Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 review

End of the year and progress continues slowly on our farm. We put up a lot of food, traded for a lot more, and are in pretty good shape for the winter, but am already thinking about enhancing things as the seasons progress. Will hopefully get a prototype water collection system off the barn set up this year, with greater capacity once I get the basics worked out. Right now, I've got two IBCs and three rain barrels, so there is plenty more capacity that could be added.

Other major steps in the coming year are continued terracing of the hilly yard with conversion to garden strips and completion of the garden deer fencing and gates.

I will start closing in a chicken coop area in our pole barn in February, and getting ready for our first batch of chickens. I am trying to apply Harvey Ussery's principals, even though it is not a standalone structure. Have started the material list, and will begin buying stuff in January. (soon!)

We'll probably order our chicks in April. We plan to get some dual purpose breed, maybe black Australorps, something like that, and get straight run. The cockerels will end up in the freezer, some of the hens we'll keep for eggs.

Here is a shot of the electrical work coming along in the barn. I had decided to frame, insulate and drywall the workshop with electrical installation afterwards, running it all in EMT. I now have energized circuits in the workshop, and am starting the runs to the rest of the barn. Bending EMT or conduit requires a bit of math and geometry, so I'm taking it slowly, trying to avoid creating scrap.

I'm putting lots of outlets in the workshop. The lights are cheap fluorescents I already have from using to start seeds in the spring. I've simply got them hanging and plugged in, so I can lower or move to use for seed starting once more instead of buying all new lights. All have their own pull cord, so I can have on only as many as needed, saving electricity.

On other fronts, we made our first batch of cheese, a quick mozzarella using citric acid and rennet instead of a culture. It was just OK, but we will get better. is a great source for homesteaders who want to get supplies at small scale quantities. We found them very helpful for us first timers.

I am already signed up to take a wild food foraging class this spring, and in this coming year we hope to sign up for other classes being offered by the Driftless Folk School, which has just opened up a permanent campus very near us.

Right now, as the year ends, we are getting the seed catalogues from everyone, so it won't be long before we start garden plotting and rotation layout to get our seed orders roughed out.