Sunday, January 1, 2017

It's a New Year-Welcome 2017

A cold rain is falling and the forecasters are warning that there will be snow later. I've put away the Christmas decorations, drug the tree outside, swept all the fallen pine needles up, got the kids down to naps/quiet chores, and now sit here reminiscing over 2016 and looking at the future.

The past three years have been full of changes. There were job losses, new jobs, deaths in the family, financial stress and worry; honestly the only thing that didn't happen (or threaten to happen) was severe illness *knocks on wood*. The last couple months have seen things settle down though, and I am looking forward to a calmer, less stressful year.

The homestead is quiet. The chickens are having a very late molt and have stopped laying. The young ducks are starting to hit teenhood and waddle around, flapping their wings and trying out their new voices. The rabbits are puffy with their winter coats. We lost the bees to varroa mites in the fall-something that still depresses me. After long discussions with my mentor I realized the warning signs that were there, and how the severe robbing that happened in September probably was the next to final blow. It has been a painful learning experience but we will go into next year knowing a bit more and can, hopefully, avoid this happening again.

The garden is buried under straw and bunny poop. The only winter plants I have left are a couple kale plants, a row of very damaged leeks (the ducks got loose and had a bit of a nibble) and the strawberry bed. We are struggling with a vole problem and I've yet to figure out a way to get rid of the nasty creatures without resorting to poison. If anyone has any advice I'd love to hear it.

January is the time for planning. The seed catalogs are starting to come in and my eyes get starry thinking of all the interesting things to grow. The lists of "must haves" is obscenely long. At some point I'll pull it together and focus on what the family eats and what can actually grow in my area but for now I'm dreaming of watermelons and cantaloupes.

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