a classic rural homestead farm house

LOOKING AHEAD

Last year was certainly full of challenges and blessings, but it is the challenges that are beginning to shape the vision I have for our upcoming year at Reformation Acres. With a new baby set to join us this spring, though, who knows what the year will hold for us! If I’ve learned anything over the last decade or more of parenting, it’s that it is much easier to plan for the year a newborn joins the family than it is to execute it. Here’s what I would like to see happening around here

{Bible}

I implemented this plan last  year for our daily nourishment in the Word. We’ve fallen into a pretty comfortable habit, but I’d like to make certain that it continues…

Morning– Read a chapter over breakfast- Right now we’ve just begun Joshua and are working through the Old Testament.

Noon– Daily Proverbs reading just before lunch. Either a verse or a chapter- if verse, then with commentary; Pray it over the children.

Evening– Family Worship- With so many little ones, brevity is key. We’re keeping it to 10-15 minutes and are ever so slowly working through God’s Names

Bedtime– Daily Light from the Bible This is as close as I come to that “quiet time” with God all of your best Titus 2 type sites promote. Usually though they recommend beginning the day with that quiet time, but it hasn’t become a reality for me in the past, try as I might. Most days begin around here with a hungry, crying baby. Not exactly quiet. At any rate, I’ve yet to see setting that time apart commanded in the Bible and so I’m content to do the reading with the children throughout the day and to quiet my mind at the end of a long day with a quick five minute reading. That way I can fall asleep “meditating on thee in the night watches” (Psalm 63:6) so to speak instead of fretting over this day or the next.

{Reading}

My reading plan fell apart miserably last year since most of it consisted of reading the Charlotte Mason series for six of the months. I never dreamed that it would be such a rich experience that I would need to take it in doses, implementing aspects of it into my life as I went along. Though it was my book for March last year, I have yet to finish the first one!! Here’s what I would like to read this year-

Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series continue at a leisurely pace
Health For Godly Generations (Watch for review & a giveaway!!)
Don’t Waste Your Life
Loving the Little Years 
Let Us Highly Resolve: Families Living for Christ in the 21st Century
The Godly Home

Tending Your Garden: Wisdom for Keepers at Home
Parenting by God’s Promises
Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus
Becoming a Woman (All 3 books in the series)

For heavier Sabbath day reading, I’ll slowly work through-

By This Standard: The Authority of God’s Law Today
How God Wants Us to Worship Him
Walking in the Law of the Lord

Not seeing much in the way of homesteading?? I tend not to plan out my reading for that as carefully. That’s not to say I won’t be reading books on the subject as I come across them and then share them with you!!

{New Skills}

NOTHING NEW FOR ME!! I want to work on perfecting what I’ve already learned.

BUT… I want to use this time to invest in new skills for Hannah in particular. I always seem to be “too busy” to work with her and if ever a girl needed a creative outlet, it is Hannah. I’m breaking the skills down into quarters…

1st Quarter- Handsewing
2nd Quarter- Crocheting
3rd Quarter- Cross Stitch
4th Quarter- Baby Toys

{Habits}

Project 365– Use my camera daily, post on blog once weekly for accountability purposes

Herbal Medicine Cabinet- Research, Reference, Inventory, & Build

Renew Nature Journaling and Daily Outings-  Maybe wait until after a little postpartum recovery? I know myself well enough to know I’ll fall out of habit for at least a couple weeks while I heal.

Financial– Eliminate revolving & personal automobile debt & begin the using the Debt Snowball to pay off the 2nd mortgage

{Home & Homestead}

Home- 

  • New front door- Ours leaks air terribly and it’s right in the same room with the thermostat!
  • Paint interior of the home- After 7 years and so many 2 year olds scribbling on the walls, cleaning them has become virtually impossible. We really need a freshening up!
  • Finish the beams- Last fall we knocked the wall out between the living room and kitchen to open up the floor plan and replaced the wall with beams. They need stained and brackets installed.
  • Butcher block the island- Knocking out the wall created an island and it needs a new countertop. The boys will be making their own butcher block this winter.
  • Cover outlets housewide- The electric work on the project somehow left them all exposed and makes it feel like a perpetual construction zone here.
  • Hang upstairs bathroom door- Because it has a hole in it and the new one was painted two years ago.Seriously.
  • Repair shower upstairs- It’s unusable right now because the water will leak down into the dining room. Pretty much the upstairs bathroom is wasted space.

