Thank you can not begin to express my appreciation.
I have been blessed to make some great friends who have offered their support, experience and even mutually beneficial alliances where we barter time, services and supplies.
Also a major thank you to some of the better know bloggers, who took time to give me advice, tips and their time and friendship. I hope to apply those skills to the blog this year.
Through the posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, it is my hope to educate, share information from other bloggers, provide a bit of humor (even if at my own expense) and to develop a friendship with all of you.
To achieve that last goal, I want to share some personal things with you. First, I consider myself a bit of an A-hole. I don't mean that in a bad or malicious way, but I have learned that sometimes trying to sugarcoat things to spare someone's feelings isn't always the best route. I know that I have come to appreciate honest feedback and criticism a lot more than someone telling me what they thing I want to hear or what I think I want to hear. Secondly, I am not afraid of hard work and I give everything I have to a task, but I do have a habit of being a procrastinator and I am not as organized as I should/could be. Lastly, I want to remind everyone that I am on a leased property, which presents it's own challenges and has affected the way I have had to handle things.
In this first of a 3 part series, I am going to share the negative aspects of what I encountered and some accomplishments from 2015. Part 2, I am going to come up with solutions to overcome these issues. Please comment on how you have or would handle these situations. Part 3 is going to be my goals for 2016 and some of my strategies to meet these goals.
2015 Setbacks & Roadblocks
2. Organization: Some of this goes along with #1. As I write this post, I have a stack of invoices and receipts I need to get entered into my spreadsheet to figure out exactly where I stand financially. I also, have various piles around the room of things I intend to read, save or just pass along to someone who might gain something from it and piles of parts.
3. Finances: The farm and these projects I have going are self financing. Because I am using one project to finance another without adding any debt, things are progressing a lot slower than I had hoped.
4. Shared and Leased Land: The landlady is elderly, pretty set in her ways but very well meaning and an "extreme" environmentalist. I believe in sustainability and strive for it myself, but not to the point where I will create or allow a lot more work than necessary for myself. To give just a couple of examples of her ways, there are decaying and broken pallets that are decades old and that used to be the resting spot for hay for her animals or supplies that block paths. She will not move or allow them to be moved because "some animal" may have created it's habitat underneath it. She will load and wheelbarrow 2 bales of hay for her animals around said pallets, rather than remove them and move the current location of the hay. She could have the hay delivered to a spot right next to her pens and eliminate the wheel barrowing all together, but she won't because she would have to remove those pallets and any nails from the path and the delivery truck would cause compaction in the alley way between her pens. She also has watering spots for the native predators- ie coyotes, and local wildlife just outside the electric fence protecting her sheep.
5. Predators and the local wildlife: This past year, I planted raised beds because the soil is not conducive to raising heirloom & organic vegetables with a healthy yield. I had covered the raised beds with hardware cloth to keep the rabbits and small varieties of ground squirrels (they look like chipmunks) when I watched them scramble through chicken wire. Well, they had no trouble getting underneath the bottom, countersunk boards and ate 250 strawberry plants, 3 varieties of tomatoes, bell peppers, chili peppers, cucumbers, bee balm, lemon balm and even the marigolds all the way to the ground. While I didn't haven't lost any hens to the coyotes (yet) , they travel a path right along the outside of the chicken coop and run.
6. Healthy Diet: I had hoped to be growing my own veggies as well as selling some at market this last year but the critters had different ideas for the veggies. So I have been buying at the local stores which has taken a larger chunk of my food budget and I have had to cut some corners where I could. I haven't bought as much organic produce as I wanted and haven't supported local farmers and meat producers as I intended. A major issue that I have run into is that all my food has to be microwaved, unless I want have a charcoal bbq. The landlady, had the gas and propane capped when she got the property so as not to burn fossil fuel or support disrupting the earth. So, I do eat a lot of garbage food at work- cheddar dogs, bratwurst, pizza and the like.
1. Egg Program: I can tell you with absolute certainty, that the largest project I have going- my organically fed, cage free, hormone and antibiotic free hens and the egg business is self sufficient. The girls are supplying enough eggs weekly to cover their feed and allow me to look to begin or expand other areas. I have also doubled my flock this year, those girls will begin laying in the next couple of weeks. The local health food store, that is currently buying my eggs says they will take all I can produce but, I still want to locate another nearby health food market as a supplement market.
2. Local involvement and networking: Even though we lost the fight with the local Urban Ag Proposal, I made lots of invaluable contacts in the areas of food production, sustainability, permaculture, farmers market managers and local environmental activists.
3. Education: I am an avid reader. I have built a vast library of ebooks, pdfs, online courses and actual books on crop production, marketing, self sufficiency, alternative energy, permaculture, water harvesting- grey & rain, animal husbandry, homesteading and related topics.
4. Sustainability and Environmentalism: I still rely strictly on bike power and mass transit to deliver the eggs to the store and for my personal transportation. I use only hand tools to collect and turn the compost pile and when I planted last years crops. I use no outside chemicals or treatments for the animals or the crops.
I again want to thank all of you for following me, your friendships, comments and suggestions and for sharing this journey with me!! I know 2016 will bring great things for all of us.