Monday, January 6, 2014

homesteading goals


Yesterday I wrote about how I was going to have a week’s worth of goals…which is a bit of a goal in and of itself!  I wanted to start with homesteading, but thought I should touch on what homesteading is to me.

If you have been reading here a long time you will know that we live on a very modest ¼ acre lot.  Now, that does not mean that I have ¼ acre of land to “homestead.”  No, that also includes our very large driveway and house.

Homesteading for us has always meant making ourselves, and our home, a producer instead of a consumer.  It is so easy to consume in this day and age, not as easy to balance that out with producing some of our needs (and wants!).

Homesteading goals:

Chickens.  We have them.  Laying hens currently, although I am not sure how much longer these particular hens will be with us.  We love our ladies, but it has been a cold winter of not many eggs and a very high cost of feed.  I know that we will get chicks again, but I am not sure that new layers will be this year.  This year I would like to get meat chickens.

I am not a big meat eater.  Actually, I would much prefer being a vegan.  My husband is not this way, and so I am trying to provide more meat dishes.  The problem is, and part of the reason I don’t eat a lot of meat to begin with, the way the animals are raised as well as food safety concerns.  I am not a fan of the whole big agribusiness model.  I believe in small, local farms.  Ones that know what is going on with their animals as well as the land the animals (or vegetables) are on.  We have several providers of meat in our area, and it is all delicious and happily raised.  But, I am at the point where I want to take it a step further.  I feel like raising our own meat would be a good choice if we continue to eat meat.  I also think that it is a good skill to learn for the future (for my husband and I, as well as our children).

I am pretty sure that we will not be processing the birds ourselves.  In fact I can guarantee that won’t happen.  So it will be baby steps (I love my baby steps!), raise the birds ourselves and then hire someone to help us process them.  Then maybe next year I will be able to get up the courage to do it myself.

Garden.  This past year I was so happy with our garden.  It produced a lot of food.  I was able to eat a salad out of the garden every day as well as make many meals with what we had just outside in our backyard.  My kids loved to pick the vegetables, and I realized that if I plant anything that turns out purple (tomatoes, beans, peppers, cabbage, carrots), they will eat it.  Not to mention, my wonderful husband built me several garden boxes to make the garden more organized, and much prettier!

This year I want to expand the garden more.  I really do love the garden.  I also know that I don’t plan well enough and the weeds take over halfway through the summer.  I need to be more diligent about pest management (this is me wishing I could spray the crap out of those cucumber beetles and squash bugs, but instead pick them off and squirt soapy water on them).  Expanding the garden will also involve expanding some fencing.  We need to fence off the garden due to some friendly wildlife that has decided to move nearby (and to protect against rogue chickens).   Someday I would like to have the entire backyard fenced in, and not be as concerned about the garden fencing, but I am not sure that will happen this year.

I want to be able to preserve more from the garden.  Last summer, pretty much all the veggies we ate came from our garden.  I also was able to save several pie pumpkins and winter squash, all of which have been feeding us well through this early winter, and will continue to feed us for a while longer.  I want to plant potatoes this year.  I planted some a few years ago, not a lot, and they were absolutely delicious.  We obviously don’t have the space to dedicate to a lot of winter storage vegetables, but some would be nice!

Finally, I would like to start all of my seedlings.  I know this is highly unlikely.  It seems like no matter how many seedlings I start inside, the greenhouse still offers ones I had not thought of, or look interesting and I want to try.  One of my first goals, this month really, is to go through my seed catalogs (all of which arrived in early December), and figure out what I am going to plant, what I have, and what I need.  I will be sharing more of that here as well.

These are the main things I would like to accomplish this year in regards to our little homestead.  We are limited somewhat in what we are able to do because we live in town, and my husband’s desire not to live on a little farm!  But, the kids and I do what we can. They love the chickens, they love the garden and planting seeds, and I believe these are all good activities for the kids to be involved in.


Have you started thinking about what you might change in your garden, or on your homestead this year?  Do you have improvement projects you have been putting off?  We certainly do!

Linking up at the Homestead Barn Hop

3 comments:

  1. Your series is quite helpful in making me think about the best steps for us as well, lots to consider! No meat chickens in our future - but definitely expanding our garden in the future! The kids absolutely love it and are begging to get started already!

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  2. We are going to work more diligently to harvest more from our garden. We plan to get a few more laying hens. We have been thinking about meat chickens in the future. There are so many projects. We would like to fence in the garden and the future site of the orchard where the chickens will be able to roam. Thanks for sharing your goals!

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  3. I've been vegan, then vegetarian for years and have just started eating a little meat here and there (like once or twice a month) because I haven't been feeling very good. We had our first egg layers this year, but they are 1.5 and I know we will have to make that difficult decision on whether not to keep them. We have big goals for our family to become more self reliant, and it's with this journey that has made me more inclined to eat meat and dairy strangely enough as I can see the value of interconnected food web with the homestead cycle.
    Best of luck with your 2014 goals!

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