The summer of 2020 has been one for the history books. I wonder how it will seem to others, looking back, but I know that this will not rank as one of my favorite summers.
So what was the problem or problems? The lock downs? The partially empty shelves in the grocery store? The heat dome keeping temperatures unseemly hot? Covid 19 itself? The politics of the day? All of it?
I think all of it would be the best answer, but that wouldn’t be the most thorough explanation.
My family has not struggled too much being in each others pockets. With five of us home full time there have definitely been conflicts, but we make every effort to work through all of it, offering support as best we can to one another. I have felt that household chores were and are often lacking, as it is challenging to put the effort in to clean something when it seems it will be dirty again in less than 10 minutes. Never the less, we try to make the effort. Additionally, meals have been occasionally challenging, both because it seems that not all of our preferred ingredients have been available, and also because we have lost some of our interest in cooking after doing so continuiously. These are struggles I think most families have dealt with, but they are worth acknowledging.
From a homestead standpoint, this has been a season of struggle. With grocery shortages we decided as a family to move up some of our plans to keep meat chickens. We ordered cornish cross chickens early enough in the year that the hatcheries had what we wanted (65 chicks) available. We changed some practices we had from previous years, built a shade structure, and bought an electric fence net that is made to incorporate chicks. This was after buying ducks and chicks to be an egg laying flock, building a mobile coop, and repairing our old but still functional electric poultry netting. Lastly, we bought a well reviewed solar fence charger.
The last component is the most important. After not keeping chickens for at least two years our children were both extremely excited to have these animals again, and also very out of practice on proper animal care. In one night, with the fence netting accidentally turned off, we lost all of the meat birds and 11 of 12 egg laying pullets. (For reasons I don’t know the 4 ducks and 1 pullet survived the attack.) It appeared that dogs jumped in and played with chasing most of the birds to death. My brother in law, who was here for a brief visit, saw a fox carry away a carcass, after the massacre that took place. Days later, after we began double checking latches and that the fence was hot, I saw a coyote watching the pen. This event was very devastating for the family, but also came in mid July, which meant that nearly all of the hatcheries were sold out for the year. Ugh! I did not expect that at all….
To make matters more oppressive, it has not seemed that we had made the thousand mile move from Texas to Colorado, at least as the weather was concerned. We have been months without rain and regularly seen temperatures over 100 degrees. Our home was obviously not built for these temperatures; the 20+ years cooling system was not keeping up and the irrigation system can only be described as quitting. This meant that my first Front Range garden has been struggling in ways I am not and was not prepared to address. On top of that, I have found that I would call the soil here sterile; there are no worms, very little existing root structure, and no descernable life present. I had planned for a no-till garden, but am not seeing any life come up from the soil into the compost that I purchased to start my first new garden. I am very concerned that part of the reason many of my plants seem to be struggling is that I am not getting the thriving wild life I expect. I hope that future years will see improvements in that area.
With all of this and then the incredible negativity found in the world at large it has been a disappointing summer. My kiddos start the new school year soon and we have hopes for better days ahead.
Be well and develop new and exciting plans for your homesteading families.
Tags: animals, food prep, garden