2020 was the year of an unprecedented modern-day pandemic, but to me it was a year of dealing with things that I faced. It was a year of promise and hope rising in the face of uncertainty and failure. There were a number of things that didn’t go well. The risks, the unknowns, the financial impacts and the emotional effects of COVID-19, losing my snuggle cat, Simba, having chickens die accidental or unexpected deaths, having tomato plants fail thanks to psyllids and having crops not do well due to the summer drought and being careful with water. Progress in the second half of the year was thwarted by my leg injury, sickness, part-time work and then having a few months of sickness and/or bad hayfever and sinus symptoms during pregnancy that prevented me from doing so many things. Outside of the vegetable gardens, the garden became a weedy mess, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since we moved into the empty property. It near broke my heart and certainly wounded my pride. Thankfully, I had some helpers that came and dealt with some of the weeds. The rest are a reminder that I can’t do everything.
It wasn’t our most productive year in terms of being able to get things done. I feel like I failed in a lot of ways. There were times when I looked at the list of aims and goals stuck on the whiteboard and thought, “What’s the point?” I realised I wasn’t going to get a lot of the things done and it was hard to look at them. I felt like tearing the list off the wall. It was, after all, an exceptionally challenging year.
But I did not allow myself to take down the list. Instead of running away and hiding from the failures or the ‘impossible’, I chose to face them. I chose to learn to live with that list staring me in the face every day and accept my shortcomings. I would not feel disappointed and discouraged by the list, I would deal with the feelings, live alongside the failures and continue to do what I could.
I learned that failure is part of every homestead. Every failure is a learning opportunity. Every task or goal not done makes me readjust my perspective on where my worth comes from. You only truly fail when you stop trying. And I do not stop trying. Although I had the capability to do more of the tasks and goals than what I did, I did not have the capacity to at the time.
As I walked ever more closely with God last year he whispered promises to me. I have never been more convinced that I am doing the right thing and that God will build my homestead dream bigger and wilder in the years to come. There are exciting things to come. My respiratory health is better and I did not have to use a single inhaler last year, and for that I am thankful. We were so blessed as a country to have much less incidence of and impact from the pandemic as many other countries. Yet it heightened my drive to provide my family with more food security from what we grow and raise here, so a lot of what I chose to do contributed to that aim.
The chicken population boomed and I have a lot of chickens to choose from to improve the flock. And a bunch in the freezer. The Husband has become more interested in building things and helping out. The Little Fulla grew in his skills and ability to do helpful things. The vegetable garden did better than ever during winter and spring, and is flourishing right now with all sorts of summer crops because I pushed through my circumstances to get them growing, to feed my family. The times when I had a window to be able to do something I chose to sow or plant vegetables or tend to the edible crops above any projects. Or I butchered chickens. I acquired things that would help us to grow more crops and to process and preserve more food. We only bought takeaways for dinner once in the whole year, right at the start. We did well feeding ourselves with many nourishing things from the homestead. The times I wasn’t physically able to do much I worked on plans, dreams and graphics for future things and wrote devotionals. And we finished the year with a baby on the way.
Here’s what went down in 2020.
- Points in bold are goals or aims that were achieved.
- Points not in bold are things achieved that weren’t on the list of goals and aims.
- Goals or aims partially achieved are in blue.
- Those not achieved are in red.
crossed outwere deemed unnecessary.
Vegetable Garden & Fruit Trees
- Grow vegetable crops based on what crops do well here, what we use a lot of, what is expensive to buy and how much time and effort is required to grow them.
- Grew and harvested: runner beans, bush beans, beetroot, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, celery, chillies, corn, cucumbers, elephant garlic, leeks, lettuces, kale, kohlrabi, onions, orach, parsnips, peppers, pumpkins, spinach, squashes, swedes and tomatoes. And all the herbs we use.
- Remove temporary gate/fence panel from far corner of Veggie Garden by chicken pen and replace with proper fencing.
- Build square raised bed in that corner of Veggie Garden.
- Built Planter Bed #1 at end of Veggie Garden.
- Tended Front Plot – put in a load of compost, formed planting rows and paths, covered soil with mulch.
- Acquired materials for strong but moveable tomato frames for the Front Plot and the Veggie Garden – steel standards, metal conduit, tees, garden twine.
- Bought a post rammer for safely banging in standards.
- Planted more than twice as many tomato plants as ever before for 2020/2021 season.
- Planted grapevine.
- Bought a new boysenberry to replace one that doesn’t give good fruit.
- Strung three wires along standards to keep raspberries from flopping over.
- Planted four more blackcurrants grown from cuttings.
- Bought and planted two new blueberry bushes.
- Grow lots of pumpkins and squashes to enter at The Great Pumpkin Carnival. (Grew some good specimens, but the carnival was cancelled due to COVID-19.)
- Started work on bench seat to go between two planter beds at end of Veggie Garden.
- Prune big feijoa tree – a lot.
- Build a tall stand for rain barrel in Processing Corner.
