With only two days left of 2017, my reflection on the year and my resolutions are more focused on improving my homestead (and in turn, improving myself).
Here are a few of the things we want to improve:
2017: This past year we built garden beds with cinder blocks . This worked out great for weeding, and was much more manageable than when we had our garden at ground level. However, with our pasture being overgrown right in the area of our raised beds, it was a lot of work mowing between the beds and getting close enough to get most of the grasses cut was a pain.
2018: We plan to mulch between the beds so we don’t have to mow; and instead of fencing off each bed individually (to protect our plants from the chickens), we will fence off the entire perimeter. And we will add an extra bed this year for corn.
2017: Last year we acquired two meat goats. One we lost to a respiratory infection; the other we had to butcher about 2 months sooner than we would have due to goats being herding animals. We also believe the goats we got were cross breeds so they did not grow as much as we anticipated.
2018: I would like to pursue breeding our own meat goats, which would require a larger flock and winter quarters. Currently we have a three-sided lean-to that at least kept the goats out of inclement weather. We also would not be able to rely on just pasture for the winter months so we would need to budget for food rations. In the meantime, I think we will definitely get at least two more meat goats for 2018.
2017: I went through about a month period where I thought my girls weren’t laying. Unfortunately this winter, cleaning out the garden bed around their coop, Fendi found a stash of eggs (maybe 12) that I hadn’t found. My girls were inconsistent not only with laying in their nesting boxes but also with where they were laying outside the coop.
2018: I’m hoping my girls will start laying again at the end of January like they did last year. In order to keep them laying in the nesting boxes, I’m going to try getting wooden or ceramic eggs to keep in each box. I think I will also put rubber matting of some sort in the bottom of their nesting boxes to see if that helps with cleaning.
2017: We discovered a few things growing on our property that we did not plant. We have two large patches of asparagus that I did some harvesting on, but the weeds were quite difficult to control in the summer. Also we have a lot of wild grape vines (not producing fruit) that spread all over the asparagus “beds”, these were also hard to control and keep from snuffing out the asparagus. In that same area is an older Elderberry bush that we didn’t know was there. The fruit trees in our yard bloomed this year (they didn’t the previous year), and it turns out they are apple trees! We didn’t really get out to harvest them although I’m sure they would have made great baking apples.
2018: I plan on harvesting the asparagus again this year, and maybe move a few of the plants to a more containable area for weed control. If we can get to the Elderberries before the birds and wild animals, we hopefully will get a larger harvest for either jam or syrup. If the apple trees bloom again (we are thinking they are an every other year breed), then I will be sure to get out and pick apples. With the increase in raised garden bed space, I’m hoping we get a bit larger harvest in things we use more often (last year we had quite a few more peppers than we needed and not as many tomatoes as we would have liked to do some canning. And canning more of my harvest is something I really want to work on in 2018.