Farming Failures

I am a woman who runs this little farm.  At one point, I had >80 animals here, so some don't consider this homestead small.  But regardless of size...tiny, small, medium sized, it's a farm.  And I run it. 

I am a woman who runs a farm. I raise and tend chickens, goats, cows, our rabbit, dogs and cats. I milk the cow, make butter, yogurt and cheese. I collect and sell our eggs.  I tend our garden and preserve so much food that each day we are still eating mostly homegrown. 

I am also a part time working mom and a homeschooling mama of two. 

Pair my schedule with my husband's, we get only two days a month that we co parent.  If I ask, he does help when he can, but mostly, especially because of our schedules, I'm flying solo.

You know, I have gotten some unsolicited feedback from time to time, mostly about the schedule I keep and all I'm trying to do. I've been told before that no one can manage all that and that it's just a matter of time before I fail. 

In the last two weeks, I've really questioned whether or not I can do this without failing.

With farming, there's bound to be deaths and it's so hard when there's a wave of them.

I was planning on drying up our milkcow in prep for her August calf. I've been the only one who has been milking...I was looking forward to a couple months of a break.  I've even been working on the freezer stash, prepping for that milk hiatus.

Instead, I went out the other night to find a dead calf.

And just when I was feeling comfortable and not overwhelmed with the volume of milk coming in each day, more milk started coming.  So.much.milk.

Nearly three weeks ago, I had the kids fill the incubator with eggs.  I had 35 viable, took them out of the egg turner and locked them down in prep for hatching.   All was working fine.  The next day, the outlet stopped working. Cold eggs. We lost them all. 

And then there was a chicken who was dying in the coop. The last time this happened, I couldn't bring myself to put her out of her misery and she died such a sad death.  I felt so guilty that I couldn't humanely take her life. I.just.couldn'   This time around, I knew I had to suck it up and do it.  I don't know how I mustered up the courage, but I did it. I killed a hen for the very first time. 

And then our rabbit ran away.

Who am I? Who have I become?  Why do I keep failing at everything I touch?  Is this who I want to be?

I totally caught myself thinking that.

I made a conscious decision to not wallow in the failure.  I say 'the', because it's not like it's anything "I" did.  Just circumstantial.  And really, are they failures or learning opportunities? This old house living...something is always breaking. You better bet I'll be choosing a different outlet next time. 

And about the cow?  I figured out how to read her heats, called the breeder at the appropriate time and she actually did get pregnant.  That's certainly not something I knew about a year ago!

And that chicken? While I don't want to do have to do that again, I imagine I will at some point. It comes with the territory.  Thinking about that chicken's death being so much quicker than the last who died, I know I did the right thing. 

And our rabbit, Hop?  He came back days later and with the help of friends, I caught him.

All my rebuttals have *I* in them. Because *I* am learning, growing and becoming more self sufficient and independent.  I used to count on my husband to do the rototilling...but I know I can do that now.  I put up a good portion of the last fence by myself. I know how to fix things. I stacked nearly all of the wood outside last year and now I split wood with an ax. I am turning into one tough who will not let all these failures rattler her. In fact, I had such an interesting compliment from my husband.  He said "I see you handle that cow. You're much smaller than that cow, but she knows you're boss." That's right. I am in control. The majority of our animals are still alive, so I must be doing *something* right, yes? I hope so.

I remember earlier in our marriage, a visitor, who was a man, offered to start a fire for me. "No thanks, I've got this", I said.  His response?  "You know how to start fires?"  I absolutely do.   Sure, not every fire I start is lit in one match.  Sometimes they might take 2 or 3 or 4 matches.  I don't give up until it's lit.  That's right. I've got this. 

This farm? I'm not giving up on it either. I've got this.

One day at a time...tomorrow will be better!


  1. You DO "got" this! You forgot to mention your biggest success-the lifestyle you offer your precious family. Just look at the Rosetta cheeked smiles on your children Plenty of good food, exercise and fresh air for all of you! You got this!

    1. So true, thank you! The reason to do it all is for the kids.

  2. You certainly are one tough chick! I look up to you so much. I know sometimes it's tough when so much comes at you at once, but you've taken it all and rolled with it and come out on top! I admire you, Jackie! Keep up the good work, you've got this!

    1. Thank you so much..I have a lot of love back atcha! *mwah!*

  3. People often think and dream about the sweet little farm life that you and I have. We do have that but we also have the hard work, heartbreaking reality that comes with it. We bought a sick dairy cow who died 2 months later, we've buried our son's favorite pig in a thunderstorm, we've had to put down a lamb because we didn't castrate right and that caused a problem that snowballed. Farm life is so hard sometimes! But it's rewarding too and you're doing a great job so you should be proud! Our failings are sometimes not our own but even when they are, we have the opportunity to learn from them.

    1. It is so hard and so much heartbreak, but the good does outweigh the struggles. I'm so sorry about all your events you mentioned...I completely can relate. Thank you so much for your kind words!

  4. You are one strong woman!! We are all learning and we all go through hard times on the homestead. But the rewards are so sweet! I'm hoping to hone my skills too--and there is still SO much that we fail at. It has been so much harder to progress is self-sufficiency since the girls were born. Things I've been wanting to do consistently for years we don't prioritize as we should. It is getting easier as they get older, so hopefully we will get a little better each year.

    1. Thank you so much. I will say that when my kids were younger, I was just coasting and hoping for the best. Now they are 3 1/2 and 5 1/2, they are so helpful. As in 'Mama, I think I'll take the compost out.' It will get better, hang in there!

  5. I don't see one failure listed there, chickeepoo. The only failure would be to give up, and I don't see anyone in your family who leans that way. You are a farmer, through and through. You've already accomplished so much in your young life and learned many things that folks older than you don't yet know.
    Your babies are living their best life-what else could success be?

  6. You are amazing, don't let anyone, not even yourself, say otherwise. I'm a farmers wife and I know how hard it is. We are homestedding and I know how hard that is. All if this is worth the bother. Death is a part of life, farmers have to know that. Death isn't your fault. It has to happen for God to renew the earth. We all have things that go wrong, that isn't failure. **hugs**

  7. You are amazing, don't let anyone, not even yourself, say otherwise. I'm a farmers wife and I know how hard it is. We are homestedding and I know how hard that is. All if this is worth the bother. Death is a part of life, farmers have to know that. Death isn't your fault. It has to happen for God to renew the earth. We all have things that go wrong, that isn't failure. **hugs**

  8. Jackie - so many people tell me that I can not possibly keep all the balls in the air and that eventually I'll fail. Sure, there's things I wish I could do that there isn't time for, and ways I wished I would've handled things, but like you, I have to focus on the success of what I have done {right or wrong} and know that I will be a stronger more well-rounded person for it. :) Good for you and all that you've accomplished. You are one AMAZING woman!!



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