This last year has been a year of growth for us. Our youngest daughter is no longer the baby and our oldest is getting ready to drive. We moved to a new homestead and have had many new challenges managing 21 acres. We started our year off with 3 meat cows, a dairy cow, 17 muscovy ducks, 2 sheep, 2 pigs and a donkey. In the middle of winter, our sow had 16 piglets, but only one survived. Our three meat cows got bounced by a predator in the middle of the night and 2 were killed by a tractor trailer. Our dairy cow went on a walkabout and found herself a boyfriend. One muscovy hen had 16 babies that eventually all died. And our ewe had a lamb that wandered off and froze to death.
All of that loss would make anyone want to give up. But then Spring came and soon Summer rolled in. Summer has brought Fall and now it is time to harvest. Although 2 of our cows are gone, Baldie is growing every day. Our lone survivor of the 16 piglets, Hamlet, is now almost 200 lbs and will probably hit 350 by the time we process him around Christmas. Daisy did in fact find herself a boyfriend, and any day now she will have a calf. Our ewe is also pregnant and we expect her to lamb next month. All of our blueberry and strawberry plants died, but we now have muscadines stored for jelly, syrup, cobbler and wine! Along the way, we picked up a few rabbits and now we have successfully grown out 10 meat-worthy rabbits.
I guess what I am trying to say is, never give up. Life is hard on a homestead. But you have to learn to take the losses and turn them into gains. I may have lost a cow, but I gained the knowledge to not let it happen again. I may have lost a lamb and some piglets to the winter weather, but I have gained the insight to manage breeding as well as the birthing areas. I believe that we are only given as much as we can handle. Maybe we have to learn loss before we can appreciate gain. So good luck with your harvest this year. No matter how big or small be grateful for it all!