The time of year has come where my seasonal depression rears its ugly head and stops in to say "hey I'm here!". I'm sick of being cold, the gray, the mud, putting on jackets and hats, the lack of green, etc. We have gotten a few "teaser days" of spring where the temps warmed up (even into the 50's a couple times) and I could frolic in the sun and pretend I was accomplishing things outside. Thinking of these days make it torturous when winter smacks us back to reality, ergo the seasonal depression. But, these quiet and antsy times give me time to not only reflect on everything accomplished in 2017, but plan, draw, and make my to do lists for 2018! It gives me hope! Check out what we have in store.
Last year was good to us. 2017 brought a lot of animals, building structures, and food preservation. We built a 10 x 12 foot chicken coop, put up a butt load of fencing, and built a 12 x 16 foot mini barn for my precious dairy goats. And more fencing, fencing, fencing. This is in addition to raising a couple of hogs, clearing land, splitting 6 cords of wood, gardening, raising and butchering about 75 meat birds, and oh just general living. Yes, 2017 was a good and busy year for us, and no, we don't get out much and we like it that way! But, we are shifting our focus a bit here in 2018. The time consuming building of structures was done last year which will free up a lot of time, and we are focusing a little less on the animal aspect in some regards. We are not adding to our laying flock of hens, geese, or ducks (unless someone goes broody and goes all natural), but we are doubling the pigs to four, sticking with roughly 65ish meat chickens, and increasing the number of turkeys. Ummmmm okay, maybe we aren't focusing less on the animals? Hey, a girls gotta eat!
There will be animals this spring of course - I mean what's a "farm" without animals? Pigs, meat chickens, and turkeys are on the list and baby goats still remains to be seen. The plan for pigs is to get four this spring, three to butcher and a gilt to keep and breed our own piglets! High quality Berkshire piglets fetch a pretty penny, so in an effort to cut costs for us as well as make some extra money selling them, we want to breed our own. I am that type of person that throws caution to the wind and jumps in head first and does a face smack off the water. Oh you've only raised pigs for one year and you're going to start breeding them yourself? You go girl! Yes, that's me. I love to learn, and the best way to learn is by rolling up your sleeves, getting elbow deep, and doing it yourself. There is still some fencing to be added in addition to what we added last year, but essentially the pigs will just require routine daily feedings with the weekly/biweekly rotation. We are finally getting established in some areas that allows our processes to be streamlined without always having a ton of work and building leading up to it.
We also plan on increasing the number of turkeys we raise this year to make sure we have plenty to grind up, and we are going to stick with the sixty five meat birds like last year because that was a good number for us to get through the year...for two people...in addition to 250 pounds of pork...and 420 pounds of beef. My lord, do we eat a lot!
Ohhhh the potager, now this project is what really makes my little heart go pitter patter. I have been daydreaming of this beauty since last year and I am so excited it's finally happening. Designing the potager has been helping me through this seasonal funk, and I've reverted to my seven year old coloring days drawing out my beds, planning the shapes, plants, etc with my markers. My husband asked what I wanted for our anniversary that's coming up (end of April) and I said to take the day off and spend it together building beds and fencing for the Potager. What a lucky fella huh?
Since my last post on designing the potager, we actually decided that we are going to do both phase one and two this year. Because we have the fence the entire area in anyway to prevent the chickens from getting in, we (ahem, I) decided why not go for both! If you're gonna have one might as well have two, go big or go home...you get the idea. So yes, both sides of lawn area off the back of the house will be a beautiful, edible, flowering escape that I can't wait to sit in and take in the site and smells. Many of the beds will be made out of materials we already have like flat rocks and bricks, and my husband only has to build a couple out of wood. It will be well worth the effort and by mid summer it will be busting at the blooms with beautiful flowers and vegetables.
Clearing our overgrown land. Oh boy. It's one of those things that you hate to do but once you get an area cleared and you step back and take a look at the openness you get a buzz and say more, more, more!! This project will take years, because two people clearing over ten acres without any crazy equipment like feller buncher isn't the quickest process. As much as I would love to blink and have it all cleared and seeded, it isn't going to happen that way. And wishing for that only makes the hard way seem more tortorous. Nothing but hard manual labor will get the job done and I will say we have done a lot in our short time here. Because we won't have as much time tied up in doing fencing and building structures, we can devote a lot more time to this ongoing project. It's slow going and often times frustrating, but it's so worth it. I dream of sitting in my Potager surrounded by blooms, with my feet kicked up on a wrought iron table drinking an IPA, and seeing my goats and beef cattle (oh yes, it will happen) grazing on green grass. After a long hard day of work of course!
2018 surely will be a good year from us, and I look forward to all of the work, and the fruits of our labor. This lifestyle takes sacrifice, especially when two people who also work full time jobs are the ones doing it. But, I love this life and wouldn't trade it for anything! Stay tuned for lots of good things, good eats, and adorable animals.
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