By Danny Dunlap from Bluebird Sky Farmstead
Recently, we’ve been focusing on increasing our efficiency as farmers. This season, we fell into the busiest time of the year pretty quickly and maybe, possibly, we were a bit unprepared. But it’s almost impossible to be fully prepared for something you’ve never done on your own farm before. Almost every single step of farming requires specialized knowledge and tools. The further Annaliese and I get into the journey of starting Bluebird Sky, the further we get in our quest to acquire all the best tools that make our lives easier, not to mention making farming more enjoyable. Along the way, we also acquire the knowledge that accompanies a job well done. It’s really fun to take a step back and look at how far we’ve come in building our farm over just one season. This place is unrecognizable from the farm it was at the close of the 2019 season. The garden has expanded by a factor of 4. We added a second hard paddock for our pack o’ pigs and set up the electric system to run them on nearly 5 acres of grass in a rotational grazing system. Our chickens are now in a fully mobile system; they have been grazing and spreading their poop over our Hill Field pasture for 3 months now. I’m very confident that within a couple of years, we’re going to be running our dream farm and working full-time off of it supplying delicious and healthy food to our neighbors. At that point, we should have a volunteer program up and running too, allowing us to get more done and help to train the future generation of farmers. In my mind, the more small farm practitioners we can get on the ground, the better. But I digress. That’s a conversation for its own post in due in its own time.
Continuing on talking about recent progress, we recently acquired a tool/toy thats been making morning and afternoon chores way more efficient and fun. That tool is an ATV/4 wheeler/quad bike/whatever you want to call it. We hook up one of our smaller trailers to it for doing medium sized jobs around the property and we can get to our pastured chickens quickly to check for eggs and refill their water. This one tool has probably saved us a few hours of work already in the few weeks we’ve had it. A few hours may not sound like a lot but when you compound it over a year it adds up to be quite a bit of time saved.
After a long season and some large purchases for the farm, it’s time to have the patience to step back for a bit, breathe, and think about what we need going into the future. There are so many projects we want to tackle out here but it can be tough to decide what to do next when you’re on a tight budget and trying to make your small business profitable. Do we need a brick and mortar farm store to be selling our pastured pork and eggs out of? Would a large pole-barn to store equipment, have a covered event space, and house animals in the winter be more important for us right now? Do we need to double our flock and add a second chicken trailer to our fleet next season? Are our customers looking for more pastured meat from us? Perhaps we should invest in better fencing and get some ruminants running on the land in 2021.
As you can see there are a million decisions that Annaliese and I face on a weekly and monthly basis. And that doesn’t even begin to cover the tiny stuff we deal with day to day. Nobody ever said the life of a farmer was easy! But this is where our practice of patience comes in. Both of us are very good at taking the slower winter months to reflect and grow. This year we’ll be reflecting on what a crazy year 2020 has been and looking to the future and what we hope to accomplish in 2021. I personally love to meditate at home and write in my journal. Many times during the hustle and bustle of the season I fall out of those practices, but winter is the time that I try to reconnect with them and in turn reconnect with my internal self. As for Annaliese she takes care of her mind and body through yoga and massage. Just like me, she sometimes misses these things in the middle of the season. And sometimes it just isn’t as effective. Your zen yoga practice can be kind of thrown off when you come home and immediately have to wrestle a 350 pound pig back into his pen (ask us how we know that…).
Finally both of us LOVE spending time outdoors (duh, farmers). With the record wildfires we’ve been having in Colorado and the poor air quality we’ve been forced to work in, we haven’t really been hiking much this past year. However, once the mountains are covered in that beautiful white stuff we’ll definitely be making some trips out there to go snowshoeing. We’re even thinking about doing a multi-day hut trip! Slowing down and focusing on ourselves for a bit doesn’t come easily or naturally to either of us but its very important for mental health. After spending these upcoming slower months reflecting, we hope to come out of Winter refreshed and ready to tackle the 2021 season. When it comes down to it, what we both really love is producing quality food for the people of Boulder County and we can’t wait to get back to it!
One last thing I’d like to touch on in this rambling post is the craziness that was the 2020 election. I don’t want to get political very often on my business page, but I can’t help but express my pride in the American people for voting for love and humanity this election. It’s scary to me how many people still voted for President Trump with how he’s behaved the past 4 years and the decisions he’s made, but under the new administration I believe our country can start to heal from the great divides that are found within it. Our farm’s main goal is to be a proponent of climate change activism and to do our part by farming in a sustainable way that helps mother earth rather than hurting her. It’s clear to us that the Trump administration had never cared about the environment and never was going to. At least under the new Biden/Harris administration we stand a chance in hell at putting in some regulations on large corporations to save our environment from impending doom. There’s not much time left (if you listen to the scientists at least). We at Bluebird Sky Farmstead are hopeful for a better tomorrow under the new administration for all Americans.