Sunday, February 5, 2012

2012 Homesteading Goals...and My First Giveaway!


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.

I hope.☺

 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~
Animals
Baking, Preserving, and More
Carpentry and Woodworking
Crafts
Disaster Preparedness
Energy
Gardening
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!

Good luck!!

This post is linked to the Homestead Barn Hop.

52 comments:

Carolyn Renee said...

#7 - Hay feeder for the goats. Our goat yard is constructed using cattle panels so I put the hay outside of the pen, in a large tub or 1/2 a blue rain barrel (cut long ways) so they have to put their heads through the cattle panel to eat. Although it doesn't entirely reduce the hay wasting (man does that drive me NUTS!!), it does help.

#11 - Hoops for greenhouse. Cattle panels are expensive (that's why our goat pen is not as large as we'd like it), so we used PVC pipe to create the hoops over our raised beds. If you want to see ours, take a loot at: http://krazoacres.blogspot.com/2011/04/hoop-houses.html

And although I'm also trying to clean out my bookshelf, I have to admit that I would love for a chance to win that book. Put my name into the cyber-hat please!

Carolyn Renee said...

Oops, almost forgot! ONE of my homesteading goals (admittedly, I have the same spiral-notebook filled to the 33rd line with items!) would be to get grapes established this year.

Jaclyn Hicks said...

This year, I plan on tackling the art of canning along with continuing to grow our stockpile of pantry goods. Ideally, I would love to get a grain mill, but one step at a time! And of course, there will be the garden too! Hope you have a wonderful week....I'm a new follower. Your blog is such an inspiration!

Carol J. Alexander said...

My main goal is to move things around. I need to move the garden to a new location and move the chickens to where the garden used to be. If I accomplish that, I will be happy. Although, I also want to start keeping bees and since I'm beginning a beekeeping class, that should be on the agenda, too.

Sharon said...

Well lets see....

1. Expand our bee colony by at least one more hive.
2. Cover the second greenhouse frame.
3. Root cellar dug and built.
4. Expand one of the garden areas.
5. Hand pump and wind mill onto well.
6. Install the rain tank.
7. Build a rabbit hutch over the compost.
8. Possibly get a few sheep (not sure that's the best idea with german shepherds)
9. Tear down the neighbors old barn for the scrap.
10. New nest boxes and chicken yard.

There. I suppose having all of it done by May would be too much to ask? Great book by the way, we have one, but please put us in the drawing, I would love to give it my dear neighbor who is young and very anxious to learn all that there is to know about homesteading.

Clint Baker said...

First time here! One of my goals is to make more Raised Beds. I Urban Farm if you will! And I have my own blog, that I started a couple months back to track my progress and to share with others. http://theredeemedgardener.blogspot.com. Also as you in a few weeks I want to have my first give away!

Illoura said...

LOL, 888 pages?! Incredible....
I don't know what might be in that book that would convince me to put yet one more goal in my extensive list (and wishes), but would LOVE to see if I'm wrong!
My blog is all about farm dreams (and goals in general) so I've got plans and goals and dreams all over it. This year is full of agenda for moving ahead, though finances are limited: I'm planning to hatch chicks to refresh my 3 y.o flock, and get bees, and start indoor gardening w/ growlights, plant some supplemental chicken feed (sunflowers at least). I've got lots of painting goals (as in pictures) hoping to sell some for extra farm income, and am currently trying to create my own special space in a room I call the Farmgirl Office. It's a mix of art room, animals supplies and pantry. Or will be when finished. There are lots of other things, but these are the main ones I can remember off the top of my head, lol. Come visit my blog and see how crazy I am- I'm positive we can beat even an 888 page book on ideas! You've got some good ones and I admire that you're not unrealistic with them (as I tend to be). Dreams are dreams until they are goals!
Thanks for the opportunity to win the book- I could really use all the help I can get!

Grace said...

My goals for this year are all about preparing myself and our property for the move to the country house in 2013. For that property, I want to get the water lines fixed, have the soil tested, reduce the clutter in the house, build dog runs, choose what type of fencing we will use and what part of the pastures we want to fence off first, and site the garden, the barn and the chicken coop. If I manage to get the coop built this year, I'll really impress myself.

