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It is that time of year again! I am working on homestead planning. Both for the short and long term. Every year it is a good idea to revisit the plan. I want to make sure that nothing major has changed in my over all plan and figure out what steps I will take this year to move closer to my goal. I made a lot of big improvements last year. We had the garden expansion, which more than doubled my garden space. I planted ten new fruit trees in the orchard, and I cleared and prepped for the new herb garden.
This year my big projects are planting the herb garden, adding a chicken coop and building some raised beds.
I am so glad I did so much prep work last year to get the herb garden ready. Now I have a great plan of what I want to include to get the space started. When spring arrives, I will be ready to start planting some perennial herbs and a few fruiting shrubs and trees.
When planning a new space, it takes me a while to really get a clear vision of how I want the space to look. I usually start out with a broad idea, like this is going to be an herb garden.
Everyone’s brain works differently but I have a picture in my head of generally how I want it to look. Sometimes turning that picture into reality takes me a while. The first place I start when planning is standing in the space. I love taking the time to walk my yard and garden areas. Then I move that vision onto paper. I am no artist! My sketches are very simple but getting the ideas out of my head helps me keep track of my ideas.
I have done a bunch of research and worked out what plants I want to start with in my herb garden. I will be including culinary and medicinal herbs as well as some great pollinators. The first things that will go in are going to be my elderberry tree and some currant bushes that I ordered. I am also going to plant horseradish and chamomile. I am not adding everything this year and my trees are going to be very small when they arrive. This means I need to think carefully about spacing so everything has room to grow.
Many of my plants will be in containers. Mints spread so rather than spend all of my time later pulling mint out of other areas, I will try to keep it contained form the get go. My plan is to use large containers and raised beds as much as possible to protect my plants through the winter.
This year we are building a chicken coop and getting our flock established here. We had chickens at our last house, so I have some ideas about how I want to set up their space. There are some things I really liked about how we had the last coop set up and some things I didn’t care for. The main thing is this coop will be bigger and better because we plan to have more birds here. I will have enough for eggs, and we will also be raising meat birds at some point. I am not sure yet if we will be ready to take on the meat birds this year or not, but the laying hens are coming this year for sure.
If you read my post last year about my goals, I talked about “the wild.” We have decided that we are going to push back the wild a bit. I want to make sure the ladies are protected from predators but are also protected from the elements. There is a nice flat spot on the edge of the wild that will provide them some protection from the wind and will give them shade in the summer.
I am still looking into what breeds I will get. They all need to be cold hardy, good layers and nice birds. I really liked our buff Orpingtons last time as well as the Australorps so I will likely add those to our flock here. It is fun to have a mixed flock.
Last year, I battled the gophers! They ate whole onions! I dig my onions and potatoes early just so I could get them away from the little beasties. The dirt in the garden expansion area needs a lot of help so I have been planning to bring in a bunch of garden soil again this year. Rather than fight the gophers and add soil everywhere, I am planning to build some screened garden beds. This project will likely happen in phases. I want to get maybe three or four done this year, but I may also end up piling dirt in some places and planting in mounds. The mounds worked well last year for my corn and squash.
The dirt in the area is very hard and filled with rocks so it needs to either be built up with manure and compost to add organic matter or just have boxes built on top. Last year I was running out of time and needed to get the corn in the ground, so I just built mounds and planted in those. This year that one area has improved but will still need more help.
These are the projects we had not planned to do this year. I have some big maintenance projects to deal with as well. The other night the dogs started barking like crazy. The next morning, we discovered why when we went to figure out what happened to the fence. There must have been a whole herd of elk in the yard and when the dogs barked, they must have tried to climb the 8 ft fence because they took down a whole section. They bent about 6 metal posts and completely flattened the fence. So, we get to put up a new fence. I may change the set up a little bit and I think that this might be a good opportunity to run a new water line back to the garden and put in a hose bib. The current water set up is a string of hoses and it is not ideal.
What is your plan?
I have an idea for how I want my homestead to look and function in the future. I know I can’t do it all at once. The best way to move toward my goal is to sit down at least once a year and make my plan. I have my overall big picture plan and then I have my annual plan. This allows me to break up the work into achievable pieces by implementing improvements each year. It also allows me to see what is working from last year and what needs to be adjusted by reevaluating each year. Every step forward is one step closer to where I want to go, even if they are small steps. I am trying to really get my homestead set up so I am taking on several fairly significant projects each year right now, but this is just my pace.
If you are not where you want to be with your homestead or garden set up, set a goal, and choose the first step to tackle this year. It could be as simple as setting up some pots and growing your own tomatoes this year. Maybe you don’t have much space, but you can take a little corner of your counter to grow some sprouts. You don’t need to grow all your own vegetables or have a huge garden but one little step each year will make you a little more self-sufficient and who knows where that might lead you.
So- What step are you going to take this year toward a healthier more sustainable lifestyle?