I’d like to start a flock of backyard chickens. I’d like to have a breed (or hopefully a mix of breeds) that are good foragers (because I’d like the garden to feed them instead of buying feed), are good layers, and are good meat birds, and hardy through the winter. I think it will be Rhode Island Red or another non-hybrid. I plan to use the rotational paddock system as described in Backyard Chicken Gardens. Since we will be moving to our house in July, we probably won’t be able to start from eggs, but I would like to do that at some point as an educational project for the kids (i.e. watching the chickens develop from yolks in the eggs by holding the egg up to a light).
Still waiting on this one, although we have our Derm-Dad-built ark-style tractor ready to go as soon as we order our chickens. Hopefully in the next few weeks!
I would like to have a backyard hive of bees using a Warre. So far, I have enrolled in a beekeeping class that begins in February. Since we are moving in July, I may have to wait until the following Spring to start my hive.
I am so happy to say that we did this one! You can read all about our beekeeping adventures with our Derm-Dad-built Perone hive HERE.
I would like to set up a large two or three bin system with pallets. So far, my two systems have both been too small.
Well, I technically have a compost barrel, which isn’t doing much decomposing in the winter, and truthfully didn’t do much decomposing in the warmer weather either. I guess it’s just good to be keeping that stuff out of the landfill. It was actually more of an unintentional soldier fly larvae system than a composting system. Still learning more about composting and still waiting on a three bin system from pallets. Of course, I also have my Derm-Dad-built flow-through worm bin, but we haven’t started using it since it would be too heavy to move once it’s filled with food, worms, and compost. We are waiting on this one until we get to our new house.
I hope to involve our neighbors in a disaster plan, as well as sharing our abundance in regular times. I think this will also be an opportunity to learn more about permaculture together since most of our neighbors are the ones who first taught me about gardening.
Na-da. We have barely met any of our neighbors. Our DC-area neighborhood just isn’t as neighborly as the historic district of Mystic, Connecticut, was. Maybe once we move to our new house. . .
Since this is my last year before I start officially homeschooling (ackkk!), I would like to be the very best-trained teacher that I can be. I would like to watch a Charlotte Mason DVD that I purchased last year and attend a homeschool convention. And I’d like to read a couple of homeschooling books that I’ve accumulated but haven’t had the chance to read.
Well, we technically are waiting another year after this one to begin official homeschooling, since Charlotte Mason advocated waiting until the child is six years old to begin schooling. Of course, we are learning all the time and my goal is to make the environment our children grow up in (both in our home and just our family culture) one where circumstances provide a proper environment to breathe and learn. I did watch that CM DVD (although I should really watch it again) and I also attended a CM conference last summer (which was WONDERFUL!). And, I just signed up for the 2-day Living Education Retreat in Minnesota for July 2014 (Derm Dad will watch Adele and Everett and I’ll bring baby #3 with me) – I’m so excited!!! I am really happy with the “school” things I’ve added into our lives this year:
- extremely informal picture study – just putting lovely art prints from books opened around the house and changing them periodically
- extremely informal composer study – just playing lovely classical music in the background of our lives when we are home, which helps the music become familiar to the children (in fact, Adele has a lot of the music from the Nutcracker memorized)
- nature study – we still don’t get outside as much as we should (several hours every single day, according to CM), but we got some lovely binoculars from Grammy for Christmas (thanks Grammy!) and we have been using them for some really fun bird-watching. We also have a nature study shelf that we all really enjoy (you can see it HERE)
- nature study notebooks – I have REALLY enjoyed doing this myself (you can see a few pages from mine HERE), but Adele isn’t really ready for it yet, which is totally fine
- art class – we just started an eight-week class from a local artist (I’ll post on that next week)
- music class – we took a Music Together with our friends the P family last year (lots of fun, but not exactly CM)
- reading, writing, and arithmetic – Adele has a little bin with her “school stuff” in it. I think I’ll post about this next week too, but basically it has letter tiles from Bananagrams, words from Delightful Reading (a reading book/program from simplycharlottemason.com), a book to practice writing letters, and a small container of beans to practice counting and super-early math. We ONLY pull out the bin if Adele decides that she wants to “do school” – it is never a scheduled activity – but she really likes learning to read so far. Many times when I am reading to her, she will just start reading sentences with words that she knows (and her word list is getting bigger!)
