Project FAIL

We make plenty of mistakes here on our hobby farm, and I think it's important to share them. Sometimes plants don't grow,  the deer get the choicest fruit, or bee colonies die. Things go wrong. In the now-immortal words of Taylor Swift (yes, I have a 'tween girl), I try to shake it off and move on, and learn from the experience (sometimes that's hard). One of the first things you realize when you start a garden - you can do everything right and still fail. And it's ok! The important thing is to keep trying, and rejoice over the successes (which by the way, far outnumber the failures, thank goodness). And sometimes, you set yourself up for failure without even realizing it.

For instance, this past weekend, I told Tom I needed a simple box made out of scrap wood. He started the project at the end of the day Sunday when he was bone-tired from working on the drip system. He tried to  knock something together. A little piece was wonky, so he tried to correct it; then another piece looked weird, and he tried to correct that, and before he knew it, the whole thing snowballed and he ended up winging it across the yard in anger. Lesson learned? Plan your project, don't just try to throw something together.

Now that I've had time to think about it, and watch the chickens more closely, I realize that they are doing just fine for their dust baths (a necessary activity for chickens, as it helps keep them clean and mite-free) by scratching down in the run and finding a nice patch of sawdust. No special box needed. I wish I had thought more about it before I requested Tom make one, as I could have saved him a great deal of frustration.

You can't see it, but there are deep holes in the litter where the chickens bathe

My own fail came when I made suet cakes for the wild birds. I've noticed the birds don't like the store-bought cakes; they really prefer the homemade ones, no surprise there! I made suet cakes this past Christmas with beef fat, and the birds went wild; I swore to always keep a supply on hand. This weekend I used the pork fat that Tom brought home from his sausage-making class. I rendered it in a huge pot, added peanut butter and birdseed just like last time, poured it into a dish and let it harden in the fridge. I added a slice to the suet feeder and waited for the birds to go crazy for it. Nothing. Not one bird visited. Then this happened:


In our recent warm weather, the suet melted and dripped out of the feeder, and the whole thing fell apart. Every day our delighted dog goes out and licks up whatever he finds on the ground. I didn't realize that my homemade lard, without stabilizers, would drip away in the heat. I've wrapped up the remaining cakes and put them in the freezer, to wait for winter. Frankly, the birds have enough to eat right now without my help, as they showed me when they didn't even visit the feeder. Lesson learned? It's time to clean and store the bird feeders for the summer, as they can take care of themselves right now!

I tell this to my kids all the time, but it bears reminding ourselves as well: It's good to make mistakes. We learn better when we mess up. Success is wonderful, but it doesn't always provide the best lesson. Let's give ourselves permission to try, and keep trying!

Oh, and sorry for the Taylor Swift earworm. You'll be singing that all day. Another mistake. :)