Another Year Passes on the Ealy Homestead

I’m serious when I ask this. Where did the year go?

It’s beginning to sound like a cliche, I know. But I’m still scratching my head over how fast it seemed this year went by. Maybe that’s why I’m clinging to this time between Christmas and the New Year. This season of rest. Because I need things to slow down a little bit.

I’ve been scanning through pictures from this last year. I’m glad that we captured so many moments, because sometimes we forget about all the thing we experienced. And sometimes it’s healthy to look back. To reflect on where we are now compared to just twelve months ago.

Do you ever do that? I hope you do.

I don’t know exactly how I would characterize 2019. In many ways, it was a year of growth. However, I don’t necessarily feel like it was a very progressive year for us.

We chose to intentionally focus on the things we were already doing (the market garden, the pigs, the chickens) in order to get better and more efficient at doing those things. To do this, we chose not to add anything new (meat birds, turkeys, new CSA customers) to the farm. We even scaled back where it made sense to better understand why and how we were spending our energy and resources.

So perhaps it was a year of clarifying perspective. I’m okay with that.

Growing and raising food in a way that is respectful to creation and responsible to our community has become a central focus for us on the farm. It’s become our mission to model this kind of regenerative farming and to advocate, teach and inspire others to follow this path.

And so we spent much of the year giving our attention to learning how to grow better food.

In 2019 we added 25 apple and peach trees to the market garden. Our new flock of 40 hens went into full production, allowing us to expand our egg supply (for our family and for our customers). And we sought to become even more efficient and productive in the market garden, intensively planting smaller plots with a broader inter-crop diversity.

We celebrated new life during the year as we farrowed pigs for the first time. And we took advantage of a couple broody hens to hatch our first chicks over the summer.

But we were reminded many times of how fragile life can be on the farm. We lost our cat Lucky to the road, and then our barn cat Whiteface later in the year. We nursed a couple chickens back to health, endured a mink attack on the flock, and still lost a few others due to unknown reasons. Georgia, Petunia and Dotty all gave birth during the polar vortex we experienced early Feb, and we lost their piglets to the sub zero temperature.

Weather was probably the most unpredictable challenge we faced in 2019. Heavy snow, an extreme polar vortex and summer flooding all took their toll on the farm. But we endured.

Every year we look for ways to involve the kids with activities on the farm, but in 2019 I really wanted to be intentional about giving them responsibilities so that they felt like they had more ownership in what we do. They helped us build raised beds for the kitchen garden, take care of the animals and plant flowers and vegetables.

It felt like we were always busy. And the list of projects continues to grow. But we also made sure to take time to have fun as a family as much as possible.

Looking through the images captured from this past year, I can say it was a good year for the Ealy Homestead. I have to remind myself that progress isn’t always measured by how much more we can do. Rather, it’s how well we improve in the things that matter, how well our time was spent and how deeply we invested in others.

This life should be a balance between getting things done and living well. 2019 may be in the past now, but the experiences we shared will continue to drive us forward.

I want to always be moving forward. Even if its baby steps at a time.

Here’s to the new year!

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