New Year's 'To-Do-List'
January (just overlook the fact that I'm posting this on January 31st) is full of people making resolutions for the new year (most of which they will not keep..but whatever).
So here is my short "To-Do-List" for 2015.
In no particular order:
- Raise Meaties again in the fall - You may remember I raised Meaties last spring/summer. Their meat was scrumptious, and we really enjoyed it, however I would do a few things differently if/when I raise them again. Mom and I decided we would pressure cook all the breasts/legs instead of keeping the legs separate and such, as so much of that meat got wasted. Also I want a different housing system. Possibly looking into chicken tractors; that way they can free range and eat bugs/grass, their droppings will compost into the ground and thus fertilize it, AND it will put less work and strain on me to not have to clean out their house every. single. day. I also would like to do their diet differently. I started out adding raw ACV (apple cider vinegar) to their water, and had zero problems with pasty rear-ends, or other problems that Meaties seem to be prone to. However, once they got older I slowly got lazy and stopped adding it to their water, thus causing some issues that I hadn't had to deal with before. I want to have a good fodder system going, and have about 50% of their diet be fresh wheat-grass. Then I want to try fermented feed (that's a whole post in itself), but basically you put X amount of pellets/and or whole grains into a big bucket, cover it with water, adding a bit of AVC and put a top on it, with a few air holes. You stir it once or twice per day, and in several days it will start to bubble and smell sweet/fermented. Think sourdough starter. Why on earth would you want to feed your chickens fermented feed you may ask? It's easier for them to digest, their bodies pull more nutrients from the fermented feed/grain than they would if you fed it to them dry, a little goes a long way, and since it's a wet-mash-consistency, they get full faster, and thus eat less, and save you money. So yes, it has many benefits, but on the con-side of things, it's more work than just throwing out some dry feed, and it takes some preparation, BUT that's why I want to raise Meaties in the fall, as I plan on slacking down on my gardening so I will have time to raise them properly. Fall is also going to be a much better time for us this year, because my sister's baby is due about the time we'd be needing to put them in the freezer (this spring), and last year we let them go too long and ended up butchering in..July I believe? Yeah, not so fun! In the fall, many days are nice and cool and would be perfect for doing the job, and it's easier on me and the Meaties, because we are both very heat-intolerant! So yes, Meaties in the fall is the plan. I will spend the spring/summer working on housing for them, so I will have everything ready for when they arrive.
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- Big, productive garden - This is my main goal this year. I've dabbled in gardening in the past, but this winter I really got bit by the bug. And I was given permission to run wild with seed ordering this year, and yes, I won't tell you how much we spent on just seeds! But yes, I'm going to have my hands full! I'm turning every available space into a garden plot. I've been busily repairing fences, building new ones, cleaning out raised beds, as well as lots of DIY gardening projects. Currently, the green house is full of tiny seeds that have yet to sprout, despite my checking on them like 45409 times a day, I've yet to find a single. sprout! *sigh* Yes, I'm a little impatient!
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- Put excess harvest up for the winter - this goes along with the above^. If my plans work out correctly, we will have lots of produce. I plan on mastering the art of canning and preserving food, oh yes I do indeed! By this fall, I want to see our pantry cabinets shock-full of homemade pickles, tomato sauce, hot sauce, and other dainties of that sort! And our freezers full of beans, radishes, greens, carrots, and every other good thing! As well as that I hope to put up lots of onions, squash/pumpkins, and potatoes. I am going to try very hard to put up enough food that we can eat on it all winter long, and enjoy the harvest of our garden despite there being snow on the ground.
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- Try rabbits again - We started out with four, adorable Dutch rabbits last year, but things happened and we ended up loosing all of them. They were solely for pets, but they were very helpful pets and such wonder little composters and veggie-eaters! And, considering my huge plans for this year's garden, they will be very helpful in eating up the excess/spoiled produce. Something else I will mention is whilst I was hoeing up the raised beds in our main garden, one of the beds that I had composted rabbit bedding/droppings into, had the most dark, moist, amazing soil! Just another reason that this garden-savvy-person want to get rabbits again! I want me some rabbit compost, and lots of it...don't judge. ;) I see you judging! AND, I would like to attempt to raise some rabbits solely for meat, and possibly their hides. So yes, lots of plans for the rabbits! I plan on doing another post that goes in-depth on this topic, so more on this subject later.
