Saturday, January 12, 2013

Life is Good, Let's Make Some Plans

I've been really busy at work lately, and had zero time to post.  But yesterday, I ran some errands, saw my farming friend, and then I went to pick up a replacement Silkie roo for the little white silkie boy who died earlier in the month--I took two home.  The white boy and a partridge Silkie, which I've only seen rarely.  My friend and I are going to breed the Silkie roo to her Frizzle hen and make Sizzles.  I have no idea what that's going to look like, but man, I am excited to see.

So yes, I am feeling very positive and excited today.  I love talking shop with people who do the same thing I do and care about animals as much as I do.  I feel energized.  And I finally have a little time, time enough to write down my list of things to work on this coming year.  So, because it's raining out, and pretty foggy, I choose to look to the future and see where I'm headed.

Wanna come with?  Let's go!

The Homestead Stuff

1.  Crops, crops, crops.  Last year, I planned to take more of the lawn for food production  (You can see last year's plans here, if you want).    I did this.  I took the plot and turned it into field corn, but that did not go well.  I will probably re-use this plot for some sort of green manure this year, to see if I can improve it.  I did make the plot for flowers and gourds, and those went fine.  I added some blueberry bushes, but unfortunately, lost a couple of apple trees to the wrath of Minerva the One-and-a-Half-Horned Terror and her "jump of doom".  All in all, though, it was not enough. 

So, new plan.  I am going into the "front yard".  I will tell you, this goes against all my instincts.  I was brought up in a neighborhood and always lived in neighborhoods (and still kind of do), where everyone has a "front yard", which is pretty and that's it.  Well, no more.  I am gardening the front, and a good patch of it, too.  And I'm tucking in edibles wherever I can in the flower garden.  Food prices are rising.  Our little money doesn't go as far as it once did.  We need to produce, and in bigger quantities.  So front yard, it's your turn!  I'm looking forward to this, I hope you'll all come and see how it goes (heck, I'd like to see how it goes!).

Miss Sara, sweet as she is, decided she liked to pee on things in the house.  So now she lives outside.  And she can pee wherever she wants.  I think it makes Thor sad, though.

2.  Berries.  I have ordered a bunch of raspberry starts to add to my patch here.  I'm going to sucker off the blackberries.  The blueberries I mulched with pine needles to get them to start up.  It's all been surrounded by a fence, so I get the berries before the birds do (ha ha).  I am hoping this year will be a boon, or on it's way to being a boon. 
Violet, who went to live with my brother in Albany.  I understand she enjoys sitting on the couch and watching TV.  Funny enough, her brother Alexander, who is my daughter's new "room pet", also likes to watch TV on the couch.  However, he likes the Disney Channel.

3.  Woodlot Management.  My husband, admittedly, is in charge of this.  I don't chop wood, plain and simple--I have enough to do.  He did a good job, too, getting rid of the old wood pile and turning it into usable wood.  But he started late in the year, and though we have a good amount of wood, it's not enough to get us through.  So, he's vowed to do a better job this year and start much earlier.  He's going to take better advantage of the trees that have fallen in various storms, and he's going to walk the property and judge which trees he should take and which he shouldn't.  I am hopeful that possibly we'll not only have enough this next winter, but maybe enough for that winter and a bit of the next.  Wouldn't that be something?

4.  Compost.  More compost piles!  Nicer compost piles!  I think that says it all.

My son got parakeets for Christmas, which are fascinating to those of us of the pointy eared and furred persuasion.

5.  Vegetable Garden.  Management-wise, this past year was 1000% better than the year before.  It was really rocking.  I want to keep the momentum going and get it even better, if I can.  I would also like to get into that herb bed, because I ignored it AGAIN this past year.  It's got a lot of potential, I just need to find it.

6.  Front Flower Garden.  Will.  Be.  Fenced.  No more rose-eating geese allowed.  'Nuff said.  I also plan to plant more, hopefully more from seed.

Synchronized Sleeping--Just one of the many talents of the domesticated goose.

7.  Chickens.  We are having a bit of a chicken crisis here at Chicken Scratch, what with all these chickens, and no eggs.  I have no idea what's going on, and it's really annoying me.  So this year I will be adding a few more chickens, all winter layers and hybrids.  I hate to do it.  I really like the old varieties of birds, like the Rocks and the Wellies, but they are not cutting it right now.  In will be coming birds like the Leghorns and the Red Stars.  Oy.

8.  Glamour Chickens.  The plan last year was, use the cutey-pie red coop (which I made redder) for the little glamour birds like the Sultan and the Silkies.  Didn't happen.  Because that coop was right next to the main coop, everyone just went into one spot, and no one used the little red coop at all.  But HA!  I am smarter than a chicken (kinda) and figured it out.  The little red coopette has been moved to the side yard and was used for the turkeys.  I'm going to wheel it to the front yard, use the leftover wire I have, build a little yard, and keep the glamour chickens in there.  The little Silkies will be the first guests of that house.  Take that you tricky fowl!!
Tell me you're not in awe of Buckley's awesome crimp, and I'll know you lie.  He is TOO cool.

9.  Goats.  This was a huge one last year, and I'm glad we did it.  This year, we will add a buck.  Between the cost of breeding Minerva, and the cost of what it would have been to breed Dulci (my friend was very kind and did not charge me), I would have paid for a buck already.  That's ridiculous, so I'm going to keep one for myself, because, frankly, I'm going to need to breed them each year or so to keep us in milk.  We will keep one of the bucklings from one of the girls as a wether for companionship and to train to a wagon.  So far, the girls have learned commands on the leash, and I started them late.  I think if I have a nice wether, I could train him to a cart no problem.  Goats are smarties!

