Now that it's February, my Mister and I decided it was time to set some realistic homesteading goals.
I use the word realistic because sometimes our want-to-do's are bigger than our need-to-do's. Of course, both are usually bigger than our what's-in-the-wallets, but in the name of progress, we keep moving forward.
I also use the word realistic because when goals are set that are either more time-consuming than we planned, cost more than we hoped, or turn into something bigger than we intended, it is easy to become burned out. And that's kind of what we did. As founding members of List-Maker's Anonymous, we can easily fill out entire spiral notebooks with our homesteading goals. (And we're not talking wide-ruled either!) While the lists help to keep us motivated, it can become overwhelming when only 2 or 3 items get checked off from a list of 33 (per page). Add in uncooperative weather, regular family life, the Mister's job outside the home, homeschooling, church, appointments, etc...and suddenly those lists become more than overwhelming. They become daunting.
And they also become lost.
In the name of sanity.
So this year's list is filled with simple goals. And in my trusty notebook with 33 lines per page, I still have 21 empty lines that will remain that way until there are 12 check marks next to the original goals.
~Homesteading Goals for 2012~
1. Fence the upper 4 acres with field fencing. This will open up additional grazing area and keep our farm critters from being served at the coyote's all-you-can-eat buffet.
2. Build stalls and stanchions. With our milk cow due to freshen this summer (first time!) we'll need a nice place to milk her. And when it comes time for the AI man to visit again, stanchions will be much nicer for the cows than being tied to a fence. Gives 'em a little privacy and keeps the neighbors from talking...
3. Finish the milk room. We have an awesome room in our shop that will be perfect for working with our milk. Right now it is being used for storage, but with a little TLC, a counter, sink, and fridge, it should work well for processing the milk. We have a couple of old wooden cooler doors (one is much smaller than the other) that will serve nicely as a main door and a cheese cave door. The hard part will be to figure out where to put all the kids' extra motorcycle parts...
4. Build a mobile cow feeder. Currently we feed the cows in a large truck tire and just move it around the field as needed. The new one will be on skids and have a roof. Because we love 'em.
5. Improve chicken yard. We build a permanent yard for the turkeys last year, so it's time to give our girls a nicer yard. They all free-range most of the time but need to be closed in at night since the raccoons have heard about the buffet too.
6. Build turkey nesting boxes. After the demise of our beloved Lucy, we won't be letting the hens lay just anywhere. These nests will be placed on the outside of the coop, but inside the yard to keep them safe. Now if only we can convince the girls...
7. Make a hay feeder for the goats. The picky little princesses do not appreciate their food on the floor. They'll eat poop, but heaven forbid if a little hay ends up in the dirt. Drama queens...
8. Expand our bee colony. We're hoping to split our current colony, but will keep an eye open for swarms too. After harvesting 4 gallons of honey last fall, we're excited about having enough to share.
9. Build a beeswax mold. This might be more difficult than the actual process of melting the wax and turning it into candles. I was never very good with arts & crafts...
10. Set up rain barrels. We are looking for ways to water the animals & greenhouse plants without using the well. Call us cheap, but I prefer resourceful. Sounds smarter.
11. Construct hoop houses in the garden. Since most of our garden is in raised beds, this should be a fairly simple process. Our plan is to use hog panels to create the hoops and hang clear plastic over those. It should give us a good headstart to the growing season, which didn't start until mid-July last year. Because of that, we are down to our last 3 quarts of stewed tomatoes. Tomatoes are overrated. Okay, not really, but it makes me feel better.
12. Get our firewood in early. This is self-explanatory, but a late summer start means less wood brought in. And since the woodstove and fireplace are our preferred sources of heat, it's important to get enough dry wood put up. Besides that, without using our heaters, our current electric bill is running close to $300/month. Using wood is not only cheap, it is smart.
There you have it. Our realistic list for the year. As long as I stay away from other homesteads, the garden center, HGTV, and Pinterest, our goals should be attainable. And since it's February, and these aren't necessarily "resolutions", these are as good as done.
Now, because goals without plans are destined for failure, I'm having my very first giveaway! I'm a visual learner, but sometimes that's not always possible. So I read. A LOT. And when I don't have time for that, I look at pictures. (That counts toward visual learning, right?)
Recently, I stumbled onto this great book, "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Living", by Abigail Gehring. Okay, I'm actually an Amazon book junkie with absolutely no self-control who sees something she likes and obsesses about it until her lack of will power prevails...
Now you know.
There is so much information packed into this little book of 888 pages, that you'll appreciate the pictures. The book is broken into 8 parts~
Baking, Preserving, and More
Carpentry and Woodworking
Well-Being for Body, Mind, and Spirit
Each part contains multiple chapters on everything from animal husbandry to cheese-making; building doghouses to flower arranging;the usefullness of composting toilets to building hoophouses; disease management to herbal teas, canning, pruning, recipes for homemade cosmetics, bread, and cakes...well, you get the idea. This is a great book for the do-it-yourselfer, even if you haven't yet bought the farm. (I don't mean that as in "bought the farm", but in a literal sense of "bought the farm". Confused yet? Me too. Welcome to my world.) I must offer a warning with this giveaway though...
Your homesteading list will grow.
Don't panic~just use wide-ruled paper~there are less lines to fill.☺
So, how do you enter? Easy~Just leave me a comment telling me what one of your homesteading goals are for the year. Don't have a homestead? How about telling me something that you are doing to become more self-reliant. Maybe it'll inspire me to add some more goals to my own list. After all, I do have 21 lines left to fill.☺
The winner will be announced on Wednesday, February 15, 2012!
This post is linked to the Homestead Barn Hop.