- Acquire and install plumbing fittings for outdoor sink to get gravity-fed water from the rain barrel.
Garage & Shed
- Declutter and organise potting shed. (Built shelves and tool racks for much better organisation and storage of crops.)
- The Husband fixed the broken guttering along the back of the garage and to the garage rain tank.
- Organise and tidy garage. (Did some organising and tidying but a long way to go.)
- Moved wall shelves to a better place above freezers.
- Installed small shelf for nails and screws on future tool wall.
- Got rid of some unwanted things and rubbish.
- Install plasterboard on the unlined walls of the garage. (Almost completed, just two more sheets to buy and install.)
Close to House
- Build proper roofing for firewood racks.
- Build smaller sandpit beside swing set to replace current one and get sand away from the deck.
- Turned old sandpit frame into an extra compost bin to go behind Potting Shed.
- Build/ install fence and big wooden gate across east side of house. (Acquired posts, cement mix and gudgeons but installation not begun yet.)
- Prep and pave the patio beside the deck. (Cleared out The Little Fulla’s ‘worksite’, weeded, levelled ground, cut deck boards flush and laid pavers to figure out where to put them.)
- Build / install small pedestrian gate for path across east side of house.
- Build wooden base for rain barrel beside deck.
- Turn the space beside front carport into a parkable area.
- Finish attaching wire netting along east paddock fence.
- Fixed wire netting along length of back chicken pen fence that had been pushed around by neighbouring sheep.
- Built shelves in The Little Fulla’s cabin, which he later uninstalled. The Husband built him a storage chest instead.
- The Husband built a workbench and sold it.
- Dug/pulled hydrangea bushes out of the Front Garden and planted new plants in there.
- Finish hacking and slashing ‘the forest’ along east fence and remove weed mat. (Did the hacking and slashing but haven’t removed all weed mat.)
- Expand my range of plants to sell online. (Started some new species but didn’t do a large amount of propagating due to other commitments and circumstances.)
- Finish building and covering greenhouse. (Built timber base and attached frame to it. Acquired greenhouse plastic and timber for door frame.)
Food & Food Prep
- Make multiple kinds of soup. (Bean soup, pumpkin soup, tomato soup, chicken soup.)
- Make lots of stock. (Made a good amount of chicken stock.)
- Preserve as much of our produce as we can. (Freezer: feijoa flesh, sliced peaches, sliced plums, chopped broccoli, chopped celery, kale flakes, orach flakes, pumpkin puree and pumpkin butter, grated squash (HEAPS), chopped or whole tomatoes; Jars: feijoa chutney, gherkins, sauerkraut; Dehydrator: cayenne pepper, onion flakes.
- Make more meals to freeze for later.
- Started buying good peanuts and The Husband made all our own peanut butter from then.
- Bought jars and lids that are safe for freezer use.
- Bought preserving tongs.
- Bought another cast iron pan.
- Bought a very big stock pot for butchering larger amounts of chickens.
- Bought parts for a chicken plucker and The Husband made most of it. Need to paint timber, attach plucker fingers and mount engine properly.
- Do more baking to freeze for later.
- Improve the quality of our Australorps.
- Hatch more chicks.
- Build a new chick feeder box.
- Purchase a smaller auto-feeder for the Corner Pen to reduce food wastage to sparrows. (Bought another big one second-hand.)
- Made new roosts, shifted nestboxes & made nestbox ledge for more roost space and better functionality.
- Butchered around 37 chickens.
- Got rid of all crossbred chickens to focus on Australorps.
- Had a good enough supply of eggs that we didn’t have to buy any.
- Sell Australorps of good quality. (Due to a possible red-feather line mix-up I didn’t have many to sell. I sold ones not good enough for breeding to pet/laying homes only.)
- Build a chicken tractor.
- Tidy up chicken equipment storage area in the garage.
- Build or buy shelving for chicken equipment in the garage.
- Make artwork to hang in entranceway.
- Got a seed storage system to organise and store seeds under bed.
- Bought a toilet. (Not installed yet.)
- Build/repurpose a new bathroom vanity. (Bought a vanity but not installed.)
- Install remaining house light fittings. (The Husband got one more installed…)
- De-clutter and organise craft room cupboard.
- Deal with clutter and unwanted things in craft room.
- Finish prepping door for the laundry, paint it and install it.
- Sort out window stays.
- Frame photo to put in master bedroom.
- Prep and paint kitchen walls.
- Prep and paint dining room walls.
- Knit some baby hats. (Knitted 7 baby or adult hats for friends and family, plus 4 hats to donate to those in need.)
- Knit a scarf for myself.
- Get back to knitting the log cabin rug.
- Sew a cover for a breakfast pillow for our bed. (Bought the material but haven’t started.)
- Make Christmas decorations.
Fix hole in my slipper.(Hole is too big to fix and have other slippers now.)
- Knit a cardigan for myself.
Well, that’s the round-up for 2020. Stay tuned for the 2021 Homestead Aims and Goals.