Well! Our neighbors have put their trees to the curb (even though it’s only the 7th day of Christmas!), the mailbox has been flooded with solicitations from local gyms, Oprah’s on TV hawking Weight Watchers, and I’m at the end of our milking chart for 2017. It must be time for New Year’s Resolutions! I said a year ago that we don’t really make resolutions, but we certainly set goals for ourselves and decide on what we want to accomplish. Let’s look back on our goals for 2017 and see how we did:
- Produce Our Own Dairy and Dairy Products: Done! Our goats are the reason I get up every day. Really, really early EVERY day.
- Make Our Own Maple Syrup: Yes! This was a mind numbingly easy task that I highly recommend for everybody to do, because homemade maple syrup IS worth the effort.
- Better Egg Laying Management: We got rid of the Cayuga ducks and switched them out for Silver Appleyards, and got 4 Rhode Island Red chickens. If you don’t want to produce on this farm you need to go somewhere else. Beside the gravy is a good place.
- Eat Healthier: I’m down over 20 pounds since the beginning of the year, and even at 4 months pregnant Rachel is too. I don’t count calories, I eat until I’m full and I feel like I have energy. No, I’m not trying to sell you Beachbody or Plexus, it really is what happens when you eat whole food and cut out processed fats, grains and sugars.
- Get the Garden Going: Not really. We got tons of squash, but the rain hindered our efforts and we spread ourselves too thin on the sheer number of seeds we wanted to try out. We’ll do things differently next year.
- Get Some Sheep: NOPE. That one deserves an all caps. Because the response Rachel gives me whenever I bring sheep up is usually in all caps.
Four and a half out of six… overall, I’m reasonably satisfied. Especially when you consider that sheep was a stretch goal and the weather was just not on our side for the garden, we didn’t do too badly.
We have several goals for next year, though you’ll notice that most of them focus on mastery – that is, we want to get better at what we’re already doing. That said, we do have a few new initiatives which we hope will be showing up as new topics on the blog soon!
So, in no particular order of importance, here are our 2018 goals:
This one is a new project, but out of all the homesteading projects we’d like to get into this requires a relatively small amount of time and money. There is a moderate initial expense, but the cost of upkeep and the time investment is negligible. Even though we’ll start this in the spring it’s likely that we won’t see any honey this year; we’ll probably have to wait until summer of 2019 before we get a honey harvest. All the more reason to begin now!
2. Improve our Homemade Cheeses
We’ve got Frommagio Fresca down pat – it’s a plain basket cheese that no one really enjoys. It’s pretty bland on its own, although it’s great in pepperoni pie at Easter (have I mentioned how much I love having an Italian wife and mother-in-law? No? Well, I do.) Also, I think we’ve got the handle on mozzarella cheese. I’ve made 3 batches of it in a row while my still morning-sick wife is out of the house and it’s turned out fine each time. Every other cheese I’ve tried gets contaminated and ferments. That’s a shame, because I really like cheese and probably spend too much money on it. So, 2018 will be the Year of Cheese for us!
3. Get the Garden Going. For Real.
This year we’re going to cut down on the variety of plants that we want to grow and focus on doing just a few things well. Our sanity will thank us for it.
4. Get an Online Shop Going
This is also a mostly new venture! Rachel has had an Etsy shop for years, but she’s only stocked it with handmade Advent wreaths around November and December. For 2018 we want to get a shop up with products from our homestead. Spun Angora wool, hand knit mittens and hats, Advent wreaths, goat milk soaps and the like all have relatively small markets. However, the internet broadens that market beyond the local level and will hopefully make it worth our while. We by no means hope to get rich off of it; at this point even if it just helps to cover the feed bill we’ll consider that a win.
5. Figure Out How to Bake With Ancient Grains and Natural Sugars
We haven’t posted about it much, but we’ve dabbled in baking with alternatives to processed wheat flour and sugar here and there for awhile now. Frankly at this point it isn’t just about health – it’s also about flavor. Pizza crust made from spelt? Delicious. Pecan pie made with maple syrup? Delicious. Breads made from mixed grains? Delicious. There is SO MUCH FLAVOR in the world! I’m at the point in our food journey where white flour and sugar is downright bland and disappointing, so bring on the oats and rye!
6. Prepare to Raise Our Own Beef and Pork
Notice I placed ‘Prepare to’ at the beginning of that goal. I do not anticipate having pigs or a beef calf on our property this year unless something very unexpected happens. However, we DO want our own grass-fed beef and pastured pork for reasons that I will post about on a later date. Much like the beekeeping, unless we start prepping things this year we will not realize any profit from it for a very long time. Plus, if we prepare now we will be able to work on things at our convenience rather than rushing to completion because we have a calf or a pair of piglets that need to be brought home before the end of the week.
So there you have it. Some new, some repackaged old. I hope that this year brings much garden produce, some good parmesan and cheddar, and very few beestings.