January 1, 2014

Homestead Goals for the New Year

Did anyone stay up till midnight last night to see in the new year? We didn't because critters don't care what the calendar says and expect to be fed on time, at the crack of dawn, no matter who's celebrating what. Actually, the middle of winter has always seemed an odd time to acknowledge a new year, to me anyway. The main thing is to remember to write "2014" instead of "2013" on anything that needs a date.

Still, it's a useful time of year for goal setting. For us that means taking time to evaluate what we did the previous year, and then looking to what we hope to accomplish next. Keeping our primary goal of self-sufficiency in mind, we write a list of various subgoals, mostly what we see as the next logical steps. Not all of these are actual projects. Some goals are simply decisions that have to be made, others are reminders of the direction we've chosen to go. There is no specific time table, we just keep a steady pace as time and money allow. What we don't finish this year will find its way onto next year's goals.

  • finish the master bedroom (all that's left is the floor)
  • replace windows in corner bedroom (purchased last August)
  • finish installing new siding on that side of the house (after the windows are in) 

  • finish chicken coop -That's the easy part. Convincing the chickens to use it is another matter.
  • finish emptying out the coal barn - that means finding new homes for hay storage, Dan's workshop, and our garden tools and equipment
  • tear down coal barn - hoo boy
  • build new goat barn in coal barn footprint - progress on this will depend mostly on finances, also on home-time for Dan. (This is one I don't anticipate finishing this year.)


  • Goats - continue working on my goal of developing a dual-purpose homestead breed (or cross breed as the case may be.) So far, I'm very encouraged with the addition of Kiko genetics to my dairy breeds.
  • Chickens - focus on Silver Laced Wyandottes. We like them so far (good personality, intelligent for a chicken, good eggs and meat, good rooster, and beautiful). If I get a broody hen this summer, I'll just give her SLW eggs to hatch.
  • Dog - now that coyotes have returned to our area, we're seriously discussing getting another dog. Dan was devastated by Kris's death and hasn't wanted another dog. No decisions but it's on the table. Finding the "right" dog would be key.
  • Other - pigs  (but then, we've said this for several years now)

Food Self-Sufficiency - This is not so much an annual goal as an ongoing goal. Since each growing season presents it own problems and challenges, specific sub-goals change from week to week and month to month. I always learn something each year, and every year I hope to do better. Specific areas I need to do better in include:
  • Garden
    • Mulch - my ongoing challenge. If I can get the garden well mulched during winter, I'm saved a lot of weed grief and dry soil during the summer.
    • Winter gardening - this year's winter garden is small, partly because of October's dry spell, which mean a delay in germination. Deer have demolished things like my beets, so deterring these is on my list. Maybe row covers(?) Overall, I need a better plan here.
    • Indoor seed starts - have always been a challenge for two reasons, 1) room and 2) sun. My plan is to turn my defunct compost worm bin (insects and rodents took over), into a cold frame this spring. I can use some of our old windows for that. 
    • Irrigation - the rainwater tanks are a blessing, but it's awkward to wrestle with the hoses and sprinkler. We have some ideas to help with that, and maybe we can experiment this summer.
  • Preservation - Seasonal eating has meant I need to preserve less. 
    • Tattler reusable canning lids. I'm gradually buying more as funds allow.
    • Refrigerators and freezer. Since at this time we are unable to make our own electricity, losing it would cause problems. A temporary outage would be inconvenient. A permanent outage would be difficult because our Southern heat and humidity are huge detriments to food storage. At the very least I need to be mentally prepared to deal with problems.
    • Homegrown goat vitamins and minerals - I need to make it a daily habit during summer to gather and dry something every day. Last summer's challenge was all the rain, making dehydrating bulk items especially difficult. Air drying on screens still sometimes resulted in mold, but my electric dehydrator can't hold much. Not sure of the solution yet.
  • Field crops - due to circumstances we will likely not be planting a large area of field crops (by large I mean a quarter acre. )
    • I still plan to plant beds in the garden, because I believe that something is better than nothing.

Well, written out like that it seems a long list. Fortunately not everything is a a "to do" project.

How about you? What do you hope to accomplish this year?


daisy g said...

Best wishes on your goals. Doing a little at a time sure makes a difference. My list is still in my head. I will take some time later to sit down and write it out.
Happy New Year and the best to you in 2014!

Farmer Barb said...

I am curious to see how your list morphs. I feel like you will get the inside completed, just promise you won't polyurethane until you can vent the house!

