Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Time for Planning

Well, it is that time of year again....time to plan the coming year. I always take the last week of December to sit down and think about where I want to go with the farm in the coming year. As far as livestock goes, I want to increase my chicken flock considerably so that I have enough eggs to sell and a few extra roos to butcher. I have some decent size birds (Black Australorps, Brahmas, New Hampshires) and with these could get a meal out of one. I also want to increase my rabbit population as I believe I am in a good area to sell some extra rabbits for either raw feeding to pets or for people to eat themselves. So I will build a few more hutches so that I have space to save a few rabbits from the litters due soon. The biggest planning this year is going into the garden. It does require me taking a good look at my food stores to see what I might have lots of (jams, jellies, pickles, preserves, sauces) and what I need more of. I have added organic matter and tilled it in for several years now, so the garden soil has a really good tilth. This year I don't plan to till anything and instead will simply be applying a good several inches on top. This is sort of like lasagna gardening, just not as much as you would starting a lasagna garden from scratch. This is a good way to use feed bags also. My compost pile for the garden is well cooked and ready to use so I don't want to put anything else in it right now since it won't have time to cook before I need it. So I will place down feed bags then layer compost, then leaves, then compost. That will sit like so until I start planting next month (yes next month). Then when the compost pile is emptied, I can start back to putting stuff in there so that it will be cooked by the end of the year. I also like to take a look at my notes from last year to see where I might have had problems and try to figure out how not to have those issues this year. A big problem last year was critters....namely chickens. That issue has mostly been solved by the chicken wire along the bottom of the fences surrounding the gardens. Another issue was the goats jumping the garden fence, so I think we will be running hot wire around the outside perimeter and that will solve that issue. Dakota, our great pyrenees is now taking control of the squirrel population. She kills about 1 a week so (my husband is so jealous)they should be less of an issue about getting my tomatoes. I love having the ducks in the garden, but they love anything small and green. So I am thinking of building some short wattle fences to keep them out of the bed areas until the plants are well established. I can't tell you how many little seedling were yanked out of the ground because of the ducks. I do want to add some more ducks, especially females so that we have a breeding population. Wattle fences are very light and can be made so that they can be moved quite easily and set up somewhere else. They are also cheap in that you use small saplings that you want to get rid of anyway. And I think they are rather pretty. We have 2 sides of both pig areas set up. We have a large area that we need the ground worked on the far side of the garden and we will start the pigs there. From there it will be relatively simple to move them to the front pasture where they will spend the majority of the summer grazing and then from the front pasture they will be finished off in another large pen where we need the ground worked and has several large nut trees that they can forage on. From that last pen they will head to the butcher. The pigs will go to a professional butcher because I am still getting the hang of cutting meat up. I want to get the most of my pigs, so it is better left to the professional. I certainly wish I could find an on farm butcher in my area, but there just doesn't seem to be anyone. We plan to have the first pen finished by March and then we will head out to get our little piglets. I am not really interested in raising pigs full time just yet. I really have my plate full at the moment with trying to build what we have going already. However, there is a nice farmer in the next town over that raises pigs and sells the weaners at a good price. Both pigs will provide enough pork for our family, my mom and my aunt. Then of course, there will be all the great lard that I will have for making soap and cooking. We are going to add a brooding area to the chicken coop and will be starting to incubate eggs in February. When the little chicks are ready to go outside the weather will be warm and they will have a safe area away from the bigger chickens. We might put one of our Brahma hens in with them as she will adopt anything to mother. I am hoping that she will sit and raise a clutch for us this year. But if she doesn't then we will give her a clutch to raise. I will be checking my seeds today to see what I need to order. I know we plan to grow extras for livestock feed and work on improving our self-sustainability as far as livestock feed goes. I will plant more beets, especially mangles, so that we have more to get us through the winter next year. So as you can see lots of planning and decisions being made. We are hoping for a good productive year. Happy planning, Kat

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