We’ve spent a lot of talk over the last few weeks discussing what we’d like to accomplish on Reformation Acres this year. We started 2010 hoping to build a barn and possibly fill it and once the barn was finished, it was looking more and more like we’d be having to wait for our dairy cow dreams. We never imagined that we would not only have one that was already giving milk! And then a bull to follow who would fill our freezer for months to come! God is so good!
Our highlight this year will most likely be in the summer when Maybelle freshens and there will be a sweet little calf running around. How nice it would be to have a little heifer, then we could breed them rotationally and never be without milk again.
After much back and forth, we’ve downscaled our plans mightily and have decided to focus much of our resources into paying off our van and the smaller of our two mortgages. I’ll have to be extremely aggressively frugal, and it might be a long shot, but I’m hopeful that it could be done or pretty close to it. The trade off for me has been to give up my dreams of building an outdoor canning kitchen on the deck, but if we can be unburdened from that debt, it will be well worth it!
Lord willing, here are our goals for 2011:
~Our main growth this year in light of that will be in the garden. Seeds offer a huge return for very little investment and I’m hoping for a very productive year that will feed our family until the next. I’m expanding into herb gardening and will fill my perennial gardens will herbs both culinary and medicinal and edible flowers. I think my new philosophy is, “If you can’t eat it, I won’t grow it.” I’m adding asparagus in the front yard as an edible ornamental where we had planned to put some pampas grass to make mowing easier in the corners of our white picket fence.
~I hope to extend our seasons with cold frames and mini-greenhouses if possible. We have the supplies already for at least one cold frame.
~We have a new patch of fresh earth tilled up and awaiting planting. There grains will be grown, wheat, oats, barley, and corn. I think that covering the seeds until they’re sprouted will help tremendously as it would seem that the chickens eat most of the seed before it germinates. I’m considering growing rice in buckets too for a fun little project for the children.
~To our orchard, I’d like to add lowbush blueberries and raspberries as a hedgerow along our property line and hardy kiwi to grow over the picket fence that borders the orchard.
~We need to plant the pasture and since it is part shade will be trying a frost planting of orchard grass in a few weeks. We’ve read conflicting reports of whether or not orchard grass lends itself to frost planting, so the choice is tentative. I’d like to cultivate some comfrey in the back pasture wet areas as well. Comfrey is great for cattle, composting, fertilization, and for the natural medicine cabinet. Forage chicory is another option that we’re looking into adding to the mix.
~We’ll be adding replacement layers in the spring. We’re hoping to hatch our own sex-linked chicks, but so far our breeding program is a flop. We’ve built two mini-coops to house them and they have yet to produce a single egg. At this point we’ve let them back into the general population and will just gather the eggs to hatch from whoever and hope for the best. We also decided to let each of the children choose a breed of their own liking from the Murray McMurray catalogue and their choices are very silly looking birds.
~We’re considering starting to breed Narragansett Turkeys to keep us supplied with meat instead of the Broad Breasted Bronze we used this year. This is up in the air, because of minimums on shipping. We’re looking for someone to go in on a shipment with. Otherwise, we’ll have to go with Bourbon Reds because that’s the heritage breed the local feed store will be offering.
~Our meat chicken production will grow this year as well. We’d like to try doing 2 groups of 50, one in the spring and one in the fall. We might give Freedom Rangers a shot for the first round to see how we like them. I know my husband would love to build a chicken plucker.
~We are also trying to evaluate whether we should overwinter a couple of hogs next year. We are already nearly through the ham, sausage, and bacon, but until the bull was butchered, that was our primary source of meat. I hoping that adding the chickens will mean more variety of protein options in my menu planning, and we’ll be able to stretch the meat further. However, since, we’re going to be butchering them ourselves this year, I’m worried about the waste I’m sure that we’ll have.
~Hannah would like to begin raising rabbits this year and we could easily convert the chicken tractor to a rabbit tractor making it a project with very little investment.
~Eventually, we’d like to become bee keepers and there may be a program in our area that would allow us to do it with no investment at all! They would provide all of the materials and training! Wouldn’t that be exciting. Otherwise, it’s very, very low on the priority list.
~Another project this year will be whitewashing the inside of the barn & coop as well as our fencing
~ I’m determined to maintain immaculate financial records and food storage records this year so that we can better plan how to allocate our finances in 2012
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