Looking back over the previous year on the homestead is an excellent practice because it helps us see what worked, what didn’t, and helps us plan for the future. It is also always very encouraging to me because even when I feel like we didn’t have a very productive year, seeing it all written out shows me all that we accomplished. Our homestead has had to take a backseat to other parts of our life over the last few years due to our baby’s serious medical issues. This year more than ever. But despite that, we still are able to do some homesteading and it brings us stability and joy.
To read previous Year-End Reviews Click the following links:
- Started year with 20 hens, 9 young pullets and cockerels, and 1 rooster
- Purchased 10 layer chicks and 41 meat chicks
- 18 meat chicks died first couple of weeks, 1 layer chick died – 9 layers and 23 meat chicks survived
- Because of large loss of meat chicks decided to buy 11 layer chicks to add to the brooder
- 5 broody hen sets with a total of 15 chicks surviving
- 1 cross beak chick had to be culled, 1 silkie hen licked to death by LGD pup, 1 hen killed by bobcat, 1 young pullet died for unknown reasons, and 1 hen died of egg bound
- Butchered 23 meat chickens, 10 layer cockerels, 1 aggressive rooster, and 8 hens
- Sold 9 hens
- Ended year with 28 hens, 1 chick, and 1 rooster
- Approximately 3,500 eggs laid
- Anya, our 2.5-year-old Anatolian Shepherd, is continuing to mature and be trained to be our lead LGD. As a pup she accidentally licked a couple of chickens to death and therefore was living adjacent to the barnyard and continuing to be trained. In December we were very excited to move her into the main barnyard and have her be mature enough to guard without any accidental killings.
- We have had no bear break-in attempts on the barn since she took over. The bears used to try to break into the barn multiple times each autumn, despite our previous wonderful guard dog living in the barn (he did keep them out and alerted us so we could chase them off, but they continued to try). I am guessing it is the size difference, our previous guard dog was 55 lbs, Anya is over 100. I think the bears can tell the difference when they hear her bark and such and they don’t think it is worth it to grapple with a dog that big. Not sure what else would cause the change.
- Did not have sheep most of this year. Sold the flock December of 2017 due to son’s medical issues and hospitalizations.
- Unexpectedly bought back three of our sheep a couple weeks before the end of the year! 2 ewes and 1 ram. They are currently living together in hopes of squeezing in last-minute breedings for this year so we can have some lambs born this summer.
- No goats this year due to son’s medical issues. Contemplating plans for a dairy goat in 2019, but have not decided yet.
- Over 490 lbs of produce harvested
- Spent $134 on the garden this year, average of $0.27 per lb.
- I completed the following knit projects: 2 cabled hats, 1 cabled cardigan, 1 pair of flip-top mittens, 7 pairs of socks, 2 baby blankets, 1 baby vest, 1 shawl, 1 afghan and 169 squares for my scrap sock afghan.
- I completed one cross stitch, and sewed 4 skirts for myself, 1 dress for myself, 4 skirts for the girls, 1 dress for Sunshine, 4 bibs for Mr. Smiles, hospital PJs for Mr. Smiles, several pairs of flannel PJ pants for everyone, and 3 flannel nightgowns for Little Miss. Plus innumerable amounts of mending and patching of clothes.
- The girls did countless projects, each of them finishing more projects than I did.
- Canned over 350 jars of food this year.
January was much warmer than usual and we enjoyed the chance to get outside when we could, though the end was bitterly cold. We spent a lot of time dealing with our son’s medical issues, with hospitals, surgery, and many doctor’s appointments. We were able to get our garden planning and school curriculum planning done, along with building a new pantry area in the basement.
In February the girls and I spent the cold days working on my grandmother’s English paper piecing quilt, as well as a crocheted scrap afghan. I also worked on finishing some of my crafty WIPs (works-in-progress) to get them out of storage and completed.
