Challenges & Celebrations

written by

Joy Stephens

posted on

September 25, 2023

This summer has been unlike anything we've ever experienced here.  Just keeping up with life has been challenging most days.  Our summer has been marked by drought and wildfire(you can read more about that in an earlier post I wrote here.) and the compounding and cascading effects of that continue ...
Due to the dry conditions, some marshy areas that are normally underwater during the summer were exposed and accessible to grazing animals this year.  Water Hemlock is an extremely poisonous plant that grows in these wet areas.  On a normal year it poses no problem to livestock as animals simply can't get to it or aren't tempted to eat it with plenty of other forage available.  Sadly, our cow herd wandered into several of these areas where it grew and as a result we lost 4 cows to water hemlock poisoning in one week. 😢  It was a monumental, all out, week-long effort to first, get the herd moved out of that pasture as quickly as we could, then scour all of our other pastures for the deadly weed, and finally fence our cows out of any areas that might harbour it. 

Water-Hemlock.jpg

The frustrations continued as we've been experiencing more bear pressure than we've ever had here in the past.  No rain means that the berries didn't develop.  A wild berry crop failure makes for hungry bears that are now down in valley looking for food rather than being contentedly roly-poly fat up on the high slopes.  One such hungry bear chose to tear apart one of our fences and sent a whole herd of our young yearling heifers on an extended galavant through the surrounding bush country.  We spent days searching and rounding up the animals but 5 of them are still MIA with no sign of them to be found.  We have a drone pilot coming to make a search this week and Lord willing, we're hoping to pick up a heat signature, find our girls and bring them safely home.  ðŸ¤ž

Mama-Bear.jpg

This mother black bear who has two cubs has remained here at the farm all summer long since her arrival in early spring.  We've given her a wide berth but her continued presence has kept us (and our guardian dogs) on our toes.  Last week Travis snapped this quick pic just prior to her running a short bluff charge toward him while he was on the tractor.  Don't mess with Mama 🧸!  Yikes!!!

No chicken available this year ...
Due to the fact that our work force here at the farm is shrinking, (Who do those kids think they are?  Growing up and moving on and starting their own lives?!?! 😆)  Rick and I decided to collaborate this year with a young couple who wanted to raise chickens for us.  Raising pastured chickens in our Northern climate is always challenging.  They're just not really conducive to our environment with our daily temperature fluctuations and short growing season.  Unfortunately they had a very difficult season and the chickens just didn't grow as quickly as they expected.  Here in the valley we book all of our harvest dates a year in advance.  As you might imagine this is very challenging as things don't always go as planned and animals may not always be ready for harvest on the date you booked.  That's exactly what happened here.  They realized the chickens needed more time to grow but were unable to rearrange the harvest dates to accommodate that.
They ended up passing on their harvest date hoping to get another but when that didn't work out they harvested the very small chickens themselves.  This means we have no chicken for sale as we require provincial inspection to sell our meats.  It's so disheartening for them, for us, and for you too.  Sigh.

So as you can see things have been a bit taxing here lately.
Please don't misunderstand me.  I'm not complaining.
These are just some of the challenges that we're coming up against this year and I'm here sharing the highs and lows.  This is my best effort to give you an unfiltered, real, and transparent pic of what farm life really looks like here at 6S.
We know you're facing your own challenges...
everywhere we go and everyone we talk to seems to be struggling in some way these days.
No one ever promised us life would be easy.
"Mama said there'd be days like this." - the Shirelles -
"Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward." - Job 5:7 -

Which gives us even more reason to celebrate life's joys,
like ....

Our son Grady got engaged this summer!!!

Grady-&-Charlotte.jpg

We're very excited to be welcoming his beautiful fiancé Charlotte into the 6S Herd!
When and Where?  Next month!  Here at the farm!
What a blessing to get to wind down the 2023 season with
this celebration of love and life and excitement for the future.  It is a beautiful reminder of how there is a time and season for everything under heaven.

What's the rest of the 6S Herd up to?
So glad you asked ...

kids.jpg

Love these people like crazy!!!  In spite of all of life's challenges, hiccups, speed bumps etc. it's hard to feel anything but incredibly blessed!

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