For the suburban property where we live now, I want to get the roof, siding, and ceilings fixed, put down some inexpensive flooring, and get rid of most of our possessions. We will not be taking most of our furniture, and there is just no room for all of the unneeded junk we have laying around, so I'll be having yard sales and donating to Goodwill a lot! Hello, Freecycle?

For myself, I want to learn how to dehydrate, learn more about fermentation (that's really not going very well for me), relearn how to sew, and put some money aside to fund the rest of the goals on this list.

Whew, we have a lot to get done this year!

Farmer's City Wife said...

I want to get ducks this year! I can't want to have lovely fresh duck eggs (and, who am I kidding? duck prosciutto!), but as I know nothing about duck husbandry, a homesteading book would be just the thing ;).

Rashel said...

One of my goals this year is to take better care of my garden, plant earlier and to can/freeze more of our harvest.
Thank you!
Rashel

Thinkin' Out Loud said...

I would love to win this book. You really know how to get a girl motivated to write a list :) This year there are a few things I plan to do around here. First a worm bed underneath the rabbit hutch. Then an herb garden. A rain water barrel so we don't depleat our well too much this summer. Lastly a chicken moat for around the garden because chickens are great ground clearers.

Tina - Our Rustic Roots said...

I think your list sounds good, certainly beneficial for your place and animals and I hope it can be completed with ease. OK, I know it won't be easy, it will be hard work, but you know what I mean.

As for me, I want to have a more productive garden (and fruit trees!) this year so I can preserve more food by canning and drying. I'm going to try and limit freezer use to basically meat only this year. We'll see how I do. :)

Kerri said...

Wow! This is a great giveaway! We actually have ALOT of different things we are doing but one of them is switching from store bought milk to relying on our goat's milk, and one of the things we will be making out of it will be soap!

Blessings,
Kerri

Mrs. Lewis said...

my big homesteading goal this year is to off grid! we are working on it but hopefully we will be full on soon!!

Candy C. said...

Gosh what a great book, I would love to have my name in the hat to win it! :)
A couple of my goals for this year are to get a pressure canner and learn how to use it and to start using my dehydrator. Sounds pretty simple but I haven't done either one YET!! LOL!!

Rae said...

We intend to expand our pig pen to over 1/2 acre so we can raise a couple extra to sell to friends. We are also going to try raising a batch of ducks for meat (our order of ducklings will be here in March!) Mmmm... Duck duck and, perhaps next year, goose! :)

Brooke said...

My first homestead goal for the year is to get rid of the goat buck I don't need! After that, I plan on getting some meat chicks. :)

Annabanana said...

We need,need,need to fix up our chicken shed ! The layers are only in the shed during the coldest months (chicken tractors the rest of the time) but all my daughter's show birds are in there year round. Her collection keeps growing and we just need more room. Beekeeping is on our list too...my husband is attending the first night of his course right now !

Kai Shippee said...

The book sounds great! one of our goals for this year is to build raised beds for the garden

Unknown said...

I hope this didn't post twice. I was not logged in last time I tried. I love your blog...It keeps me sane while I work on my #1 Homestead goal this year...acquire the land to actually start up my rescue ranch. Thanks for keeping me daydreaming!

Ten Things Farm said...

Well, if all goes as planned, we are building a 2 1/2 car garage and attached workshop this summer. This is a homestead goal because it will get all hubby's tools and such out of 'my' barn so I can ready it for pigs next year!

A little less lofty, I got my first breeding pair of turkeys this year, so I plant go grow even more of our groceries!

Great giveaway!
-Laura at TenThingsFarm

Donna OShaughnessy said...

After years of working at breakneck speed and coming close to killing ourselves all for the "simple" life, this years main homesteading goal will be to
SLOW DOWN.

We plan to take large sections of each Sunday to read, to nap, to do art, to listen to music, to be with family. It is a real goal written in real ink.

Heidi said...

