Well, it's here, 2012, and I overslept. That'll teach me to try to stay up until midnight. I'm just not built for that anymore. ugh. Nonetheless, it's time to put down on "paper" what I'd like to get done next year. Here goes...
1. Taking more lawn for food production.
-- Here I'd like to add plots for field corn, and two more plots for cut flowers and gourds/pumpkins. I admit right off the bat that this is already begun, because I put down old pool covers on the areas I want to use to solarize during the winter.
-- I am also considering finding an area to put in a lavender bed. No, that's not food, but lavender is a favorite. I'd love to have a field of it, that I could just walk through and roll in. Barring that, a nice big bed will suffice. I have to think about a location, though, so that's off in the future.
--I'd like to put in more orchard trees and berries. I'm on my way here, since my beloved husband gave me three heirloom apple trees for Christmas. They'll play nicely with the trees already planted. But I'd also like to add some more blueberry bushes, to get them started.
2. Turning the backyard into pasture.
--Insert my father's voice here, saying "But WHERE are your kids going to play?". They've got the front yard, pop, and they spend most of their time in the woods anyway, so no harm done.
We've got a patch in the back that's sort of sketchy grass. It's really trampled and nasty and water is starting to just run off of it because the grass isn't doing nice things. So, I'd like to convert it to pasture. I'm thinking clover and ryegrass and something else. It'll be a good area to feed the animals with.
3. Woodlot management.
--I'd be a fool if I said we had near enough acres to provide with all of our wood needs to heat the house. But I'd also be remiss in saying that we couldn't at least do part. Right now, we've got a nice pile of wood in the yard that's doing nothing. I'd like to see that split this year, and a system put in place so the oldest goes first for burning, and the newest gets a chance to season and dry. Though we'll always rely on bought wood to heat the house, I'd like us to contribute part as well. Having a system in place will help with that.
-- It's no secret that the dirt here is um, less than wonderful. Many, many people have raised beds for that reason. Though I can build a raised bed or two, the whole garden is not an option for us, because it's just too big, and the money involved would be ponderous. So I look to compost. This year I will work the two heaps I have already going, as well as find a way to utilize the rabbit manure better.
2. Slimy wormies.
-- I'm starting vermiculture this year as well. Their boxy home is bought, I'm waiting for their slimy-nesses to arrive.
I'm employing every trick I can think of here, and I'll probably add some I haven't thought of yet, as well. Gotta get that soil in better shape.
1. The vegetable garden
-- I'm instituting companion planting in some beds this year-for example, pumpkins and corn will be grown together to save space.
-- I will grow much more this year as well. My biggest problem last year was that there was not enough planted and the weeds took over in all the little spaces-not to mention the harvest was pretty pathetic. Not this year. The plants will be more and spaced correctly, so hopefully the weeds will not have as much chance to grow (ha!).
--I will clean up and manage the herb bed better this year. It didn't need my attention, so I didn't pay any attention to it. I'll do better with that next year.
2. Front garden
-- Perennials have become too expensive for me to buy, so I will be starting them from seed this year.
-- I will also need to find a way to protect the plants from the geese, who can be very destructive.
-- I've already admitted to having an addiction problem, so this should come as no surprise. I'll be adding this year. Not many, mind you, and not really egg-layers. I am adding some fancy feathered ones to the flock. Chiefly because the little coop sits empty, and that's just sad.
-- I may also breed Peter to his girls and have him become Peter PotPie. He is aggressive and he's attacked me once or twice. I may just have him produce an heir and then be gone with him, hoping that his son will be tamer. This is a tough decision, though, as Peter is completely gorgeous and has all the right characteristics for a Copper Maran. I'll have to decide this as time goes on. Dispatching an animal is never a light decision for me.
-- Here's the biggie for the year. We will be adding goats. So far, I've got feathers as far as the eye can see and a couple of bunnies. But it's time to put more working animals on the farm, and goats are where it's at. It will require housing, fencing, equipment and food, but I'm really hoping we can pull it off.
-- I'm considering turkeys this year, but I haven't decided yet.
