Happy 2014!

Last year, I made some homestead resolutions.

The resolutions were…

-move from our suburban home to acreage in the country
-Make cheese
-Make kefir
-Make soap
-Make candles
-Dehydrate beef jerky
-Can all of our fruits and veggies for the year with in season produce either grown in our garden or bought locally in bulk
-Landscape with edible plants.
-Process rabbits.
-Plant fruit and nut trees
-Buy meat in bulk from a local farmer
-Cancel cable

I managed to get most of them done. I still haven’t made cheese and there was no way I could have canned all of our fruits and veggies for the year. Other than those two items though – I finished everything else on my list. 2013 was a big year.

-We sold our house and moved from our .17 acre suburban lot to 71 acres in the country
-Made water kefir
-Made homemade lye soap
-found an easy and cheap laundry soap recipe (post about that coming soon – it only costs $0.15 per gallon.)
-Made candles
-we landscaped our old house with Kale, Swiss chard, and roses before we moved.
-Dehydrated beef jerky and multiple other items with my dehydrator
-Planted 14 fruit trees in our orchard and bought a 15th tree that lives inside when the weather is cold.
-Cancelled cable (we haven’t had cable since August – no one misses it!)
-Started learning how to sew on a sewing machine
-set up water, electric, septic, and a house on our property
-met and became friends with some of our neighbors
-got chickens and built a chicken coop (The girls laid 14 eggs for us today!)
-butchered a goat and stocked the freezer with fresh meat
-canned meat with my pressure canner
-set up our water catchment system
-built a driveway so our vehicles don’t get stuck in the mud when it rains
-acquired our barn cats
-butchered and skinned rabbits
-quadrupled the size of our worm barn
-stopped using shampoo (I’ve actually been “No Poo” since October of 2012.)

For 2014, we have some big plans. I’d like to…

– Keep up with my garden. It’s 5 times bigger than the last one, and I’m worried it might be a lot to handle.
– Order our bees and beekeeper supplies
– Plant more fruit and nut trees
– Plant a perennial garden with berries and grapes
– Plant an herb garden
– landscape with edibles
– Finally make cheese
– Make all of our soap and laundry detergent for the year (I’ll still buy dish soap and dishwasher detergent.)
– Can more fruits, veggies, and meats
– Dehydrate more fruits, veggies, and meats
– Get to the point where I only grocery shop once a month. Right now, I go weekly. I’m going to try to stretch that to every two weeks to start.)
– File the right paperwork to officially make us a farm
– Sell some extra produce and eggs
– Keep good records
– Buy a tractor
– build a shop
– build a storm shelter
– build a front porch
– get a dairy animal
– raise meat chickens
– hay our own property 2 times during the summer if the weather cooperates

That’s a pretty big list. I’m not sure we will be able to buy a tractor, a shop, a storm shelter, and a front porch – – but I’m going to leave all of them on there. The tractor needs to come first, since the tractor will allow us to bale our own hay, which will make us some money over the summer and might pay for some of the other items. We’ll see.

There is a lot to do, and there is a lot to learn. I’m having so much fun though. I cannot wait to see what 2014 brings. Do you have any homesteading goals for 2014?

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful and beautiful Christmas.

I’ve been trying to think of things to write about, but not much is going on around here. Here’s a December recap…

-We brought our 27 chickens home on November 27th. We got our first egg on December 12th. We are now getting about 3-5 eggs every day and that number is slowly rising. I imagine that in the Spring, we will have 12 – 20 eggs every day. I’m really looking forward to it. Farm fresh eggs are so much better than store bought.

-We had a nasty ice storm that caused us to lose power for 4 days. This was a great opportunity to spend time together as a family, but it was also really hard and made me realize how important it is to be prepared for different situations that could arise in this area.

-We have 15 fruit trees planted. They all survived the ice storm, but 2 of them are leaning at a 45 degree angle and need to be supported. We’re planning on doing that this weekend. I also need to repot my lime tree.

-We have had no babies yet from our rabbits this season. I think our buck might not be doing his job correctly. I’m not sure what is going on. I’m going to give our older doe a week to see if she kindles after her Thanksgiving week breeding, then we are going to reassess the rabbits. We’ve put a lot of time and money into feeding them over the last 6 months and I really hope that it wasn’t in vain.

-I made lye soap for the first time. It took 2.5 hours to stir it. I think I will invest in a immersion blender. The soap is currently curing and we should be able to start using in it early January. I hope it was worth it.

-I found a fantastic, easy laundry soap recipe. It’s ten times easier than the one I had been using, and quite a bit cheaper as well. It costs me less than $1.50 to make 10 gallons. That’s less than $0.15 per gallon. Crazy. I’ll write up a post on it after I give it a good trial period. I can tell it gets clothes clean, but I want to make sure it doesn’t dull colors or anything like that.

I hope everyone is having a lovely December, and I hope that you all have a very blessed Christmas!

We got the power….

Due to a recent ice storm, we were without power for four days. We feel very blessed that we had running water, a propane heater, a propane camping stove, wood for the fireplace, and plenty of blankets and food. It wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, it was just very cold. The house temperature stayed between 38-50 degrees for the first day, then we dusted off the propane heater and we kept the house at about 55 degrees. With 2-3 layers of clothing, a few pairs of socks, and a hat, it was downright toasty in here.

I did lose a lot of food from our fridge and freezers, but it could have been worse. I feel very blessed to live in an area where the neighbors check on each other and look out for each other. We had a neighbor ask us if we wanted to bunk with them since their power had been restored before ours. We also found out another neighbor had no way to heat up water, so we brought them hot water and food at regular intervals so they could enjoy their instant coffee and warm up with hot cocoa or ramen.

Have I mentioned that I love living here?

There’s been rumors that another ice storm is expected in a week and a half. I hope it never materializes, but I’ve already replenished our firewood, propane, food, and water stash – just in case.