I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. It’s not that I have anything against them, it’s just not my style. I don’t do well weaning myself into change or waiting for January 1st to Do something different. I have to do things cold turkey or not at all. That said, there are several things that I’ve been ruminating* on that have beget some goals that we’d like to see accomplished in 2017. So, in no particular order, here is our end of the year rumination and the goals that have come with it. Hopefully, you’ll be seeing the following things shortly:
1. Produce Our Own Dairy and Dairy Products
Not much we can do to stop this from happening. The (goat) babies are coming, and with it goat mothers will be lactating. Soon, you’ll be hearing about the tears shed over spilt milk pails, chapped goat teats and ornery does that decide that the milking stand is the place to compete for a spot on the next US Olympic Gymnastics Team. Hey, just trying to keep it realistic. Hopefully some of what you read will be about homemade butter and fresh, raw milk too.
2. Make Homemade Maple Syrup
We have Sugar Maples coming out the wazoo here (does anyone know what a wazoo actually is? Or am I better off not knowing?), and syrup is the objective. Since we don’t eat many pancakes or waffles our intention is to use it as an alternative to sugar in baking. Ever have a pecan pie made with real maple syrup or honey in lieu of corn syrup? If you have, then you know why you can never go back. ‘Course, it makes for a $60 pie, but whatever. It’s better for you and the flavor is unrivaled. Plus, with maple syrup that we’ll get from our own trees it will cut the cost down significantly.
3. Figure Out Better Egg Laying Management
These ducks are about ready to meet some sage and onions. If we didn’t want eggs we wouldn’t have any barnyard fowl. I am NOT enjoying them. The goats and rabbits are quiet, calm and affectionate while their feathered brethren are excitable, noisy and hate us. Worse, while goats and rabbits have dry, odorless manure, the ducks leave behind big smelly nuggets. I don’t know how a 10 pound duck leaves behind a bigger mess than a 100+ pound goat, but it does. So, the objective is to try alternative methods of poultry management that is both fair for them and fair for us. Fortunately I have Rachel, who has been much more level headed than I on this matter. She’s had to talk me down from a ledge more than once. Maybe I’ll feel better when we have farm fresh eggs.
4. Eat Healthier
We avoid bad foods, but simply avoiding bad foods doesn’t make for healthy eating. I commute 50 minutes each way for work, which means that food unfortunately takes a nosedive on the priority list more often than we like. I can say I quit fast food & other convenience foods awhile ago and I haven’t looked back. Still, there are other areas in which we’ve fallen behind. I’m sure we could write dozens of blog posts on this topic, but I’ll leave it here for now because it segues nicely into our next goal, which is:
5. Get the Garden Going!
Home dairying aside, this is what I’m most looking forward to. We’ve moved so often since we got married that we have never started a garden. Now that we’re putting down some roots it’s time to get it going! I’ve got the Baker Creek Seed Catalog waiting for us to sit down with on a snowy evening after the boys are in bed. This will help for a greater amount of our produce to be organically grown than we’ve ever been able to afford before. Plus, I really enjoy gardening. And I knit. And on the rare occasions that I do watch TV it’s usually PBS. Yes, I know. I’m 85.
6. Get Some Sheep
I’m putting this on here even though I know the likelihood of this happening in 2017 is slim. My wife is right; we do tend to dive into things very fast. We’re enjoying the goats, and it wouldn’t be fair to short change them as we adjust to a more agrarian lifestyle. However, I do have my wife’s permission to ‘keep my eyes open.’ That is, if we come across really nice sheep at an unusually low price, we can go for it. This doesn’t happen often as you get what you pay for and livestock are no exception. Animals that have been bred to produce large amounts of fine wool command top dollar and are worth it. Every once in a great while, though, something comes along like a herd dispersal due to retirement that results in lower-than-normal prices. So, I’m hopeful but not betting on it happening. This one is highly dependent on everything aligning perfectly.
I have several other things that I’d like to have happen in 2017 including: beekeeping, raising and processing meat chickens & turkeys, learn to fish, get a dog, show our rabbits competitively, make the majority of our grain products and knit Rachel a sweater for next Christmas that she’d actually be willing to wear. There are even more things that I’ve thought of here and there, but obviously they aren’t as important because I’m not recalling everything at the moment. If we get anything of these ‘others’ done, we’ll consider it a bonus. As long as we can get the first five of our goals completed, I’ll be happy. Goal 6, I’ll be ecstatic.
A very Happy New Year to you all!
*For those unaware, this is a pun. Ruminate means to think on or ponder, but it’s also the process goats have of bringing up and chewing on their cud. I think for the sake of this blog the term ‘ruminate’ and all it’s derivatives will have to become a staple on here.