This is a great giveaway. I have many goals this year, but my main homesteading goal this yer os to locate a piece of property that will meet all of our homesteading goals for self reliance and less dependence on consumer goods and utilities.

Karen said...

Wow, that looks like a great book! My goal for 2012 is to finally get a few chickens. I found a portable coop and pen in a catalog that would be perfect, and my husband has assured me can build it for me for half the cost. So I guess my real goal is to make sure my husband follows through on his promise. Buying the chickens is the easy part!

DoleValleyGirl said...

Yeah! A giveaway! I'm in. :)

We're working on our list of homestead goals (will be posting soonish, I think) but off the top of my head, here goes:

1. Raise a new flock of layers
2. Raise a small flock of meat birds
3. Put in a few more raised beds
4. Mulch between raised beds to cut down on weeds
5. Expand chicken yard to include three separate yards for rotating
...and more!

Good luck on achieving your goals! Good luck to all of us!

ashmmorgan2 said...

Our biggest goal for this year is to get one of our old outbuildings set up for chickens before April...which will be here pretty soon! We're also starting our first veg garden this year, wanting to get strawberries and asparagus going and hoping to get a small orchard started! I'd really like to get meat rabbits as well, but my husband isn't sold on the idea yet. Good luck with all your 2012 goals!

Chantelle said...

My biggest homestead goal for 2012 is to finish cleaning out the barn so that our first chickens have a safe place to spend their nights. We also want to make twice as many preserves as last year.

momma-lana said...

Try again to grow a few produce items. I have yet to find a spot in my very shady yard with enough sun.

Janelle Shillito said...

I want to grow and preserve a larger variety of produce this summer. This book looks amazing!
JanelleS
www.financiallyfree4ever.blogspot.com

sherry L. said...

I would really like to try to do alot of canning! lilsis_75@hotmail.com

Tamatha Mavraides said...

Here on our tiny urban farm we have a long list too. Starting a bee hive is a big one this year. Starting worm composting is another.

Getting our goats bred is huge for us because it will be our first time doing so. Its scary and exciting.

I am addicted to books too, you are not alone. There are may worse habits to have (I tell myself that often). Im over at http://www.aflockinthecity.com

Our journey said...

I am wanting to can and freeze more food then I did last year and to try raw milk and make things from it :

Love you blog!

Erika said...

Love your blog! We have a family of 5 and are slowly moving towards as much self sastainability as possible (this is a slow but steady process for us with 3 kids and work ect.!) Goals for next year:
1. Ordering fruit trees and berries to landscape our property.
2. Put in large fenced garden out back.
3. Try our hand at tapping our maple trees for syrup(I've read about others doing it in the Northwest and we want to give it a try) Thanks for all the great info! Erika

Tonya Buus said...

Here at Mystic Hollow Farm we are doing some simplifying this year.

Cutting back to only the dairy goats we need for home and soaping milk to ease up the chores a bit.

Cleaning out the shop has begun. This will help us find things quicker when needed.

Cutting back to 2 or 3 farmers market weekends per month. We did all 4 last year and never really had much family summer fun going on.

Using the food dehydrator more is also big on my list. I do lots of canning but this will help stretch out our garden veggies/herbs that can not be canned. The bell peppers that I dehydrated last year are really wonderful in soups and such and we pretty much ate the dried cherry tomatoes like chips they were so yummy!

Chiska said...

We don't have a homestead yet. Our goal for this year is to buy a house...it probably won't be homestead per-say, but we can expand our goal is to expand our two grow box garden to a plot in the ground. I'm an amazon junkie too---in exactly the way you described. Thanks so much for the opportunity. Now where is my notebook?!

Karrie Z said...

I just stubbled upon your blog... and well, I love it. I am that country girl at heart too. I grew up in town and always wanted a farm. My husband,our 3 kids, and I just moved onto 6 acres and are startng the dream. I have never had any farm animals other than a small flock of backyard chickens, so our goals this year are getting the homestead cleaned up, ready for animals and getting the animals. Starting a huge garden and learning how to can all the goodness! We are getting dairy goats, so learning about using the raw milk is a major goal also!

