December 29, 2014

2014 Year In Review

It's hard to believe another year has flown by! We've been busy and accomplished much. We experimented, had our ups and downs, and learned a lot. Here's our year in review.


January brought cold and snow.

January was unusual because we experienced the coldest winter temperatures we've had since moving here; the lowest being 8° F (-13° C). Inside, we finished the ceiling on the master bedroom. Our outside project was to finish fencing an area of the woods for the doe browse.


2014 master plan photo 2014_master_plan_scan-1_zps877e6479.jpg
2014 revised Master Plan 

In February we revised our master plan and got started on a new chicken coop. The eventual goal was (and still is) to build a decent outbuilding for a goat barn. The first step was to get the chickens out of the old shed and into quarters of their own. Our inside project was supposed to be the bedroom floor, but this was temporarily postponed.


We put a metal roof on the chicken coop.

In March we got a roof on the chicken coop, found a great deal for the bedroom floor, and kidding commenced! Two sets of triplets, Ziggy's and Lily's, and a close call for Surprise and her miracle twins. 


Purple top turnips and Wando peas.

Our last frost is in April so it was a busy planting time in the garden. We ate out of the spring garden and I tried my hand at violet jelly. We made a lot of progress on the chicken coop: walls, windows, and roost; then nest boxes and interior people door, and an entry door for the chickens.


1967 Simplicity Model W Walking Tractor

This was a big month in that we finally got some much needed equipment, a walk-behind tractor with numerous attachments. It was also the month we finished the chicken coop and moved the chickens in! Kidding season finished up with Zoey's twins, giving us a total of ten kids for the year, six does and four bucks.


Caleb, treed by a baby pig.

In June we got our first pig! We'd been wanting pigs for several years and finally did it. The breed? American Guinea Hog. Our house project was to finally finish the master bedroom floor. It was also the first year we had a second batch of home-hatched chicks.


Our 2nd rainwater collection set-up.

Summer was actually pretty pleasant this year, with temperatures cooler than in the past and with fairly good rainfall until July. That was when we installed a second rain collection tank. In thinking ahead toward building a goat barn, we developed a plan for a round barn that we really like. Toward that end we started tearing down the old outbuilding that stood where the new barn will go.


August was for canning, freezing & dehydrating

August was a busy month in the garden - picking and preserving. We got our second pig, a little female (Polly) to go with our male (Waldo). I got my first unofficial Kinder doeling and a Great Pyrenees livestock guardian. The dog promptly ran away and sadly, we never did find him.


Chickens now help us with the compost.

I started a new experiment this month and moved the compost piles into the chicken yard.  We put the goat barn on hold and started working on repairing and renovating the front porch. Best of all, I bought my first two registered Kinder does.


This field was once solid with ground ivy. The pigs have been rooting it up.

In October we learned what a good job pigs can do on ground ivy.  It had completely taken over and destroyed our back pasture. With the pigs help, we got most of it cleared out and replanted. We made a lot of progress on the front porch: we came up with a plan for it, got the old floor torn out, and the crawl space sealed off. Also I bought my first registered Kinder buck.


Recycling the roof, posts, and wall really improved the old goat shed.

In November I launched my eBook series, The Little Series of Homestead How-Tos. Outside, we finished tearing down the old "barn" and recycled its roof and walls to make an addition on the old goat shed. Next, we installed the new floor on the front porch. We also bought electric netting and a solar fence charger to see what the pigs (and goats) could do in the garden.


New front door, installed at last

Work resumed on the front porch. We installed the porch posts and a new front door! Also noteworthy was my Meyers lemon tree. December is our evaluation and goal setting month, a perfect activity for when the days are damp, dreary, and drizzly. More on our new goals soon.

How about you? When you look back over 2014, was it a productive year or full of ups and downs? Did you accomplish what you hoped or take unexpected detours due to circumstances?


PioneerPreppy said...

Pretty productive year at the Small-Hold. Opened up a new bee yard, added about five new hives to the whole, 24 new lambs 4 of which will be added to the flock, got our first cuttings off the new Alfalfa field, fixed some fences, put in a about 20 yards of grapes and filled a 30 yard square section with wood chips for an orchard.

Was short more cash than usual for the year so not alot of big purchases. A plow for the tractor, brush hog and blade to begin with was about it.

Dani said...

You and Dan deserve to be well pleased with what you accomplished. Well done :)

primrosesattic said...

You achieved so much. I feel We do things here and then in a couple of months have to redo them.
I think because hubby is working away a lot, things have to wait and then they are 10 times worst by then. But we keep going.