I used a temporary fence format to keep the deer out. 2' home-made pipe sleeves and top rail from chain link as the post. I got some tent fittings and draped the whole thing in deer netting with hardware cloth at the bottom. It gave me a ten foot fence that I could put up and take down alone. All items came from Home Depot. I saved all my tomatoes and greens from the Leapers.

The coffee is brewing. I will be assembling my list before the morning ends!

Happy New Year!

Leigh said...

Daisy, I find I have to write ours down. Not that we often refer to them as the year progresses .....

Barb, happy new year to you too! Good idea about the deer deterrent. Currently my garden has no fencing, although we talk about it. That may or may not make a revised goal list this year, but I'll definitely keep your ideas in mind. (And yes, Dan is very careful about ventilation when polying or even painting :)

Florida Farm Girl said...

Well, I was up but I was reading. Everybody else bailed. Happy New Year to you and Dan. Hope 2014 brings wonderful things.

Renee Nefe said...

Happy New Year!
I was up, but I didn't want to be. I have two determined ringers...and our city decided to shoot off all the fireworks they purchased and couldn't use for the 4th last year.

I blogged about my kitchen remodel woes. I tried again yesterday and got hit with the matching wood again and he liked the granite that was in the picture of the cabinet stain color I wanted. :p

Renee Nefe said...

oh there's a great sale at the fabric store that I could use for the current show...but it's snowing. Worried about driving.

Unknown said...

You've got a lot of goals on your plate. You can do it!

Willow said...

Oh my goodness no wonder you go to bed early , that is quite the list ! Great goals.
Wishing you all the best in the New Year .
You may want to read up on the Anatolian Shepard it is a strong farm dog very good protecter of animal flocks and family .

Leigh said...

Sue, reading is good. :) I wish the best for you as well, in the upcoming year.

Renee, same to you! Yeah, those fireworks don't make for early bedtime. :) I'm so glad to hear about your kitchen remodel progress! I'm on my way over to read all about it.

Camille, thanks!

Willow, and get up early too, LOL. Before we got our first dogs, I looked around for Anatolian Shephards but they are hard to come by in these parts. Kris was actually 1/4 Anatolian, but he didn't really look like it.

badgerpendous said...

Wishing you good progress on your list this year. We're looking to try to minimize our impact/footprint this year (water, electricity, gas, garbage, etc.) but living in suburbia, it always feels the things we can/do change are just bandaids/small potatoes.

I didn't see any mention of your book or other authoring projects on your list. Any plans on more promotion or maybe additional writing projects?

Leigh said...

Garrett, that's an excellent goal. I think we sometimes get overwhelmed by how huge the world's problems can be, but I'd say almost all of those things have to be addressed at the personal level.

I do have some personal goals, not mentioned here, and writing is one of them! I'm planning to take all of my critter posts and stories and combine them for a "Critter Tales from 5 Acres & A Dream." :)

ravenous-reader-book-reviews said...

Happy New Year! Your list sounds great! I only picked a word to bring me through the New year - brave.

ps: i'm reading a really good book right now!!! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I always love reading your goals, and watching through the year as you tick them off. It's inspiring to see the progress you are making. I think I am going to take a tip from you and do my own list. That way I can see where I am this time next year :)


Quinn said...

That's an impressive list, Leigh! You and Dan really work well together toward a common goal, which is fantastic. More power to you both in 2014, and I'm sure I'll be following along with your progress as you post about your projects this year.

Aquabarrel said...

I have been skimming your blog posts. The older ones about feeding chickens caught my attention. We purchased a table top milling machine to grind the larger grains. We travel into Amish country in PA to purchase NON-GMO grains. The formula we use is from Fortrel (and include their supplements). While my wife is not super active with the blog you can find our blog at: http://www.muddyhillfarm.com/blog/

Woolly Bits said...

yes, we're always up - but then we don't have critters other than the dog - who loves to sit on the couch with us, no matter how long it takes:)
for goals: ours is easy - finishing the 2nd shed/studio. everything else will take a back seat until that's done. so I will still garden, but I do what I can in between, no special goals for this year. for next year I hope we'll be done with all the extra building work - so chickens go on the 2015 list:) and more work in the garden plus lots of cleaning up there, because we let so much slide for the last two years. taking out stuff that doesn't do so well, putting in new plants/shrubs, shortening hedges etc...
good luck with all your plans - and maybe you'll find the perfect dog along the way...