Last year, we posted about how all too often we write “to do” lists, but we never write an “I did” list. And so we wrote about everything we did last year.
So for 2018, here is our “we did” list:
We watched lots of baby chicks grow and our chicken flock expand.
We ran our first batch of pasture raised meat chickens.
And then another 4 batches.
We learnt the importance of using an electrolyte supplement for new chicks on their day of arrival.
We learnt that the most losses occur in the first few days due to weak immune systems, and the last few days due to heart attack.
We found a hormone and antibiotic free feed for broiler and layer chickens.
We learnt the power of electro netting as fencing – keeping our animals in and predators out, as well as the flexibility it gives us.
We learnt how to label and market and sell chickens and eggs and vegetables.
We refined many of our enterprises to become more efficient.
We did our sums. Over and over and over again.
We weighed up options, ways of making the business profitable, ways of making it more appealing to guests, ways of making it more efficient, how to scale up the farm, how to make products appealing to customers, how to create access for guests and customers, how to live a life outside of the business.
We celebrated birthdays and many great and deep losses this year.
We enjoyed fresh delicious produce and watched as our meals went from one homegrown ingredient alongside shop bought ingredients, to homegrown plus locally sourced, to fully homegrown/homemade multiple nights a week!
We survived some epic storms – both literal and figurative! Hail damage, flooding, damaged roof, destroyed crops….
We planted and planted and planted! We weeded and weeded!
We found ways to work with nature, and protect ourselves from nature a little bit.
We watched crops thrive and crops die.
We learnt just how difficult it is to grow vegetables consistently. We are trying to work with nature but after late rain and many failed crops, our market garden is looking very sorry for itself. Nature is modest and she has attempted to cover up with so, so, so many weeds!
We converted our backpacker suite and conference room into a spacious, two bedroom, two bathroom family cottage, The Coop.
We prettied up the Orchard Suites.
We learnt how people can be so organised, pleasant and love their experience here. We also learnt that people can be rude, trash our rooms and property and not pay.
We enjoyed spotting beautiful birds. (Photo: Narina Trogon by guest, Sean).
We met many, many guests. Many with such an interest in what we do and what is on offer at Bramleigh.
We went on a couple hikes… not nearly enough! But were dumbfounded at the beauty of creation every time.
We suffered the loss of most of our gaggle of geese to a caracal.
We had sunny days and rainy days.
We got a beehive.
We hosted a Zulu course and tried to learn a new language.
We attended a permaculture course and a pruning course. We made some exceptional connections and friendships.
We watched the seasons come and go. Wildflowers and Summer showers, frost and snow, Autumn colours and tumbling leaves, Spring blossoms and new life.
We attended our first Farmer’s Market. We attended multiple markets.
We set up REKO Notties. The first REKO Ring outside of Europe. A pre-order system on Facebook. Bramleigh started off doing a pop up farm-stand alongside a mobile coffee cart, we sold artisan bacon and egg rolls, and gathered interest and support before launching REKO Notties alongside 8 other local producers.
We bought a pizza press and still can’t keep up with pizza orders;)
We met many like-minded people and friends.
We visited similar farms.
We hosted some farm-to-fork dinners, and a Christmas lunch.
We went from 2 to 4 staff members this year. This brought with it a lot more learning about dealing with people, the tough balance between being present to each person’s needs and running a business, managing leave dates, birthdays, family events and the valuable assistance to keep the business running smoothly.
We updated the Bramleigh signs with a fresh new look, supporting our vision and direction for Bramleigh.
We learnt that some hens and geese are better moms than others, and there is nothing we can do about it when it doesn’t go according to plan!
We learnt about harvesting timber from alien trees. This brought with it much stress in dealing with contractors, unhappy workers and being caught in the middle!
We expanded our solar system. We learnt about the extents we can push the system to, and how difficult it is to get guests to often understand the limitations.
We learnt that tomatoes can grow here! Some rogue plants popped in a veggie bed and we transplanted them to the greenhouse and they produced all winter and summer for us!
We learnt that even being part of a conservancy, with regular patrols, people still set snares and our poor Elliott was trapped in one of these ghastly things!
We learnt that there are dog trackers in our area who can assist.We learnt to prune trees properly and harvested fruit from our trees this year!
We built a new chicken coop
We built pig houses and started our pig enterprise.
We learnt pigs’ natural habitat is in the forest where they dig with their snouts for roots, seeds and bugs. They get sunburnt easily so the dappled light protects them.
We learnt pigs don’t need to be fed on commercial feed but do very well on just milk and natural forage.
We learnt pigs are social and will follow us anywhere.
We gained 50 new egg layers in our flock. We started to sell eggs. We started to build an egg mobile.
We built a stable for baby goats who never arrived. But we quickly converted it to a piglet home, and then a chick nursery.
We welcomed a new puppy, Zoe.
We had many adventures and cuddles with our dogs.
We learnt the importance of time off and time for each other.
We learnt the value of friends and family and to make sure that we place our “big rocks”, most important things, in first – time with friends and family, time with each other, time with God, time of rest.
We have laughed and cried through this year. We know the things we need to work on, to ensure we have our ‘big rocks’ and the changes we want to make to 2019. Thank you for taking this journey with us. Here’s to 2019 and all the opportunities it holds. May we take each one and run with it!