Winter

We’re finishing up a week of record-setting brutally cold weather. It’s unusual for us to spend 24 hours below freezing, and we’ve gone six straight days now. Our pipes froze twice. This morning we awoke to sub-zero temperatures. I’ve never so looked forward to highs in the 40’s.

We have burned about a months’ worth of wood this week, and I have plenty to do outside. But it was so dang cold that I emphasized inside projects instead. For example, today I mapped out this years gardens and we placed our seed order. Gardens and warmer days are coming.

The last day of hunting season brought one final run-in with trespassers. I’m glad that annual ordeal is finally over. I took three deer this season–two for me and one for the food bank. For well over ten years now all the meat I’ve eaten has come from this farm. That’s a good feeling.

I’m very pleased at the positive reviews and feedback I’m starting to get on my book. I was worried it might bomb. It’s a relief to know people are finding merit in it.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s thaw.

 

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Jim Wrenn

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I am pleased to announce the publication of my novel Jim Wrenn, on the 100th anniversary of the event that inspired it.

The book is now available on Amazon (link HERE) and may also be ordered through libraries, independent book stores and from me directly (5962 Slatesville Road, Keeling VA 24566, $16.95, which includes shipping).

For folks in the area, I will be speaking at Reid Street Gallery in Chatham on January 16 at 6:00 p.m and at Brewed Awakening in Danville on January 27 at 2:00 p.m. At both events I will discuss the story and its historical background. Afterwards I will be available to sign books. There will be an event in the spring at Elmo Store in Halifax County, details to be announced later.

I am excited to introduce these characters to the public. They have come to mean quite a lot to me.

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2017

It’s been a good year for us.

Once again we grew most of our own food, we stayed healthy and we stayed happy.

We took and enjoyed another two week vacation to Europe, for the second year in a row, after having gone 12 years without a vacation. This year we also began making it a regular practice to take day trips on Sundays, enjoying the many historic and natural sites within an easy drive of our farm, and doing so has enriched our lives.

I renewed one of my oldest friendships, with a friend who has also recently retired, and we have started taking once-a-month trips to Civil War battlefields, rekindling my interest in Civil War history, one of my earliest passions.

We slowed down the pace on the farm and significantly scaled back our operation. Despite that, our revenues and profits are nearly the same as they were when I was trying to do too much. I edited out potential areas of stress from my life, and settled into peaceful routines with which I am happy.

And I wrote a novel.

Today we did our annual thorough review of our household and farm budget and operations. The only significant change we decided on was to begin phasing out our goat herd. We lost money on them this year and even in good years we’ve never made much. It’s a pity to have all this pasture infrastructure and not use it. In hindsight it wasn’t money well spent. But it would be even more foolish to continue if the economics don’t work. The goats are like pets now, so we’re not going to just sell them off. I imagine we’ll continue to have a herd for several more years. But we’re not going to grow it and we’re not going to spend any more money on infrastructure.

Chickens continue to be a wash, but we’ll continue having them because we want eggs for ourselves. The eggs we sell should continue to cover the cost of the feed, so we’re not out anything.

Vegetables are our most (as in “only”) profitable operation so we’ll continue with those. We had an excellent year overall with produce. Even though we had some failures, they were compensated for with bumper crops of other items.

We didn’t raise any pigs this year and won’t raise any next year either. I still have plenty of pork, and even if I didn’t I get plenty of meat from deer and fish.

Of course, we ate very well.

We’ve basically returned to the orientation we had before farming mission creep set in–we’re homesteaders who sell our excess produce to cover the costs of our farm. So basically I get to do what I love doing, at no cost, and while generating an abundance of organically raised food we’d otherwise have to buy.

We’re looking forward to another great year on White Flint Farm and excited to see what 2018 has in store for us.

Happy New Year y’all!

 

Catching Up

We’re entering into the quiet time of year here. I still have plenty to do, but most days the only thing I have to do is keep wood in the stove. So I’ll pull out that long list of “winter projects”–things I don’t have time for when the weather is good. And before I know it, it will be spring again.

Since my last baby goat post, we’ve added a few more. I imagine some folks will enjoy seeing them.

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Freshly born

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Still a little wet behind the ears, but looking much more presentable a couple of hours later

Sometimes the mamas have their kids in a barn stall. That makes things easy for us. But sometimes they have them in distant corner of the pasture.

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This is the first view I had of that last kid and her mama

We still have a few more yet to be born this season. I’m hoping they arrive while the weather is still good.

 

The Good and the Bad

First, the good.

We’ve added another kid to the herd, and she’s a beauty.

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The weather has been spectacular. It’s a gorgeous time of year here.

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Now, the bad.

Yellowjackets invaded our honeybee hive, ate all the brood and killed or ran off our bees.

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This is not only sad, but terribly disappointing. After all the trouble we’ve had keeping bees the past few years we finally had a strong healthy hive. We extracted awesome honey just a couple of weeks ago.

Doubly frustrating is how ecologically inefficient this is. Only the yellowjacket queen survives the winter. All those robbing murdering yellowjackets will soon be dead, and the bees they killed would’ve survived the winter. Sigh.

At this point I doubt we’ll try bees again.

To end on a positive note, our gardens are still flush with veggies and, with or without honeybees, our cup is running over.