Percy DOES fit into this basket, yes he does.  You just think he doesn't.

10.  Fiber Animals.  Currently, there are three English Angoras, one Satin Angora, a Jersey Woolie, and two Jersey Woolie/English Angora crosses living here.  They are beautifully colored, but of course, like any crazy person, I'm wondering what other colors I can come up with.  Daphne will be bred to PJB, and Buckley will be bred to Camille.  Out of all of that, we'll sell some of the kits, and keep some that are really nice to add to our colors.  Then I will start selling the fiber, as I've already looked up where to do that.  I would also like to continue to work on my spinning, maybe finding/buying a wheel at some time.  And I'm thinking an Angora wether may find his way on to the homestead at some point, but we'll see.  I think he'd be a nice companion to the girls and help keep the peace a little.

I've been sewing, as it's been cold and there's a bit of snow on the ground.  I'm trying to knock out projects that have been sitting.  This one is ok.  Not really me, but it's cute.

11.  Maple Syrup and Honey.  The trees are marked again, more this time.  The splines were bought, and milk gallons are being saved.  We're ready for part 2 of this adventure.  We'll see how it goes.  I am hoping for  a better result than last year, but every system needs time to work out the kinks.  As for the honeybees, well, they all disappeared 2 years ago, and I took a year off.  This is the year back on.  I will start with 2 hives, change where they go, and see what happens.  Hopefully the aliens abduct someone else's bees this time.
Little snowman on the fabric of the runner.  They are cute.

12. Meat Birds.  We really did that up this last year, didn't we?  Oy.  Again, I will be doing the meat birds, but I may do them in a smaller batch and just for certain people.  Feed has become very expensive, and those guys can eat!  This is still a thought in my head, though.  I still have to think my plan through.
I made these too, new oven mitts.  These are more "me".  I really like them. 

13.  Milking.  I should be milking this year, and I am excited about it, and scared at the same time.  What a commitment!  Not that farm animals are not a commitment anyway, but a milking schedule is going to change things but good.  Boldly I go into the future, though.  For better or worse.  I am hoping for better.

The Home Improvement Stuff

1.  Sewing Room/Office.  Never painted it.  It's still a mess.  I really need to get on it. 

2.  Pantry.  Still needs sheetrock.  Bad, bad, bad!

3.  Back Deck.  Needs some love and some stain. 

4.  Outside Wood Beds.  Need some repair and replacement and then paint.

5.  Kid's Bathroom.  Eventually, I will get to this.  I just know it.

6.  Kitchen.  Will be finished when the backsplash arrives.  After that, it's all gravy.
After the Christmas decorations were put away, I went through my quilt cabinet.  This is the pile.  That's not even all of them.  Apparently, I have a lot of quilts.

The Personal Stuff

1.  Quilts and Sewing.  I have a lot of quilts.  I have a lot of unfinished quilts, too, and that's a waste of material.  The winter is so short, so I am making an effort to get as many done as I can.  We'll see how this goes, and then I'll have to figure out other places to stash all the dang things. 

2.  The Fiddle.  I didn't.  Not at all.  I would like to, but I'll be honest, I may not get to it again.  I'll have to see how it goes.

3.  Business Tracking.  I need a better system for receipts and tracking expenses for Chicken Scratch.  I also would like to find a system to keep track of what is produced and it's value, so I have an idea of what the farm produces for us as a family.  I know I bring in income by doing what I do--it's trackable in sales.  But what about the stuff we eat or use that I make or grow?  I would love to put a value on my work, just to see my contribution.  This is a big project for the year, and I'm not quite sure how to do it yet.

Oh holy heck, that's a lot.  But I like to make lists, because it shows me where I'm going.  And there's nothing I like better than seeing where I should go or what I need to do.

I think it's going to be quite a year.  Let's all see together, ok?
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  1. Wow! That's a lot on your list! I'm going to get Leghorns for the first time this year, and it's because MY Welsummers and Rocks were disappointing. No more Wellies for me, they are too flighty and not enough eggs.

  2. That is an impressive list! Where do you find the time???

  3. Big plans!!! If anyone can do it, it's you :)

    I am struggling with recordkeeping/tracking as well, but I found 2 resources that I'm going to try. For livestock, I found a 4H livestock Tracking Guide thingy: and for the garden, I'll be modifying Rhonda's DTE Home Journal gardening pages: (you need to log in to the forum to see the posts) to track how many seeds were started, and when, and when they're planted, and how much is harvested. It will likely turn into a beast of a spreadsheet, but I'm okay with that :)

    Good luck! I look forward to following you as you work towards these ambitious goals :)

  4. You have a great list, it makes me excited to be starting a new year! In the next few months I'm planning on getting my first goats, and we'll be attempting to do our first batch of meaties too. Hopefully it goes well! I noticed you said you were lacking in the egg department. This is my first time here so I'm not sure if you known this or are doing this but chickens need at least 14 hours of daylight to lay eggs. That's why it slows down soooo much in fall and winter. Thanks for sharing, and I can't wait to read more!

  5. That's a lot to do in one year. Good luck with it. I like making my to do list just to see how much of it I can get done and where I end up changing course.


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