Tuesday, 17 January 2017

End of year wrap, an apology, and where to from here.

So here we are, the start of 2017.  It seems like just the other day that we were contemplating the potential that 2016 would bring, and suddenly, here we are, all done, another year past and another season already well underway.

Firstly, an apology for not posting on this blog for a long while.  There have been two reasons for this.  The first is that we are contemplating splitting our posts into two: family posts by Coreen here at intothegoodlife.blogspot.com and farm related posts by me over at ourmatesfarm.com.  We have been trying to get ourmatesfarm.com up and running for six months and haven’t quite managed it yet.  There is a bit there but we haven’t been happy enough with it to officially launch.  We will keep you posted when we do!

The other reason is that we have both been pretty active on social media.  Like a friend said, once you start into Facebook and Instagram (don’t even mention Twitter to me), the blog that started your interaction with people online in the first place gets neglected.  She has left Facebook now to focus more on her blog, and while I don’t intend to follow her in this, I will aim to engage more meaningfully through our blogs.

The boys unveil the farmgate stall

Julian keeping the shed stocked
I could give you all a detailed accounting of the last 8 months, like one of those “Christmas letters” that people somehow find time to send out every year (yes, we used to do those too, about a lifetime ago).  However I find social media has shortened my attention span a great deal, so for those similarly afflicted, I will sum it up and try to keep it brief.  You will get plenty of practice reading long opinion pieces from me when ourmatesfarm.com is fully operational.  Eventually.

·      Great holiday to see great mates and have some NQ beach time with the kids in June
·      Most pruning done
·      Created more quality pasture
·      Received good prices for our apples, our first profitable year
·     We spotted Tassie devils on our farm
·  Signed agreement to put more land over to cider apples with Willie Smiths, then making this happen
·      Got our cattle covered (a euphemism for sweet bovine love-making)
·      Built cattle yards with Uncle Tony
·      Grafted a stack of trees to heritage varieties plus put in a little cider block for ourselves
·      Got three new sows and a boar from Queensland, pure heritage Large Blacks
·      Expanded our vegetable growing, proved very successful, timer-set irrigation in place!
·      I started taking Julian for his weekly swimming lessons for some important father-son time
·      Rachel has grown really well, and has changed how I view the world for the better
·      We all escaped without a scratch in a head-on car crash with a sleeping driver

Misses (sort of):

·     Screwed up our timing on getting our pigs covered, missed two of the three sows, so are short two litters (or about 16 pigs) this season
·   Experimented with some new methods of black spot control in an effort to preserve tree health, and ended up with a lot more spot instead, so likely to receive a lot less for apples this season
·      Cut an irrigation line with the excavator
·   Over-estimated what we could accomplish over the winter, especially in light of this winter’s exceptionally wet weather
·      Extensive repairs on our old tractor hit our profits
·    Seen some pretty poor pasture and pig management practices on other farms, including some by people who should know better
·      Poor Chuck the Truck has been written off after that car crash, and we had to go buy another one

Hmmm, set out like that I think we have a lot more on the “win” side of the ledger, but then the way this family approaches life I think we always do.  Even the misses gave us chances for learning and being thankful.

In 2017 we hope to get our website up and running, and start the expansion of our pig and sheep businesses.  We plan some experiments with grain growing, as well as further improvements in our grazing rotation and orchard management.  We have bought another ute, and we will take another family holiday.  Most importantly, we will continue to live our lives as strenuously as we are able.  After all, steel is tempered by fire, muscle is built by resistance, and so often the obstacle IS the way.

I will end with a message of thanks to all of our friends and family who have supported us and continue to do so.  We can only do what we do because of you.  Even if you don’t think you have a meaningful impact on us, a simple kind word, or message, helps a great deal.  We thank you all.  Until next time, bye for now.

Julian's been busy.  He helps feed the lambs....

....and service the excavator...

and drive the tractor....
...and prune the trees....
.... and move the sheep!

Julian loves making new friends on holiday

We got some North Queensland fishing time
Family beach shot
While in North Queensland Matt's Gran meets her great-grandaughter Rachel for the first time

Back to work, and Julian making sure Tess enjoys her breakfast
Our scary big winter bonfire!
Julian learns about this "snow" stuff up at Hartz mountain
What winter is for

Julian's sushi habit gets more serious

Fresh ingredients, straight from the garden

Fresh Tassie purple garlic

Dressing up for Neil and Rachel's wedding

Justin and Mark helping with grafting

Matt with Clem and Boxer talking grafting

Going flat out to graft 4 hectares of cider apples
Amazing year for grass

Lunch at Fat Pig Kitchen

The grandparents and great aunty with the kids!
Julian showing Rachel that a chocolate goatee is funny

Our new Large Black pigs
The new cattle yards
Rachel's first Christmas!

Why we do what we do