2012 Recap and 2013 Farm Goals

As a new year comes into full circle (how are we already coming into February already?!?) we have been doing lots of evaluating for the upcoming year. With new baby on the way we are trying to be realistic while also making progress forward in line with our values. Last year was really a preparation year on the farm which we knew going into it. This year we are already seeing great results from our patience. It can be a little discouraging to see how much work we still have to do so I thought it would be fun to take some time and recap some of our successes this year too.

2012 Goals We Accomplished!!

Keep meat rabbits alive. 

Turns out this was no small feat in Georgia. We lost two of our first rabbits to the neighbors dogs. Two to heat stroke.

Daily frozen two liter water bottles and plenty of shade turned out to be the trick to keeping our last rabbit alive through summer. Oh and hauling the neighbors dog to the local shelter.

Take a rabbit litter through birth, adolescent and processing.

We will have an in depth post up tomorrow on our experience! I’ll be sure to link it up for late comers here.

Hatch some Welsh Harlequin ducks (spring)

Read about hatching duck eggs here and here and here. We probably will not do that again anytime soon, it was nerve wracking and exhausting not to mention we borrowed the incubator. If we need more specialty breed ducklings we may ask some friends who have a commercial cabinet incubator to hatch them for us.

Start getting eggs from ducks (fall)

Our ducks went into molt right when they were supposed to start laying. We didn’t realize this though because I thought a duck molt would look like a chicken molt (they look terrifying and loose clumps of feathers everywhere). What it ended up being was just duck down floating all over our yard. Once this stopped they started laying for us. We currently have 3 out of the 4 laying right now.

Experiment with lasagna gardening

We found out that we LOVE lasagna gardening. We will be doing several updates soon about how to go about setting up your own lasagna (aka sheet composting) beds and what we will be changing this year.

Establish primary beds in garden

Though we are doing a bit of re-configuring this year to accommodate the watering system and adding one new bed to maximize our sun loving plants homes we got the primary beds installed this year.

Learn about bees

We took an amazing trip to see our friends Ian and Alishia up at Renew Farms in Newnan, GA and tour their first year CSA. We also got to help inspect their primary hive and their new hive that swarmed and was captured. Check it out (including videos with their bee mentor here)

Clean out old coop area, evaluate for chickens

We logged a couple weekends clearing out the back area and finally reached the old chicken coop! We discovered that there was actually a pen there as well that is in pretty good condition.

Build compost bin

We found a source for pallets locally where we can pick up 1-4 pallets at a time which is perfect as that’s all I can strap to our Subaru’s roof rack. I’m sure I get some weird looks as I drive by with them strapped to my car but whatever, they are an amazing source of free wood!

We made a very basic compost bin with 3 and a piece of scrap wood. We drove some stakes down into the ground to support the sides.

2013 Goals

It’s pretty exciting that we are only a little under a month into 2013 and we have already knocked so many things off of our goals list for this year! Here’s to a great season!

Drastically increase garden’s productivity by improving:

Soil:

Find local (preferably free) sources for mulch/woodchips and different types of manure

We have sourced local mulch through our landfill, gotten on the list for wood chip drop off from our electric company and found sources for horse and rabbit manure.

Secure several trucks for borrowing to bring in materials

Our new gardening help have a truck available that we can use.

Find a trailer to borrow to bring in materials

After trying to coordinate a truck and a trailer we realized this is a huge inconvenience, not to mention that none of our contacts had a trailer with sides. After a bit of looking we managed to add this beauty to our repertoire of tools for a great price of $275:

trailer

Add light kit and get trailer licensed

Bring in loads of manure and mulch to build up the soil

Watering:

Research and plan watering system

We have decided to use a drip tape setup. We used www.dripworks.com and Youtube to help learn how the systems work. We have not decided if we will order through them or try to find a less expensive vendor yet. 

Install an automatic watering system

Install a water catchment system and hook up to drip lines

Stronger seedlings:

Purchase/make a greenhouse to start seedlings

greenhouse

We did a lot of research and finally decided that purchasing a 10 x 10 x 8 Shelter Logic Grow-It Greenhouse was our best deal. It was very nice not to have to think too hard to get it up and installed. We installed it over the course of a work weekend, total of maybe 4 hours total. 

