Wow! I thought about doing my annual review, so I started out by looking at my 2015 To-Do list. http://redmonwoods.com/2015/01/01/to-do-list-2015/ I was so disappointed to see we had only accomplished 4 out of 10 items. (Of course, a lot of that was because we weren’t able to move forward with the back pasture. I’m going to move all pasture-related goals to the “wish list”. We still want to expand, but when we are able to access the area is up to the landlord, not us.)
I decided to go back through the year’s pictures, and saw just how much we accomplished this year. Two big events happen in January, which helps us to focus for the year. St. Distaff’s Day is the first weekend in January, and the Country Living Expo – which we just call Farm School – is the end of January.
One of my first 2015 projects was lotion bars. I discovered them at St. Distaff’s Day, and love them. My hands get so dry during the winter, they actually crack and bleed. Lotion bars have a good amount of beeswax in them, which seals in the oils and keeps the skin moisturized for a long time. The are easy to make, and last a long time. http://redmonwoods.com/?s=lotion+bars
The next project was dying alpaca fleece, using turmeric. I dyed a few different batches of fiber, after learning how at Farm School. (My kool-aid dyed, red, alpaca yarn even took first place at the Fair.) For Christmas this year, Charlie got me an outdoor propane burner with a 30 qt. and a 60 qt. pot. This may seem odd to some people, but these pots will allow me to dye large amounts of fiber outdoors.
We brought in more laying hens, as well as several meat chickens, and 4 turkeys. For the first time, we raised our own meat, and are quite proud that we were successful.
In addition to meat birds, we expanded the garden. Charlie hung gutters to plant strawberries, and built net covers to protect the garden from bunnies and birds. I made potato bags to grow our potatoes and they worked great! The garden didn’t produce as much as we would have hoped because of the drought. 2016 is supposed to be a bit cooler and a lot wetter. Fingers crossed that we will have a lot more to harvest next summer/fall.
We also sheared Spike and Tajo for the first time this year. We hired a professional shearer to do the work, but we were hands-on and learned a lot. For the fair, Spike’s is the fiber I dyed and spun, and Tajo’s was spun naturally.
Charlie also started his rabbit project. The thing is, rabbits don’t always breed like rabbits. We have yet to have a successful breeding. Charlie knows he’ll have to do something to “help”. I’m not asking for details, and he’s not looking forward to it. We’ll see how the rabbits play out over the next year.
And, we can’t forget my pressure canner! I was able to can vegetables, like green beans and relish, that I wouldn’t have been able to do before. I also canned chicken stock from our meat birds. Again, hopefully our garden will produce more and I’ll get to can more next summer.
We got the city girls up for a visit this summer. It was a totally different experience for them. We really weren’t sure how they would take to country life. They liked it well enough, they’re coming for 2 weeks next summer. I know Shelby is hoping she’ll be tall enough to work the spinning wheel.
The locals say the floods this year were worse than they’ve been in years. Everybody is drying out, the mountains are getting a good snowpack to get us through summer, and weather-wise life has gotten back to normal.
Of course, the BIG event of the year was the arrival of Miss Riley. She’s a happy little monkey, and Raymond and Reta Jean LOVE her. Reta Jean loves to tell her stories and make her laugh, and Riley smiles, giggles, and talks back. Raymond sings “Ri-ri-ri Ri-Riley Ann” when she needs to be calmed down. Riley always looks like she’s up to something. I’m sure she’s going to keep us all on our toes once she’s more mobile and verbal.
There were many more project and adventures, and there will be even more in 2016. Through it all, the kids and grandkids were here to keep us entertained. We may be getting spoiled by simplicity, but I go to bed every night thinking how lucky we are, and that life really is good.