Other Food Production
1. Maple Syrup
-- The trees are marked, the sap buckets/milk jugs are ready, the splines are bought. The fire pit's been dug. All I need now is a large pan to put the sap into over the fire and a couple of cinderblocks to hold it up. The great experiment of 2012 will begin when the sap runs. I'll keep you posted.
-- Since the bees were abducted by aliens, the question in my head lately has been to bee or not to bee. I've decided not to bee for this year. The bees aren't cheap, and I really should have started two hives instead of just one this year-I think that was part of my problem. Though I have most of the equipment I would need, I don't have enough for two hives. That, and the cost of two packages of bees means that this has to wait a year. I need what limited funds we have to go elsewhere, so they're a no go. It's disappointing, but there's always 2013.
3. Meat chickens
-- It's time for us, and we will be adding meat chickens to our repertoire this year. The pen is marked out and fenced, the house will be easily and cheaply constructed, and my husband bought me the proper knives. I even have traffic cones to convert for the usage. My plan (which I'm still ironing out) is to have three batches come through, so I don't have to do 50 at once (I have no plucker, so that means it'll take a long time to get through a batch). I'm planning on starting in March and working three batches to finish out in September or October.
-- The goats are a big part of this, obviously, but I have a book that I got for Christmas, and I am eager to try my hand at this. I just need a good source for milk and off I go!
Other Homesteading Goals
-- I took a class back in November on this. I had read a lot about it, but it was good to do it in a class environment. I have almost everything I need, and then I'm ready. We will use homemade soap this year and never look back.
2. Things to Continue
-- We have been using cloth napkins exclusively for some time. I will make more so we can keep going with this.
-- I make the yogurt and bread, cookies, granola bars, laundry soap and granola. We no longer buy these things. I'll continue this this year and see what other things I can also make to add.
-- I like making pasta, and would like us to eat just homemade. This one is tough, because my son, the chief pasta eater, is fairly prejudiced against "mommy macaroni". I'm working on it.
-- I'd like to get the front/back/garage doors painted this year. It's a lot, but really just a gallon of paint--I just have to pick the color. I'm going to try to work this into my schedule.
2. Sewing Room
-- I'd love to paint my sewing room. Again, it's just a can of paint. If I do it, I know I'll want to spend more time in it. I should get my butt moving on this one.
-- The shelves are up, and it works beautifully. But it needs to be sheet rocked. I'd love to see that happen.
4. Outdoor Light
-- We need a light at the end of our long driveway, because it's pitch black. We have the light, the conduit and the wire. Now I just need the husband to dig the trench (hint!).
5. Main Bathroom
-- This one is a stretch, because of the money involved. But even if we do it slowly, I would LOVE to see the main bathroom get a facelift. Nothing major, but it would make such a difference. This is a project that is on my wish list, rather than my to-do list.
-- I should put here that my goal is to lose weight, but I'm not going to. I'm never going to commit to a diet plan, because I just can't be bothered and I cook too well. :) The best shot I have would be a Nutri-System type deal, and I can't afford that, so it's not going to happen. Instead, I will make the goal of becoming more fit, because I really need to be to do everything that's required around here. Last year, I got fit while I tilled that garden and dug that pond. I have neither of those things to do this year, and I don't want to become fit "on the job". So, I will try to get myself ready ahead of time. I think it's time to pull out my old yoga DVDs.
-- Another confession; I can't just sit in front of the TV at night. It's boring. I will put it on for the background noise (and occasionally something interesting might be on), but I always sit with something to do. I cross-stitch, embroider and crochet. This year I will learn needle tatting. That's my goal.
-- This year, I took up the fiddle. I am proud to say that with all the practicing I have done, I have developed fiddler's callouses on my left fingertips. I'm not so proud to admit, however, that fiddling is not a natural thing for me. I can do it, but I don't think I'm that good. Therefore, I resolve to continue fiddling this year, and to restart my schedule of daily practices to the best of my ability. Hopefully I will get better.
Oh my gosh. Do you think that's enough? I think I'm thankful I have a year to do all of this. Whew.
I guess we'll see how it goes as the year progresses. I hope all of you have a healthy and happy new year. Enjoy your holidays!