I have to admit, 2012 was not the glorious year that I wanted it to be, too many things happening getting in the way of our plans and goals, and just generally one of those years where all one could really do is hang on for the roller coaster ride.
2013 is going to be different, or at least that is what I keep telling myself, and the firm belief in my head is that if I keep thinking it will be so, it will be. I have a lot of plans, not all of them are focused on my homesteading goals, in fact I have reversed directions just a bit, but not without keeping the future in my sights.
Financially we stumbled hard, so this year, building our business is going to be our first priority, while OFF is mostly about my homesteading pursuits, in my mind it is all part and parcel of the same dream, the American Dream! I spent so much time working on building gardens, raising animals and working on other projects that I did not pay much attention as to how we were going to sustain that dream. When a client pulled the rug out from under us, everything fell apart.
So this year, having a sound financial future is going to become a part of my overall family goals. I will not, have not forgotten the animals or the garden, but I am going to try to keep my goals in that area modest as we work to build a more secure future for our family.
Lesson learned, it is all important, it is easy for some to say, that business, career, and money can take a back seat, but in truth you have to have money in order to build the rest.
What We did Right This Year
That said, we did a lot right this year, we raised our own poultry, and we will do that again this year, I can’t imagine going back to buying our meat in the stores. Some claim it costs more than buying it, which really depends on how your raise your poultry, but in the end does it really matter? When you realize how expensive it is to raise your meat at home, does it not make you wonder what they do to make factory raised poultry so cheap? Does that make you question whether you want to feed that to your family?
We also had a freezer full of vegetables which will take us well into the spring, I have not bought any vegetables this winter except for those fresh for salads and sandwiches. I did not get to can much of my produce this year, because we lost our primary client and I ran out of canning jars, but we had plenty of things canned such as pickles, relish, salsa, sauces and more.
2013 Homesteading Goals
This year I want to raise more chickens, this is a lot of work, but it has a worthy goal at the end of it, and we have certainly felt good about eating our own chicken this year. I do not want to go back to store bought so we will continue to raise our own meat. We have not decided if we will do turkeys again this year or not. They are a much bigger time commitment, but on the other hand they were so much better than store bought so we will see.
I have no plans to expand the gardens, but I do have some different goals for my gardens this year, Now that I know what we will eat, I will be focusing my efforts on those crops.
This year I have decided I want to abandon square foot gardening and give my plants more space, I have found that in this humidity and heat, at least for me, the plants do better if they have more room to breathe. So I will be planting less, and going for more air circulation, especially for my tomatoes. I am going plant a section exclusively for my chickens as well, as garden produce went a long way to helping out with the feed bills last year.
This year I estimate 40% of my food bill was offset, next year I would like to bring that figure up to 60 – 75%. I hope to have more canning jars, and I need to replace my stove, since canning on it nearly destroyed it this year.
I do want to expand my berries, and make the area for my Herbs bigger or plant my herbs in with my vegetables. I want to spend more time on companion planting as a way to cut down on bugs so if I move my herbs in with the vegetables that will be the goal.
Ultimately By the end of 2013 I want to be more financially stable and more sustainable going into 2014. I would like to get a couple of milk goats, but that will depend a lot on our financial status, I would also like to raise a couple of pigs, but that requires building a place for them, which probably won’t be on the priority list until 2014 at this point.
I would love to hear your goals this year, especially if you are just starting out. I know a lot of you out there, like me are doing this for the first time in a long time, or the first time period. What have you learned this year? What will you put back into practice next year, what will you improve on and what will you start new?
Homesteading is a process, you will never simply snap your fingers and have your dream homestead, not unless you just won the lottery J. How will you sustain your small farm as you build it up, and how will you make it mesh with your other goals?
I have learned some important lessons this year, lessons about only having so much time, and how setting priorities should be not done just by the heart, but should make sense in order to attain the most stable growth over time. As much as I want my perfect little farm, it takes time, hard word and money.
Here is to a prosperous New Year in 2013 for all of us!