Oh, What a Year…

I am so sorry for the lack on content on this blog. I’m terrible at techy stuff, I’d much rather be outside or doing work with my hands. Sometimes I feel like I was born out of season, but then I remember that I like air conditioning and indoor plumbing. On this, the last day of 2022, I can’t help but reflect on all that has transpired and how very much you’ve missed out on because of my lack of updates. I will try my best to give a quick synopsis to catch you up.

In the late summer of 2021, we acquired four darling little bottle calves from a dairy farm an hour or so away from us. Through a long series of events out of our control, only 2 of those calves survived and remain on our farm today. The winter of 2021 into 2022 was your typical Ohio winter, with plenty of snow and cold, but all of the animals, including the new calves, survived just fine.

Here are Spots and Tuxie, December 2022

This year, we added more animals to the farm than ever before; we added meat chickens, a new flock of laying hens, guinea fowl, American Guinea hogs, and 4 more pet rabbits. Our garden was also the largest it’s been at just under 5,200 square feet. Between keeping the animals looked after, the garden halfway under control, canning, preserving, and trying to keep the family/household work caught up, we were literally swamped. That lends itself to the fact that I’ve not updated in, well, a very long time. Burn out is real, and I’ve been pushed to the edge of that cliff on more occasions than I care to admit in the last 12 months.

Our 3 new American Guinea Hogs, September 2022
Cornish cross meat birds, June 2022

Aside from all the additions to the Homestead, we had a lot of devastating losses. While away on vacation in August, a predator wiped out my entire new flock of laying chickens. 30 of them gone in 3 days. The only survivors were of course two very lucky, and attractive, roosters. They’ve made it this far, and they are quite gorgeous, so I don’t have the heart to get rid of them. They’re permanent members of the old flock now. We never knew for certain what the predator was, since we’ve lived here for nearly 5 years and never had an issue with predation, besides the occasional owl picking off hens that would roost on the coop roof at night. Not much we could do about that but make sure everyone went inside. I couldn’t help but wonder what had wiped out my birds over the summer. I had suspected a skunk, but I was so wrong.

Fast forward to last week and the artic blast that came our way. I came outside to find a decapitated rabbit; 2 more rabbits were injured, and my favorite rooster had been attacked during the night, but not mortally. I was livid, and now fairly convinced that I knew what the culprit was. Mama declared war. The following morning, as I started out to do chores, I saw it. It was a mink, slinking along right behind the rabbit hutches (where it had caused so much destruction the night prior,) and it was looking right at me. He quickly ran off; however, within 2 days I caught the culprit, as fresh snowfall made it possible for me to find his trail and set a trap accordingly. Now we finally have closure, not only for the attack last week, but also for the flock of hens that I lost earlier this year. I will certainly sleep a lot better at night with that critter gone!

The infamous mink, at rest (LOL!) December, 2022

On a positive note, I put up more food from our garden this year than I had in previous years. It’s a ton of work, but it is so rewarding when you go into winter with your pantry full of the summer’s bounty and a freezer full of homegrown/harvested meat. Nutritious and satisfying. What a blessing it is!

Quarts of green beans, August 2022

While the garden is sleeping and the farm animals huddle in their shelters, I dream and plan for the next season. The past several years have taught me a lot of lessons, some of them hard ones, that I must learn from. New Year’s resolutions aren’t my cup of tea, but I do believe that I can take the losses and successes from the past seasons and build upon them to improve our Homestead. In 2023, I HAVE to get a better handle on the garden. Weeds are a constant losing battle for me. The garden would produce so much better if I could keep them under wraps. In regard to predators, I’ve learned that a good offense is better than a good defense. The predators ARE out there, even if I can’t see them, and I must be vigilant to ensure that my animals’ housing is in a better state of repair; that includes overhauling the chicken tractors we use for our meat birds. Thank the Lord we never lost any of those guys to the mink. As a final thought, I need to make an effort to be more involved in the beekeeping side of things again. Most of that work has been done by the Mr. for the past couple of years, but I miss getting into the hives. I miss the smells, the sounds… I did catch a swarm over the summer, which was nice. It was low hanging fruit, to be fair…

A small swarm capture. Still satisfying.

Truly our family and our Homestead has been blessed beyond my imagination, despite of all the setbacks and struggles and our short comings. With God’s direction and help I pray that 2023 will be our most meaningful year yet. That we can be present and engaged in the lives of our children and loved ones. That we will do our best to provide for them and ourselves in the way that God intended for us to. That we will be good stewards of all that He has entrusted us with. That, by His grace, we will live our lives in a way that is pleasing in His sight. I pray that the coming year will find you blessed as well, that you will be well and thriving in all that you pursue.

Hardneck garlic, thriving after freezing temps, December 2022

What are YOUR goals for 2023? Do you want to try gardening for the first time, or expand your garden if you’ve been at it for a while? Maybe your goal is to start stocking your pantry with healthier choices for your family or to spend more quality time with your loved ones. Or maybe you’re at a time in your life where you need to scale back and simplify your life. We’re all at different places in our lives; I’d love to hear about all it! Now I have some sauerkraut to devour. May you have a HAPPY and BLESSED NEW YEAR!

Published by Severt Hives and Homestead

Striving to live a more intentional, self-sufficient lifestyle through modern homesteading; finding joy in simple country living!

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