January 1, 2015

2015: New Year & New Goals

Here's wishing everyone a very blessed 2015. As is our custom, we did not stay up till midnight. Nor do we make resolutions. Instead, we made goals. They are much more flexible than resolutions and more useful! Here are ours for the upcoming year.

House - finish the front porch. We accomplished quite a bit last year but still have a way to go. Up next will be replacing all the old windows with energy efficient ones; both those in the living room and the front bedroom. Then we can put up the new siding. Still under contemplation is replacing the porch ceiling. Finishing touches will be staining the decking and painting exterior, door, and trim.

Barn - the new goat barn still seems impossibly unattainable, but if we take it one step at a time we may eventually get there. The one thing we have definite plans to do is the branch removal I mentioned. Anything more depends on how far we get with the front porch.

Fences - this one makes the goal list every year because there is always something to fence, or there are fencing repairs to be made! There are several things we are hoping to focus on this year.
  • Gates - we have three gates needing to be installed: two in for the garden and one at the bottom of the doe browse.
  • Doubled fences for protected diversity - the idea here is to run a second fence about 4 to 6 feet parallel to existing fences. In between I plan to plant a perennial forest garden of fruit trees, shrubs, herbs, perennials, etc., that will help feed the chickens, pigs, and goats. Goats in particular will demolish things they like, but this way I hope they can gain nutritional benefit without destroying what I've planted. More on this soon. 
  • We'd like for the goats and pigs to forage more in our wooded area. There are so many downed trees back there, however, that fencing would be difficult. We're considering setting up cattle panels to let them into the most accessible areas. The beauty of cattle panels is that they can be tied to trees for a temporary fence, but moved easily as required. 

Goats - Kinders only. Our days of different breeds and different sizes are about over. I tolerated the Nubians while trying to make Kikobians and Kinders, but they really aren't for us. Both Dan and I prefer the Kinder personality so much more. This also means Gruffy will need a new home, but I honestly think he'd be happier with goats his own Pygmy size. I know he gets tired of being picked on by all the bigger bucks.

Pigs - 2014 was our learning year for pigs. Not that we have it all figured out, but we've seen how useful they can be in preparing the soil. It confirms my original plan of rotating pigs, field crops, and pasture as part of our land stewardship cycle. Also, we should get baby pigs this year, which makes Dan happy 'cuz he loves his bacon and sausage.

Field Crops - Now that we have the pigs to help, we're hopefully looking at not having to plow anymore. At the most, the clay clods may need to be disced and the area dragged to make it smooth enough for the scythe or sickle mower. In addition to wheat and corn, I want to add root crops for field growing. Turnips and mangels or sugar beets in particular for the livestock, especially as I get away from grain for the goats.

Chickens - the chickens should really be able follow the pigs around. The pigs turn the soil, through which chickens love to scratch. Plus, they both need to be kept out of areas that are newly planted. We need a better gating system for this, however, so that we can direct the chickens to wherever the pigs are. For this we plan to expand the chicken yard, which will also facilitate expanding our chicken aided composting, another experiment we are pleased with.

Honeybees - I have my first hive and bees are ordered! More on that soon.

How about you? What plans do you have for the upcoming year?


Anonymous said...

I am planning my first bee hive too! Other than that, breeding a couple of ewes acquiring a bull, finishing a garage and an equipment shelter. More of the same :)

Dawn said...

Looks like you have some interesting goals there I shall look forward to seeing them develope over the year.
Lang mae yer lume reek in 2015 :-)

Anonymous said...

Happy new year to you and Dan Leigh. I hope it was a lovely start to the year.
A couple of thoughts that fit in with the fencing/perennial lanes and the chook fencing. Geoff Lawton has a great video extolling the virtue of bamboo. Don't freak, the clumping stuff. ;) Goats can eat the leaves and smaller branches, some varieties can be harvested VERY young for human consumption and the dead branches can be harvested for stakes or the leftovers from the goats dried and used as firewood.
We have 3 tagasaste trees now nearing 5ft tall. They're about 2 years old and they are bountiful in putting out the leaves. They're another great fodder crop, they're nitrogen fixing so good in the garden and when you prune them they grow back very rapidly, ready to be pruned again. I think I pruned mine about 2 months back and they had put on what I'd pruned and more when I pruned them again this morning.
As for fencing, I know Geoff Lawton also has a video on cell grazing using solar electric fences. It's a more intensive way of doing what you already do. Sending the chooks along behind goats or pigs and they will scrounge out any goodies left by the pigs for sure. :) It's on my list of "if I ever get more land I will try...". :)
Can't wait to see what happens at 5A&AD this year. :D
P.S. My garlic was BRILLIANT! :D

Leigh said...

Schoonoverfarm, hurrah for bees! And how lovely you're getting an equipment shed going. We need one of those too.

Dawm, thanks! And Happy New Year to you too!

Jessie, congrats on your garlic! A good garlic harvest is always lovely.

Your comment echos some of the things we've been thinking. I will have to check out Geoff's videos. We've been discussing bamboo and ways to put our solar electric fence to better use for controlling grazing. He always has such practical ideas based on experience. I've heard of tagasaste trees, but never in the U.S. Sounds like they might be good for coppicing(?)

Unknown said...

Leigh, you have 953 members. Goodness me, you must be doing something right. 953!!! That's gob smakingly great. Trust Jessie to come up with great ideas. She certainly has alot running around in that head of hers. If you only knew (like i do) what a dag she is. In Oz thats a good thing, calling someone the shit covered flap of wool on a sheep's butt that cut off.