- read-alouds – this is one area I am really happy about. I have been accumulating lots and lots of living books (mostly from the lists on amblesideonline.com) and we have been plowing through them at an alarming pace. I should note that we’ve only been reading books from the Free Reading category since we want to save the ones selected for school-work in specific grades until we get to that year. I am also a member of the “homeschoollibrary” yahoo group, which is mostly composed of people who run “living libraries” filled with excellent books from the Renaissance of Children’s Literature (1935-1965), which of course can no longer be found in most government-run libraries. I guess I have been accumulating my own Living Library, although I don’t even have 1,000 books yet and some of the ladies in the yahoo group have ten thousand or more!
I would like to plan and implement a permaculture food forest for our house in Mystic. It will probably take more than a year to prepare the soil though.
Na-da. Our current rental house does have a mulberry tree in the backyard, though. =)
I would like to improve my skills in sewing, perhaps getting more comfortable with garment sewing, both using patterns and also the draping method.
Well, I did complete my largest quilt yet (Adele’s quilt was QUEEN size!) and made a braided rag rug for the first time (you can see both the quilt and rug HERE), but I didn’t get anywhere with garment sewing. Maybe in 2014? I think I’d like to get better at using my sewing skills in a homesteading way, i.e. to reduce consumerism (either making something that we need or fixing something that we already have). I already do this, but I could certainly get better at it.
I want to convert part of our basement in Mystic (or the area below our deck, adjacent to our basement) to a root cellar. I want to stock it with enough produce to last us an entire year – that will be a LOT of quarts of diced tomatoes, butternut squash, onions, garlic, celery/celeriac, carrots, saurkraut (using my new German crock (thanks, Santa!), beets. Once we get our apple trees going, I’d like to process a lot of applesauce too. Of course the applesauce and tomatoes will be canned, but in general, I’d like to have most of the stuff in our root cellar in its raw state (some raw apples packed in DRY sand would be great!).
Na-da. This one’s on hold until we live in a house that we own.
see fruit orchard above. I would like something to eat ready to harvest throughout the growing season (for us and the chickens), some cut flowers in bloom at all times throughout the growing season, and other (regular) flowers as food for pollenators throughout the year.
Not really. I did plant a bunch of organic bulbs for the bees to eat from in the Spring, though.
As far as annuals, as part of my permaculture food forest, I would like the following annuals to fill up my root cellar: lots of tomatoes for canning, lots of garlic and onions, carrots, celery, butternut squash, potatoes.
Not much gardening going on until we move.
Building a Solar Oven
Not yet, but Derm Dad is planning on this and also a brick pizza oven in 2014. He’s already looking at plans and figuring out which type he wants to build.
I need to go through the whole house before we move in July. I need to do one room at a time and PURGE!!!! I’m starting in the basement – scary!
Ha! Moving last July didn’t happen and going room-to-room through the whole house didn’t happen either! I guess that means I have to do it in 2014 =)
I’d like to start making soap for the shower and also a lanolin soap for washing wool (mostly diaper covers).
YAY! I did this! I even got THIS super cool new soap mold and cutter for Christmas (thanks, Derm Dad!!!!). On my first batch, I was really happy with the consistency of the soap, but since I didn’t have a mold, the shapes were awkward and it stuck to my baking pan. I can’t wait to make a fresh batch in my new molds. I made a regular bath bar, not with lanolin, but I guess that’s next on the docket. At this point, I hope to never buy any more soap!
Well, it’s a stretch, but I’d say I accomplished about five out of my original goal of 13 new skills. I do hope to learn the rest this year or next =)