I have four major areas of my life that I’ve been thinking about this new year. 2011 was a phenomenal year for self sufficiency – for expanding our garden, adding fruit trees & bushes and jump starting our chicken adventure. But what is still left out there to master in 2012… what isn’t there still left to master? I’ve broken this section into categories that I fully intend to revisit in the coming days (including the seed order I placed this morning and its corresponding garden plans!).
Our garden is always something that I want to work to improve. When I lived in town, my garden was 20′ x 20′, and I primarily grew tomatoes, eggplant, corn (unsuccessfully) and salad greens. When I moved out into the country, Jason and I managed a 50′ x 25′ garden, which we expanded to include a roughly 50′ x 15′ second garden in 2011. The second garden did alright in its first year, but at the end of the growing we coated each garden in a thick layer of local goat manure (from a friend’s farm), hoping to further enrich the soil. In the spring, we’ll add a bit more of our composted chicken manure before planting peas, beans and cabbage.
In terms of expansion of our gardening, this is going to be the year that I plant our asparagus bed (something that I plan and put off every year). I’m also hoping to select a tree for our wedding ceremony and plant that on the property, as well (hopefully a nut of some kind that will thrive in our northern climate). But my primary goal for this year is to maintain what we’ve already done successfully: grow our own food which we can preserve for winter consumption, thus providing healthy meals from a source we can trust.
In 2011, we raised Buff Orpingtons for both meat and eggs. Currently, we have two roosters and eight hens out in the winter coop, and this spring, we hope to expand our numbers by twenty birds (which will eventually find their way to the freezer, as well). In terms of livestock, the next few months will be spent reading up on animal husbandry, as we prepare to have one or two of our hens go broody and hatch out clutches of chicks. I was initially very worried about this, but since one of our girls (Little Broody) has already gone broody once (a habit which I think I have gently broken her of as of this morning), I’m finding myself significantly less concerned.
We will likely have to build one more enclosure for the chickens, but I’m still doing some research and trying to figure out what will best suit our changing needs.
Finally, my research into dairy goats continues, even though I know we are at least three or four years out on including anything with four legs (besides Abby and the cats) in our herd.
I haven’t spent a lot of time here discussing wedding planning yet, but I’m hoping to add some frugal tips, tricks and hints over the next few months. You can check out my Pinterest site (on the blog roll) if you are interested in the direction we’re going. The date is in July and we’re going for an elegant country backyard feel, speckled with antiques from both of our families in this great little piece of Maine that we call home. If you, yourself, are planning a wedding and still need white twinkle lights – I would suggest hitting up post-holiday sales. We got all of ours for less than half price (particularly when you consider the price that wedding vendors charge!).
In terms of health, I have only one real focus this year: mindfulness. What I mean by this is cooking with local and homegrown foods as often as I can and ensuring that I take the time I need to keep myself healthy, which includes the time to make the foods that are so much more easily found in processed (and less healthy) forms. This also means getting up early enough that I can get in the full hour of aerobics I need in the morning before work and ensuring that I’m also taking time to relax and enjoy everything I have.
What are your goals for 2012?