I don't know about you, but I am both ready and not ready for the fall weather to come. Its been quite some time since you've heard from me. Not that I haven't tried writing, there's a bunch of "draft" posts to prove it. I never had the words strike, writers block is tough. Finding that rhythm amongst the crazy isn't easy for me. I mean I'm not one to usually let the world in when things are tough.
I suppose there's a bit that has happened since this spring. Let's catch you up before I talk about what's up now.
We ended up being semi successful after the heartbreak that we suffered from all of the aborted lambs. We ended up having 8 live viable lambs born in February/March. They all grew like weeds! We retained the very first lamb of the year born. Some read about my "miracle lamb" back in February.
She is a beautiful ewe that will really add to our flock. Frankly, she's probably the one we should have taken to the fair, but oh well. She's here to stay and is out with the ram already for Jan/Feb lambs! My nieces were able to successfully take homegrown lambs to the fair which is always a great feeling. Did they win? No. They were in the running though and that makes this shepherd feel pretty awesome. They both excelled in showmanship and my oldest niece, Megan, took home the Intermediate showmanship trophy.
This summer had its ups! I successfully went to 3 different farmers markets and somehow kept up with the supply (as best I could). Beef is always a hot sell! Dexter beef, once people try it, they always come back. Steaks fly out of my freezers so fast its crazy. We ended up selling 1 whole beef/month along with all the lamb, pork, chicken, and SO many eggs! We also had a surprise lamb born right when life really knocked me down. My family lost the patriarch of my mom's side of the family.
My grandpa, Anthony Koroleski, was called home the end of June. He is really the reason we are on the farm. If it wasn't for him, my mom wouldn't have had that fire in her to farm that she was able to pass on to me. When I received the call, I was out in the rain (that we desperately needed) moving the cattle herd. I yelled at the sky and cried in the rain. Tears from heaven fell upon me and it made me stronger. Pressing on when things are extra tough because other people and livestock depend on you. We were in the midst of finishing up spring/summer calving and summer farmers markets. Sometimes life pushes you to the edge. God doesn't give you things you can't handle and this summer was no exception.
Among the rest of the crazy that is summer, we are also dealing with a little girl that is growing up! Felicity is now a whopping 4 years old. Some of her summer highlights? Soccer camp, showing diary goats at 2 fairs, and capping it off with starting preschool! She's beyond excited for school. Her teachers so far have told me "she's such a rule follower" and "she's miss independent." Not surprising, considering her parents... so I hear.
~Back to those winds of change~
You know that Matt has been employed at a private practice for the last year. The whirlwind that the last 9 months has been is insane. Crazy stressful in fact. We have been in the process of actually purchasing the practice. Holy cow. Trying to coordinate with accountants, lawyers, and the bank to help us with purchase is just ridiculous. Its more like herding cats. So many moving parts! There are so many new things on the horizon with that! I can't say too much more until everything is finalized but don't you worry. When I get the greenlight, boy do I have things to say! Here's a little sneak peak at some of our office decor! Matt has tenderly named this giant Highland hanging in the waiting room, Connor. The farm is ever present at the office. Artistic barns grace the walls in the patient rooms, flowers in the waiting room, and another big barn in the waiting room. Its farm-y without being in your face. More relaxing and relatable. Shoot, your doctor can even be caught wearing cowboy boots! The sign is part of the change to come!
Market season comes to an end this Saturday, 9/25, in Hudsonville! 4 months of 3 markets (sometimes 4) a week can really drain on a person, especially when its a one man show! It probably wouldn't have worn me down so much if I had hired help, but we just aren't there yet. My dad was gracious enough to come out to my Monday and most Thursday markets to help lessen the strain on me, especially when we are busy and have a line! For someone that isn't necessarily a "people person," it can be especially draining. I always have way more irons in the fire than I really should, but that doesn't usually stop me from saying yes to the next thing that comes along. I just make it work, even if I pay for it later.
Burnout (and sunburn) is a thing, I did hit that wall about the end of August. Not a pretty sight, but its real life and that's what I'm here to talk about. its not always sunshine and rainbows! Long hot days while juggling mom life, farm life, wifely duties, business owner, youth fairs, board meetings; it can be a lot at times.
I know I am not doing it all alone. I have a pretty great support system. My mom is really the backbone at the farm, doing the day to day chores. I come in and do the "extra" goods. My dad helps me truck my livestock away for processing. Both my mom and mother-in-law are rockstar babysitters. Matt is the support at home and helps as much as he is able. My brother Andy and I have the sheep together and we are always "shopping" the sales and postings. Makes getting through the tough times, just that much easier when you have people like that in your life.
I mentioned earlier that we have been blessed and able to restock every month with our beef and pork. I am so thankful for working with the fabulous Caledonia Packing! They really treat me WAY too well. I owe them big time. They were gracious enough to hold animals I purchased at the Ottawa County Fair for USDA processing. They have dealt with me texting and pestering as to when my meats are ready for pick up. Like I said, they treat me too well. Spoiled!
So what happens after the markets are done? Well, I still stock everything. I mean everything. Shopping transitions from markets, to my home, or online! I really try and keep the online inventory up to date so that it keeps it close and at your finger tips. We hop back in to delivery mode as well as being open more hours at the house.
We had a successful calving season! Managed to have a variety to calves born in all of the Dexter colors: black, red, and dun. Horned and polled calves even. Talk about some showstoppers in the pasture though. I am always so excited to see the fruits of our labor. The calves are the highlight of any cattleman. We do have a few heifers that will be for sale yet this fall from all of our sires: Shamrock Finn, HC GF Glenn Finn, and Shiloh Hills Myles. There are a few heifers that we haven't quite decided if we are keeping or not, so stick with us. We're watching how they grow. Fantastic bull prospects, if you're on the hunt for new genetics as well. Steers more than likely will not be available so that we can continue to supply the Dexter beef you know and love. Here's a sneak peak of my favorite heifer out there right now. Here's Shamrock Josie! She will most definitely be kept.
If you're interested in breeding stock this fall, please don't hesitate to either email from the website or call the farm. Heifers sell fast!
We did sustain a loss at the tail end of the summer, our only Chondro+ cow calved but unfortunately lost her calf during the unseasonably hot weather the end of August. Born on one of the hottest days of the summer out in the blazing sun, she just couldn't over come the heat, despite our best efforts. However, Molly has now turned into quite the handy milk cow! Regulating her milk to a once a day milking, she's been giving just over a gallon/day and providing us with more than enough milk for 2 families. Our little Dexter grooming chute also is a great milking stantion. I'm not the one usually milking, but I got the job done.
Now, until I can inform the masses of all those changes...
~Until Next Time