2019 Homestead Report

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The biggest post of the year is here.

2019 was the year of trying to get stuff done through respiratory illness. The list of goals I wrote at the start of the year could be described as insane, which I realised fairly soon after. I wasn’t counting on a rollercoaster of respiratory issues to carry on throughout the year, but even so, there was too much on the list for me. Sometimes I forget that it’s me that most of these goals and tasks fall to, since homesteading is really my thing while The Husband prefers to pursue his own things. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I can’t expect myself to keep pace with other homesteads that have a man fully invested in the homestead ways of life. I am not superwoman, I repeat to myself. Despite the hard year it’s been for me, I’m so grateful that God gave us this place to live in the country where I can grow stuff and raise chickens. To have my hands in the dirt growing things and at the kitchen bench preparing what I’ve produced is healing and fulfilling to me. I finished the year in considerably better health than the year before and with more edibles flourishing in the garden.

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Suit-up Sunday was a fun chance to dress up fancy for church but, of course, I can’t stay fancy for long…

Here’s what went down in 2019. The points in bold are goals or aims that were achieved. Points not in bold are things achieved that weren’t in the list of goals and aims. Goals or aims partially achieved are in blue. Those not achieved are in red and those crossed out were deemed unnecessary.

 

Garden/Outdoors

We got a surprising amount of garden/outdoor things done throughout the year. The mild winter had something to do with that. And my perseverance. A little too much perseverance. Building more raised beds in the Veggie Garden, getting it fenced off and creating the Front Plot were great achievements to help us produce more of our own food. One of The Husband’s greatest achievements this year was building the play cabin and outdoor sink for The Little Fulla. We had a monthly stall to sell plants, some produce and some crafts at the Morrinsville Market but I decided to give this up for now until I find a better-suited market for our products. I started focusing more on selling plants online through TradeMe and Facebook.

  • Grew vegetable crops based on what crops do well here, what we use a lot of, what is expensive to buy and how much time and effort is required to grow them.
  • Grew and harvested: runner beans, bush beans, beetroot, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, celery, chillies, cucumbers, elephant garlic, leeks, lettuces, kale, kumara, melons, mizuna, onions, orach, parsnips, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, squashes, spinach and tomatoes. And herbs.
  • Grew lots of pumpkins and squashes to enter at The Great Pumpkin Carnival. I won Most Perfect Pumpkin, Open Class and The Little Fulla got two placings for Oddest Pumpkin and his pumpkin racer.
  • Bought two more blueberry bushes.
  • Bought (1) and planted four raspberry bushes.
  • Harvested: blackcurrants, boysenberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples, feijoas, figs, lemons, peaches, pears, plums and tangerines.
  • Installed wire fencing along Raspberry and Blueberry beds.
  • Processed all tree prunings into firewood or mulch in a timely manner.
  • Expanded my range of plants to sell at the local market and online.
  • Made a wooden plant nursery table. (Made 2!)
  • Made/ installed a mesh top and upper level for metal plant table, plus a lower level.
  • Cleared and mulched Plant Alcove.
  • Made a shoe shelf to go by back door.
  • Hacked and dug out cement-like stuff from compost bin site in the Orchard Pen.
  • Built a 2-bay compost bin in the Orchard Pen.
  • Moved compost bin in the Cedar Pen further away from apricot tree. (Also reconfigured it to make it lower and wider.)
  • Moved back carport tap and splash pad.
  • Built a second Blueberry Bed beside other one.
  • Built an extension for the Long Bed.
  • Acquired Built and installed a gate for the Veggie Garden.
  • Built a base for outdoor sink and installed in the Processing Corner.
  • Built a raised bed along west fence in middle of the Processing Corner, behind Herb Garden.
  • Removed camellia stumps from future parking spot beside front carport.
  • Made a greenhouse frame from recycled plastic conduit.
  • Built, filled and planted the Mandarin Bed beside the deck.
  • Built a play cabin for The Little Fulla.
  • Made a brick path between the cabin and The Little Fulla’s veggie garden.
  • Built an outdoor sink for The Little Fulla.
  • Tilled up the front lawn, levelled the ground and created the Front Plot, planted with veggies.
  • Dug out flax plants along front fence, levelled ground, replaced with corokia plants for better hedge and mulched all along fence.
  • Felled camellia tree with ivy beside fig tree.
  • Started installing wire netting on east paddock fence.
  • Felled tall, spindly weed sycamore tree.
  • Felled loquat tree.
  • Felled grapefruit tree.
  • Made brick base for rain barrel beside deck.
  • Cleared out pile of timber from behind the potting shed and fenced off the end of it.
  • Planted a number of ornamental plants.

  • Organise and tidy garage. (I had a few cracks at this but the males of the household kept messing it up again…)
  • Build proper roofing for firewood racks. (The Husband did proper roofing for one but the second one isn’t quite done yet.)

  • Prep and pave the patio beside the deck.
  • Install roofing over patio area.
  • Build mini greenhouse near house.
  • Declutter and organise potting shed.
  • Dismantle the back carport.
  • Build a smaller roofed shelter in front of the garage.
  • Build a proper wooden base for rain barrel beside deck.
  • Build a raised bed for olive trees along east fence of Veggie Garden.
  • Prune big feijoa tree – a lot.
  • Build/ install fence and big wooden gate across east side of house and small pedestrian gate for path.
  • Demolish rest of wooden fence behind cedar tree.
  • Build retaining wall around cedar tree.
  • Acquire a third firewood rack.
  • Turn this spot (beside front carport) into a parkable area.

 

Food

Making things like almond or coconut milk, mayo and peanut butter fell to the wayside a bit because they could be bought when I didn’t have the time, energy or health to make them. Making them fell further to the wayside when the blender and food processor broke and we were without them for a little while. I managed to keep up with preserving what we needed to with our produce.

