It's been an exciting and busy time at the farm. Valentine's Day marked the arrival of our first babies being born at Fallen Branch. Nellie delivered 10 healthy piglets late in the evening. Three days later, Maggie delivered eight little ones. Unfortunately, overnight, one piglet succumbed to the weight of her 500+ pound mother. Apparently this is very common but, nonetheless, heartbreaking. Both Maggie and Nellie are proving to be great moms while Oliver is enjoying his long uninterrupted rests.
Paul and I have been learning some important lessons about farming. Although much of the time on the farm is amazing, there are times of stress and worry. Happy and wondrous times are often tied to moments of sadness. The weather can prove to be a formidable foe. You can't be prepared for everything no matter how much you try. I guess I knew these things but, they become very real as you are experiencing them. For example, two days after Maggie had her babies in her outdoor hut, we were in the midst of three days of prolonged heavy rains and flooding and we worked around the clock to try to keep her and the babies dry. The barn flooded and the goats were relegated to their beds. I'm always afraid of damp wet weather because the animals, especially the goats, are susceptible to pneumonia.
Well the rain finally stopped and a day was spent cleaning and drying out the barns. The animals are all happy to have their homes back in order. They definitely are creatures of habit. Ironically, the only stall not affected by the flooding was the geese stall. Go figure! The fog finally broke as well, so we were able to make our trek in to the feed store where we share storied of the last few days. It's nice to know we weren't alone in all of this and that things could have been much worse. Funny how a sunny day can change your perspective on life.
It's only the end of February but, there are signs that spring is on the way. The sunroom is slowly turning into our greenhouse. I've started leeks and peppers and made cuttings from geraniums and ivy. The fig tree, olive tree, and bougainvillaea are blooming.The black walnut trees are tapped and we will soon be boiling down our first batch of syrup. Black walnut syrup, like birch syrup, is a rare delicacy. The sheep are booked in for their spring shearing to prep them before they start to have their lambs in April. So much for the winter that we were going to slow down, relax, read, and paint. Maybe next year?
Spring will be especially busy this year. Nurturing the lambs and piglets will be our top priority. After last fall's construction we have extensive yard repair to do. As part of the renovations we are adding a pond for the geese and moving them to a separate shed I built for them. This will clear up a stall in the barn for our Chanticleer chickens which are arriving in April. The vegetable garden needs to be prepped and planted. We've already ordered new trees from Emmanuel, our Amish nurseryman, to plant along the lane. In addition, we have to repair outbuildings and we are building a pergola to train the hops on. Exciting but, there is a lot of work ahead.