I love end-of-the-year wrap ups. As we look back on 2014, here are some farm highs and lows -
Highs - milk prices! We saw the highest milk prices ever. In the history of our farming, and in the history of time. To follow - lows! They're predicting significantly lower prices for next year.
The funny thing is ... in our 7 years of farming, this has already happened. The first year we farmed it was record high prices, two years later, record lows. (It's like watching a rerun.) So, no surprises here. You invest in the farm when you have high prices, and you hold on, roller coaster style, when prices are low. AIEEEEE!
Lows - We had a super tough winter. It was the coldest and snowiest winter since the 70s. It was hard on the guys and the machinery. High - Thankfully, it wasn't as hard on the cattle. This was the first year they had the new barn to stay in.
Highs - We had a record number of calves and a record number of twins. The downside? We had a majority of bulls, and an inordinate number of boy/girl twins! When there are boy/girl twins in cattle, there's a high chance that the heifer will be infertile due to the mixing of hormones in utero. (Infertile heifers can't have calves, and therefore never produce milk. As for the bulls, they aren't so hot at producing milk either.)
Highs - We were able to get a new used chopper. Low - We had to buy a chopper. There are other things I'd rather spend money on, but as my dad puts it, "Those don't chop." Fill 'er up with the 290 gallons of fuel! Likewise for the manure pump. Sometimes your business investments are necessary, sometimes they're fun, but most of the time they're really exciting to one person - the salesman.
Highs - We have a really great team here. Some people I've known my whole life, and some were born the year I graduated high school. (Or even later. I know! Hard to believe they're not tiny infants!) They're funny, nice, and great to work with. We had another super year with them. Lows - we have too many birds that want to eat the feed in the barn, too many critters that want to live in the barn, and cats that don't seem to care about chasing any of them. But! As long as the cows and the people are good, then that outweighs the bad. FOR NOW, CATS.
When I met pig farmer Erin Brenneman, another of the Faces of Farming & Ranching, she said that a friend told her, "Whenever I buy a pork chop, I think of you." I really liked that. Since then, a friend sent me a really cute link to a picture of a pillow with a cow silhouette on it, with the words 'Moo-ry Christmas.' She wrote, "Carla, you have to make this!"
Around here, my lack of craft skills is legendary. I've failed at almost every craft you can think of - cross stitch, crocheting, painting, wreathes, any of the ones you help preschoolers with ... so! When my friend thought of me when she saw the cow pillow, it made me happy. I can't make a pillow to save my life - but I can write about the farm.
So, thank you, as always, for reading. This is the four year anniversary of writing the blog, and each year it's a little different. If there's anything you want to know about or hear more about, please let me know. I'm glad for such a supportive online community. Here's to another year - happy 2015!
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