  • Made more soups. (Tomato, pumpkin and chicken.)
  • Dried enough herbs to use during winter. (Sage, thyme and lemon thyme.)
  • Made multiple baking entries for The Great Pumpkin Carnival. (All three categories – cake, scones and pie.)
  • Chopped and froze lots of peppers, runner beans and strawberries
  • Froze whole tomatoes and plums for later use.
  • Dehydrated and ground cayenne chillies and paprika capsicums.
  • Made a few batches of plum butter and gherkins.
  • Bought a new freezer to replace broken one for freezing produce in.
  • Bought a Crock Pot multi-cooker for more efficient cooking.

  • Make multiple kinds of chutney. (I only made plum chutney.)
  • Make almond milk and coconut milk regularly.

  • Make better use of feijoas.
  • Make more stocks.
  • Make more mayo.
  • Make more peanut butter.
  • Acquire water kefir grains and make water kefir.

 

Chickens

We started the year with 15 chickens: 5 hens, 2 pullets, 1 cockerel (Darrington) and 7 chicks. We finished the year with 28 chickens: 6 hens, 7 pullets, 4 cockerels (including Mr Anderson) and 11 chicks. We cracked a milestone of 100 chickens that have been hatched at or brought onto our homestead. The biggest surprises were the sudden, unexplained death of Rory (hen) and the frisky Dorking cross boy who was mating at 10 weeks old – what a shocker! When I counted up how many chickens I butchered during the whole year it came to 27. That’s one whole chicken per week for us to eat for half the year. I feel a lot of satisfaction about this. I didn’t realise I had put that many chickens on the table.

  • Improved the quality of our Australorps.
  • Worked on dual-purpose meat bird side project.
  • Butchered more chickens for meat.
  • Raised some turkeys or meat birds for Christmas. (Roasted two of our cockerels for Christmas dinner, one a Dorking cross from the DPMB Side Project.)
  • Purchased another auto-feeder.
  • Purchased one or two chick nipple drinkers to reduce dirty water. (Plus made a small  5L nipple waterer.)
  • Purchased a chick feeder that keeps more mess out.
  • Kept enough hens renewing to be self-sufficient in eggs and able to sell eggs too. (We only bought one dozen eggs for my baking entries in The Great Pumpkin Carnival since the hens were slacking.)
  • Made scoops for all three stages of chicken food and oyster grit out of plastic containers.
  • Purchased another wire panel cage.
  • Made wooden window sliders for Featherburn Lodge (main coop) to reduce rooster noise and the effects of inclement weather.
  • Attached pop hole door and latch to the coop.
  • Hatched eight lots of chicks.
  • Butchered 27 chickens.
  • Sold 2 hens and 10 pullets.

  • Sell Australorps of good quality. (Only sold one, as those I didn’t want to keep I generally didn’t consider good enough, so they were culled. Good things take time.)
  • Build a chicken tractor. (Acquired metal A-frame and cut it down to smaller size.)
  • Tidy up chicken equipment storage area in the garage.

  • Sell fertile eggs if their quality is good enough.
  • Build or buy shelving for chicken equipment in the garage.
  • Re-fence Corner Pen once retaining wall has been built.

 

House

Many of the house goals were achieved. It was great getting rid of unnecessary clutter but the best thing was finally finishing the spice shelf. Now that I’ve built and painted something inside the house I feel more confident continuing in these things.

  • Cleaned all house windows. (Inside.)
  • Built and painted the spice shelf.
  • Acquired a desk and cabinet for spare room’s new purpose as a craft room.
  • De-cluttered and organised linen cupboard.
  • De-cluttered and organised hall cupboard.
  • De-cluttered and organised coat cupboard.
  • De-cluttered and organised The Little Fulla’s wardrobe.
  • De-cluttered and organised master bedroom wardrobe.
  • Acquired stainless steel (and bamboo) straws.
  • Replaced more plastic items with glass/ ceramic/ metal/ other ones. (5x glass food containers, metal pegs and a glass casserole dish with lid.)
  • Replaced all but one of the non-stick frypans with ceramic or cast iron frypans.
  • Made cat scratching post.

  • Deal with clutter and unwanted things in spare room. (Sold bed and some other things, donated a bunch of things, then accumulated more things to deal with from cleaning out other areas…)
  • Get all household light fittings installed. (The Husband installed of the six lights.)
  • Frame photos to put in the living room and master bedroom.

  • Acquire a small table or ottoman for the lounge. (Rearranged lounge.)
  • Finish prepping door for the laundry, paint it and install it.
  • Sort out window stays.
  • Finish restoring four dining chairs that are languishing in the garage.

 

Crafts

Crafts were the most forgotten aspect of the year. When you’re just trying to keep the household and homestead running, crafts tend to fall off the wagon. But I did get a little bit of knitting done. I managed to avoid fixing the gaping hole in my knitted slipper again because The Mother-in-law made me some toasty sheepskin slippers.

  • Finished knitting dishcloth.
  • Knitted some boot cuffs for myself.
  • Knitted a scarf for The Little Fulla.
  • Knitted 3 1/2 baby hats.

  • Make more Christmas decorations. (I started but didn’t finish many.)

  • Fix holes in my slipper.
  • Knit a cardigan for myself.
  • Get back to knitting the log cabin rug.
  • Sew a cover for a breakfast pillow for our bed.
  • Make some washable or wipeable table placemats.

 

I think the best thing of all in 2019 was something that didn’t fit into any of these categories: Adopted a kitten that turned up in our chicken pen. Simba is 9 months old now and he is such a special, snuggly dude. What a blessing that he came to us and got to stay.

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Simba.

Stay tuned for the 2020 Homestead Aims and Goals.

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