Goals are important. Sitting down, contemplating all that you want to accomplish, and then writing it all down is important, too. I think that when we write something down, it helps stick. It solidifies it. It takes it from a thought floating around in our heads, to something tangible, ink on paper.
So today, I wanted to sit down and put my 2016 homestead goals out for everyone to see. I think that sharing ideas and aspirations is so important. It creates accountability. It also inspires. I love reading about everyone’s goals, both homesteading related and not. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read someones goals and thought “I love that!”.
So, without further adieu, I present this years “to-do list”!
2016 Homestead Goals
Expand the Garden
The main garden is currently about 350-400 sq ft. Ideally, I’d like to expand it to about 600 sq ft, minimum. I’m also going to try some different growing methods to capitalize on space. I’m really going to focus on growing vertically as much as possible this year, as I can add a significant amount of growing space in doing so. Besides expanding the main garden, I’ll also be creating a patio container garden, as well. I haven’t really grown much in containers other than some herbs and lettuce, so I’m excited to start trying more diverse plants. Blueberries are at the top of that list, as their soil requirements make them ideal to grow in a container.
Add More Raised Beds
I’ve used two raised beds the last two years, and have decided this year to commit to more. The two I have are pretty small, and I think I’d like to add about six more boxes, each one 6′ by 4′. I wasn’t too sure how I felt about raised beds until I tried my first two, but I fell in love with the idea. It’s a bit easier on the back, as your plants won’t be directly on the ground. The soil here isn’t great, and while I’ve been amending the soil since we moved here, I like the idea of utilizing raised beds with soil that is ready to go. I know that amending the soil here is more frugal, but it also takes a decent amount of time. So while I’m happy to expand the garden and amend the soil there, I’m also happy to spend some money on soil and compost to shorten the wait time. I also like raised beds because the drainage is usually good. I haven’t solidified my plans yet, in terms of what to plant where and with whom, but I will post them once I’ve gotten them drawn up!
Incorporate Honey Bees
This year, the plan is to add one hive of honey bees to the homestead. Possibly two, but I’m thinking one to start. I don’t have the logistics down yet. I’m still trying to decide where the hive should be placed. I’d also love to take a class about bee-keeping, as I’m a visual learner, and while there is so much great information online, I find it more helpful to interact with people who are experienced in bee-keeping.
Add More Laying Hens
I have to say, I really didn’t expect to love my girls’ as much as I do. I know, I know. They’re a source of eggs for the farm, and could eventually be a source of food, themselves. But I’ll be honest, I don’t plan on ever having them butchered. Seriously. These girls are my first chickens, ever, and they’re special. They’re loving, intelligent. I’m always a bit surprised by how much I enjoy having them. Going forward, I would like to add 3-4 more hens to the mix. I’m going to attempt to not get so attached, but I have a feeling that won’t happen. I’m thinking of adding Buff Orpingtons, and some Black Australorps. I’ve found a breeder on the other side of the state who I’ve been eyeballing for chicks. I like that I can drive to the farm to pick them up, and that I don’t have to have them shipped from somewhere. The whole thing just seems so much easier for me, and a lot less stressful for the them.
Build Cold Frames
This is a project that will be done within the next two weeks, as I’d like to get a jump on the growing season, in both Spring and Fall. I’ve never utilized cold frames, nor really felt the need to, but the more I commit to growing as much of my own food as possible, the more I want to try to enhance those odds! Cold frames are a great way to do so. I love this idea, or this one, as well. But I believe the straw bale might be a better option, as it will insulate more effectively than just plywood on the sides. Once I get them built, I will surely post them!
Invest in a Pressure Canner
This will be a pricey update to the kitchen, but one I feel will pay for itself fairly quickly. My biggest problem that I have now is, besides freezing, I haven’t any other way to preserve the harvest. This is a problem, people! Why grow all this delicious food, only to waste half of it by being unable to preserve it? Nonsense! While freezing is nice, it is also impractical. I have a limited amount of freezer space, and the freezer is reliant on electricity. It’s not that uncommon to lose power around here, sometimes for a few days, and all that food would go to waste. It’s a priority to switch to a method that is more reliable, and doesn’t require electricity. I’m saving up to splurge on this one.
Invest in a Dehydrator
For pretty much the same reasons, I also want to purchase a dehydrator. My father has used one for years to put up an incredible amount of fresh herbs he grows, and it makes me green with envy! So this year, a dehydrator will be added to the homestead kitchen. My dream one is this, and it’s also over $100 dollars off if you have prime (which I’ve had for two years now, and I have to say, I love it! Paid for itself fairly quickly, considering I source A LOT of things from amazon). But I may start with this one, as it’s much more affordable and has solid reviews. We shall see!
Add a Source of Meat
I am thinking about adding in a source of meat to the ‘ol ‘stead. I’m leaning towards meat chickens, but I’m still weighing all the options. I would have to take them to be butchered by a family friend, as town regulations prohibit it here. I know rabbits tend to be a popular choice, as they provide meat and fertilizer, grow quickly, reproduce quickly, and are generally easy to maintain. But I’ve never eaten rabbit, and I’m not sure I want to raise rabbits for meat. Quail are an option, as well, and I’ll definitely do some more research on that route.
So, that’s about it! For now. I have a million and one ideas buzzing through my head, at all times, but those are the major things I want to accomplish this year. So, how about you? What are some of your homestead goals? I’d love to hear below!
*Note: None of the links listed are affiliate links. I don’t participate in affiliate links as of now, but if that changes, I will most definitely inform you all! But I will only ever promote a product I love, or want badly. Just sayin’.