Herbs & Things

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My Homestead Dream & Homestead Goals for 2016

I have a lot of goals, at all times, in all seasons. That doesn't mean I'm actually going to accomplish any of them. But I'm a professional goal maker, if I do say so myself. I'd say I have about a million things I'd like to do with my life, but a responsible person will choose just one or two....so they tell me. So this year I was surprised to see that my 2016 goal list was more personally focused than homestead focused. In fact, I had "down size, organize and simplify" on my homestead goal list, top priority. You see, my life is so incredibly busy with all things other than homesteading, that focusing on homesteading is almost impossible some days.

I am not your average homesteader. I have a career, even though I work from home everyday. The bulk of my time is spent working for a magazine and my photography business. Not to mention homemaking and homeschool. Blogging, videos, and homesteading are my "side job" and hobby. I don't have an entire day to devote to it. My husband isn't necessarily a homesteader at heart, and therefore, I tend to animals and clean out the coop. And I don't mind a bit, because my burly hunk supports what I do. I don't spin wool or make my own clothes. I don't have dairy animals or large livestock. We aren't a "farm". We have chickens, ducks, and meat rabbits. That's it. We grow a small garden and eat healthy natural meals. We heat with wood and live holistically. That's about it. So to say that we are large scale homesteaders isn't possible. We live on a half-acre, for now, and make it work.


if I were to have my ultimate homestead, this is what it would look like...you could call it my "5 year plan"...or the "when I hit the lottery" plan...

My Ultimate Homestead Dream

Dream with me...if you will. We all have that homestead we would want to live on. That house we would want to build...those animals we'd have.

In my ultimate homestead dream, we would live on 10-15 acres. Nothing more, nothing less. We would have a medium size house (nothing large, but comfy) sitting on a hill or at the edge of woods opening into a field. There would be two to three dairy goats grazing on pasture. Chickens free ranging all over the place. A few cows grazing with the goats. And some woolly sheep too. A run full of quail on pasture. A butter churn on the front porch and a bowl of warm milk for an outdoor farm kitty. Samson the dog would be running free, the wind blowing through his ears (I know, I am so imaginative). Jr petting horses in the pasture just below the house. And a large garden in the field in front of the house. A medium sized barn for animals and storage. and a tractor in the shed. Hale bales in the field that had just been cut by Mountain Man. And a baby on my hip while I make bread.

I could spin wool for selling and crocheting while we homeschool. We'd have more kids—we'd adopt children. We'd have snacks of fresh goats milk yogurt and fruit from our local farmer's market. There would be a large pantry full of canned veggies from Summer and Fall harvests. And we'd sit down at a large dinner table to eat every evening with the screen door open on warm summer evenings.

We would be self sufficient for ourselves, and sell extras. That's it. We would live life to its fullest—no Facebook, no technology, and no noise. It wouldn't be overrun with animals, just the things we need. Life would be beautiful and serene.

But the ultimate homestead isn't here yet, at all. Instead, we live on a half-acre with a large chicken coop, some rabbit hutches, and a backyard that slopes like a mountainside. Our cozy house stays warm all winter long, and there's enough room for all of us. Honestly, I'd say it's the next best thing to a dream homestead. And I hope that in the future, someone else will love it as much as we have.

Which brings me to my 2016 goals for our little homestead....

Homestead Goals for 2016

There aren't a huge amount of items on my list, but it's not just about the homestead, but about living the lifestyle/education/website in general.

  • No longer raise meat rabbits. If I am being honest with myself, meat rabbits just aren't for us anymore. We have so much venison from hunting, and pork from a pig share we got last summer, that I just don't need to invest my time into these rabbits. We will, for now, plan on keeping two Rex breeders for those of you who still want to purchase rex breeding stock. However, the time it takes me to breed, tend to, and process rabbits just isn't what I want to do any longer. I cannot raise them how I want to raise them here, which would be on pasture. Therefore, it's something I guilt myself about often. I manually pick grass clippings for all of the rabbits when the grass is growing tall, every single day. A good source of hay is hard to come by around here without killing my breeding stock. So, here is my white flag. Rabbits just aren't going to be our meat source here anymore, and I am absolutely ok with that. With that said, rabbits are one of the best homestead meat sources there is. I highly suggest them if you can tend to them the way you wish to!
  • Downsize our chicken flock, and add new layers. Many of our layers are either at their peak this year, or are getting older and laying less. We are selling about 50% of our egg layers, even young pullets. We are hoping to get down to about 6-8 regular layers and a rooster. And then our 4 ducks (3 hens and a drake). This will be enough eggs just for us, and that's our goal. In the Summer we may have more eggs to sell to family and friends. I'm contemplating adding a new breed and just having a single breed of chickens here to sell hatching eggs, but we will see what the new year brings.
  • Add quail to our homestead. For meat and eggs. This is a recent goal of mine. I recently discovered quail as a source for eggs and meat. I have to be honest, the eggs excite me more than the meat, but the meat is an added bonus! The incredible health benefits of quail eggs astounds me. They have healing properties to help and even cure diabetes, asthma, intestinal tract issues. They improve the central nervous system in children.They can revive memory and and protect nerve cells in the elderly. They can cure or help allergies, eczema, heart disease, infertility, a woman's body pre- post- and during pregnancy. They can reduce high blood pressure, and so much more. As if the eggs aren't amazing enough, quail are mature by 5-6 weeks of age and begin laying daily. They can also be processed at 5-6 weeks of age for meat. It takes 3-4 quail eggs to make 1 chicken egg. And the meat is only a few ounces in weight. However, it's a pretty good portion size if we're comparing it to the proper size of meat you are supposed to eat with every meal. They can be raised on pasture (in a secure area) or in rabbit hutches since they are so small. It's a no brainer for us, and I think we would be crazy not to add them!
  • Plant a more organized garden. Last year I feel like I kind of short changed myself on our raised beds. This year I think I will focus on growing 3-4 major things, and then buy the rest from a local farmer. The raised beds this year will be pretty simple. Tomatoes in large pots just like last year. I'll buy pots for peppers as well this year. Last year I did them in a raised bed. The two large raised beds will have a couple of different things. The upper raised bed will have a row of corn and then a row of beans beside it. The beans will creep up the corn stalks, the perfect example of companion planting. In the bottom raised bed, I haven't quite figured out what I want to plant there yet. Maybe I'll try carrots and beets again this year. Or I might just do herbs and lettuce/cabbage. We will see!
  • Eat healthier. Enough said. We eat fairly healthy now, but there's always room for growth.
  • More videos and blogs. Because you guys love them!
  • More educational information and sponsors. There are several companies that we fully support, many of which you've probably seen or heard me speak about often. I'd love to find a way to have them come on board with their knowledge and good products, supporting us as a yearly sponsor, offering you fun things through out the year.
  • Publish a family cookbook. My family is in the process of putting together a fun cook book of our favorite family recipes, memories, and more. Once it is all finalized, I may open it up to some of you for purchasing! We will see, more details to be sorted out!
So many people think about building barns, buying more property, adding tons of animals and trying to make a ton of money off of this homesteading adventure in the new year. But sometimes that's not what success is all about. For me, success is making this thing work for us and only us. All while sharing what we learn along the way with you guys and gals. Downsizing is sometimes the best option for your homestead, because homesteads are always changing, always. Our homestead this past year looks nothing like the year before, and this year will look nothing like last year. That's the exciting part of it all! We learn and grow, and so does our homestead. Before you can grow, you must prune!

This year is going to be a fun year, I can feel it. It may not be as complicated as years past, but it's definitely going to be more organized!

What are your goals for the New Year? Comment below or on our Facebook page!