Purchase shelves for greenhouse

Start seedlings on time!

Fertilize as seedlings to encourage early strong growth

Consistency/Help:

Recruit 1-3 people as garden helpers/unofficial “interns” for 1-2 help sessions per week in exchange for garden produce

We are so excited that our good friends Michael and Leah will be coming on as part of our gardening team this year! As an added bonus Michael has a nice big truck which together with our new trailer should make us basically unstoppable this year!

Setup a Google calendar to keep everyone coordinated and on track

Fertilizing:

Order Mittleider’s Micro-Nutrients mix

Find a source for rabbit manure to expand our fertilizing capacity.

We have found a source for rabbit manure about 30 minutes from us who should have several truck loads available every month. 

Pick a day to fertilize and fertilize EVERY week consistently.

Experiment with various compost/manure tea recipes and track results.

Record Keeping:

Create a full excel spreadsheet to track variables in plants

Take photographs of sun’s exposure in spring/summer/fall/winter to better plan beds next year

Composting/Chickens/Worms:

Consistently save and take out our scraps to the compost bin daily

Re-establish relationship with the grocery store across the street and pickup their bad produce every week CONSISTENTLY.

We started picking up compost last week and already scored a few boxes of compost material and this box of stuff that was in good enough shape to be processed immediately into a few meals and some frozen. 

Untitled (2013-01-29 23:03:57)

Get several chickens to turn compost and add chicken manure.

Repair the chicken pen and re-build the gate.

Build basic coop.

Move compost bin next to chicken pens.

Visit Perry’s worm farm and potentially add worm bin to farm

Expand heirloom/open pollinated seed stock:

 Order seeds from Pinetree Seeds

Get/swap seeds from friends/family

Organize and database all seeds in Excel

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Begin to swap seeds online with friends and through GardenWeb.com Seed Exchange

Rabbits:

Create 5 gallon bucket watering system

Add rabbit wringer and butchering station

Continue researching alternative feeding options- consider fodder system for winter feed

Expand to 3 female breeders

Ducks:

Research Mealworms more

Start a mealworm farm several months before cool weather starts in to allow production to start in earnest

Acquire duckweed and setup duckweed pond

Add Bees To The Farm:

Acquire an in depth book on beekeeping

Build and purchase supplies needed for 1-2 hives

Spend weekend at Renew Farms

Keep hive(s) alive and productive

Harvest honey from hive(s)

Goats:

Attempt again to find a raw goats milk source/farm

Make friends and go out to help several times with milking, etc.

Brewing/Cooking:

Brew up a batch (or three) of Appfelwein

Brew our first mead

Learn how to pressure can

Acquire a pressure caner

Make a hard cheese

Cure some kind of meat

Hunting/Foraging/Gleaning:

Acquire a second fridge at a good price for hanging meat

Acquire a meat grinder at a good price (can take meat next door grocery store for a small fee to be ground)

Find a place to hunt deer this year. Put a few deer in the freezer this year.

Find more local foraging/gleaning sources- especially for berries, pecans, etc

Community:

Host a monthly farm dinner- potluck style

Consider offering a free class/series of classes if interest is there.

Network heavily in homesteading community online and surrounding areas (Atlanta, etc)

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Comments

  1. says

    I love your blog! I was reading this list and realized that we have similar goals for homesteading! Granted, you are miles ahead since you already own land (we are still looking). But in the meantime, I keep researching everything on gardening, goats, rabbits, ducks, etc. so that we can start ASAP once we find our property! Anyway, we live in Seneca, South Carolina, which isn’t too far from Georgia! If you start or know of any homesteading online communities for the area, please let me know! I would love to start making some connections!

    • says

      Hi Raven!

      Thanks so much for coming by! We actually do no own the house that we are currently homesteading on, we are renters. Fortunately we have pretty low key landlords and the house was a disaster when we moved in so they see all of this as an improvement to their property. We definitely encourage people to start with what they can in the space they have. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the new Homestead Bloggers group online definitely come over and sign up! (There’s a link at the bottom of my sidebar) We would love to have you join us!!

      Dani

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