Jenna Z said...

My goal is to put up a clothesline and start line drying clothes! It's a little embarrassing that I don't do this now, but at least I'm going to!

Alecia @ ChickenScratch NY said...

Lets go with the abbreviated list:

Fruit Trees/bushes - We bought the house in July so we've got very little as far as fruit or vegetable gardens (Luckily the house came with a rhubarb patch, a mulberry tree and 3 established grape vines!) so most of my gardening money will be going into establishing the perennials (asparagus anyone?)

Pasture - Finishing fencing in the back pasture so we can try to rotate grazing side to side

Poultry - continue turkey/chicken integration and hopefully have better luck hatching turkeys (only 15 last time) AND meat chickens AND tracking down more muskovies...

Also, can I say I'm impressed you found a book I don't have yet? When I was living in the city going to college I made up for missing the country life by reading (and plotting)

April Tuell Angels Homestead said...

I want to grow a successful garden this year. I've tried several times in the past, but gave up because either the plants just never produced, or, the wild animals made a feast out of them before I could. I've been scouring the internet for ideas on combating those things, the book would would be a BIG help, I'm sure.

Tabatha said...

We don't have a homestead yet, our major goal for this year is to save up money for the down payment. I've also ordered kefir grains and have started cooking nearly everything from scratch. This has brought our grocery bill down to $700 for 8 people. My husband has also signed up for a hunting course:-) another goal I have is to stress less over homeschooling. I wear myself out worrying if they've learned enough or if I've covered enough for the day.

Kelly said...

Your goats will eat poop? Not ours-they'll hardly go near anything that has been on the ground!

One of our goals is to get a variety of grasses growing on the 2 small pastures at the house we just bought so we can stop being so dependent on hay, that went from $8 bale a few years ago to over $20 for the same size bale now!

Kim said...

Sadly, yes. They will eat dog poo...but not hay on the ground. I thought the goats needed a mineral block, but they'll still "grab a snack" on the way to wherever we tie them out to. Blech!

Kelly said...

Huh-our goats look at me as though I were totally off my rocker if I pick up any produce I gave them that they dropped on the ground. They won't even eat they're hay from a feeder if there's poop in the area.

Christina Heisler said...

My number one goal for the year is to close on our farm. Once that's done the possibilities are endless. Milk cow, garden, root cellar and a whole other list of wants, but for now, a house would be nice.

Freedom Acres Farm said...

One goal? LOL how about 100? Learn to cook on my "new" wood cookstove, build chicken tractors, fence off the front of our property, and grow more food for ourselves than we've ever grown before. Sorry, one goal on a homestead is just not possible LOL

The book looks wonderful. Every homestead library needs to continue to grow!!Can never have too many books :-)

Hearthkeeper In Christ said...

My big goal this year is to produce enough food from our garden to can up a winters supply. And a secondary goal is to expand the chicken yard. Thanks for the giveaway! I would love that book.

countrygal said...

We are planning to add a shed and add two plum trees in the next few weeks.

Sue D said...

Our big goal this year is to fence in two more paddocks for our goats.
slrdowney at hotmail dot com

Diane said...

This looks like a great book, please enter me in the giveaway. Some of our immediate homesteading plans are grow a bigger garden, finish our fish pond for harvesting catfish for the dinner table, and growing our own corn, etc. to make chicken feed.
Blessings
Diane

Melissa said...

Since baby # 2 is due right when I usually get plants in the ground we joined a CSA and will be focusing only on planting for canning/freezing purposes. I want to get enough romas in so that I don't need to purchase ANY tomato products next winter!

Valerie said...

How did I miss this giveaway post? Busy on my place I guess. :) One of my biggest goals for this year is to build new chicken tractors for our meat birds and the turkeys we will get in May! Cannot wait to raise our own turkey!!!

Jen the CraftinCowgirl said...

My goal for this year is to utilize a garden to make more of my own products. I'm trying to make a garden plan at this point. Cucumbers and dill for pickles, tomatoes for spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, etc. I also want to make more household cleaners and products for myself!