Part of looking forward into the next year is looking back into the past, learning from our mistakes & celebrating our successes. 2012 was one of those years that contained so many wonderful moments, yet there were some hard times as well. It was neither a year of bright happiness, nor a year of deep sadness. A year of small contrasts & yet we choose to live each day with the knowledge that it is a blessing from the Lord & not something that we deserve, but rather something that we are gifted. We are so thankful for each moment we are given.
There is much to be greatful for & much to learn from & I thought I'd journal it here in the hopes that some of the lessons you may be able to glean for yourself & it will aid my memory in the future years.
Our family has continued to thrive here on the farm. We love the hard work (well most of the time) & we love working together with a common goal. The children have continued to grow & develop physically, mentally & spiritually & I am often overwhelmed with the immense responsibility the Lord has bestowed upon us as parents to guide & teach them in the ways of the Lord. This has been a year of much illness for our family with regular trips to the paediatrician & doctors (yes, the receptionists know me). I have never been so sick in my life ~ not once, but twice & it took a while for me to bounce back. Ellie had bi-lateral pneumonia in July which scared me as she was so very unwell. We are thankful to God for her full recovery. Due to my various illnesses & thus having to drastically change my diet I have lost weight & now have so much more energy for which I am grateful! I will admit that because of the illnesses I have been a little lax in making the children learn more practical skills this past few months, but fully intend to remedy that in the new year.
Our family continues to worship at our little country church that have fully embraced us. Friendships have continued to develop & grow with people of all ages. Dave continues to serve as a deacon, youth group leader & teen bible study leader. I had to give up one of my ministry positions, but continue teaching my Sunday School class which I just love doing. Our family devotions have continued with gusto & they would have to be our favourite time of day. Dave does a fantastic job of leading them & it is wonderful to see him guiding & instructing the children. Our deepest prayers continue for our children's salvation. My private prayer journal continues to work well & I still intend to share how I organise my prayer times here, but I do need to redo my lists it as they is falling to pieces & has writing all over :)
What a year on the farm. We have continued with our sheep endeavours, we planted our crop which then failed. We ended up putting the lambing ewes onto the crop paddock & it proved to be a fantastic lambing paddock due to the lovely patches of crop coming up here & there. God blessed us abundantly with our lambing with many sets of twins & triplets. We were able to sell the previous years lambs & are slowly learning the rotational calendar of our farming endeavours. I assisted more this year with the lambing by checking the ewes once a day thus freeing Dave from having to do it in the afternoon in addition to his morning round. I even learnt how to pull lambs!!!
The excitement of our jersey cow Bessy's pregnancy & labour turned to sadness as her calf was stillborn. It was certainly a struggle getting her to adopt the orphan beef calf we were able to get, but after we skinned the dead calf & tied it to the orphan, things went a whole lot better. I learnt very quickly how to milk & although both Bess & I are still learning, we have a system that is working well & we are keeping the family well & truly supplied in rich, creamy jersey milk!
The pigs are going & growing well. Delores gave birth to a total of 8 piglets in August, but only 4 survived which we were quite happy with as we are still very much in the learning stage of pigs (This was her first litter). The piglets are currently being weaned which will hopefully mean more piglets in the first half of next year sometime. A recent escapade resulted in us meeting more neighbours (blog post to come). Thankfully all are home again & they currently happily occupying the front paddock looking very fat & content as they doze in the shade of the trees.
I added to my hen house (the 'chook nook') & we are abundantly blessed in eggs at the moment. I love my chickens even if we do have the ugliest rooster ever (he's Zai's silky). We haven't had any hens go broody, so I will have to assess what to do in the early parts of next year to continue to improve the flock.
I've had to rethink parts of our diet this year after illness left me unable to tolerate different kinds of breads & pasta. Due to me being unsure of exactly what I am reacting to I've been staying away from both breads & pasta so the family have been having less of these as well. I've always cooked from scratch so this has been no different from any other year, but this year we've had two lots of butchering of our own lambs & we are so thankful to not only have freezers full of good quality meat, but to also know where it's coming from ( right from birth on ~ these are Sunnyside bred lambs). My prolific herb garden has continued to supply additional taste to our meals & I am thankful that at least I can grow good old hardy herbs even when my garden isn't the dream acre I would love :)
Last summer I had a wonderful garden. I kept it contained to the main garden beds that Dave had built for me the year before as I am not a very confident gardener just yet. I am slowly learning about gardening in this climate. Gardening & indeed farming is all about learning for next year & last year I learnt that:
* Tomatoes need to be staked or have cages ~ they just go everywhere otherwise.
* Water, water, water, water, daily....
* I am not very good at starting seeds ~ I have varied successes, but I need to budget for seedlings to purchase in place of the failures!
* Put cucumbers in the main garden ~ if they aren't under a watering system they will not thrive with the little water I am able to bucket over them.
* I can't grow pumpkins - I don' t know why because I love them & apparently they are easy to grow, but have had no success so far ( although it may have something to do with the free ranging chickens we have).
* Bird nets on the garden although ugly do a wonderful job until the plants get so big that they grow through them & then they need to be removed. Plants half through netting are very difficult to harvest from.
* Garlic is easy to grow!
* Soil improvement, mulching, weeding & watering are just as important parts of the gardening process as the planting & harvesting ( although not as much fun).
We ended up with a wonderful harvest of various plants during the year with my winter garden growing far beyond my expectations.
The children continue to thrive & home schooling continues to be a good fit for each member of our family. I can truthfully say that 2012 has been the most difficult year of our home schooling for me as a teacher. I should have expected it with adding two kinder students to the schoolroom ( doubling my official student numbers), but it still surprised me just how much work was involved. For the first time I was up into the wee hours of the mornings with planning etc. I can happily say that both boys are doing well with their reading & writing skills and are more than ready for year one!!! Zai & Ellie have both continued to do well.
I have learnt how very individual each child's learning styles really are (yes, even identical twins) and to ensure the best use of our time I need to find something that fits for that particular child even though it may well be different from what the other children are/ were using.
For the first time I received a critical comment this year & I struggled for a while whether to continue writing, but realised that really is part & parcel of keeping an online journal that is open to the public. I've loved writing here & although I've had some months where it's been very difficult to find the time to even sit down, I continue to enjoy the times I do. I find so much joy in your comments & thank you for reading here & for taking the time to leave me some encouragement. I intend to continue journaling our life here & look forward to see what 2013 holds!
Have a very Happy New Year!!!