Wow! It’s been a great summer, but it has flown by! I’m already watching the leaves fall a little bit and it’s not even September yet. I want to put the brakes on and enjoy the season just a little more before that first frost comes (all too soon). But hot cider and pumpkin spice everything sounds really nice too.
You might have been wondering where we’ve been all summer! Truth is, we waaaay underestimated the demand for GMO-free pork and chicken! We sold out of everything so quickly that we had to call it a season in July and turn our attention to some other things happening on the farm.
Here are six things to bring you up-to-date:
1. The first is that the high tunnel is finally complete. It was a huge project but it will be a great asset to our future growing seasons. We are busy building raised beds for winter crops and getting ready for pre-spring planting.
2. Predators have been our biggest obstacle this year. We have had bears (4 of them!), coyotes, raccoons, foxes, and hawks destroy our laying flock (and even a few of our meat birds). We are trying to find a good balance between free-range and predator protection. We’ve decided NOT to run any more poultry until we can protect them properly. Which leads us to #3.
3. We are in the midst of our next big construction project: a house! This will require all of our attention until the end of autumn when we plan to move in. We have been driving back and forth from our rental to the land every day for two years, which has made it easier for predators to come around and also we’ve been unable to have dogs to guard the livestock. Being on the land full-time will allow us to take better care of our livestock, crops, and soil, and will also allow us to conserve energy and time as we continue to grow the business. We can’t wait!
4. We have goats again! We have acquired three milk goats from friends so that when we move into our new house we can get guard dogs that will learn to guard the goats right away, and then the other livestock in the future. And as a bonus, we have our own milk again!
5. Another new addition to our operation is a double-barrel apple press. We’ve already enjoyed the first round of cider fresh from the very first crushing. So, so good!
6. The bees are back! We tried to overwinter several hives of bees last year, but we lost all of them. So, we’re trying again. So far, three hives are going strong. They’re just so beautiful, and busy as, well, bees.
And that’s all I have for now. In between all the new projects this summer, we’ve celebrated 3 birthdays and 2 anniversaries (18 years of marriage and 2 years of business); we’ve visited Abingdon, VA, Asheville, NC and Washington, D.C.; we’ve canned tomatoes, peach jam, salsa, and blackberry syrup; and as a family we’ve learned A LOT about farming, construction, and community.
It’s been an outstanding summer for us. Now, here’s to back-to-school excitement, crisp mornings, hot cider, spiced-up coffee, Friday night football, and leaves ablaze. HERE WE GO!
Don’t forget to hop on over to Instagram and follow us @reliantfarm for almost-daily updates from the farm. Hope to see you there!
The Strange Family