Every New Year I make a list of homesteading goals for us to do our best to accomplish in the coming months. I tend to be overly ambitious, but I enjoy the challenge. If we don’t get everything done, whatever projects still remain on the list get carried over to the next year if they still appear to be important.
I’ve found it to be extremely motivating to see our goals on paper. The satisfaction we get from being able to cross off each task as they are accomplished and to see the progress on paper makes us want to work even harder to get everything done.
We’ve come a long way toward learning to live off the land from where we started nine years ago. But with money and time short in supply it feels like progress has been slow. I’m hoping to really make a dent in things for 2018.
This year I’ve had a hard time prioritizing what our goals should be. So much is up in the air right now. We feel like we have more choices than ever, and we just aren’t sure where to go from here. With the homestead finally paid off, this new financial freedom has created opportunities for us that we feel we should at least explore.
-Do we purchase another home on more land and rent out our current home? Would this be a wise way to leverage our assets, or would it be foolish to get back into debt?
-Do we sell our home and purchase more land so that we can homestead on a larger scale but still stay out of debt? Would we regret giving up the potential long-term rental income and increase in home value over time if we sell?
-Do we rent out our home and travel the world full time? Is the world stage stable enough to feel safe being away from our resources here at home? Should we just travel the US?
-Do we stay where we are, close to family and friends, and forgo a larger, more private homestead further away? Would we regret moving away from our roots?
If only we could tell what the future holds, it would be easier to make a confident decision. (I welcome your thoughts. What do you think you would do?)
For now I think we’ve decided to keep all of our options open, but work on the homestead as if we will continue living here while also making much needed improvements to the home in case we end up renting or selling it.
So, with the future up in the air, here are the goals we’ve set for the coming year with the hopes of moving us in the right direction no matter what we end up doing.
Goal #1: Continuing the deep purge.
I can’t tell you how much stuff we’ve gotten rid of this year. So. Much. Stuff. What’s amazing to me is that I don’t even remember what most of it was, nor have we missed it one bit. Clothes, toys, kitchen items, household things, home decor… Every closet, every drawer, every cabinet. Purged.
And I’m not done yet.
A lot of stuff has been donated. A lot. But the more valuable items have been sold on Craigslist and ebay. I’m forcing myself to let go of stuff that I’ve been holding on to “just in case”. It helps to keep in mind that we might be moving sometime in the near future. If we do decide to move, I’m gonna have to get rid of this stuff anyways. I might as well start working through it now. Even if we never go anywhere, having less stuff will be so much less of a burden to us and to our kids.
My end goal is to only keep things that I know I would want to replace if we ever had a house fire and lost it all; the stuff we would miss if it was gone. Everything else is just clutter.
Goal #2: Getting the homestead better organized.
This coming year, a method of organization for all of our stuff is high on the priorities list. I’m fed up wasting time looking for things because of our lack of organization.
One of our biggest storage issues is with food. I have a lot of food put back, but with a lack of pantry space the food is spread all over the house. It’s in closets, under beds, stacked in boxes, and hiding in cabinets. When I’m out of wheat to grind and need another bucket, I have to look under every bed and in every closet to find what I need. I’ve tried writing down what I have and where it’s stored, but I rotate through stuff so often it’s hard for me to keep my records accurate. I need ONE central place to store all of our canned goods and buckets of food so that it’s easy to find what I need and to see what I’m getting low on.
I would also love to have one central place to store all of my gardening supplies. Right now we have garden tools, fertilizer, organic sprays, potting mix, pots and trays spread out all around in our storage building and the (temporarily empty) chicken coop. I have to look all over the place if I need to find something. Never mind the kids dragging tools out into the woods to do heaven-knows-what. I really need a garden shed to store everything in one place. With a lock on it.
Which leads to the next project…
Goal #3: Build a garden shed.
Up until now I haven’t had any garden tool organization whatsoever. We basically either lean a tool up against a building or stick it in the corner of one of the outbuildings. I desperately need a designated place for everything so that everything can be put back in its place at the end of the day. I don’t need anything fancy, just functional. Jerry and I have been clearing some scraggly pines at the edge of our yard to tuck a little shed into the woods. We’re planning on building it 8×12. Hopefully that’ll be plenty of space.
