It’s the beginning of a new year and that often means thinking about goal setting and planning. Do you do this? We do spend some time over the holidays thinking about the upcoming year and all the possibilities that exist.
Goal setting is something we should be doing all the time during the previous year, but it’s hard. We are often way too busy just trying to get the gardens harvested or trying to get animals finished and butchered. Yet the very best time to be planning for the coming year is exactly at these times because we can come up with new ideas to be more efficient while we are carrying out these chores.
It’s when I am harvesting the garden, digging out the bumper crop of potatoes that I tend to get some really bright ideas (well, they are to me!). I think about the need to amend the soil 0r to get another bale of straw for mulching. When I’m digging carrots, I realize that the following year, I really need to keep the weeds out of the carrot bed. But, it takes so darn long for the carrots to germinate and start to grow. During this time, I have weeds sprouting all over the bed and can’t do a thing about it, because I am waiting for the carrots to sprout. I need to know what is a weed and what is a carrot and before I know it, I have scrawny carrot tops trying to sprout through a layer of chick weed!
This past year has been a difficult one. Not in the garden, but in my own personal growth. It’s been a year of loss – the loss of a brother, the loss of an aunt, the loss of my faithful companion – our Wolf Malamute cross dog named Sir. I have missed my buddy so many times. I thought of him when I was working alone in the garden or alone down at the barn. In the years previous, he was always with me when I worked outside. He might not have been right beside me, but he was always there, running fences, keeping out predators and doing such a great job I think I took him for granted.
Now, it’s a new year, full of plans and goals. My niece, Jaime has come to stay with us and she loves to garden! She enjoys flowers and vegetables – oh how that makes me smile! I wonder where she gets that from?
Through lots of winter morning talks and discussions over coffee, we started talking about the possibility of doing the Farmer’s Market in 100 Mile House. We decided we could and we would do it! This is quite exciting for both of us. The poring over seed catalogues started and the lists of orders started to grow.
We met with Valley friends who had been doing the farmer’s market for the last few years. They have decided to take a break and were more than willing to share what they had learned. They are also going to let us use their tent and tables! The most important thing they are willing to let us use is their expertise – how wonderful to have people so willing to help us succeed.
That’s one goal thought of, discussed and decided upon. Then Jaime and I started thinking about laying hens. We had hens for many years but in the last year we gave them to other friends since we would be away so often. With us at home this year as much as possible, there is no reason we can’t have hens again. We’ll order them through the local feed store, so that we can get layers that are ready to lay, instead of chicks that we need to raise for 4 or 5 months before they begin laying eggs. Another goal discussed and planned for.
There’s a possibility that we will do meat birds again. Last year I did some, ending up with 15 to fill our freezer. Homegrown chicken is awesome and well worth the cost, so we may decide to raise another batch. It takes 8 weeks from the time we get them (as day old chicks) to the time we can butcher them for our dinner table. It’s not a long term investment and if we’re going to be home anyway to tend gardens, then why not raise some?
We’d love to raise a few pigs again, but I’m not sure that this is the year for it. Usually when we raise pigs, they have their own garden to munch on, but with the market this year, I am not convinced that we will be able to produce enough food for both the market and the pigs. So, we will see. This is a goal that needs more thought.
There’s nothing worse than setting too many goals for the year. That only leads to failure in one department or another. We are far better to plan small so we can successfully meet those goals. Who wants to screw up their plans because they put far too much on their own plates? Yet people do this all the time.
This failure to succeed is one thing, if you’re talking vegetables or fruits. It’s totally another thing and much worse, if you’re talking about animals. Getting too many animals and failing to meet their needs is a terrible thing. So take your time, set small goals for yourself and your homestead and ensure that you can carry out to succeed with those goals. When you succeed, you can add another goal to your list for the following year.
What are the goals and plans you have for 2014? Think them through to ensure your goals are attainable and then, carry them out! Here’s a link to an article I wrote a few years ago about how to go about beginning to provide for your family on your homestead. It talks about the importance of starting small and then growing from there. This article mainly uses laying hens as an example of how to get started on your own homestead. Plan for the needs of your own family before starting to sell goods to others. As long as you do that, you can reduce your own expenses. One you have that firmly in hand, take the next step and start selling your produce or your products to others.
If you’re new to living in the country, or if this is on your list of goals for 2014, take a look at my eBook “15 Things to Know About Living in the Country“. Although it’s a quick read, it is designed to get you thinking about what to look for when checking out country property. Add your own ideas to the list and start planning!