January 1, 2010

2010: Goals For The Homestead

Happy New Year!

I'm not the sort of person who makes New Year's resolutions. It's one tradition that doesn't make much sense to me, because everybody knows that nobody keeps them. So what's the point.

Goal setting, on the other hand, does make sense to me and I think it is a necessary part of the success formula. Sometimes these amount to simple daily to-do lists, but sometimes they are longer ranging and help me set my priorities. Such is the case of our 2010 goals.

Our goals are not in any particular order, nor do we have a set timetable. We usually seem to have one inside project going along with one outside project. Oftentimes, the "one thing leads to another" principal interrupts our plans. As anyone with an old house knows, you can start on one project only to discover that 3 or 5 or 9 other things need to be addressed before you can do the project you had in mind. For that reason we hope to be flexible, and it's entirely possible to revise the goal list at any given time. (Another reason why goals are better than resolutions.)

Following then, is the list of the things that Dan and I hope to accomplish in the upcoming year:

~ Improve drainage around the house - even though the house is on the high ground and has had no problems in this regard, all the rain we've been having creates some pretty big puddles around the yard. We want to prevent problems from happening, especially in regard to the foundation.

~ Rain catchment - part of this will be an extension of improving drainage as we'd like to channel drainage around the house into a collection area behind the house, i.e holding tank or cistern.

~ The other part of rain catchment will be (we hope), beginning to utilize the roof, gutters, and rain barrels. It will probably be small and simple at first, but will be expanded in the future.

~ Find septic tank. The heirs didn't know, the realtors didn't know, and apparently it wasn't inspected prior to the sale (some things require separate inspections). Not sure where it is though drainage pipes in the crawl space give a clue about which direction to look in.

~ The foundation is brick and needs sealing. It also needs pointing in some places.

~ Start insulating the floor. It's really cold in some rooms, especially the kitchen.

~ Remodel the back bathroom - Both bathrooms are barely functional and have a number of problems. The back one seems easier to start with and so will probably be the one we work on. More info on that in an upcoming post.

~ Investigate the water heater. It's not easily accessible, currently being tucked away in the crawl space and wrapped up in insulation. The home inspection we had before we bought the place indicated it is probably near the end of it's service life. If it needs to be replaced this year, Dan will put the new on in the house where it can receive annual maintenance. Obviously this will require additional plumbing and electrical work.

~ Once we do move the water heater, we will work on a solar water heating system on the roof.

~ Make a decision about our HVAC system. I don't know if you remember, but we had an oil burning furnace when we bought the place. It's had some problems not to mention we aren't keen on burning oil. We need to evaluate our needs, costs, and efficiency and make a decision about that soon.

~ Evaluate our home and energy usage in terms of sub-systems, exploring possible energy alternatives for each of these.

~ Two alternative energy sources that would be fairly simple to experiment with are methane and/or a wood gasifier. Will be researching alternative energy at the very least.

~ DH still wants to do a little more electrical work, specifically add outlets on the front and back porches, and fix one in our bedroom.

~ Shade for setting sun side of house. This would be for the front porch and bedroom window. Once we eliminated planting a shade tree there (too long for results), I began thinking about other options. A trellising system and deciduous vines may be a solution.

~ Finish the goat fence and shed and get goats.

~ Likewise chicken house, yard and chickens.

~ Improve drainage in the garden - I mentioned the pooling of water after tropical storm Ida and again when we were trying to plant the almond tree. The rains that followed filled both the hole we dug for the almond as well as the drainage ditch we dug for the apple tree. The solution in mind is to create a series of swales and dig a cistern at that lowest point of the garden. The water collected there can be used for irrigating the garden and fruit trees.

~ Build cold frames for getting an early start on the garden. Possibly hoop houses for fall.

~ Finish planting perennial fruits: blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Anything else? Ah, maybe an olive tree. There are some that will grow in our hardiness zone (7B).

~ Begin my perennial herb gardens starting with the two prepared beds in the front yard.

~ Plant only open pollinated seed and save all seed for 2011.

~ Experiment growing some small patches of grains.

~ Prepare for & experiment with overwintering root crops in the garden

~ Preserve all our vegetable needs for next winter and spring from the garden.


Well, that's what we've come up with for the time being. Of course, these will be periodically evaluated and adjusted as necessary. Anything not completed this year will probably hold over to 2011.

We definitely have our work cut out for us, so the new year promises to be a busy one. On the other hand, we wouldn't have it any other way. :)


Renee Nefe said...

