Thursday, June 16, 2016

Measures of success

Measuring success on a subsistence farm is different because money typically isn't how you keep score on a non-business type homestead, other than trying not to spend it!
At first we measured success by asking , Is the majority of the food on the table food the farm produced? Yes! 
But after a few years measuring success becomes more than just output..,it also becomes about how much input it took ( be it money , time, use of your lands natural resources) and how much output did it yield for that amount of input.
Nothing says success like high yield .. But if I spent tons of time and more money to produce it than to buy it ... Was it really and truly a success?
I've touched on that subject a lot when it comes to livestock. 
Our whole livestock profile revolves around low input , high output. And in some cases low input , low output because that low output item may be very nutrient dense ( like donkey milk) 
Or it may be something that makes use of natural land resources and doesn't cost much money to produce. Low output it fine in those cases for us.
But the garden...,
Hmmmm..., I don't tolerate low output in the garden because it's all pretty high input! Some more than others, but All vegetables require descent soil, some require excellent soil.. It's takes a lot of time , resources and sometimes money to build soil.
All vegetables require some amount of watering if it doesn't rain perfectly, everything requires weed control,, and even with crazy amounts of mulching weeds still creep in and must be dealt with. Mulching and weeding take a lot of time!
Many times the soil needs remineralizing to produce truly nutrient dense produce.  
There is so much time planning involved in producing enough vegetables that will actually feed a family all year...season extensions, succession planting, when to start seeds, hardening off, transplanting ,harvesting, preserving.
How much space does a particular plant take up.. And does its yield make it worth planting..How many will you need to plant .
See,,, and even if you just want a *simple* little summer garden.. It's still a lot of work. 
All the things pictured below I consider a success... No special treatment or extras.. These varieties are solid producers for me.

I've grown many many things that produced , so some might say , well, it produced , so it's a success!
I was successful this year at growing cauliflower .. Which was exciting ! But the amount of time I gave it and the amount of time it took up space in the garden compared to the low amount of actual food it produced was not a success in my mind. 
Cauliflower is nutritious but no more so than broccoli which produced as much or more food with less time taken up in my garden. Both required extra pest control time and inside seed starting.
Next year I'll probably just grow more broccoli! It was more of a success!
Same with fava beans.. They were pest free, but needed to be seeded extra early so extra time had to be taken to protect from frost. Much like snow peas to get a yield of any real amount. Neither are soil takers, they are both givers, neither attrack pest,,the favas required an extra month in the garden to produce though!
The snow peas give many harvest through out the cool spring and even my least productive variety of snow pea produced more than the favas.
Favas are healthy and good but snow peas are way yummier to us!
So yes, I was successful at growing fava beans... But favas weren't *really* a success.
If they had tasted better to us I might have called them a success.. Maybe...
Ofcourse sometimes a change of variety can be the answer... Sometimes a chance of location in the garden or growing method can make a huge difference. And sometimes it's still not worth the trouble ( artichokes ,, don't ask 😐)
I do grow some things like Seminole pumpkins that while they are very productive and very easy to grow,,, they take longer than say, butternut squash ... And they yield less edible squash meat per squash than butternuts...
Oh but the taste is so much better!!!
That's a success ! When it tastes better and it's like nothing you can buy. That's worth growing!
This Shark Fin melon below has been in my garden April.. I started it inside in March... It's a huge vine spanning 15 ft and still growing taking a huge amount of space.. For whatever reason the blooms weren't being pollinated so every chance I got I have hand pollenated and got 2 melons to take back in May. But since there haven't been any other female blooms.
I have another one planted in my main garden that's taking over my melon patch but hadn't bloomed at all!!!
So , yeah, I got 2 melons for a whole lotta time and garden space.
Not good! 
If this was a Dixie squash plant put In at the same time I would have been harvesting many squash for the last 3 weeks now.
Yeah, I got some melons ,, but this is no success!!!

That's how I measure success in my garden. When something is this much work.. It had better yield a reasonable amount for the time it took up space in my garden and better taste real good! And With so many options to preserve vegetables , the more the better!

Then, back on a livestock note, Sometimes when some thing is a bigger success than even you thought it would be it can be overwhelming ....
Kinda like the 80 geese I have on the farm this year! A few were my adults from last year Ofcourse, some I brought in because I wanted the bloodline but bottom line...
Over 40 geese were hatched here this year!!!! Some by the incubator some by broody geese...
Huge success! Lol! Huge!
Measuring success is such an individual thing. 
I think everyone can agree though, if you're feeding yourself and not going broke doing it .. It's a success!

Have a very blessed day 😀

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