We’ll start this post with a photo of a sunrise, taken this fall from our farmhouse. Sunrises are powerful. They signify a fresh start to another day. We can wipe clean the slate and start again. A new day offers hope. It offers strength. It provides us with an opportunity to live life. Again. To its fullest. To not let another day slip by. To be grateful for what we have right in front of us. To be happy.
These are the thoughts and meditations that helped us at the farm this past summer to get through these amazingly challenging times. All of us are dealing with an out-of-control pandemic — COVID-19 — that, at the time of this writing, is taking more than 2,500 American lives daily. For perspective, that’s one 9/11 tragedy, everyday. Couple that with the anxiety of a seemingly power-hungry government that voters saved from becoming full-fascist, full authoritarian. Climate change hovers over us everyday, manifested most powerfully in our region by a drought that doesn’t seem to let up. We also had issues with keeping our supply chain of broiler chicks going, because of funding cuts and slow downs at the US Postal Service, which were done for COVID-19 reasons but also because of politics. This hurt us financially and also limited our ability to meet customer demands for our pastured poultry.
But life goes on. It has too. As did the life of the farm. Throughout the summer, the three households involved in the day-to-day farm operation were able to stay healthy, which was our primary goal. A heartfelt thank you goes out to Dave and DeAnne, our Quivira apprentices, who dutifully performed their responsibilities and learned a lot about what it means to farm. And a huge thank you goes to Anne and her two boys, Elias and Jonah, who show us on a daily basis that love and simplicity is what really does make a difference.
Truthfully, other than limited exposure to our beloved customers and friends since the pandemic began, our day-to-day life didn’t change that much due to any of the influences listed above. We woke up with the sunrise, worked hard all day, and then went to sleep with the sunset. That’s the life of a farmer. Pure and simple. Of course, a bonus for us is that we get to eat amazingly delicious and nutritious foods that are grown right here on the farm that help to keep us healthy.
Please enjoy the following images of what life on the farm looked like from about mid-August until just recently, when the first snows began to fly.
We didn’t have much of a monsoon, this summer, as attested to by the dry grasses in the foreground. In fact, weather record observers say it was the driest summer on record. We felt it. We lived it. We were anxious about it. But when the infrequent rains did come, they often produced some amazingly colorful storms. For which we were grateful.
We practice multi-species intensive rotational grazing on our pasture, which adds to the fertility of the soil. Incorporating livestock into a farm operation that also has a vegetable garden is part of a regenerative thrust here at the farm.
The livestock was (mostly) protected by our new addition of two Livestock Guardian Dogs, Lukin and Bee Girl, who are just puppies but growing into their jobs quite nicely.
It wasn’t just the chickens and turkeys the LGDs protected. Here, Bee Girl is frolicking with our pastured pigs.
Anne was able to maintain a very productive garden in spite of the challenging growing conditions. In fact, the farm never ran out of water from its own sources of ditch water, decrees, and springs, for which we are very grateful.
One of our investments made in the past 20 years to build the drought resilience of the farm is a water system that pumps water from another spring, bringing it across the pasture and into the pond from which we irrigate the garden and water the rotational grazing pasture. We’re blessed!
We also had errant winds to deal with for a couple months. Here, the winds picked up a piece of row cover from the garden, sending it way up high in the sky!
We also thrive on bio-diversity, trying at all times to increase the variety of wildlife on the farm. Here, a salamander has found a home in the garden!
The ongoing drought lowered the pond levels, but still attracted a diverse assortment of waterfowl. Notice, again, the dry grasses, and also the smoke in the air. At times, we had an excessive amount of smoke in the region this summer, blown here primarily by wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington, and at times, from Colorado’s Front Range and Arizona.
In the fall, we were graced with some amazing colors.
Our 65-acre irrigated pastures become home to a large herd of cattle for a few months in the fall. These herd animals do a great job of intensively rotating naturally through the pastures.
A typical fall scene on the mesa, when the mountains begin to pick up early-season snows.
And before you know it, the snow flies at the farm, and temperatures drop, meaning an end to the growing season, except for some vegetables growing in the hoop houses that we’ll enjoy all winter long.
Of course, the boys can’t let a snowfall pass up with building a nice large snowman!
The snows are also piling up in the high country, too, meaning it’s time to make some powder turns!
These two Sandhill Cranes were seen recently on our upper pond. Sandhill Cranes migrate through this part of the country in the fall and early winter.
From our farm to you, our wish is for continued good health!