I don't know about you, but there's no point in me making any New Year's resolutions. I don't keep them. Heck, sometimes I don't even start them. So here goes a list of things I'd like to work on in 2011:
- Keeping better records for the urban homestead. In November last year, I started a little notebook where I write in how many eggs we get every day and how much produce we harvest. It seems to be easier for me to jot a figure down in a notebook as I'm walking in the house with the eggs or veggies than it is for me to post them on the blog on a daily basis. I'll try to post some monthly totals, though. There are plenty of other records I should keep and track, like our receipts at the grocery store to watch them get smaller, and the receipts for chicken feed so we know how much we're making on the chickens selling eggs compared to how much we're spending (I'm hoping just to break even), and if I actually pull that off it will be a miracle.
- Expanding the garden. I'd like to add some more raised beds to the front yard as we've got plenty of room on the sides of the house, as well as an island close to the street where some fruit trees could be planted. I'm thinking the island would be a good place for the peach tree, which is not doing well in a pot.
- Staying on the expanding the garden theme, I'd like to work on my seed starting skills, which are almost nonexistent at this point. It's simply laziness that keeps me from doing it. I've been working on the theory of "See seedlings, buy seedlings." It's time to get this urban homestead working on a smaller budget, and making the most out of the money we do spend. Seed starting also makes for healthier, more productive plants. Seed saving is going to have wait for another year, but that needs to be learned, too.
- Learning to can so that more food is put away and less is spent at the grocery store. I did a decent amount of freezing for the 2009-2010 season, but for the 2010-2011 season, I really want to expand on methods for preserving our harvests. I was lucky enough to receive an Amazon gift certificate from my dad for the holidays this year, so I used it to purchase a Presto 1781 23-Quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker/Canner that is supposed to work on my glass-top stove and the book, "Putting Food By: Fifth Edition," that a good friend who has been canning for years suggested. Now just to hope that our recent cold snaps haven't reduced the harvests so much that there won't be enough to can.
- Working on more DIY projects to save money on the urban homestead and promote self-sufficiency. I want to make the raised beds for the sides of the house. I'm trying to do it smartly. I purchased the wood I need to make 1 bed and 1 bed only. I didn't go hog wild like I usually do when I decide I'm going to start a project and then find later that I didn't finish. I found the necessary small table saw on Craigslist at a really good price still in the box with all the paperwork and parts. Now I just need to locate a small drill press. I may have to buy that new as I've been keeping my eye out for one on Craigslist for a while and haven't been able to find it, but I may resort to borrowing one for the first bed as I want to be sure I can do this on my own before I purchase any more equipment. The table saw has already come in handy on a couple of occasions, so I feel like I'm getting my money's worth out of that. The thought just came to mind that I should try Freecycle before I proceed to buying a new one. The list of DIY projects gets longer and longer, but the other 2 that come to mind for 2011 are the rain barrel system that I posted on the DIY Projects page of this blog a while ago, and a chicken poop hammock. Yes, a chicken poop hammock. I actually found this one in a chicken forum and it's supposed to help with keeping the coop clean. We've already purchased all the makings for this (very inexpensive - a tarp, some clips, and some screwable hooks). I'm going to try to talk the hubby into doing this with me today after letting him sleep in and giving the coop a good scrub down. And of course I'll take pictures as we go so I can show you how to make one. Might as well start the New Year off with a bang, right?
- Raising chickens for meat. I'm not sure this one will happen in 2011. It might be put off till 2012. But I have started the research on this project. I'm not worried about raising the birds. I know I can do that and we've certainly got the space for it in the chicken yard. I've found a place to purchase the heritage meat chicks that I want. It's the processing of the birds that's holding me back. I don't think I'm ready for that, but I think I could be if I watch someone do it a few times and they let me participate. I need to find a local processor for the first few batches. This idea has been nudged to the forefront a bit because in selling eggs, I've actually had a couple requests from people wanting to buy homegrown chickens to eat.
- My Edible Yard General Store is now online and open for business. We'd like to add more products in the coming year, but we're also trying to be quite selective in the products we sell as we only want to sell things we use ourselves. Please be sure to visit the store as we're adding products on a regular basis. If you see a product you think a fellow gardener or urban homesteader might like, please pass it on and share the page with them. I also want to try my hand at selling at a farmers market. At this point, the garden isn't producing enough to sell anything on a regular basis, so I'll try starting slowly with a few pop-up markets that I'll announce here on the blog and on our Facebook Page. If you haven't visited the page yet, please do. More and more people are joining and it's a great place to get answers to questions and share ideas, information, and community. If you'd like to be a part of the pop-up markets, shoot me a quick email and I'll make sure you're included.
- Continuing to blog about our journey here at the My Edible Yard Urban Homestead. I did pretty well last year, but there is always room for improvement.
My wish for you for the New Year is that you derive the same sense of satisfaction from your journey, if only through reading my blog posts, that I do from ours.
Wishing a happy, healthy, and productive year to your family from ours.