One of the great things about TPF, for me, is that I am held accountable for things I say and do. Rightly so! It's a great motivator. More stuff gets done than might otherwise, simply because I've mentioned it on a blog or Facebook. Which is why I announced our plans and dreams for 2012 projects, on the blog a year ago. I actually wrote it down and made the list public so that everyone could watch and wait and judge.
In case you aren't feeling up to searching for that original list, I have reposted it here, in it's entirety, along with my comments to update you on our progress.
So, without further fanfare, here is my 2012 Dreamer's list! I've rated each item Win, Lose or Draw...let's see how we did.
Here is my vision for 2012:
Streamline vehicle situation--the kids are grown and have their own vehicles, so we no longer have to keep the “car lot” open. Will reduce the herd by half.
UPDATE: Farmer Tom sold four vehicles and had two others towed away. He also purchased a little commuter car. So we are down 5 vehicles! Yay!
Raise meat pigs-which also means fencing for pigs. Just another step toward producing our own food and eating well.
UPDATE: We purchased two piglets in Spring and raised them through to optimum size for butchering. We sold three "sides" and kept 100 lbs of meat for ourselves. Still working on the fencing, I don't think we'll ever be done with fencing.
Acquire ducks-I’m looking for a few good ducks to combat the bug situation in the garden.
UPDATE: We acquired four ducks and hatched another. The ducks spent the summer in the garden where they did a fantastic job on bug duty. I found not a single tomato hornworm this year! The ducks are fun and I enjoy them very much! :)
Hatch 3 broods of chicks-build our flock for egg and meat production.
UPDATE: We ended up with some egg production issues, so I hatched out smaller batches over a longer period to accomplish this goal. We hatched 50 chicks in 13 hatches and ended up with a freezer full of meat in addition to increasing our hen count by 3. The additional chicks were sold.
Complete big coop-‘nuff said on this one. We need to get this bugger done!
UPDATE: No changes were made to our big coop, but Farmer Tom built three mini-coops which allowed us to keep our chicks safely segregated from the older chickens while they were growing. It was nice to have different housing options available for the growth phases we experienced non-stop during the 6 months I was incubating eggs.
Install irrigation to garden-we purchased the equipment last year and didn’t get it installed. It would be a great time saver during dry periods.
UPDATE: This project is trickier than we anticipated at first. A lot of digging is required to get below our frost line and there are some issues with water source. Farmer Tom purchased a backhoe attachment for our tractor that will allow the digging to be done very efficiently with little damage to our landscape and Farmer Tom's back. Retrofitting the tractor to accept the backhoe attachment was quite a process, but he was successful! Now we'll need to reconfigure some issues with the well, build a pump house and some other mechanical fuss, but we have a plan and digging will commence this next season!
Grow feed corn- this requires another patch of land be tilled, planted and maintained. I’m not sure it would succeed with all of the deer we have, but it might work and we have the space, so I’d like to try it.
UPDATE: This did not happen. Hopefully, this year.
Install wood stove-we already have the stove, just need to put a big hole in the wall, put some pipe in, and get this baby running!
UPDATE: This did not happen either. It's back on the list.
Chop firewood-see above.
UPDATE: With no fireplace, we didn't need more firewood.
Remodel kitchen- this is a biggie. In fact, I’m not sure I’m ready for this as I know it’ll be a LOT of work. We have a tiny kitchen space put together at least 30 years ago with homemade cabinets and not very many of them, at that. All of the cooking and canning I’m doing is with a third hand APARTMENT sized stove (which was the only size that would fit down the hallway) with an oven door that doesn’t shut all the way. Our last year remodeling project reconfigured the hallway and we can now import regular sized appliances into our kitchen space. Two years ago we purchased a
dishwasher that is still waiting to be installed. And recently our overhead light mysteriously went out and I am now operating with a shop light clamped onto the cabinet door. Our kitchen is looking a bit rustic. Might take this one in baby steps, we’ll see.
UPDATE: While we have made baby steps on our kitchen renovation, we have not taken the big plunge yet. We did replace the stove and the overhead light was repaired. We are in the process of acquiring the components necessary to make the transformation and have laid out a plan for the scope of construction. Once we have obtained the material, we will get this one green-lighted!
Sell eggs-with the hens hitting full stride and new
chicks on the way, we’ll have way more than we need. Might as well supplement the feed costs.
UPDATE: We lost our most prolific hen to heat stress this summer. The other hens weren't producing extra eggs to sell, but we did manage to trade eggs for some items. Also, since we sold chicks in the Spring, we did have a small income that we used to offset feed costs. I expect a similar situation this year.
In addition to these projects, we had both rental properties vacant at different points and therefore there was a push to get them ready and new tenants in place. I found time to pick up crochet and made a scarf. I developed a whole new way of eating and lost 30 lbs. We completely rebuilt a golf cart. I also became the Village Clerk in our little town and have learned a ton about what it takes to run a small government! Oh yeah, and then there was Bob. Whew!
Everything wasn't all roses and butterflies however, and 2012 was a tough year for us in many respects. We had a lot of setbacks, heartbreaks and losses. On the farm and off. We feel a bit battered and torn as a result. Sometimes, keeping busy with a project helps to keep our minds from sinking into despair. It is easier to pull weeds and clean coops than to figure out why our precious baby goose survived being abandoned on the nest only to die by predator a month later. I'd much rather spend a day in court trying to get back rent from a tenant than to have known what it would be like to say goodbye to our Sammy. Along with the vandalism we experienced, livestock trauma, the brutally hot summer, drought, The Economy, hurricanes and shootings, it's enough to make you want to give up. The only thing missing was plague and locusts! But then we look at the list and trudge on.
Overall, I'm very pleased with our progress last year. We challenged ourselves and learned new things along the way. We met some great people with the chicken and pig projects and have settled into a comfortable path for our future projects.
Even though I called the original list "Dreamer", it pays to think big. We push ourselves more when there is a goal in sight. We like to check things off of the list. We enjoy seeing the fruits of our labor and we especially love seeing the process (having a vision, developing a plan, executing the plan) come full circle. We are looking forward to 2013 and hope that this year is a little kinder than the last. Even if it means we aren't as productive, we could use a little good news. I think we all could.
Thank you for participating in our endeavors these past two years. We appreciate your support more than you know. We'd love to know what you are working on. Share your project ideas with us here or at www.facebook.com/thepocketfarmer. Hope to see you there! :)