Awesome plan! I hope you're very successful with it.

Julie said...

Your list sounds alot like ours!

Good luck!

Woolly Bits said...

huh, my list seems tiny compared to yours! though we just now experience how the best-laid plans can be ruined - by something simple as weather conditions:)) we're still frozen in - but keeping well....
happy new year and good luck with all your plans - I hope you're not going to be distracted from your original goals all that often!

Margreet said...

I like that, setting goals rather than resolutions.
I might sit down and compose my goals list for 2010. Thanks for this nudging :-)
Happy New Year

Heather said...

Now that's a list!! I look forward to the time when I can add some of those homesteading type goals to my list again.

Flower said...

Sounds good! Work...enjoy...and rest! We haven't thought too far ahead yet. I like the idea of open pollinated seeds..I'll be checking out your information!

Marie said...

What great goals!!! I have some as well that I hope can really be carried out this year!!!

Benita said...

Those are some lofty goals, but I agree with Woolly Bits - mine seem downright puny next to yours. I just want to spend more time in my studio, clean out the barn and attic, tear down the barn and start a garden.

Of course, this means you'll have plenty to blog about in 2010.

Leigh said...

Thanks Renee! We hope we are too, though I suspect not everything will get done. At least it gives us some direction.

Jule, glad to hear we're not alone. Good luck with yours too!

Bettina, well, you probably don't have as many problems to deal with either. Hopefully in a few years our list will be quite small in comparison.

Margreet, thanks! I'll be interested in your goals for the new year.

Heather, I hope we haven't been too ambitious. There are a lot of things we've talked about that we didn't add. I just have to keep in mind that a homestead is a work in progress.

Flower, do consider OP seeds. It would sure beat having to buy them year after year.

Maries Cottage, thanks!

Benita, well, hopefully your home isn't in as bad shape as this one is. :)

Anonymous said...

Good to see the septic system location near the top of your list. As a owner/user of my own, I know how important it is to have the holding tank pumped out every other year so that it doesn't back up. And, of course, you don't want to locate your garden over top of it either.


Life Looms Large said...

Wow - goals or resolutions....whatever you call that it's a hefty list!! (I do like how it's goals for the homestead - not exactly for you....I could adapt that the goals for my studio....so if the goals don't get met, it's not exactly about me, right?)

Anyway, just a thought on the septic tank. When we last had ours pumped, we thought we'd have to show them where it was, but they poked around in our yard and found it within minutes. I guess they could tell things from the slope of the land and the pipes in the house and I don't know what else. (If you get snow, sometimes there's less snow on the tank than everywhere else....especially as everything is melting.) I can't believe I have so many thoughts about a septic tank - esp since we couldn't quite tell them where ours was!!

Good luck with your big, big list!! It's good to aim high!


Sharon said...

Next year is going to be as busy as this year! I wonder if a water witch could find your septic tank.

Lee said...

So perhaps the difference between a goal and a resolution is the intended outcome. A 2010 resolution is expected to be completed during 2010 (but rarely will be). A 2010 goal is something you expect to work toward. It make take several years beyond that or you might drop it entirely, but it lends direction.

Your list looks a lot like ours, although we've never put ours down in writing (seems like a good idea). If you really did get all these done in 2010, I think the rest of us would be exhausted just keeping up with the blog posts. :)

Leigh said...

Sue, I agree! We have a fairly good idea of where it is, just need to verify. All the area surrounding the house has potential uses, so we need to know exactly where it is before we make those final decisions.

Sue, you've got me thinking that someone probably does know where it is. I wonder who tended to it before(??) I suppose those in the business would have a pretty good idea without much hunting!

Sharon, hmmm, I wonder too. Actually we also need to find the old well, assuming it isn't dry. Our neighbor though, found theirs when it created a sink hole in their driveway! There's was dry though, which was a disappointment because like us, they thought it would be useful for watering their garden.

Lee, *LOL, we'd be exhausted too! :) I think you've defined them well though, resolutions and goals. I think goals give us a sense of direction, and especially help us with our priorities. As you probably know, urges to take off on random projects strike pretty hard sometimes. With those goals, everything else will have to wait until another year!

Anonymous said...

Our septic tank has its concrete cover, plus handle, just at ground level, so it's easily located (in plain view) but low enough so the grass mower clears it. I suppose an extra collar was added by the original owner. FYI, the tank is a good 20 feet from the septic field.