Most days, operating a small-scale chicken farm is a lot of fun. It keeps us on our toes, it keeps our freezers and bellies full, and it provides for some interesting conversation at dinner parties… “Wait…you do WHAT?” But on days (and weeks) like today, I just want to throw in the soaking wet, soggy, ant-covered towel. We’ve had so many days of drenching rain at this point I’m forgetting what walking on firm, dry grass even feels like.
Our meat birds in the field are wet. It’s all we can do to just keep moving the tractors to fluffier grass so they can have a few hours of not sitting in a deep puddle in their homes. Moving these tractors is a feat in dry conditions…moving them on soggy ground with attached buckets full of rainwater? Let’s just say the task inspired some loud, angry animal sounds from me today.
The girls (our laying hens) are another messy story. Their coop is an island surrounded by soggy goop in the middle of their fenced-off area and is currently not only housing our hens but a bustling population of ants. HOORAY. We can’t move the coop until it dries a bit and we can’t clean out the coop (again) until it stops raining long enough to not make an even bigger mess. It’s fun times at Yellow Bear Farm.
All in all, it really is fun times at Yellow Bear Farm, and we are so lucky that this farm is a supplement to our income (sometimes…) and not what we count on to pay the bills. I feel for the farmers in this area and the rest of the state who are struggling to make a harvest happen with drowned crops and relentless rain. We won’t be doing this farming thing forever, or for long, but I know that my experiences over the past few years will encourage me to always seek out local, small-scale farms to support. I’ll be ever more willing to pay that extra dollar or two since I now know what the real price of food is. Farmers ask a price to cover the seeds and the water and the gas for the tiller, but can’t possibly put a money value on the sweat lost, the time spent chasing away ants and critters (especially in a humane and sustainable-as-possible way), and the emotional toll that is taken when seeing yet another wet week ahead…especially while competing with the Big Ag guys out there.
Come on, sunshine! We need a break!