The Joys And Heartache Of Life On The Homestead

Yesterday was one of those days, big heart crushing lows, miraculous surprises and boundless joy, all wrapped up in a single day.  Yes, that is life on the farm.  And, that was our life yesterday.

We write alot for folks who are wanting to live a more self sufficient, more off the system, lifestyle.  So, today I am writing about this phenomena we call emotional vibrancy, that takes place on our farm and any farm.

We woke up to a beautiful spring day yesterday, having hit the average last frost day of the year, April 9th, for the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee.  The day was bright with an expected 80 degrees.  A high we did in fact hit, and a blessing for us, scurrying our little rear ends to get outside and WORK.

Even before we got to the barn we saw our two dogs standing over something white.  OH NO! I screamed.  I ran down to the fenceline that does have an invisible fence around it to stop the dogs.  There below one of our dog’s feet lay by beautiful Pekin drake (male) and his lovely sidekick female, now dead.

The dogs were basking in their hunt as they had duck feathers hanging out of their mouths.  The culprits were not hard to identify.

I was crushed.  Literally.  I had raised these Pekin ducks for the last year with love and care so we could have babies and hatch them out.  We had five Pekin and three Rouen.  After looking around we noticed that all but one of the Pekin was gone/killed.  And, our remaining Pekin is really only half Pekin and half Indian Runner.  So, there went my whole breeding plan for Pekin ducks.  I was livid.

As you know, once dogs get the taste of blood in their mouths, it is nearly impossible to cure.  And, our dogs had killed chickens in the past.  This was very discouraging!

So, that was my low yesterday.  Now, my great surprise!  And yes, the Lord works in mysterious ways – we always say on the farm.  Here was one of those times.  As we walked around the property seeing if we could find the other two ducks, we found duck eggs!  We found four duck eggs in fact.  They had just started laying the DAY BEFORE!  So, I had literally lost four ducks and simultaneously FOUND four duck eggs.  Ducks start laying in Spring when they have enough sunlight.  They should be fertile.  So, that threw us both for a happy loop.

We continued on with our chores, after putting our dogs in the dog house – literally.  I headed back to the house with my goats milk from milking, all my milking supplies, and now four duck eggs that I immediately put in the incubator since I am hatching out turkey eggs as we speak.

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My Bottle Feeding Bottles For The Babies, My Milk From Milking And My Duck Eggs To Be Incubated!

After processing all the milk, cleaning my supplies and placing my duck eggs in the incubator, I headed out to the garden to finish the weeding process to prepare for Spring planting next week.

I hit yet another low!  Varments of some kind had eaten all my snow peas that I had planted from seed six weeks ago that I had nurtured with loving care!  I was so pissed.  I do not know what the critter was but of course this sets up a whole new set of issues with pests eating the garden.  There is no point in planting if everything is going to get eaten at   night while we sleep.  I was completely discouraged.  Since that whole “pest inside of a garden fence” takes a long time to figure out and resolve, I opted to focus on finishing weeding the garden and do that research later at night.

Being overall upset by the day, I headed mid day to bottle feed the baby lamb and goats.  To my amazing joy, my last doe Greta had her baby!  He was HUGE and gorgeous.  Most importantly, he was healthy and active.  I was so very happy.

He is going to be our herd sire for our boer goats.  Boer are meat goats.  We also raise Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats.  Having just started into Boer goats, it is important to have a strong and healthy buck.  Low and behold, Greta just delivered that perfect big boy!

This is the story of life on the farm.  There are births, there are deaths, there are animals behaving badly, there are predators, there is alot of work, there is alot of research to tackle the problems that arise.  At the end of the day we go to bed exhausted but also very satisfied.  This life is active, rewarding, challenging and spiritual.  It takes you through all the emotions, intellectual challenges and physical pathways, to growing.  It is truly spectacular.

So indeed, there are joys and heartaches on the farm.  But, we would not have it any other way.

God Bless! L. Davis

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