This seems like a lot. And it is. I am definitely two parts idealist to one part realist (and that one part rests more in my husband than me). But last year a lot got pushed aside to make way for all the new animals and their intense learning curves. Now that they are settled and we have our routines, it’s time to focus on all the other ‘little’ things.
Here we go, 2017. Let’s do this!
Complete construction of garden beds and fencing– While the potager is pretty much done, we want 4 16×16 beds for our crop garden. Two of them were already tilled and fertilized by our pigs and chickens last summer, but the other two still need work on the soil. All of them need some sort of border to prevent erosion, I’m thinking old logs from around the property. Obviously not permanent, but free and good enough until we can get more concrete blocks. The potager has fencing, but needs gates, and the crop garden will need fencing. Pigs, cows and chickens get out way more than you’d think, and we don’t want our garden to become a buffet.
Cut down maple tree- Oh, the sadness. This tree is gorgeous! And old! And, well, in the way. It is HUGE, and blocks a considerable amount of sunlight from the garden. It also drops an irritating amount of leaves in the autumn, taking up precious time in clean up, and big heavy (dangerous) branches often fall during storms. So, it must go. Patrick will attempt it on his own and we will find good use for the wood on the farm.
Cut back roses- We have a massive bed of thorny rugosa roses that have climbed their way out of the raised bed and into the surrounding grass. With animals and small children running around, they need to be tamed.
Till and amend soil in driveway garden beds- There are 2 small garden beds on the side of our driveway that house some sporatic tulips and daffodils, but I want to turn it into a proper bed for cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts. I’ll try to relocate the flower bulbs if I can.
Clean and organize barn and garage– Our barn is a disaster! It’s a holding place for every odd and end that doesn’t belong in the house, and with the cold weather, it has begun to just pile up in random places. I want to make it a pleasant place to be, and also a more efficient use of space. It’s not quite suitable for livestock (weird, I know), but one day we hope to re-renovate it. Regarding the garage (it’s more of an outbuilding, as I don’t think it was ever really used for cars), well, the pigs have made it their winter home, and as such, it’s not in the best condition.
Install more permanent fencing for the chicken run– The 7-ft deer fencing we put up last spring is on its way out. It keeps falling down (or being pushed down by animals), and the chickens keep finding pockets where they can slip underneath.
Install more permanent pasture fencing- We (by we I mean Patrick) put up a tremendous amount of electric fencing last year, but the poles he used were not meant to be permanent. This might move to the back burner, as it’s the most expensive goal on this list, but it’s worth mentioning in case we win the lottery or something.
Get Georgia bred– If it takes, we’ll have a baby calf (and raw milk!) in autumn!
Process our first feeder pig– This will be a tough, but necessary, one. His name is Wheel, and he will be missed. Hopefully, though, there will be a litter of cute little piglets to take his place.
Raise piglets to weaning age, sell all but one to keep as our new feeder.
Focus more on aesthetics- Another one that may be pushed to next year. Too often we ignore aesthetic projects, thinking them an unnecessary waste of time, money, and effort. But I’m realizing that quality of life is something that is a privilege to improve, and can greatly alter the mood and flow of family life on the farm. We clean and tidy our home to make it a more enjoyable space, why not the outside, too? My ideal vacation would be to a charming farmhouse in the French countryside, with a cobblestone patio and wrought-iron gates, vines winding around old wooden trellises, the scent of lavender in the breeze and birds chirping gently in the warm sun. It is beautiful and mellow and peaceful, and I want to bring some of that feeling to our little piece of land. I want to trim bushes, plant LOTS more flowers all over the place, and, most importantly, create an inviting outside space to sit and drink a glass of wine or eat supper. Farm life is tough, it seems only right that we have a place to relax and enjoy our work after a long hot day.
Grow 80% of our own food- This is the theme, our true focus in the coming year. I want to really buckle down and get serious about providing my family with the best food possible, and really pave the way to our self-sufficiency. It’s a massive undertaking, but I am ready. Well, as ready as I can be with a baby due in May.