Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Next Steps

Chicken Scratch hit it's 3-year mark this month at some point.  It may have been last week, I'm not entirely sure.  When I look back at how I felt about all of it then, I can see how chaotic everything still was, but how far we had come.  We were so busy adding!  More chickens, more ducks, more goats, rabbits, on and on.  Whew!  I know at the time I had been hoping all my efforts to reach outward would mean that the community was going to rally around and get involved in their food and we'd come to know many people and be able to feed a number of them.

Dragon carrots
It has not worked out that way--let's leave it at that.  So yes, after the two years of scaling up, I looked around and saw that we were still only feeding ourselves and occasionally the rest of my family, and I said "this is stupid", and started to downscale.  That's why half the chicken flock is now gone.  I don't need 60 chickens to feed 4 people.  On the plus side, we have met some die hard customers along the way.  Only a few, but they mean so much--I would call them friends at this point.  And being the "odd" family in the neighborhood has meant that in all the neighborhoods I have lived in, this is the only one where I can say I've met nearly every neighbor and am friends with several.  That's really something in this age of "keep to yourself".  I guess being odd has it's advantages. 

Truly it's not been a bad experience, though it was not the experience I had been hoping for.  And no, I'm not done here.  None of this goes away, but it does change.  I can see that I am now to the point of "honing" the systems at work here.  Actually, it's a nice place to be--far less frantic, and much more problem solving and thought involved.  Right now, I have enough livestock to keep us.  And when I don't, the livestock I have can make more of itself.  Input-wise, I will have to continue to purchase meat birds, but layers can breed themselves, ducks can breed themselves (if ever I wanted to add more of the dang things), geese blah blah, rabbits obviously can multiply, and goats?  I've got 9.  Eventually we will purchase a pig for food, and one day I would really like to add a larger fiber animal (probably another goat, just because I've got the hang of those guys), but that's about the size of it. 

So the honing begins, and it's going to be about how to make this place run more efficiently, and how to get more from the land that's here.  The 3000 square feet of garden is producing well.  I won't know how well until the end of the year, but it's looking promising.  I need to continue to use it well and to feed it well, so it will feed us well.  And I have to get the hang of cover cropping and growing in different seasons.  I'm still in the dark on those two things.

I would like to have the systems relate to each other better--that's a big thing for me as well.  It's all about permaculture and holons.  Yep, you're going to hear more about that next time, so if you don't know what that is, you will!  It's also about problem solving, because there are a couple issues that really need addressing and more that I know will come up along the way.

Anyone know how to get a national month declared?  Because I think this should be one.
In short, I want to see this place hum.  I want to see it all relate to each other and become an efficient whole.  So what do you say, friends?  Let's rock it and see what shakes out.

Dilly beans

'Till next time,

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  1. Oh wow.
    I was reading and seeing how you had big plans to start out...and then it fizzled and didn't pan out like you'd hoped...AND YOUR SCALING BACK!? I think you are already rocking the self-sufficient part of homesteading. Feeding the neighborhood...has NEVER crossed my mind. Though I do see the importance of community. Not knocking that.
    But my ears really perked up when I read 'permaculture' and getting your place humming like a well oiled machine. (I think you said hum- I added the well oiled machine. I've been working on the sewing machines) :)
    Anyway-- I'm very interested in permaculture-- especially after I've been reading Rhonda @ Down-to-Earth...and now YOU! with your permaculture.
    My interest is peaked!
    I'll be here waiting for the next installment!

  2. We all get to this point at some point. In the beginning, it's all new and exciting and you want to try it all. Then you realize what works, what you like, what you can efficiently handle, and you go from there. Farms need to adapt and grow or shrink depending on the times. And let me know when you're ready for that larger fiber animal...Shetlands are sooo easy!

  3. I love your reflection. Sometimes I get so caught up in "do more" attitude, I lose sight of why we started on this path in the first place. It's not about doing more, it's about doing it better. Systems and honing, yes. Let's rock this! I'm right there with you :-)

  4. This is a topic I will be eagerly following. And I totally support Clothesline Appreciation Month - I hung a huge one in our barn so I can dry clothes even when it is raining. I LOVE IT! As soon as the days reach +5 (I think that's about 40 F) The clothes go out to the barn instead of into the dryer.

    We are fairly certain we will be keeping some of the Buff Orpingtons we bought (with the intent of butchering them all) to regenerate a meat flock or two each summer. In the fall and winter, we'll just gather the eggs. This will make us a little more self-sustaining... if it all works out!



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