December 30, 2011

2011: Year In Review

I have really learned to appreciate these "year in review" posts. So often we only see what's undone, or remains to be done, rather than focusing on the progress we've made. Taking a month by month look back at the year is a good reminder of that.

We had a lot of snow in January

January's house project was continuing work on our small second bathroom. Dan installed a new water heater, turning the tiny, old pantry into a utility room. We began to think about future water conservation systems and started making plans for remodeling our kitchen. In January we got our "big snow."  This was the month I lost Charlie. Our outside project was preparing the overgrown field for our first planting of field corn.

Things always look better on the other side of the fence

In February, we finished remodeling the bathroom. We started to tear into the kitchen, but decided we'd better do the back porch first, to use as a temporary kitchen. I also started this year's garden plans, deciding to try a companion group garden.

Our experimental wheat patch was coming along.

In March we worked on the back porch: put in new back door, leveled the floor, and installed a kitty door. We also interviewed electricians about moving the circuit breaker box. I worked on my goal to conquer the wire grass and I moved all my strawberries to 2 new beds.

April was kidding month

In April we continued to make progress on the back porch by installing a laundry sink. We planted our field corn and added two Hugelkultur beds to the herb garden. In April, our first goat kid was born, followed by Surprise's Easter twins.

Fort William, our log buck barn (complete with Pygmy bucks)

May's kidding was less successful as Jasmine gave birth to a stillborn. We sold our grade goats and used to money toward buying two Pygmy bucks. To prepare for that, Dan built a log buck barn. I discovered I could make whipped cream from goat milk. Hot discussion topics on my blog included 2nd year egg laying, and immunities and goats milk. In the house, we installed folding attic stairs in the back porch ceiling.

My companion group gardening
experiment was going well

In June we harvested our small experimental patch of wheat and fenced off a section of pasture for the bucks. We started preparations for the electrical work on the house, and I made my first experiments with cheesemaking. June also seemed like a good month to rearrange and inventory the pantry, in preparation for this year's harvest.

Homestead mozzarella on homemade pizza

In July, we made our Kinder herd name official. All month I had to compete with the goats for the blueberries. The field corn was out of control. In July, I mastered the art of mozzarella making, we revised our homestead master plan, and had my 1st broody hen.

We had 2 home hatched & 16 mail order chicks

In August I showed you our new chicks. It was the month we started serious work on the kitchen: milling our own load bearing ceiling beam, removing a load bearing post (in the middle of the kitchen floor), and replacing it with Dan's beam. This month we had a horrific storm that knocked out my computer. We finished fencing part of the woods for a buck browse, and lost our Pygmy buckling shortly after that.

Calico popcorn, part of September's harvest

September was the month we relocated and installed a new kitchen back door. I bought new kitchen windows to replace the old, and we got the first one installed, but not without difficulty. An extension of that project was new exterior siding on that section of the house. In September, we harvested our field corn and started the fall garden.

By October, the pantry shelves were full

In October I began to work out some of the details for my kitchen plans. We finished the electrical upgrade and painted the new siding. We had a bumper crop of pecans, and I got my first Meyers lemon. I also tallied my first food preservation totals for the year and we planted about a quarter acre of winter wheat. Our 1st frost was Oct. 30th.

In November we took major steps in the kitchen remodel.

November was the month I lost Katy. Dan finished the chinking on the buck barn. In the kitchen, we tore down the odd, old wall cabinets and moved the pantry door. We bought a water filter and I learned how to can green tomatoes for frying. All month long I foraged for persimmons for the first time, and got about a quart of pulp to freeze.

In December we got the
wood cookstove installed

December was mild but wet, and a big month for working on the kitchen. Dan rebuilt a section of the kitchen floor to level it for our woodcook stove, we tore out the last of the kitchen cabinets and got the wood cookstove in. We also installed the second new window, insulated that wall, and put up the drywall. I wallpapered the dining nook. In addition, the chicks were 5 months old and creating a ruckus. Dealing with that seemed to mark a change in our homestead journey.

That's our look back at 2011. 2012, here we come.


Anonymous said...

Leigh, I agree it's so easy to just focus on what hasn't been done yet. You have both accomplished alot, and I love reading your "year in review" posts!

Sheryl at Providence North said...

I think so too, we often only focus on the upcoming year and don't think about what we have accomplished thus far. A review also helps us plan for the next year. Looks like you had a great 2011 year!

Cat Eye Cottage said...

Sometimes it's easy to forget what you've accomplished when you are focused on what needs to be done. I need to practice this exercise.

Jody said...

What an amazing year! You accomplished so many great things. You're making a great home there with your family. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Doug Pitcher said...

I thought we were industrious. You make us look like we are sitting on the porch counting cars all year.

We have the same wheat grinder as you.

I never realized how often one loses animals on a farm. We've losed several animals and each time it makes you feel like a failure. It's good to look back and see how many good things were accomplished and how well the other animals are doing.

Jocelyn said...

Sounds like a great year to me! You were BUSY! Congratulations on all you've accomplished. Next year will be even better.

Mandy said...

I think doing a mental year in review might be good for me...I seem to be dwelling on all the things we didn't get done.

You sure kept a good pace on your projects through the year, and I'm sure 2012 will be no different. Way to go!

