I want to apologize in advance. This posting is going to be a bit of a data dump. It’s time to stop planning and start doing, so I as I wrap up the month, I want to finish my homestead wist list and prioritize my goals for the year. I’ve written several blogs on this subject already including: Sustainable Growth and Homestead Goal Setting, Homestead Wish List, Homestead Wish List and Pig Love, Homestead Goal Setting – Irrigation, The Little Shed that Could…be a Seedery, Hatchery, Broodery, Wormery, Mushroomery, and Fermentarium.
What follows now is a summary of how I’ve prioritized the goals I already shared and a listing of other stuff on my wish list for the year. It might read a bit like a grocery list, but I hope that despite the dry format, it might still offer ideas on homesteading and gardening. Also, having it all in one blog will help keep me on track, so I can make sure I share later as I work on and complete items on this worklist. So, here goes.
Here’s the plan for the items covered in previous blogs:
- Irrigation is already well under way. I’ve done a ton of research, made all my measurements, have laid out about half of the garden, and have a few outstanding questions to be answered before we make our final decisions. My goal is to have irrigation installed in our main garden by the end of February.
- That “little shed that could” is also going to be a top priority. I started clearing the space today and making more detailed plans for how to pull it off. I’ll get some lumber in the next day or two and start the worm bed brooder and seed area and insulation. Since I need to start incubating eggs and get my seeds started, I hope to have this done by mid-February. It will be basic to start, but I’ll go back and fine-tune it by mid-march.
- We’ll have piglets to raise in about 8-9 weeks, so I’ll take a couple days to build a new shelter and put up a training fence before we bring them home. The rest of the paddock system improvements can be done over the season. But ponds will probably have to wait until fall.
- I plan to put up two permanent duck paddocks with ponds and shelters by mid-spring. There’s a learning curve in this process, so I don’t want to rush it and I want to make sure the bentonite holds before I invest in the next three ponds. If things are going well in summer, I’ll start work on the next three paddocks and ponds.
- The greens garden by the pond is tabled for now. I want to see how irrigation goes and determine whether it will really be necessary or not. The idea is good, but I see a lot of other potential uses for that area so I want to think more before I make a decision.
- The greenhouse improvements can wait until late spring after the more urgent projects are done. But a shading and irrigation system is a must so I make sure we have enough growing to hold us through winter this year.
- Once I have a handle on irrigation for the main garden, I’ll come up with something for the mushroom grotto and figure out a cost-effective structure for fruiting. This is a little lower on the priority list, but it should be manageable before fall.
Now for some new stuff.
- I have a makeshift butcher station that I use for my outdoor poultry processing. I want to give it a more attractive, formal, outdoor kitchen kind of feel. We also have an awesome cast iron tub that we use for pig scaldings and mushroom log soaking. I’d like to include this in the outdoor kitchen as a vegetable washing station as well as using it for dunking mushroom logs. This project will be a downtime project in the summer heat since the area where it will be located is partially shaded.
- Matt and I eventually want to build a house for ourselves that will include a full cellar for food storage. But, we still need few more years to get skilled enough to take on a project of that size. In the meantime we need a place to store all the winter food I am growing. We are probably going to dig a small cellar into a hillside to get us through the next couple years. This needs to be in place by September so I can start storing winter squash, onions, carrots, turnips, etc.
- I built a cute new duck house for my layers by our spring-fed lower pond. I want to formalize the path to get to it and add some duck resilient edible landscaping to make it a lovely walk to visit the ducks, as well as give them good food sources, and take advantage of all the duck droppings around the pond. Paths should be done by end of February and plantings will be done in early spring.
- We only have a few parking spots in our drive, but we often have lots of visitors at once. So I want to mark out a couple alternate parking spaces to keep people from parking on my soil improvement patches. This will have to be done pretty early to protect the new path to the duck house and related landscaping.
- I planted 35 table grape vines around our property last year. I plan to trellis them over arbors to help mark paths and create summer shade throughout our landscape. I need to come up with a few arbor designs and then start making them. This is something I will do during downtime and hope to have done before spring next year when the vines will really start to take off.
- We need better lighting in our outdoor dining area. I need to run some electric line and put in an LED lighting system that is tied in to our solar unit. Solar lights just don’t last long enough. Since days are already getting longer, I might save this project for end of summer when days start to get shorter again.
- Lots of planting – besides the normal vegetable garden planting, I want to add at least another 200 perennial plants in early spring and another 200 in fall. I also want to propagate most of them myself to cut costs.
- Make a solar dehydrator for herbs and a good drying system for onions and garlic. this needs to be done by the time I start harvesting, so mid-summer.
- We’ve been wanting to experiment with rocket mass stoves. I hope to make one at some point this year so we can enjoy it in fall. Ideally, I want this to be part of an outdoor living room kind of space so we can enjoy more time outside with friends and family even when it’s cool. We currently have bonfires and use our chimnea, but this isn’t the most efficient use of wood. Rocket mass heat would be better. I also want to build in a pit for a duck scalding pot so I don’t have to use propane. This is a dream item, so it may or may not happen. We’ll see…
- This year I am going to make an outhouse with a composting toilet. It’s easy to do, I just need to pick a spot and make it inviting and protected from pests.
- I plan to expand my chicken flock with some new layers including breeds I haven’t raised before. I want to give our old chickens a life out in “pasture”, as in the goat pasture so they can help me keep down parasite problems in the goat area. I need to fortify an existing shelter for them and plant some fast growing chicken edibles to make sure they don’t do too much damage while they are doing good. This is not urgent since I still have room in my chicken coop for more chickens, but I’d like to get the chickens working the goat pasture sooner rather than later since this will be the second year the goats have been in that pasture and parasites are likely to start building up.
- I want to set up a few new compost systems in the goat, chicken, and duck areas. This should be easy so I can do it pretty soon.
- We need to set up some kind of netting to protect our vineyard since we should get a harvest this year. I need to research and come up with a workable idea by late July.
- I started some terracing in our goat pastures that I need to continue and then do some intensive planting. This will be a March/April project.
- I need to grow more animal fodder. Comfrey is a start, but I also want to get more willow, black locust, and other trees we can coppice as fodder. This will be ongoing over the next few years in pretty much any cleared land not used for other purposes.
- I need to shore-up our pond dam in the lower pond, address some erosion issues, and re-build our dock before fall.
- Our paths are all currently covered with weedmat and mulch. Heavy traffic areas will eventually be covered with stones we dig out around our property, but we’ve decided to go with ground cover in other areas. The mulch wears too fast and is not sustainable long term. So, I need to start planting in sections until the paths are well-established. This will be an ongoing project as weather allows in spring and fall and probably into next year.
- We’re going to try bees again. Matt made a few modifications to the top bar hives he built, so I have to get a package and then take good care of those little ladies.
- And let’s not forget tidy and organize the homestead Marie Kondo style.
I think that’s about all we can fit in for now. We’ll throw in some creative projects too because sometimes I just have to do something because I’m inspired. It seems ambitious when laid out like this. But it’s surprising how much you can get done when you have time to dedicate to this work and the passion to do it. I’ll keep you posted as plans progress!