It was a bit of a rough end to the year, with most of my immediate family getting a tummy bug for Christmas or the New Year and The Grandpa passing away a few days after Christmas as well. Hence, things have been a bit quiet on the homestead front. However, we move on, whilst looking back, and we are all the richer for the amazing experiences we have had together. There were also a lot of challenges on the homestead last year, including The Great Egg-eating Scandal that cut almost the entire chicken flock, exceedingly wet weather through Autumn, Winter and most of Spring, which delayed many garden tasks, brought fungal problems to some crops and caused minor surface flooding, including in the chicken coop; injury and illness and projects that took a lot of time and physical effort. However, good things happened in 2017 too; a lot of good things, and thus, now is a great time to look at a little summary of what we achieved at Twiglet Homestead during the 2017 year. Or at least the things I can currently recall.
- Grew, mostly from seed, and harvested potatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes, capsicums, chillies, bush beans, runner beans, carrots, parsnips, lettuce, rocket, sorrel, kale, onions, spring onions, leeks, garlic, cauliflowers, broccoli, cabbages, boy choy, oyster mushrooms and probably other things.
- Harvested plums, peaches, pears, apples, feijoas, tangelos, lemons, figs, strawberries, blueberries, blackcurrants and walnuts.
- Grew and used parsley, basil, coriander and dill in addition to perennial herbs: rosemary, oregano, thyme, lemon thyme, lemon verbena, sage, pineapple sage, chives and garlic chives.
- Dried oregano, thyme and lemon verbena for kitchen use.
- Planted an apple tree, an almond tree, an apricot tree and a plum tree and re-planted three blackcurrant bushes and a blueberry bush.
- Entered two pumpkins in The Great Pumpkin Carnival and won Best Mature Miniature Pumpkin Open Class.
- Finished forming the Plum Tree Garden and planted a bunch of plants in it.
- Built a new raised bed in the Vege Garden.
- Made two large piles of compost and used it in the garden.
- Set up a compost bin for chickens to turn compost in Orchard Pen, then moved and renovated it into 2-bay compost bin in Cedar Pen.
- Felled two trees: unproductive plum and tall, narrow, ivy-ridden conifer.
- Killed horrible ivy that was taking over the cedar tree.
- Dug out a lot of stumps by hand.
- Acquired two new rain barrels with lids and installed one by deck, removed one rain barrel and downpipe from beside back carport.
- Removed old washing line and installed new one closer to house.
- Made curtain screens for woodshed.
- Filled up both bays of woodshed with free wood, found or cut up from pallets.
- Cut up and moved all wood and rubbish from beside the deck.
- Created the Apple Tree Garden, complete with strawberries.
- Re-potted and moved all potted plants onto pallets in the Plant Alcove.
- The fur child, Nala, caught lots of mice and rats.
- Froze heaps of tomatoes and made enough concentrated tomato soup to use as a meal base or soup for most of the year.
- Made plum chutney, apricot chutney and feijoa and lemon chutney (homegrown plums, feijoas and lemons).
- Made chocolate easter eggs and hot cross buns.
- Learnt how to render lard. Now using lard and beef drippings instead of processed vegetable oils, aside from olive oil.
- Made many gluten-free recipes including bread, pizza bases, muffins, cakes and energy balls.
- Made sauerkraut for the first time.
- Learnt about soaking grains and now soak oats, rice, etc. in water with some ACV then rinse before eating.
- Started the year with 4 hens, 1 rooster, 6 pullets and 4 cockerels.
- Kept 3 pullets, sold 3 pullets, sold 3 cockerels and dispatched 1 cockerel with Marek’s disease.
- Broody Frodo hatched 2 chicks in February. Very hot weather = poor hatch rate.
- Cleared and built Cedar Pen for second chicken pen, involving pruning, stump removal, tree removal, invasive weed control, fort repurposing and fencing.
- Renovated small chicken coop.
- Re-designed chick feed box to keep big chickens away from chick food.
- Built a new, bigger coop under woodshed roofing.
- 1 cockerel butchered (Mr Collins) and 1 pullet kept (Jane B).
- Bought four pullets, sold two. Excellent choice in purchasing Lorelai, Sookie, not so much. Later sold two.
- Dealt with egg-eating scandal: seven hens and one rooster dispatched throughout the year (Jane, Lydia, Lizzie, Sookie, Jane B, Georgiana, Kitty and Mr Bingley).
- Broody Frodo hatched 14 eggs in October: 6 Australorps and 8 Wyandotte/Australorp crossbreds. One chick with splayed leg righted and all 14 healthy and thriving. Five pullets and 9 cockerels.
- Acquired two more Australorp pullets and took back two hens that were sold to The Big Sister-in-law earlier in year.
- Re-surfaced our old dining table and sold it.
- Made magnetic crop labels for the Garden Produce Board, to show what fruit and veges are available for use.
- Made a decorative shelf and metal rack with vases feature for the living area.
- Installed small shelves in living room and The Little Fulla’s room.
- Installed an additional towel rail.
- Installed hooks on our bedroom door.
- Acquired a new front door, currently undergoing renovation.
- Acquired a ‘big person’ bed for The Little Fulla.
- Re-arranged The Little Fulla’s bedroom so he could have a desk and more fun stuff in there.
- Acquired a water filter.
- Acquired a diffuser and started using essential oils for health benefits.
- Knitted Christmas stocking #2 for The Husband.
- Knitted a baby bear beanie for my nephew, The Little Gingernut.
- Knitted two pairs of slippers for The Little Fulla.
- Knitted two different green hats for The Little Fulla, the first one having gotten lost.
- Knitted a green jersey for The Little Fulla.
It’s clear that the garden and the chickens got a lot of time last year, and the house not so much. I’m proud of how far we’ve come from the start of the year, what we’ve grown, what we’ve made, what we’ve torn down and what we’ve learnt. Bring on the homesteading of 2018!