Friday, April 9, 2010

Changes & Goals

Our homestead is preparing to make a major change. You know the saying that there is a season for everything? For us, our season of having sheep is coming to an end. When we started out with them, it was for the purpose of raising them for their meat. With my being unable to eat any meat, the reason for having them is just not there. Joe asked me about it and we are in agreement that we only want to raise animals that we can make use of. So, what are we doing? A good friend and neighbor who sold us the older pair of sheep has offered to take the sheep to an auction and sell them for us. He sells his own sheep there and feels he can get us a good price for them.

We are going to take this year to fix the fencing on the back pasture and build any animal housing that we need. Currently, our back pasture that makes up over half our land is not being used. We are going to repair and add any fencing needed to make that pasture usable for grazing. We have several building projects to work on. We need a large coop for chickens and turkeys, a shelter for larger livestock, and possibly a sheltered area for storing hay and other livestock feed. We will spend this year making preparations for buying new animals over the following 2 years.

Poultry is a definite choice for us. While I may not be able to eat the meat, we do use a lot of eggs. Joe and the kids can eat the meat. We are planning to buy a nice sized flock of chickens to give us enough eggs for our family and to sell. We would like to buy turkeys. The turkeys and any extra chickens will be sold in the autumn season. We are finding that there are people who are willing to either butcher the poultry themselves or take them to a butcher shop to be prepared.

Dairy livestock is the other choice we have made. It is still undecided if we are going to get dairy goats or a cow and bull. We are looking at all options. Either would work, though a cow might be easier to deal with in the long run. Only one milk cow would give us plenty of milk for our own use and a bit extra to share with others. If we get dairy goats, Joe will have more than one animal to milk by hand twice a day.

One area of focus this year is the garden. We want to get a workable system set up. Due to the problems of spring rains flooding the garden area, the garden must be planted in raised rows that run north/south. This will allow the excess water to be channeled downhill and out of the garden. Joe is wanting to finish putting some form of fencing or barrier around the garden's perimeter to prevent animals from enjoying the banquet.

Of course, we still have other goals to accomplish this summer. Some of our upcoming projects that we are planning are:

      1. Remodel the bathroom before winter

      2. Build a larger & better located outdoor privy

      3. Fence in the side yard for the kids' play area

      4. Set up and outdoor kitchen before summer's heat arrives

      5. Lower the ceiling in the house from 9' to 8' to help with heating in winter

      6. Set up a heat source in the back (unheated) portion of the house

It is uncertain how much of these things will get finished by winter, but we are hoping to accomplish as much as possible. Some will be easy and done in a day or two while others will take much longer. We will be doing the work ourselves and as we have the cash to buy materials. This takes longer, but it feels great to know that we did it without putting ourselves into the bondage of debt.

As I am able, I am wanting to sell fresh baked breads and cookies again. I was able to help us earn a little extra through my baking last summer. Though the money made is not large amounts, it is enough to help. It is surprising how many people want to buy the fresh baked goods. Even more surprising is that they are willing to pay a fair price for it.

With all the changes, this looks to be a very busy summer. Most of the work will need to be done before winter's cold weather arrives. We are realistic in that we know that some of the plans may have to be altered as the season progresses. That is fine. We will do what we are able and the Lord will provide a way for the essentials to be accomplished.

May the Lord's blessings be with you,