I love reviewing our previous years goals--the goals we reached as well as the ones we fell short on. I've found the goals we were unable to reach provided us with a learning opportunity, if even to realize sometimes we are a bit too ambitious.
We moved onto our new property in 2016 after a year of remodeling the whole house. We spent 2016 mainly learning the land--the path of the sun in all seasons, water drainage patterns and so on. We did install a small vegetable garden, built the chicken coop and got 15 new chickens, as well as started what would become the Potager Garden.
While we did get a TON more done in 2017, we certainly didn't achieve all of the goals on our "to-do" list. We mostly fell short because our list was not realistic (to be honest, the list was too darn long!). At the end of last year I sat down and went back to my training from the healthcare leadership world and broke our goals down into realistic steps(check out this post on doing just that).
While this year again we may not reach all of our goals, I think our list is much more realistic, and much more in-line with our overall 'big' goals and vision for the homestead.
Lets start with a 2017recap and a few of our successes and failures!
We expanded the vegetable garden by quite a bit in the hopes of moving toward a market garden/CSA that will take us a step toward one of our over-arching goals of making some money on our homestead.
*Mobile Chicken Coop
As I saw our permanent runs getting decimated by the girls (and lone boy), I really wanted a way to free-range on grass, without them getting in the gardens. Check out this post to see what we did!
*Seeding and Succession Planning
I wanted to get better organized about what and when and how much of each crop to plant as we move towards a market garden/CSA model. While this was a 'win' in that I had a very organized seeding/succession schedule, it was a partial fail because I drove myself CRAZY trying to stick to what turned out to be an unrealistic schedule.
*Expand the Rhubarb Patch
Guys I LOVE rhubarb....like love. There was one mature plant here when we moved in and this past year we added eight more! We should be swimming in it this year.
*Press Our Own Apple Cider and Routinely Glean/Pick up our Fallen Apples
We are lucky enough to have 3 mature apple trees on the property and I had no idea how many actually fall from them! We did press twice during the season, but we weren't as good about picking up all the felled ones as I would like....at least the deer got a treat this Fall!
*Grow Corn and Double Our Potato, Onion and Garlic Harvest for Storage
We did grow corn last year, and honestly it took up so much room in the garden that I probably won't grow it again this year. We doubled our potato and garlic crop..but didn't grow nearly enough onions.
We really wanted to paint the barn, it's been overdue for many many years now. But between our off-farm jobs and expenses, it just didn't happen this year.
*Install a Rain Collection System
While we did install rain gutters and a big IBC tote off the barn this year, where we failed is that we didn't use the water! I wanted some way to filter it before using it on the vegetables or for the chickens, and we just didn't get to it.
*Bake Sourdough Bread Once a Week
Well THAT was not realistic considering my off-the-farm work schedule! I averaged twice a month, which I'm happy with.
*Set Up a Produce Washing Station
Hmm sort-of met this one but not really. We set up a make-shift area for post-harvest washing of produce, right off the garden expansion, but it turned out to be frustrating to work at and the shade cloth we put up over the area must have ripped and fallen a million times!
*Start All of Our Own Seeds
I got about 80% there. What I failed to realize is how much space that amount of seedlings requires. While husband did save the day halfway through the season and set up more shelves and grow lights, by that point I had already purchased some additional plants.
I finally realized halfway through the season that the biggest barrier was ME. I was too ambitious with our goals and 'to-do' list last year. This year we are going to focus on fewer goals that are more realistic considering our lifestyle and off-farm jobs.
What we also failed to do was really put more thought into our goals and align them with our overall vision for the Homestead. This is where our vision board and SMART goals came into play for this year (more about thathere).
Our 2018 Goals
This year we started with a Vision Board for the homestead and built our goals from there:
After that, we sat down and wrote out what our over-arching 'vision' and 'big goals' are, then narrowed those down into realistic, actionable steps.
*Develop a simpler and less ambitious sowing and succession plan.
*Start 90-100% of our own seeds
*Sell some of our produce (this is broken down further into actionable steps like: obtain liability insurance, contact local chefs and markets, apply to sell at a local farmers market, etc, with timelines for each step).
*Add a second water pump closer to the gardens (water pressure was a real issue this past season when we expanded the garden).
*Re-vamp the post-harvest washing station - with a focus on ease of working and simplicity.
*Educate ourselves on the NH food safety laws (done over the winter!)
*Use the rainwater we harvest (either for the flower gardens or for the chickens if we get a filtering system set-up).
We also have a 'would be nice to-do list', which includes things that can and will be put on the back-burner if other more urgent tasks come up:
*Harvest the dead-fall wood on our property and install a wood stove
*Save more seeds from the gardens
*Start 2 bee hives
*Propagate some lavender cuttings from our hedge in the Potager Garden.
I think I've finally accepted that Homesteading, in all it's variations, is more of a lifestyle. Slow and steady progress toward those ultimate goals (that will likely change along the way) is OK! Heck, we're learning so much and building valuable skills, and just that itself we've realized is very rewarding.