When you live on a farm or homestead especially with animals you have good days and bad days. Thankfully, we have mostly good days here which I really attribute to quality feed, care, and attentiveness. But, bad days do creep in and today was a really bad day. Today, I had to say goodbye to my gander Hank.
A little more than a year ago I was was anxiously waiting for the post office to call and inform me that my fuzzy peeping goslings had arrived. I couldn't wait to bring them home, snuggle them, bond with them, and watch them grow up to become guardians of our flock of laying hens.
With the exception of our dairy goats and obviously Annie, every animal we keep has an expiration date. For the meat chickens and turkeys it's six months or less, pigs it's around the seven-eight month mark, and laying hens around four years or when their production drastically drops. We are a small farm and homestead with self sufficiency as our primary goal. Because of this, every animal has a purpose and some stick around longer than others.
As far as the geese go, their purpose was to be guardians for our flock of hens. Eggs are a bonus, but this is not their primary job or meat for that matter. They can guard whether they're six months or six years old. Because of this, they weren't organized into the "I'm going to eat you" compartment of my mind that the meat chickens, turkeys, pigs, and laying hens go into. So, I allowed myself to get attached and care for them. Making today's decision all the more difficult.
The time of year has come where my seasonal depression rears its ugly head and stops in to say "hey I'm here!". I'm sick of being cold, the gray, the mud, putting on jackets and hats, the lack of green, etc. We have gotten a few "teaser days" of spring where the temps warmed up (even into the 50's a couple times) and I could frolic in the sun and pretend I was accomplishing things outside. Thinking of these days make it torturous when winter smacks us back to reality, ergo the seasonal depression. But, these quiet and antsy times give me time to not only reflect on everything accomplished in 2017, but plan, draw, and make my to do lists for 2018! It gives me hope! Check out what we have in store.
Sometimes I get so distracted by the overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable amount of work I have ahead of me in terms of home and land restoration, raising animals, and general life, that I forget to stop and look how far everything has come. I look at my newly opened pockets of land wishing and dreaming for wide open spaces, and have completely forgotten that only a year and a half ago there was nothing but woods. Granted, we have only cleared about 3% of our land, but it's something and we are making progress.
Then there's the kitchen. Ohhhh my kitchen. I love it. It's old, beautiful, oozes character that few have, and I dare you to find a single level surface or square corner in it! But the old girl didn't always look that way. Ohhhhhhh no. She used to have painted teal floors, deep dark red painted brick, unsealed cabinets, and raw skimmed walls. Whaaaat? Yes, it was beyond horrific...and dirty. But, I saw the potential and started plugging away the second we stepped in the door. Now, it is the gem of the house and if I could, I'd sleep in it. To appreciate truly how far it's come, we need a starting point. So let's see where it all began shall we?
These photos are straight from the Zillow listing, and this is what I saw when I went to look at it the first time.
There is something to be said about old houses. They have character that cannot be bought at Home Goods, and there is an undeniable appreciation for the craftsmanship that went into these historic beauties. Although everyone has a certain level of admiration for them, not everyone is equipped to or willing to live in one. Yes, I have hardwood floors and exposed beams that Joanna Gaines only wishes she could get her hands on. And I have a fully functional beehive oven in my kitchen that makes the most insanely delicious food. But, I don't have a square or level surface in my house resulting in shims under every stitch of furniture. Central air? Garbage disposal? What's that!? Antique houses are a constant project, and not something to take on on a whim. So why would I choose to live in a 1700's home? I didn't seem to have much of a choice. Both of my parent's grew up in homes built in the 1800's, and when I was just a young child they took on an 1840's house to renovate which was a reeeaaalll project. I grew up in a constant state of remodel. Dry wall, insulation, you name it, something was always being ripped down and installed. After college, I settled into my great-grandparent's early 1900's farmhouse that I planned on staying in forever. I have always lived in old houses, and didn't know any different. So when life took me in a different direction and led me to New England, it seemed only fitting that I again settle in an old house in the most historically dense area of our country.
Since I made the decision last spring that I was going to breed Karen I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of breeding season. I have been biding my time, "prepping her" for her upcoming pregnancy by making sure her selenium, copper, and other vitamin levels are where they should be. Deficiency in such nutrients can not only affect her ability to be bred, but also the size and health of her litter. I also started paying attention to her heat cycle to know her signs, so I could track it and anticipate when she may potentially go into heat as the time got closer to arrange a date with her boyfriend. Animals certainly are unpredictable, and despite my best efforts to track her cycle and know her signs of heat, it proved to be more of a challenge than I thought.
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