I’ve been thinking a lot about our plans for 2022. It’s been a little bit difficult to come up with something I feel is fairly solid, because we have a couple of variables that are, to some extent, unknown. But I’m doing my best to try to map out a plan for the year so we know what steps to take and when.
Every year, there are several factors we take into consideration when coming up with a list of goals for the year. Finances and time commitments, as well as our desire to reach a goal are all things we need to think about when making our plans. If we really, really want to build a porch, that’s fine and well, but if we don’t have time or money for it, then that’s a problem. Then again, we may choose to make time for such a project or find a way to make available the funds. And so, most of our plans are weighed against order of importance, the financial realities, and any time commitments that will affect the flow of our plans.
We’ve spent a good portion of the past 6+ years just working on making our home and homestead our own. I’ve got big plans for this place, but we were such a long way from getting there for multiple reasons. It’s taken until this past year to get us to a point where we really feel like this place is our own. Our old house and old life seem like a dream or a very distant memory. The plans we’ve had for this place are really taking root, and now we’re to a point where we have most of the right tools and equipment to make those plans a reality.
Personally, I plan to “take it easy” this year, and basically make this year a repeat of last year with a few tweaks. Scott on the other hand, has a long list of things he’s planning to work on. Things he’s actually excited about. We’ll go over some of the plans and the “why” behind them today.
This year, there is only one big project that we’re both hoping to complete… the new building that Scott began last fall. The intention is to use mostly reclaimed materials from the barn, purchase whatever we cannot salvage, and try to get it completed before next winter. None of this is beyond the realm of possibility, and it is my hope that we can make a big dent in this project in the springtime, if not finishing it then. The barn is beginning to deteriorate substantially, and salvaging will need to be done quickly.
Scott is currently working on fixing up a trailer to turn it into a car hauler with the help of his brother. They’ve been working on it weekends since November, and they finally have all of the base cleanup and painting done. I’m pretty sure Scott is thrilled to be working on a project out in the garage. This is really the first big project he’s been able to do out there, and it’s all because he was finally able to make time to get the garage cleaned out an organized.
He’s also been working on cutting trees and making wood for the new wood burner just about every weekend for well over a month. This is something he’s largely doing with the boys, and while they are making good progress, it’s something he’s going to continue to work on until winter has ended.
Another thing he’d like to do is to finish getting rid of the mess on the slab where the coop used to be. We had such a bad wasp problem this year that he wasn’t able to get the job done before winter. That will likely wait until the weather warms a little, but not so much that the wasps are active again.
One of these days, I’m pretty sure he’s going to go work on pruning trees. He usually prunes the fruit trees during February, and if he has time, he may go to some of our neighbors and help them with pruning, too.
I know he’s got a list of other projects he’d like to work on, but the only other thing that I can think of is that he wants to do some garden experimenting this year. The intention is to plant a long section of one particular food, but several varieties, and to figure out what works best for us, and under what conditions.
While I do have a list of projects I want to work on, it’s relatively small to what I’ve done in the past. I’d really like to get roofing on the poultry tractors this year, but this might depend on money more than anything. I should have time in the spring to work on this, but that’s no good if we don’t have the supplies or money for it. We just need to roof the two tractors, and we may be able to get free roofing. We also need to finish the final touch of roofing on the last chicken tractor, which I should be able to do easily with what we have on hand.
The only other projects that I am hoping to do will both be financially dependent. I’d like to build a veggie washing station, and I’d like to build a large curing rack for potatoes and onions. Neither of these are overly complicated projects, nor are they terribly expensive, but we would need to buy some materials for it, so… we’ll see.
Lest I make our financial situation sound rough, it’s not so bad. We made a few huge financial purchases last year that really stretched our budget to the limit, but as we progress into the new year, it’ll continue to improve. Building materials have come down in price since their peak last year, but they are still on the high side, and the cost of supplies will play a big role in what we can and cannot afford to buy. Plus, there are other things we need to consider financially, and we would like to see this year be a little less tight than last year, which might mean passing on projects until next year.
Whew! Okay, now let’s talk about the garden plans. I need to sit down and do some serious planning soon, but I do know that I’m making a few changes to the plans for this year’s garden. Some of the changes are a result of what we learned last year. I have too difficult of a time growing broccoli or brussels sprouts successfully, and I’m just not going to grow them this year. I might try again in the future, but I have other things I need to focus on this year. I also don’t intend to grow more than one or two pepper plants this year, and I will just buy starts rather than seeds, because this is something that I just don’t care enough about to troubleshoot right now.
Overall, the big change to the garden is that I’m going to grow fewer varieties this year for the sake of seed-saving. I’m currently reading a book called “Seed to Seed” to learn more before I make plans for the layout. The big takeaway is that I’ll be growing less variety but more of each variety that I do plant for the best results.
What do I mean? Well, I’m going to mostly grow cherry tomatoes for all of my sauce needs. I’m only going to grow my purple pole beans for canning purposes, and I think I’m just going to grow the Mexican Red beans for our dried beans. I will maybe grow three varieties of pumpkin/squash, and each will be from separate families so there isn’t cross pollination. I’m going to grow two types of corn, but I probably have some extra special planning to do in order to have good results. But in order to ensure good results in the seed genetics, I need to plant enough plants of a variety to get good seed strength for years to come.