Karen@ said...

We have only been here for seven months but I think it would be good to look at all we have done. It might help us deal with ALL WE STILL HAVE TO DO.:-)

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

A year of satisfying achievements Leigh. Testimony to your partnership, as it is unlikely you could achieve so much individually.

badgerpendous said...

No matter how much I get done, I feel like you and Dan do double! I'm always so inspired by your approach.

2015 is the year of collaboration for me (at least, that's my plan).

Have a wonderful newyear!

Kirsty said...

I really like the idea of a goal setting month, that may help me from changing the priorities of all of our projects every two minutes and enable more to get done. Well done on such a productive year!

Unknown said...

You have a lot of be proud of! I'll be posting something similar soon~~~

small farm girl said...

You were busy! I hope the next year is as productive for you.

Meredith said...

Congratulations on a busy and productive year!

Mark said...

A productive year, Leigh, and one you can feel good about. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

What a great year you've had! I love that front porch and am looking forward to seeing the round goat barn. Have a joyous New Year! ~ Linne

Unknown said...

Lovin your new wallpaper. The frosted leaves are beautiful and appropriate for your season. Great post as usual and im looking forward to the round barn as well. So much accomplished this year for you and your beloved. Many hugs from abroad.

Tuesday said...

congrats on an amazing year for you! I have loved watching all the exciting progress!!!

Happy 2015!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update Leigh. I'm really interested in hearing more about your pigs (American Guinea Hogs) I'm familiar with larger breeds from my youth. But I'm particularly interested in hearing how this small homestead breed turns out, and particularly how the pork compares to more traditional breeds.

Matt H.

Mama Mess said...

Sounds like a very productive year! I can't wait to see your Kinder kids this year!

Caroline J. Baines said...

You've had a wonderfully productive year and should be very proud of yourselves.

I read somewhere on your blog the other day that you didn't fall in love with the Silver Laced Wyandottes. They're on my short list of chickens so I'm interested in why you don't particularly care for them. How do they compare to the Buff Orpingtons (also on my short list).

I'm looking forward to following your adventures next year!

Anonymous said...

Its amazing what can happen in a years time. Happy new Years

Leigh said...

Hey All! Oops this got published a day early but oh well, LOL

PioneerPreppy, congratulations on everything you got accomplished! I'm looking forward to our first beehive. Also maybe trying to grow some alfalfa.

Dani, thanks!

Rosezeeta, we're coming into some re-dos too. I think they're inevitable. Have to agree about keeping going!

Karen, oh yes, taking time to look back and review is indeed very helpful!

Gill, thank you!

Garrett, I appreciate that. I think though, if you had five acres you'd accomplish double too, :)

Kirsty January is always our goal setting month. If fact, that will be my post for January 1st! It definitely helps to have goals because, like you say, it's too easy to flit from project to project and get nothing done.

Nancy, thanks! I'm looking forward to your post!

SFG, I hope so too!

Meredith, thanks!

Mark, going back over the year like this really helps. :)

Linne, thank you! I just hope the goat barn becomes a reality! Happy New Year to you too!

Lynda, thanks! Love that frost. :)

Tuesday, and I've loved watching yours!

Matt, I'm planning a pig post sometime next month because several folks have asked about the Guineas. So far they seem the perfect breed for us and I understand the pork is outstanding. :)

the Goodwife, mee too!

Caroline, I can't say we really have anything against the SLWs. Not exceptionally friendly and the rooster is a bully. He's respectful of humans but picks on even the hens. Plus he has his favorites, perferring "blondes" i.e the Buff Orpingtons! The Wyandottes haven't been as good of layers as we wish. The meat is very flavorful though. The Buffs are better layers, I think, and make excellent brooders and mothers. We didn't have that with the SLWs. Next year I'd like to try Australorps. So far we've kind of liked Barred Hollands and the Speckled Sussex. They seem to have more personality and are better foragers, but they are fence jumpers and our BH rooster never could accept another chicken beyond his original flock. Not sure if all those things translate across the breeds, but it's what we experienced.

Country Wife, I so agree! Happy New Year to you too!

Bill said...

Y'all are great inspirations! Thanks for sharing all your wisdom and lessons-learned. All best wishes for a very happy 2015!

I visited a friend yesterday who, like you, has moved his compost pile into the chicken yard. I was amazed at how quickly and efficiently they are producing beautiful compost. Your reminder of it convinces me that we need to do that too.