Tahlia (Aunty Del’s two month old heifer calf) has been sold and was picked up yesterday by her new owners. She looked very small in the big trailer but is going to a good home. They will keep her name and their farm is not too far away so I hope to visit. The same couple have also bought Naomi and will be back for her in a few weeks. This means that I will no longer be selling Aunty Del.
So my milking duo stays intact. I have to say i am relieved as they are so beautifully trained and work together well. But we still might have to sell more, so as not to be overstocked this winter. The winter feed situation is not good yet.
This morning we were awoken at 4AM to yet another torrential downpour with crashing thunder and lightening attending. We have had wet summers before but this is a soaked summer. There are no light showers, each episode of rain is heavy, a deluge. Surely this weather pattern will lift soon. I need to find out how much rain we have had this summer but this morning alone we have already sustained almost an inch. And this has been again and again and again.
As you know this land was originally an ancient marshlands, called the Vermillion Swamp by the early settlers. John’s great-grandfather drained it and turned it into farmland. It was high reeds and hardy trees and swamp birds, (I wish we had pictures of it) so we get wet fast, boggy wet ad slow draining. This means the soil itself is wonderful but in a wet season it can sustain no traffic at all. There is no hope of getting machines onto the hay fields in the near future and in fact much of the hay is actually under water and rotted.
I may need to be selling more cows. We will not have enough hay for the winter at this stage. Today I will begin the search to buy some hay and straw with the money I raised from selling Talia. I am looking seriously at electric fencing the hay field and putting the cows out on it in the winter though if we get as much snow this winter as we are getting rain this summer there will be no feed visible. Nothing would be visible!!
My back steps have not been dry in weeks and are rotting but look at this gorgeous image is of little plants actually growing in the steps.
Because of the mud – this weekend I am getting John to create a new gate in the fence so I can actually close off the gateway the cows usually use – it is now almost impassable for the cows or me to get through from the barn to the field. My boots are on their last legs (in more ways than one) and yesterday I was literally getting stuck in the mud up to my knees when Nick and I were fishing out bowls and cleaning out the water troughs for the pigs.
Difficult is slotted to be sold next and all the piglets but four. I need to get all the extra animals OFF the land. Here is a shot of two of Tahiti’s piglets, they are a quarrelsome bunch and so different from the brightly coloured piglets Molly produced.
I am not complaining – just reporting. Remember that this blog is my journal of a farming journey by a girl who grew up on a beach in New Zealand and is now farming on the prairies of Illinois. Through these pages I watch my own life unfold and you are along for the ride with me.
Farming the old fashioned way (though using modern appliances) makes me appreciate even more how easy it was for the early farmers to fail. How poor they must have been and how hard their life. The edge is very close. Without John subsidising my little farm financially this venture would fail this year- even on a subsistence level. The crops are drowned, the garden is drowned, the pastures waterlogged, the hay rotting. The weather out here in Illinois (and in fact much of the world) is cruel and this rain falling into reclaimed swampland is making life difficult. Farming is struggle – much of it brutal. I don’t mind struggle. And my struggle is nothing compared to much of the worlds women. But I think how those women from ages ago must have felt great satisfaction when they sold tomatoes or eggs or milk or piglets or a calf (like I do) and then still wearing their old shoes, and hand me down tops and patched skirts carefully channeled the cash back into the most important purchases, saving just a little every time.
There is a break in the rain so I am going to get up early and feed the piglets. Lurch still cannot stand herself up – we are still working on getting her strong but I am not sure how this will play out. Having a pig inside is one thing, having a pig inside who cannot feed herself is another. I still have to hold her up at the bowl or she falls into it. However we will perservere.
Molly’s piglets are a joy. The man said he would buy them all tomorrow if I wanted to sell them but I will feed them up a little longer, the milk and eggs are here and they are so much fun!
I hope you have a lovely day.
Off I go out into another wet one.