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- Get milkcows bred - If you remember, Belle (my main miler) lost her calf in the fall of 2014, and recently we preg-checked Bessie and she was without a calf. So neither of my precious milkcows are expecting at this moment. I attempted to order some miniature jersey semen so we could AI (artificially inseminate) them, but our vet said he wouldn't do it, so that kind of went out the window, AND the semen I wanted was $75.00 a straw, with a min. order of 4, with shipping of $100.00. Ouch.Then we ended up buying a new yearling bull to put with our pasture cows, but he is currently penned with the milkcows, so there is a pretty good chance he will be the sire of their calves, which I am OK with, as his breed (I forget how to spell it, so I will leave that blank!) are a good dual-purpose breed, being good meat producers, as well as good milkers, and as an added plus they have a great laid back personality. Which I can already tell, as this little bull is very sweet and gentle. And since I'm rooting for some heifer calves this time 'round, a good, sweet personality is a good trait for a future milker. Trust me, we've had some pretty vicious milkers in the past who would kick and put up a fight when it was time to be milked. Not fun. Another possibility was a Holstein bull that someone had locally, but that didn't work out, so I suppose I'll have to be happy with Mr. Sweet Tempered Bull.
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- Composting worms - Now, I can see you staring at disbelief at the word "worms". Why on heck would anyone actually want worms? Now, hold onto your horses there 'hoss! Worms are a gardener's best friend. They play a major role in helping you build up your soil quality by, you guessed it, eating compost and vegetable scraps, and giving you worm castings (poop). These castings are equal in value to gold, in gardener's eyes! So yes, for that reason alone they are worth raising. However, that is not their only pro. They also make tasty, high-protein snacks for poultry. And last, but not least, they eat quite a few kitchen scraps that the chickens and other birds turn their beaks up at. Such as, coffee grounds, egg shells, and the like. So yes, worms (thinking about Red Wigglers) are defiantly on the "to-raise" list this year.
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- Quail - A dear friend of mine raises Jumbo Coturnix quail, and other people I know of raise them for their little-bit-bigger-than-a-bantam size eggs, as well as their tasty meat. They are fast growing, great layers, easy to keep, very calm, and all 'round a great little bird to raise and have around.
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- Wildlife Rehabitor's license - This is something I've looked forward to doing for years now, ever since I found out about it. The reason I've waited so long to take the plunge is because you have to be 18 to apply for this license, so I plan on getting this license this fall. Basically what this license gives you liberty to do is: to raise and release wildlife. People bring you all sorts of injured, abandon, or baby wildlife to raise and tend to. Then if they are able to be returned to to the wild, they are released. Otherwise you can humanely put them down (which I doubt I could ever do unless it was a wild, adult animal that would further injure itself or me, being in captivity), or keep them as educational animals (pets, basically). So yes, I'm very excited about this!!!
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- Herbalist license - I found out about this Herbal Academy of New England last year, and instantly wanted to sign up and take their online course. However, it's a little bit pricey and I'll have to save up in order to take it, but it's something I think will help grow my knowledge of herbs, and their many benefits. As well as how to apply them to my daily life, that and I think it will come in very useful in the future if/when I have children. I want to avoid going to the doctor's if at all possible, so this Momma is gonna have to know what to do when baby gets sick. That and the fact that I just adore anything to do with nature, and nature health-care.
Another possibility I'd thought about is doing workshop classes on herbs (as once you finish the above course, they send you a certificate saying your an Official Certified Herbalist, etc). This would open the doors to me teaching others about herbs and sharing my knowledge.
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So there you have it! My (not so short) "To-Do-List" for 2015!
So tell me, my dear readers, what are some goals/"To-Do-Lists" you've set for yourself this year? I'm all ears....