2012 Year in Review

Each and every year provides some exciting new experiences and new things to learn. 2012 was no exception. We had the  mildest winter ever and, being the skeptic I am about such things, I just kept thinking that the next week would bring the cold and miserable weather, but we saw the coldest being -6. This was a welcome treat from the past years of record setting  cold and long spells of subzero nastiness.  Both the poultry and myself enjoyed it tremendously. None of us enjoy chores at 5 am when it is -25 and the wind is blowing. Our hatching season started out with record setting numbers and things looked great. March was unreal -  a few cold days at the start then a streak of over 7 straight days above 80, which made it seem like mid June. Every tree on the farm bloomed to the fullest capacity from the tiniest peach to the oldest apple and it was a gorgeous sight.  I keep a record of average flowering dates and we were a full month ahead on most species.  How odd it was to have the average temperature be warmer in March than April as it seemed like for every 80 degree day in March we had a night time low in April in the 20’s.  All the wonderful fruit kept getting thinned more and more.  I was looking at a bumper apricot, peach and sweet cherry crop and my mouth was drooling at the  prospect of trying all of the different varieties of fruit we would have.  Each night April temps got colder and colder and the apricots, which had reached  quarter size, soon froze solid and fell off as did all of the cherries and plums.  One crazy yellow fleshed peach still held on as did some Depression White peaches.  Some of our apple and pear trees actually rebloomed and gave a nice crop.  Great year for data and I will always remember those warm March days  and fragrant and beautiful flowers.  The fruit we did get tasted great, and perhaps even better, knowing what challenges it overcame.

 

The poultry world took a turn for the worse when we had two very large incubator malfunctions.  One took the entire goose hatch for one hatch and half of another as a thermostat stuck after a thunderstorm and baked everything. The other  was one of those technology nightmares that leaves you guessing when one of our set thermometers recalibrated itself to 105.6 and took out two hatches of part of the chicken hatches where a section of the eggs were set.  The soon to be summer heat stopped the egg production in the waterfowl and turkeys and curtailed many chickens as we had so many days o f heat.  Days above 100 really have an impact and hatches dwindled to new lows. As they always say in the farming world, there is always next year. We are hopeful for a better hatch season in 2013.  We have also seemed to become the corner deli for predators and a live trap purchased in May is now constantly set and frequently  catches a problem raccoon, opossum or skunk. 

    

The summer drought was huge and we cannot water all of our seed production areas.  We must wait to plant our corns until after the local field corn is at a certain stage and this year when that time came we did not get any rain for days and then just dribbles (not enough to bring the seed up) until late July. Then it stopped raining again in September followed by the earliest super cold I have recorded here with 29 deg on September 23 and the next day 25 deg and total death to all frost crops.  Our tomatoes were a near total wipe out suffering from a plague of rabbits nibbling the transplants, drought, then loaded with green fruits and killing frost.  

We were never able to plant some isolation gardens as, with our sand, there was never enough rain to make the soil wet enough to allow for germination.  In desperation I did plant 3 isolation plots July 17 and, had the frost not come until usual time, we would have had good success.  As it is, we did get some return on many varieties.  

    

We did get our new sweet potato greenhouse up and running by May 7 and are anxious for 2013 to use it to its fullest extent.  We had Japanese beetles that were in numbers that  would remind one of the Old Testament plagues.  Many trees in the area were totally defoliated. We again learned a lot.  I always try to make even the worst situations be a good chance to learn something and take some data.  

    

We were pleased to have several encounters with the ever shrinking Box Turtle population and were fortunate to see a few rare species of snakes. One beautiful Blue Racer snake took up residence in the sweet  potato beds by  the variety Wilma so we called her that.  Normally they are a spooky, wild snake, but she was rather personable.  Our first wild turkey nested and reared a few in our small wildlife area. 

    

We approach 2013 with great hope and anticipation and ready for the challenges it may provide.  Each year provides us with some great new opportunities  for learning  and sharing that knowledge again from experience with others. Thanks so much to all who support  and pray for us.  We greatly appreciate it . 

 

Best wishes ,

Glenn and Linda

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Sand Hill Preservation Center

Heirloom Seeds & Poultry

1878 230th Street

Calamus, IA 52729

563-246-2299

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