I’ve never been good about New Year’s Resolution. I don’t know why. But then, who is good at them? They’re intimidating. It’s like a commitment to do something every day for 365 days straight. That’s just hard.
With every project we’ve finished here in 2014, we’ve come up with something else we want to do. It’s been very exciting to take on farm life, one little piece at a time, and have success! During the hectic holiday months, Charlie and I have been developing ideas for what we want to get done in 2015. Our goal has never been to be totally self-sufficient, but we both get such a kick out of providing for ourselves, we’ll be expanding those efforts this year. So, instead of resolutions this year, we have quite a to-do list.
1) Secure the back pasture. There are 2-5 acres at the back of the property, that the landlord doesn’t use. We will be working with him to figure out how much of this land we can use. It’s an unusual shape, and the creek runs through part of it. The perimeter is enclosed with cattle wire fencing, but we will need to cross-fence, clear out anything that may be a risk to the animals we want to move in, and get water to the area.
2) Build shelters. Once the pasture is ready, we’ll be moving in a variety of animals. We also want to expand our little alpaca herd, and give them more space. That means a variety of shelters. We built our big shelter this past year, so we’re confident we can take on several smaller shelters.
3) Rabbits. Charlie has been researching rabbit breeding, and is looking forward to getting started with that. That means setting up a few different hutches, figuring out a breeding schedule, and becoming proficient at “processing” them. That’s all on Charlie. I’m still not sure I can care for animals, and then eat them. So, Charlie will have to take care of them, THEN I’ll eat them.
4) Bees. There is a small open area in the woods, on the way to our water source, that will be perfect for bees. It’s far enough away from the busy parts of the farm that we won’t disturb them, but close enough that they will be able to easily access our garden. The’ll also be surrounded by blackberry bushes, so that should make for some yummy honey. We’ll be setting up hives soon. so they’ll be move-in ready come springtime.
5) Hard cheese. I’ve done mozzarella and ricotta, and now it’s time to take my cheese commitment to the next level. Hard cheese has to age for months, so I’ll be working on patience, too. My first attempt will be the shortest aging time I can find. I really don’t want to wait 6 months to figure out I did something wrong. I hope I can find something to start with that only needs to age a few weeks. Once I get that down, I’ll go for something bigger. I should have this process down by the end of the year.
6) Lye soap. I want to make “real” soap, all by myself. The lye process makes me nervous, but I’m going to take it on this year. I think I’ll get, like, welders’ protective gear, to make sure I don’t hurt myself. Then, I’ll be able to make any kind of soap I want.
7) Alpaca afghan. I have already skirted and washed, and started to card, several pounds of gorgeous brown alpaca fiber. I’ll be carding, spinning, and crocheting my dream blanket: 100% alpaca.
8) Knitting. I say “crocheting” my dream blanket, but I may actually be knitting it. I’ve never knitted, and I don’t know if my left hand has the coordination to do it, but I’m going to try. If I can learn, great, if I can’t, I’m not going to sweat it. Carly and Tori both have the basics of knitting down, so they can help me if I get stuck. There’s a class in town later this month, and I’m signing up for it. We’ll see how it goes.
9) Turkeys. We’ve toyed with the idea of raising turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, but didn’t get started early enough. You have to start with turklets (?) in July or so to be ready by fall. We’ll be on it this year.
10) Garden. We learned so much with our garden last year, we can’t wait to get started this year. There are some things we won’t be doing again, like Brussels sprouts. The plants grew great, but nothing ever sprouted. We’ll also be trying some new things, like beets. They’re supposed to be good for many of the farm animals. We’ll be more varieties of cucumbers, for pickling, and maybe not so many squash. The seed catalogs have started arriving, so Charlie and I will start poring over them, and making lists of what we’ll be getting in the spring.
10a) A greenhouse is on our “maybe” list for this year. It will depend on the pasture situation, and what kind of time we have before planting begins. If that doesn’t happen this year, it will move to the to-do list for 2016.
That’s it! This is the list that I’ll be posting on the refrigerator. I’m sure some of these will happen easily, and others will go comically wrong. Whatever happens, we’ll learn a lot and have tons of fun.
Happy New Year!