Anonymous said...

Takes 1 to know 1 Lynda. ;)

Yes, you can coppice them, or better yet, pollard (coppicing but higher up the trunk) tagasaste trees. They're drought tolerant, frost tolerant and mine survived a week of over 110F temps with no watering so as hardy as heck too. :) I first heard of them when I toured David Holmgren's place. He's one of the 2 fathers of Permaculture. His are about 5 or 6ft up before the branches shoot out and have been pollarded for some years given their gnarled shape. They're pretty too. And the chooks can eat the seeds. Check them out for sure. They're pretty much perfect for what we do. :)

Mark said...

Happy New Year, Leigh and Dan! I hope you find it to be a happy and productive one. I'm looking forward to hearing about your bees. That one is my list too, but not for 2015. I'm pondering my 2015 goals now and will have it out later today.

You and Dan have been an inspiration over the last year, and I want to thank you for the experience you've shared and the encouragement you've offered. You've definitely been a blessing as we've started on our path towards greater self-sufficiency.

PioneerPreppy said...

This year is mostly fencing for me and getting some more small tractor implements like a disc and hay mower/rake. I will slap together another 10 or so hives for swarm season and splitting and see what I get. Would be nice to get to about 25 hives this year.

We will see what direction is offered to me though. I have found some comfort in leaving these things to faith occasionally and letting it choose my course for me. I was on the fence about whether to search for a disc first or an old sickle mower and so decided to see what would show itself. Now I am negotiating for a mower cause one just appeared in my path.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Years and good luck on your goals.

Sandy Livesay said...


Happy New Years To You and Dan! Great goals for 2015.

We plan on expanding our garden in 2015, cleaning out the garage, setting up the ham radio to a computer system for monitoring, and there's a few other item we want to accomplish but this all depends on if we need to travel back to Texas to take care of my Mom.

Quinn said...

Oh, fencing. Always, fencing! I've used stock panels exactly the way you describe, but in very small areas - that's why I call them paddocks instead of pastures; they are tiny little areas. But it has worked: starting with a section then adding panels and moving the edge farther along from year to year. I'm at the point now where I can't really add any paddock space, but there are plenty of repairs to be done and gates to be added to what I've already got. Always, fencing!
Years ago I had pigs and they did a great job of "ploughing" but were not so interested in "harrowing." The hens helped with that to some extent though! I loved having hogs and hens. So efficient; just at a different scale. Teamwork!
Happy New Year, Leigh and Dan! I'll be looking forward to your adventures in 2015.

Tuesday said...

Happy New Year! As each year passes I look forward to learning something new from you, and this year looks to be another great one!

Here's to achievable goals!!!

Anonymous said...

Planned on writing goals today, instead spent most of it in bed with chills and upset stomach. Ugh! Luckily I have 3 more days off. For your pigs, I suggest a solar panel and hotwire. It works great for ours.

Leigh said...

Lynda, well, I just hope I'm encouraging others on their own homesteading journeys. :)

Jessie, LOL. I did some research on tagasaste trees but it doesn't look hopeful. Firstly, no one seems to sell them in the US. Part of the reason may be because our climate is too cold for them. Even though I live in the south, we can easily get winter lows too cold for them. I lost my rosemary bush last winter when we got down to 8° F (-13° C). I think that's beyond their limits. They do sound like a prefect homestead tree however. I'm on a tree and shrub research project right now, so I'll see what I can come up with.

Mark, thank you! For most of us, our community is over the internet. That's where I find my information and inspiration. :)

PP, 25 hives! That's too amazing to think about. I'm just hoping I can get my first one thriving. I need to read back through all your bee posts.

I have to agree about faith and following the leads presented. We found our sickle mower the same way. I found my Kinder does that way! Much less frustrating that trying to work things out according to our own plans, LOL

Country Wife, the very same to you!

Sandy, a ham radio is on our wish list too, but I'm not sure if it will ever make it to the top. Here's praying for a good year for you and Bulldog Man, and especially for your mom.

Quinn, agreed! Always fencing! Either putting up or repairing. Last night we talked about finishing the property perimeter, but there are so many trees down on the property line that it's a massive mess. We also discussed starting with a small area for the pigs and goats using cattle panels and expanding just as you describe. They're more expensive in one way, but if we can use trees, we won't need to drive posts!

Tuesday, thank you and vice versa!

Ruth, oh, I'm so sorry you're sick! What an annoying way to start the new year. We do have a solar charger and electric netting! We got the netting because of the chickens. So far so good and hopefully I'll have a more specific plan to show you all soon.

tpals said...

Good goals! It will be interesting, as always, to watch your plans unfold.

Rosalyn said...

Leigh, I LOVE your forest garden idea between the fences. I had a similar idea when we were looking at large country properties; I wanted to fill in an area between two fence lines with naturally anti-helminthic plants. But we couldn't find a suitable house with a suitable acreage and ended up falling for a house on just one wooded acre on the outskirts of a small town--where it just so happens I am zoned residential and can't have chickens and goats. I'm hoping to change our zoning, but in the meantime I am going to put some major work into changing previous perennial beds into veggie beds, learning what I can grow in the woods, and experimenting with native fruit and other interesting plants. I can't wait to read about all these goals and follow your progress.

Leigh said...

tpals, here's hoping for a good 2015 for us all!

Rosalyn, I love your idea of planting antihelminthic plants. That's something on my list too. Right now I'm in the research phase, trying to match trees, shrubs, vines and plants for a good little mix of plants. Hopefully I'll have a post or two on it soon. :)