Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015 Homestead Goals

The other day, we took a look back at 2014 and what we got done around The Lab.  It was definitely cool to see some of the funnest parts of the year recorded and electronically narrated here on the interwebs, (one of the benefits of blogging!), and we were surprised to see how much we got done! (Still can't believe the powdered pectin experiment worked!) 

But now it's time to complete the 360° rotation and start looking forward again.  What do we want to accomplish in 2015?  We've got a big pile of projects we'd like to work on, but there are a few we especially wanted to post here so you, dear readers, can hold us accountable!

Kitchen counter and cabinet
Our kitchen is in dire need of both horizontal and storage space.  We built a butcher block counter top with shelves underneath it to remedy that, but we have a bad habit of stopping work on something as soon as it's functional.  So once it warms up, we need to finally finish the counter and put doors on the cabinet part so it doesn't look so cluttered.

Early stage of the counter top, pre-shelves, and largely pre-clutter.  That's not a coincidence.

We expanded in the spring to 250 square feet from the 30 square feet we had the previous fall, but it still seemed cramped and insufficient to provide much in the way of veggies.  Maybe because we planted so much of it with tomatoes and they all matured late, while the onions, green beans, and broccoli didn't do much at all.  The potatoes and herbs were also disappointing.  Apparently, as a baseline, our dirt sucks!  We had also planned to expand more, but got busy with off-the-homestead stuff.  At least the Swiss chard was rockin', and by this fall we had enough compost to cover all the garden beds about 2" deep when we put the garden to sleep for the winter.  We'd like to add another 350 square feet or so this year, and that's probably about all we can fit into our backyard and still have our landlords be able to rent it out to other people when we eventually move out!  As tack-on projects to the garden itself, we've got ambitions of setting up a barrel-based drip irrigation system to keep it all watered and a solar dehydrator to help preserve all the goodies.

This is what happens when your off-the-homestead demands go off-the-charts and you accidentally think your old tomato seeds won't sprout, but they do.  Hopefully this year's garden goes more according to plan!

Chicken feed remains the biggest cost driver in our production of meat and eggs.  We think we can do better than the pre-bagged foods, if we can find time to grow the ingredients for them.  To that end, we hope to try two new types of livestock this year: soldier fly larvae and red worms.  We've grown worms before, but we don't have a setup out here in Colorado because there's no room in the house for one and we haven't built one outside that can take the temperature extremes.  Yet.  That's going to change this summer, just you watch.

Our Worm Trunk/end table from out east.  Not insulated enough for outdoor use in Colorado.

We've been doing ok with the dandelions, mallow, plums, and apples from the yard, but we'd like to expand our repertoire a bit.  For example, we don't have any secret morel spots out here yet, and we haven't studied other wild edibles from this part of the country very well.  This category also includes getting out to go hunting and fishing.  We haven't been fully satisfying our inner caveman since we left the Midwest, and searching for food in the wilds will be a good way to get back on track.

Ok, that's it!  There's our highest-priority homesteading to-do list for this year.  If we make it all the way through December and you haven't seen posts on some of it, please scold us harshly.

What are the top priorities around your homestead this year?  Let us know in the comments section below!

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