However, the seed saving isn’t going to drastically change the way I garden. It’s going to impact how much I grow of something, but since I’m growing fewer varieties, it shouldn’t make a huge difference, other than a slight shift in layouts. We may try to get more horse manure for the gardens, but if we can’t make that work, I have a few alternative ideas in mind that we may test out.
As for the landscaping in the yard, I probably won’t change much. I’d like to plant more herbs and flowers in the secret garden, but since I redid the beds, I don’t think I’ll have a massive workload to worry about. I’m mostly concerned with growing more herbs this year. I absolutely loved having a big herb garden, and I’d really like to expand it, as I realized how much I use herbs in my cooking. I’m sure I’ll make changes here and there, but the goal is largely maintenance. No big beds to dig, no plans for major new ones.
There aren’t big changes for the plans on the animal front. We’d like to raise and butcher chickens, turkeys, and pigs again. I’m interested in raising more turkeys as I absolutely loved the meat we harvested from them, much more than I anticipated. We had a few issues with chickens last year, but if we can make a few tweaks to the way things are done, I don’t think we’ll have a repeat.
The pigs are where we want to make the biggest change. We haven’t made a firm decision yet, but we are planning to purchase 4-6 pigs this spring. We may end up fencing in another area so we can have more room for the pigs, and if we would get 6 pigs, I may need to build additional shelter space. We do need to make an adjustment to the feeder situation no matter what, and we may want to add additional watering options for the pigs. This is a somewhat expensive financial investment, so I think we need to do some serious financial planning to see what we can actually afford to do.
There are two other things that are playing heavily into our decision-making this year. The first is that for the next few months at least, I’m babysitting our friends’ daughter. We don’t have a set schedule worked out just yet, but I’ve been watching her a few times a week. Right now, it’s not impacting our routine much, but then again, I’m not doing work outside. She’s just a few months old, and right now sleeps plenty, but as she grows, I’m not sure how much more time and attention she’ll require. I’m happy to do it, but I just don’t know what it’s going to make my schedule look like, so I’m taking it easy.
However, that’s not the only reason I’m going to “take it easy.” I’m 11 weeks pregnant! This first trimester has been of a rough start with all the nausea, but I’m glad to be getting this phase out of the way now. I should be feeling better by the time I’m working outside regularly on maple syrup and other projects, and I won’t be sick during the high heat of summer.
In fact, the morning sickness is a big part of why I haven’t written much lately. I haven’t been very active, and there just hasn’t been much to report on. I’ve been asking everyone to pray for a healthy pregnancy, baby, and delivery. I’ve been sick enough that it’s been difficult for me to keep it quiet, and I’m heavier than ever before at the start of a pregnancy, and this is my 9th pregnancy (we lost two), so I look quite pregnant already on most days.
Okay, so a quick overview of how I *think* this will all play out. As I pointed out, I should be feeling a lot better as the weather begins to warm. I should be able to get outside to work and walk more regularly again in about a month, and today, I’m pretty excited about that. I should be feeling decent through planting season, but I’ll be getting pretty big by the time that wraps up. Hopefully, I have enough energy and strength to do the initial weeding and watering that is so important to a successful garden.
When the heat of summer kicks in, I’ll be in the third trimester. This is when I generally tend to take it a little slower anyway. I work throughout July, but things slow down a bit after the 4th and stay that way until mid-August, which is when I’m due (mid/late August). I do some occasional canning during this time, but there’s more downtime, I usually spend time getting caught up on housework and taking the kids swimming or to spend time with friends.
Yes, the baby is coming at the time that canning just starts getting intense. No, that’s not ideal, but it’s also not as bad as it seems. You see, I will likely be in the house, nursing the baby, so keeping an eye on the canner shouldn’t be a difficult task. The kids can help with harvest and prepping things for canning, and I can work on things between nursing sessions. It’s actually a relatively light workload in terms of physical work. I know it’s draining, and I know I tend to have sore feet at the end of a long day, but if the kids step up and help, it should be doable.
That being said, my mom and some of my friends and other family have offered to assist with canning and harvest in one way or another, and I am willing to just give things away if it just seems like too much.
On the back end of canning season comes butchering. We’re definitely going to rely a little more on help from family and friends than in the past, but again, this should be doable. The butchering season comes after the postpartum recovery period, so I shouldn’t have a problem being on my feet for this work, though with nursing, it’ll keep me from being able to work non-stop like I normally would. By the time pig butchering comes around, I should be in much better shape physically, and I should be able to handle that workload alright. Certain portions of that job are very physically demanding, so it’s good that I’ll be well beyond the 6-week mark.
Of course, all of those plans are hinging on a healthy, successful pregnancy, something that nobody ever has full control over. So, we are praying daily for all to go well, and we’d appreciate any prayers that any of you offer up on our behalf!
What kinds of plans do you have for 2022? What are you most excited for this year? Let me know in the comments!
Love and Blessings~ Danielle