We managed to get a lot done around here in 2014. We tested ourselves and got a lot accomplished, but we also learned some important lessons. It’s all about trial and error! This year we are hoping to focus our goals more and set out a list of items we want to complete, whereas last year was all about home improvements and playing around with our new land.
The big ticket items we are starting now are all about the garden. The winter was fairly mild around here and our bulbs are already coming up so it’s time to get going on our planters for the spring. We are changing direction a bit following the installation of the planters on the side of the house last summer. We learned that this location doesn’t get enough sun to grow anything really substantial (we got calendulas, raspberries, fennel, and some really small onions but that was about it for useable produce/herbs), and J has honed his building skills a bit more so he wants to take the planters down. The fact that we had to remove the lower level after the septic incident was the final nail in the coffin. So those will be dismantled and the soil relocated to our new planters in a sunnier location.
Last year we also thought we would set up some planters on the lower part of the yard where it is the hottest and sunniest, but the deer grazing through there meant that first we would have to fence the property. A fence around the whole property is out of our budget for the near future so instead we decided to fence the smaller area directly out back of the house and place the planters there. J has already started this and it’s looking great! The plants we had in the enclosure in this area did well last season so we are hoping for more of the same. This area is also flat which the lower yard is not so it will probably be easier too. Once the new planters are set up we would like to plant things with a bit more thought to what we will use rather than what looks pretty or what seeds are readily available. Pickling cukes and dill are definitely on the list!
Other things already on our radar are to introduce another pair of female ducks to balance the ratio of males to females, and to introduce one more pair of laying hens to our flock to replace the two we lost in January. That would bring us to 3 laying ducks and 8 laying hens. We also need to finish up the chicken coop and build a duck area that they can get into on their own – we are currently picking up the ducks at the end of the night and putting them into the coop which is a muddy and frustrating business some days. They hadn’t mastered the ramp, and in the end we took the ramp away from the door to prevent predators from using it as a red carpet up to the entrance point in the night. We would also like to expand the enclosure so they have more secure space to explore during the day. We were surprised at how quickly the chickens destroyed all the plants and grass in the fenced area, and the whole thing has essentially turned into a mud pit. It’s pretty depressing to watch them peck around in the mud but have nothing to scratch for.
I would like to spin the bags of fibre I have already collected from the buns and hopefully get Leela and Nibbler friendly at last so they can all live together. This would mean a lot less juggling who could be out of the hutch at any given time and they could all just be out all the time. Millie is another issue, she may need to have her own home away from the angoras. We will have to see.
Larger ticket items that will only happen if I get a lot of work on my plate include the removal of the orange kitchen cabinets and a complete rework of the kitchen space. We need a functional oven and a DISHWASHER!
Another thing we learned this winter is that baseboard heaters are super expensive to use. Our electric bills have been huge this winter, so the installation of a heat pump might be an idea worth considering or at the least upgrading the baseboard heaters to more efficient models may be another option. We have also learned that the windows here get super sweaty in the winter which has lead to mold. This is both good and bad, it means our house is sealed up nicely with no drafts, but it also means ventilation is a problem. We have just now learned to crack the windows when we cook or have a bath to keep the condensation from building, but we still have to tackle the mold with an anti-fungal spray. Fun times. This also means that when it’s cold outside it’s hard to keep the place warm with all the windows open! Installation of a better kitchen fan and exhaust fans in the bathroom are a must at some point.
I’m sure more things will come up as the year marches forward, but these are the things we are thinking about here in February.
What kind of goals do you have for 2015?