March brought a lot of garden prep work, building new garden areas, and remodeling older garden areas. Our hatchery chicks arrived on the farm, including our first ever try with meat chicks. We were very disappointed when a huge amount of the meat chicks died for unknown reasons. It wasn’t our brooding techniques because none of the layer chicks being brooded with them died. We also had our first hatch of the year under a mama hen. We remodeled our bathroom, as well as a couple chicken housing areas in the barn. And we enjoyed learning the art of dehydrating fruit.
In April we started plans for our medicinal herb garden, little green shoots started poking up their heads on our perennial plants in the garden, and our seedlings inside began taking over the house. During the cold weather the girls and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, canning jam and homemade ketchup, as well as starting to work through the Little House Living recipe book. And we spent some time sewing PJ pants for the family as well as some skirts and dresses. At the very end of the month the swallows arrived a little early, signaling that it was time to put our first seeds in the ground outside.
In May we didn’t get the big snows that we usually get towards the end of the month, which meant that our garden got a big head start over previous years. We worked a lot in the garden and we butchered the first round of meat chickens and found the meat to be superior to the meat from our dual-purpose birds.
June was another month extra heavy on the medical stuff with our son. We spent time in the ER, had unexpected hospitalizations and surgery, as well as many doctor’s appointments. Somehow we were able to keep the garden going strong, started some harvesting, and butchered the last of the chickens. And we squeezed in some sewing of bibs too.
In July we were busy gardening, harvesting, and started our canning season. We had another 2 hens set and hatch chicks. And the girls and I continued our sewing spree, making more skirts, PJ pants, hospital Pjs for Mr. Smiles, and a knitting bag. We decided to try eating one of the silkie roos we butchered and were surprised to find their meat is black (more of a purple, really, but creepy nonetheless). We wont do that again! Our LGD had to spend some time indoors because of the flies eating her ears, but we finally found a repellent that worked long-term, after years of trying many many different things with no success or very short-lived success. We also finished chopping and stacking all the firewood that we needed for the winter.
August was mostly focused on more of our son’s medical stuff. But despite that we were able to continue with the harvest and canning, make herbal medicine, and we added our first root cellar veggie storage rack to the basement. We competed in many ways at the County Fair and brought home a lot of ribbons and prizes. We were surprised by a very early first frost.
September was so full of homestead work that I barely had time to blog. We kept ourselves busy with gardening, harvesting, canning. freezing, hunting, and butchering – all things related to putting food up for the winter. We added another root cellar veggie rack to the basement and really enjoyed using both the racks to put up the produce. We also started remodeling one of our wood stove areas and had another hen set and hatch out chicks.
October was full of a lot of canning and we bought a new kitchen gadget to make it easier. We filled the shelves in the basement pantry and used every empty jar we owned. We wrapped up the gardening season and were really excited when we tallied everything and found that we had our most successful garden season ever. I did some preliminary garden planning for next year while everything was till fresh in my mind. And we also got our first snow of the season.
In November we stayed indoors while we had unseasonably cold weather outside. We were able to put some more meat in the freezer through successful hunting and we made a lot of firestarters and a batch of hand-dipped beeswax candles. We did our final chicken culling and re-organizing in preparation for winter, and we decided to try growing lettuce and spinach indoors under grow-lights for the winter months.
December brought a lot of Christmas candy making, as well as Christmas present making since we home-make almost all of our Christmas presents. We said “no” to a lot of regular events and activities to keep a nice, calm, Christmas season and were so glad that we did. I learned how to darn socks, and was able to fix several holes we had in some of our handmade socks. We had two very exciting events happen for the homestead. First, our LGD, Anya, was finally mature and trained enough to guard the livestock full time on her own. And secondly, 3 of our sheep returned to the farm after being away for a year. We ended the year with more medical issues, emergency rooms, hospitalization, and surgery, which will be pouring over into the new year as well.
Looking back we can see that it has been another very productive year full of blessings.