hearty "I can't wait to see how beautiful that meat is going to look!"). Funny how such a simple thing can give you a feeling of great accomplishment. We have never raised pigs before, yet after this experience I find myself already deciding on the different breeds I want to try next year, and preparing for a much earlier butchering date! 
Prior to moving to Missouri we had never raised goats either. Now here we are on our fifth freshening (birthing baby goats and producing milk for you non-goat people) with four different goat mamas.  We have been blessed every single time with beautiful healthy babies and practically error free births and lactating. Only once did we have to give a baby some milk replacer, and only for two days until mama got that milk thing figured out. Now, thanks to our beautiful new goat Petunia, we have our fifth set of twins.

You did good Petunia!

 Girl and boy

Adorable aren't they? This set is a little different then the others as these can be registered as full Nubian, ensuring us a better return when we sell them. 

So, here we are beginning a new year, and already the wheels are turning for what lies ahead. We know for sure that we are getting lambs in the Spring because I am absolutely sick of mowing 15 acres of perfectly good grass. I have already purchased steel rings and clips to slip over t-posts to keep the lambs from wandering, and to make sure that they graze where needed. After researching thoroughly the different breeds available, we have settled on Shetlands, a docile breed of smaller stature known for their exceptional wool. The plan is to get a ram and two unrelated ewe lambs to start a small herd, and thanks to the many forums I keep up with on-line, there is a breeder not far from us willing to hold back a few when she starts lambing in March.

I also received a lovely photograph from my oldest daughter for Christmas of a brown and white calf. To my husbands typical reaction of disgruntled unbelief, she announced that the calf in the picture is my new present, that he is a steer, and his name is Charlie. I love it! 

We now have our chicken breeds we have been wanting for different egg colors and better overall market prices. Egg sales should be good next year, as should our take at the small animal auction when we start hatching chicks in February. We have a steer to raise just the way we want to have excellent quality grass fed beef next fall. Our milk goat is producing an enormous amount of milk to feed these babies, so we will have an excess of fresh goat's milk when they are weaned. I cannot wait to make all kinds of fabulous milk based products. Hopefully our other goat is pregnant now so I can trade the babies for horse training lessons as agreed upon by the buck's owner.  Bartering is fantastic! The lambs will keep the grass mowed, freeing up my time to concentrate on more pressing chores. (Like learning how to shear sheep. ha ha). The new pigs will keep the north/east tree line cleared out and benefit from any milk we have left over. I also need to extend the surface of my road-side stand to accommodate more vegetables as I know the garden will be great next year. 
We may need to reflect upon our goals for the farm at the end of spring when everything is topsy-turvy and nothing is going as planned!

In the mean time, here are some of this year's memories, or reflections as some would say.




Whew, that was a lot of reflecting! It's been a good year and we look forward to sharing the next one with all of you.
From all of us at Heeby Jeeby Chickens, and D'Ranch...Happy New Year!