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2012 Farm Resolutions

Traditionally, many folks make resolutions on New Year’s Day.  I can honestly say that I’ve never done that.

It’s not that I don’t think resolutions are important – I’ve made them, just never specifically on New Year’s day.  I guess I’ve always figured if it’s important enough to make a formal resolution to do something, one ought not wait till a certain date to get started on it.  And, I’m not saying that I don’t have a problem with procrastination – the stack of projects I’ve got waiting to get done around here proves otherwise.

This year has involved a lot of getting back to traditions that never were traditions for our family in the first place.  The most obvious is farming itself.  My parents both grew up in a farming community.  My Dad worked in the fields, most of his relatives had working farms, and his Dad co-owned the town’s Ford Tractor dealership, so I guess there is some level of family farming tradition, it just skipped my generation.

After he finished college, my Dad joined the Air Force and he and Mom started moving all over the world.  I was born at pilot training and lived in and around bases until I joined the Air Force myself, and moved my own family all over the world.  My wife grew up more rural, but was never involved in farming.  This year, however, we’ve jumped both feet into the tradition of farming that a few generations ago was the norm in this country rather than the exception.

In that spirit, I’m going to follow the New Year’s resolution tradition this year.  Here are my top ten, specifically related to the farm:

image from wikipedia

10. I’m going to learn how to weld.  When we bought the farm, we also bought a lot of the previous owner’s equipment – his tractor, implements, air compressor… the list goes on.  On that list is an arc welder, gas welder, and gas cutting torch. I haven’t welded anything in my life.  So this semester, I signed up for a class at UNH – Welding and Industrial Fabrication.  This is the fun kind of resolution!

Burning Brush in our Back Pasture

9. By spring thaw, we’ll have half of the back pasture fenced and ready to put into rotation along with the front pasture (which I’ll split into two paddocks).  This will allow us to give each paddock a proper two-week rest between grazings.  Eventually, I want to have four paddocks to rotate, but that’s a longer-term project.

Peaches, peaches, peaches!

8. We’re going to prune our apple and peach trees this February!  They’d obviously been neglected over the past few years, and this year the peaches were so productive that we lost branches due to weight.  The apples were edible, but not optimal.  By pruning correctly, we’ll have a smaller but healthier harvest.

7. This Winter, I’ll finish our farm business plan, forest management plan, and nutrient management plan. I’ve got a pretty good start on all three, but the Summer and Fall workload hit hard and I dropped work on them.  USDA paperwork is next… whew!

6. I’m going to get a hold of the growing list of construction projects and make sure they actually get done.  So far on the winter list: garage insulation, pasture hay feeder, goat grooming stand, and mobile turkey brooder/house.

5. We’ve got lots of studying to do to get ready for kidding.  They’ll come whether we’re ready or not, and I figure being ready is the better of those two options!

4. We’re going to keep diving into 4H and other extension programs, and never miss an opportunity to thank the volunteers and staff in the extension offices for their invaluable contributions.  We would be up a creek without a paddle without them – they are pure gold.

3. I’m going to get out on the tractor and horses more often.  Both of these activities help me shrug off the less important stuff that occupies my mind and put that all in better perspective.  I’m a better husband, father, and overall person when I have things in perspective.  Plus, my wife and kids love to join in on the farm work and horse riding, and that makes it even better.

2. On that note, I’m going to be more intentional about getting involved in what my wife and kids like.  Whether it’s fishing with my son, volunteering at the therapeutic riding program with my daughters, having a cup of coffee/hot chocolate with my wife, or going on a trail ride, a walk or a paddle, this farm isn’t worth the rocks the walls are built out of if we can’t work and play as a family.

1. In all of this, I’ll try not to lose the amazement of how blessed we are to have the opportunity to participate in this adventure called life, and continue to thank God for giving us that blessing.

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