Mid-February and the world is waking up slowly. Quarter of seven in the AM and it very light outside, but the sky is grey and the farm landscape feels misty and a little sleepy. It is Monday and I’m thinking about this week’s work at hand. I’m off the farm more than I like, but today I challenge myself to use the time spent in the repetitive motion of painting trim at someone else’s house to think about my ideal crop rotation.
Lambs are not here yet, but yesterday a friend and I had an enjoyable Sunday afternoon of sheep care to ready the ladies for their imminent babies. We rearranged the barn sheep area so the hay feeder will block some of the wind that comes in the main door and the lambing pens will be protected on an inside wall. Four foot square boxes made of homemade wooden gates make-up the pens I will put the mothers and their newborn lambs in after the babies arrive. By being in tighter quarters both the lambs and mothers will have an easier time to keep track of each other, and each mom will be fed a bigger ration to accommodate for her new energy needs (it’s time to produce milk!). The ewes that have been bred had their butts and bellies sheared so the lambs will have a cleaner entry into this world and will also have an easier time to find the udder for that most important first drink. This shearing is also helpful to me because the previously wooly legs and butts made it difficult for me to see the forming udders and know exactly how close some of the ewes are to lambing. It turns out that several girls had hidden udders that are far more developed than I imagined. I’ve already been out once this morning and there were no lambs waiting for me, but at this point I won’t be surprised to go out at any point and find them.
I’m getting closer to finishing my bookkeeping from the 2009 business year. It is a tedious process of entering the mountain of receipts and sales slips that I stocked pile all year, and to reconcile these with the bank account. One of the most satisfying parts of this process is to look at the line items of the farm expenses and figure out just where all the money goes. I can also print neat charts of when expenses are greatest, as well as income. This information helps inform my decisions of maybe what I need to try to simplify as well as when it makes the most sense for me to expand. Typically farmers think about purchasing equipment and supplies this time of year, because it is when we are free to research and plan for our business development, but it also happens to be when the least amount of money is coming in. Knowing what my true expenses are, and when they happen, will be helpful in my setting goals for selling CSA shares and thinking about whether I can afford to hold off on some of my purchases until later in the year. Or afford not to…
This week I look forward to finishing up this accounting and to finish readying the greenhouse so that I can get seedlings started next week. It’s time!