Goal #4: Build a three bin compost system.
For the past few years we haven’t had much of a compost system going. We’ve just been throwing our food and yard scraps into a pile in the garden. It works, kinda, but we could make a better end product if we had a way to turn the pile. Plus, the garden would look neater in that corner if there wasn’t a large pile of debris there.
I’m not sure if I want a wood bin or wire. I like the sturdiness of wood, but we have termites like crazy and I know it wouldn’t last long. Wire is appealing because I think it would last longer, but it’s flimsier and less easy on the eye, in my opinion. Although wire would be easier to move. Maybe we should build wooden bins on top of cinder blocks to keep the termites away, and include wire for air circulation. (Don’t mind my brainstorming as I write.) Whatever we use it won’t be pallets. I want a solution that will last more than a couple of years.
I think I like the idea of the chickens being able to get in there to scratch and dig in the compost. It’ll help supplement their feed while also adding manure to the mix. Maybe I’ll only give them access to the freshest pile so that beneficial earthworms make their way into the more finished product without being made into a meal.
I’m gonna have to do some researching before I settle on the perfect compost system for us. If you’ve got a setup that you love do tell us about it!
Goal #5: Build a front porch.
We’ve wanted a front porch for a really long time, and this is the year we’re gonna make it happen! Since our home is out in the open without any shade to cool it down in the summertime, we think it’ll be a good investment to build a covered porch to create shade over the east facing front door and dining room windows.
I’m still not sure if we’ll take the plunge and put a full roof over the porch, or if we’ll go the more modest route and install a pergola instead. Either way, this project should help make our home a little more shaded in the summertime while also increasing the property value and curb appeal.
Goal #6: Build a new chicken coop.
It’s time. The old chicken coop that was built from scrap wood and pallets is ready to be replaced with something more functional. I’m excited about getting up a structure that’s more snake proof and a little larger for a new flock to enjoy. It would be cool if we could install a water catchment system off the coop’s roof so that we wouldn’t have to haul water to the chickens so often. I’m still trying to come up with the perfect design to make a new flock happy and safe while also making the chores easier for us.
Goal #7: Build a retaining wall for erosion control.
The sloping hill behind our house has slowly been eroding over the past nine years and is in need of some serious attention. Our water pipes run down that slope from the well above, and as the topsoil has washed away so has the dirt insulation our pipes need to stay protected from freezing winters. This coming year we’ll need to devise a retaining wall system, back-fill with more topsoil, and get some grass and shrubs in place to keep the hill intact. We might have to hire outside help for this one. Ugh.
Goal #8: Landscaping for energy efficiency and curb appeal.
This is probably something we should have invested in on day one. Unfortunately, there never was money in the budget for landscaping. Now that we have a little bit of wiggle room, I’m eager to put in some shade trees and bushes to help absorb some of the hot summer sun’s heat and hopefully keep our home a little cooler during the warmer months. I do not have an eye for landscaping, so this will be a challenge for me.
Goal #9: Keep the vegetable garden simple.
Every year that we’ve had a garden I’ve always tried new and exotic plants. Nothing excites me more than discovering an uncommon edible or medicinal specimen to grow in the garden. I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with seeing what grows well here and what doesn’t.
This year though, I’m really going to focus on growing the things that we actually eat on a regular basis. Normal stuff. I’m at the point in my life where I’d rather have a good stock of staple food items than a variety of stuff we’ve never tried and aren’t sure if we’ll even like.
Goal #10: Establish a large bed of strawberries.
Don’t even ask me how this hasn’t happened yet in all the years we’ve lived here. We absolutely love strawberries, but sadly we have only a few planted around the herb bed. This year I want to make it a goal to establish a large bed exclusively for strawberries. I’ll have to begin preparing the ground in July so that they’ll be ready to plant by September, according to our local extension agency’s recommendations.
Of course, I have lots of other personal and family goals. You know. Lose weight. Be a better mom. Stick to a schedule. That kind of stuff. The ten I’ve listed here are probably the most tangible of my goals.
I’ll probably refer back to this post a lot this year to remind myself of what I should be focusing on. I’m excited to see how much of this we can get done in the next 12 months!