I have cook stove envy...just figured I'd mention that.

Akannie said...

This was absolutely delightful, Leigh! Too often we focus on the less than positive things, that's for sure. This was a great post!

Ngo Family Farm said...

WOW! I admire your many accomplishments. What a wonderful way to close the year!

I really like your pantry--one of my goals for 2012 is to create a pantry in our mud room :)

Happy New Year, Leigh! May 2012 bring you much continued joy and prosperity.

Leigh said...

Stephanie, thanks. It really helps us keep things in a positive perspective. :)

Sheryl, that is so true. It's become a great year's end tradition.

Candace, it really helps. Shows us we have a lot to be thankful for too.

Jody, thanks! We didn't realize we'd accomplished so much until we sat down and took it in month by month.

Doug, well, there's a down side to that, LOL. Dan has been home a lot because the company he drives for hasn't had as much business this year. That means we have more time to work on projects, but less money to do it in. :o

Yes, it's always frustrating to lose animals, and I know the sense of failure you speak of. I didn't even mention the chickens we lost: 2 chicks to accidents, 3 chickens to hawks, and one hen just keeled over dead. All we can do is our best.

Jocelyn, busy is us! I think being older we have a greater sense of urgency. We feel like we ought to be farther along at our age, so we work hard to "catch up."

Mandy, it's a great mental exercise and a great boost to one's moral!

Akannie, thanks! I really tend to dwell on the negative at times. It's a habit I'm trying to overcome. Things like this help.

Jaime, a pantry is a wonderful goal! I was very happy when we designated ours. Happy New Year to you too!

Madeleine @ NZ Ecochick said...

What a fantastic post. I did a year in review at NZ Ecochick and would love it if you would link up some of your favourite posts of 2011. Have have a wonderful new year. M xx

Mama Pea said...

How I envy your ability to get this all down so succinctly! It really points out that you have accomplished mountains.

I may be just having one of my denser moments (ya, could be!), but I didn't understand your last sentence, "Dealing with that seemed to mark a change in our homestead journey."

Suzan said...

I DID enjoy your year in review!!
So many blessing all year long!!
And then we begin again. . . .
Know you'll be glad to do a review of your house when you complete that. Love your wood cook stove! Is it an antique or new? Lovely!!

Anonymous said...

Leigh, I'm so sorry about Katy, I wasn't on blogging at the time...such a cutie! You have had many ups and downs this year..many more productive progress was made, which is wonderful and balances things out I hope and your chicks are adorable! Happy New Year's to you and Dan! Hugs! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh and I love your Sepp Holzer true! :)

Leigh said...

Madeleine, that's a great idea. Another fun way to review the year.

Mama Pea, well, I do it all with blog posts! It's easy then to look back through my archives to remember what we did!

Suzan, I'll be thrilled to get to the point where we can do a review of our house! The stove is new to us, we're it's second owner. It was purchased new by the previous owner and is still made by the AGA Heartland Company in Canada.

Thanks Pam. It was really a blow to lose her. It's one of those "if only" things. :(

Renee Nefe said...

Happy New Year! Here's hoping that 2012 is very productive and fruitful! Can't wait to see your finished kitchen. :D

And here's hoping I get a new roof and maybe my kitchen done. :D

Tina T-P said...

Oh, you have done so much over the last year - I'm sorry that I missed the fact that you lost your sweet Katie - how sad. T.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

You and your sweet husband should feel nothing but GOOD on your accomplishments for 2011. I didn't "know" you when you lost your llama, that was sad to read about. But you did all you could for her, like you say "death" is part of life and we just move on.

I look forward to peeking in on your life and watching your accomplishments unfold. Here's to good health and happy times on your your 5 Acres and a Dream!

icebear said...

So much accomplished! Thanks for inviting us along for the ride, i have learned a lot and enjoy it :)

badgerpendous said...

You accomplished so much this year and I'm thankful that you brought us all along with you, one blog post at a time. Cannot wait for 2012 and watching what you can accomplish!

Have a happy new year!

Leigh said...

Renee, me either! I do hope you get to your new kitchen and your roof this year!

Tina, Katy was something I just slipped into another post. At least we still have our Riley. :)

Janice, it takes a post like this to realize how many good things we were able to accomplish. Thank you for your good wishes and I return them to you 100-fold.

Icebear, thanks for coming along. :)

Badgerpendous, I'm usually amazed that anyone would actually be interested in what we do here. :) Comments like yours are a great encouragement. And happy new year to you too!

Cat Eye Cottage said...

As always, I'm in awe of your stocked pantry!

BrokenRoadFarm said...

Wow! Even though I was a regular reader all year, I must say, your summary really shows just how much you did last year!! Congrats!!

Leigh said...

Candace, so am I! :)

BRF, it is different to put it all together like that. Very helpful I find. And encouraging. :)

dkeller said...

Just found your site....I've been reading back to the beginning....somehow I have missed what happened to Katy & Charlie !!!!????? Interesting how we get involved in peoples blogs.....

Leigh said...

dkeller, hello and welcome! I have to agree about reading blogs, wonderful way to get to know people and their interesting lives. We lost both Katy and Charlie. Katy's story is in After The Killing Frost. Charlie's is in Failure To Thrive. Dan and I both took the losses pretty hard.