Yard

  • Fill in ditched areas from water management efforts last year; fill in low spots in the yard
  • Paint fence & deck
  • Stump removal and general yard cleanup

General Homestead- 

  • Reduce the cost of feed by 40% by planning and purchasing at a locally owned feed mill instead of the Farm & Garden store just up the road
  • Find commercial establishments that we can glean from their cast-off produce etc… to supplement feeding with (Thanks Anna for the excellent idea!) Already we’re thinking of ground apples in the fall, waste from the cider mill, and there is a pumpkin farm just up the road.
  • Greater predator control… Set fly bait traps out before noticing losses during key seasons such as broiler raising and corn ripening. Try liquid fence?
  • Add lime to the barn floor; whitewash walls to clean up

Produce- 

  • Learn about orchard care
  • Prepare ground orchard for fall addition- how can we put the pigs or chickens to work for us in this capacity?
  • Build a greenhouse- Just a little lean-to one next to the driveway against the house large enough to accommodate the tomatoes and other seedlings that must wait until nearly June to be planted, but get too lanky underneath the basement grow lights for that long.
  • Continue to create an herb garden
  • Try to maintain a focus on aesthetic appeal throughout the property- It’s difficult, but it’s important for me to try to keep it looking quaint & charming around here. Pinterest has helped give me tons of ideas to try to implement.
  • Garden season extenders- If finances provide. I was blown away last year by the cost of how much as simple row cover costs!
  • Crop cover in the fall
  • Reduce overall price/pound by 25-50%- Of course that means successfully grow more produce, but all I can do is plant & water & wait upon the Lord to give the increase.

Poultry

  • Return to woodchips deep litter method- While the straw is cheaper, composts better and more quickly, it’s dirtier overall and we had to use Sevin to get rid of a serious insect infestation last fall
  • Implement heritage turkey & chicken breeding program in order to eliminate the need for spring replacement costs- We’re learning that it’s best to add just a few new chicks each spring so they will begin to lay in the fall and carry us through while all of the older gals are going through their molting process. Purchasing turkeys every year is VERY expensive ($10+/poult) not to mention the minimum orders are often 15 pouts. Knowing that parent stock can survive on the land for no cost (free-ranging year round) if we could get some in here that gave us a few poults each year to raise up for meat would eliminate that expense.

Cattle

  • Continue to study and implement rotational grazing thereby improving pasture quality. Consider comfrey and chicory.
  • Hay feeder improvements- As of now, there is a lot of good hay getting dropped to the ground and trampled in.
  • Maintain a daily routine through the the three months Maybelle is dried up- That way we can get involved if her calf refuses to nurse again eliminating the potential for another e-coli infestation. We also experienced problems with kicking when we tried to begin milking her not to mention she would only let-down for the calf which was a nuisance. A final benefit is that having a routine means she will eliminate her wastes before coming in to milk.

Hogs

  • Improved slopping system- I’m not sure what my husband meant by this, maybe he doesn’t like having an open slop pail under the kitchen sink that is emptied once a day.
  • Switch to winter raising and butchering- I’m very excited about this considering the discussion we’ve been having about feed costs lately. Raising pigs closer to the canning & harvesting season mean greater opportunity to take advantage of vegetable material we would have otherwise composted. Not to mention the prospect of using the cast-offs from other farms as mentioned above.
  • Improved watering & fencing system- Using a rotational system through their pasture, it was difficult to move the posts and electrified polyrope. Being on the back of our property, it’s troublesome to get them an adequate daily supply of water. Before we’d cart it back daily in the trailer of the lawn tractor, but it died last year and the spring we used to water them from just outside of their was diverted to the pond to help with the water problems we’ve had in the back pasture.

Hopefully, we’ll get more scratched off the list this year than we did last, only time will tell.

So enough about us, what are your big plans?

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