Well I'm working on my overly ambitious plan for the homestead for the coming year. I'm sure I won't be able to do half of the list, but it's better to shoot for the stars, eh?
January will start 4H. And enters in our Just.One.More. bird. Boy has to have one that is less than a year old, and also have a certified form from a hatchery, etc of health and purebreed standard. I've found someone locally that breeds JAVA birds. These birds are endangered, and were one single flock away from extinction. They are from the 1800's and are the basis of at least 3 of the big breeds of today. I think I will get a Java for Boy to use in 4H. There is a part of me that wants 6 (That would bring the flock up to 60-a round number!!) that way we can breed them as well and get on the list to be a provider and help bring this heritage breed back. This is still something we are thinking and considering. And we will add a guinea to the flock in the spring...only for tick control. They are not cute and noisy so they are not my favorite choice, but they will decimate the tick population and that is very necessary. About March-April, we'll add 25-40 broiler chickens that will NOT have names to grow for "Freezer Camp". It only takes about 9 weeks to get them to butcher size. I have a friend (actually two) that enjoy processing the birds, so I'll have one or both of them teach me how and give them some meat in exchange for the help!
The next critter to join the homestead is likely to be meat rabbits. We are not quite ready to butcher rabbits and chickens for food, but likely by the end of summer we will. But we need to get the starts to our herd. Plus we can use the droppings all winter in the garden.
Man has already had the 1/2 acre garden plot plowed up. The chickens run on it most day pulling up the grubs. This is GOOD. We have moles that are tearing up the yard and garden plot. If there are no grubs for them to eat they will go away. The tiller man will be back in April for the spring plowing so we can get the garden going nice and early.
Deciding on the gardens has been a challenge but fun! I think we will add a few apple trees, and a replacement peach tree. We have one apple and a pear. There is a nice area already trellis for grapes that we need to add. There is a great asparagus bed already. I think I'd like to add some other trees also. A good line of maples along the back property line to be used in the future to sap for syrup. A stand of firewood timber...as we are having to buy the wood we are using to heat the house. And another walnut or two to go with the one we have. These are investments in the future as it will be 3-7 years before we see the fruit from them.
I need to get the strawvberries and raspberries from the house is W'ville if I am able to replant. There is a spot on the back of the pump house that looks as though it would make a great cold frame with just a few pieces of glass (I need to find someone throwing out a set of old shower doors!!) Eventually, I'd also like to add a greenhouse leanto on the south side of the house (Same side as the pumphouse and orchard). The side door from the kitchen would open into it and the one living room window as well. That would add needed heat to the house in the winter. And even further down the road, that will be replaced with an addition onto the house that will be our bedroom, because as we get older, going up the stairs may not be as easy as it is now.
Also this spring, I will add 2 bee hives along the side pasture line between the orchard fence and the south pasture. This will help both with the orchard and the garden. Then also adding honey and beeswax to the homestead. Also in the spring (Feb/Mar) timeframe, I have debated about goats. I haven't yet come to a decision on them yet. I know by summer, I would like to add a jersey cow. Jersey's are great for milk and they have the highest percentage of milk fat, so it's great for butter, cheese and icecream. So I'd like to find a heifer or cow that will calf in the late spring so it will be fresh with milk. Then the calf will be raised for freezer beef. (Names already chosen for these critters: Mama will be Butter, Baby will be Hamburger.) Back to the goats though. I'm not crazy about goat's milk, but I do like goat cheese. Some of the best soap is made from goats milk, and it is the best replacement milk for man and beast. Downsides is that it is difficult to keep them in the pasture and out of trouble. And you need at least 2 as they are herd animals.
Man has been opposed to pigs (as I am a bit as well) but the more I read on them, the more I think they have a place on the homestead....so that may be a fall addition...that's not yet on the radar to be decided.
Then the summer will be consumed with the garden and canning. Building a tree house. weeding the garden, canning......the fair for 4H. Getting the grazing pastures under control, Haying. Long about August, I will be thinking of getting a few more chicks to replace the layers that have slowed down in the egg production. That way they will be grown, feathered, and in the hen house before the cold, and will not have to live in the house or cellar. Summer will also be for converting the pump house to the "cold cellar". It has been used for storage in the past and already has labeled shelves for all that is canned. There are also netted shelves for potato storage, etc. The potato storage racks are falling apart so they need torn out and replaced. August will also start the harvest of not only the gardens, but also starting the firewood piles.
So, this is what is going through my head currently. There are other "non-homestead" plans as well such as a No-Buy January. Using grocery game and coupons to start stocking up the pantry as cheaply as possible. Finally getting the house in W'ville empty of the 'stuff' we have left there. Faithbooking, scrapbooking. Getting the homeschool room finally finished. Address the "scrap barn" situation.