2021 Homestead Report

January 2021

Here is the post on the aims and goals at the start of 2021.

To say 2021 was an interesting year would be an understatement. It was all-over-the-place. New Zealand experienced a bit more of what the rest of the world had been facing with lockdowns and other restrictions.

I started the year eager to do great things. My physical capabilities didn’t quite match my mental eagerness as I discovered that my pregnancy wasn’t as cruisy as the last one was. So I was not to get a great bunch of projects done before the baby arrived then. Miss Scarlet was born half way through the year and her presence and story is one of the highlights of my life. I love her to bits and I’m so thankful we were able to have another child and give The Little Fulla a sibling.

Life on the homestead turned into a juggling act with looking after a baby, having The Little Fulla home for a chunk of time for home learning, The Husband having an issue that ended up requiring surgery and continuing to grow food crops and raise chickens. There were times that the thought of giving up homesteading entered my mind because it was hard and the road was dark, but I quickly shut those thoughts down because I knew I was doing the right thing. There were moments when my dream of our future homestead seemed like it wouldn’t happen, but I chose hope. I sowed seeds, I planted seedlings, I kept vegetables growing all year, I bred chickens, butchered chickens, made healthy food for my family, kept the pantry, fridge and freezers well-stocked and we didn’t buy takeaways for dinner at all the whole year. Some amazing family and friends blessed us with meals and baking during the challenging life events.

Yes, it was a hard year, but it was also a year of thankfulness for me: thankfulness for the blessings and thankfulness that things weren’t worse. I learnt more about fighting fear and choosing peace. I learnt that growing God’s glory must start within the soil of my heart in order to be outwardly fruitful.

My idea of growing God’s glory here last year included making the garden beautiful again, but the weeds got worse. I had to swallow my pride and focus on growing things in myself and others. I learnt that growing God’s glory doesn’t have to be about big things or aesthetically pleasing things. Every day is a chance to bring glory to God through tasks, conversations and prayers. In some seasons you can’t do much more than look after your family to the glory of God. But there’s value in that. Every day I try to remind myself of this: my kids will never be this young again, so I need to enjoy them today. The Little Fulla showed so much understanding and helpfulness while I was pregnant and looking after Miss Scarlet during the newborn stage. He and Miss Scarlet got to spend much more time together during lockdowns and made some precious memories. We finished the year with some extended family time after The Husband’s surgery and it was nice. We grew more appreciation for each other and we worked together more.

Looking at the list, there are many things that didn’t get achieved in 2021. But I’m ok with that, because I’m thankful for what we achieved as a family. The veggie gardens have also been a big success for us and we got down to a good base of breeding stock with our Australorp chickens. I did a lot of computer graphic work behind the scenes. As I’ve looked back on the blog posts from the year, some of the main things that stand out to me are 1) my sheer determination to keep growing and making food for my family despite the hard and busy times and 2) my thankfulness for our new child and the time we’ve had with her.

Here’s what went down in 2021:

  • 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.
  • Those crossed out were deemed unnecessary.

Garden/Outdoors

Vegetable Garden & Fruit Trees
  • Grow as much of our own vegetables and fruit as we can.
    • Grew and harvested: runner beans, bush beans, beetroot, beets, bok choy, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, celery, chillies, corn, cucumbers, elephant garlic, garlic, leeks, lettuces, mesclun salad mix, kale, onions, orach, parsnips, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, sorrel, spinach, squashes and tomatoes, plus all the herbs we use.
    • Grew and harvested: apples, feijoas, figs, lemons, mandarins, oranges, pears, peaches, plums, tangerines, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries (blackcurrants got swamped by weeds), ground cherries and rhubarb.
    • Grew and harvested: walnuts and sunflower seeds.
  • Replace upper section of wire netting along Veggie Garden/Citrus Pen fence with wire mesh with larger openings.
  • Grow some pumpkins and squashes to enter at The Great Pumpkin Carnival. (Got one 3rd place, The Husband and The Little Fulla made and entered pumpkin racers.)
  • Requested and received tomato seeds (7 varieties), bean seeds (10 varieties) and Monty’s Surprise apple trees (2) from Heritage Food Crops Research Trust for just the cost of shipping.
  • The Husband made a cold frame to sit on the outdoor table for growing seedlings.
  • Prune big feijoa tree – a lot. (Pruned half the tree back hard so we’ll still get fruit. Other half to be pruned this year.)
  • Build seat to go between two planter beds at end of Veggie Garden. (Trimmed and partially sanded slab of timber for seat.)
  • Remove ill-performing boysenberry plant and plant new one. (Removed it from its old spot, creating more vegetable growing space and more light. Replanted in Planter Bed #1 at end of Veggie Garden to give it another chance. New one not planted yet as I haven’t built a bed for it.)
  • Build Planter Bed #2 at end of Veggie Garden.
  • Build final raised bed along paddock fence in Veggie Garden.
  • 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
  • Move tall storage cabinet to beside workbench.
  • Install final two plasterboard pieces on garage walls. (Installed plywood instead behind storage cabinet. Need one more panel to finish back wall.)
  • Organise chicken equipment storage area in the garage after shelves have been built. (Tidied some things, bought large plastic container for storing chicken feeders, drinkers, etc.)
  • Build shelf above Big Cage to house smaller chicken cages.
  • Build a timber storage shelf along back wall.
  • Build shelves for chicken equipment storage along back wall.
  • Build/install a tool storage system on ‘tool wall’.
Close to House
  • Bought two leaf eaters, which The Husband installed on our downpipes for better water quality.
  • Build wooden base for two rain barrels beside deck.
  • Build/ install fence and big wooden gate across east side of house.
  • Remove old black fence in patio area.
  • Install posts for porch roof extension.
  • Attach wire mesh to posts and plant climbing plant to grow on it.
  • Pave patio area.
Other
  • Remove rest of weed mat from along the east fence.
  • Bought a new, better weed whacker since old one was broken.
  • Finish framing and covering greenhouse.

Food & Food Prep

  • Preserve as much of our produce as we can.
    • Freezer: chopped broccoli and cauliflower, kale flakes, corn kernels, chopped or whole tomatoes, cooked and bagged dry beans.
    • Jars: gherkins, bottled apples and apricot chutney from bought fruit, elderberry syrup.
    • Made tomato soup (44kg or 97lb of tomatoes used or still frozen for soup), potato and leek soup, pumpkin soup, vegetable and ham soup, bean soup and chicken soup (from older chickens).
    • Dehydrator: chillies for cayenne pepper, chopped beans and celery for soups, tomato slices, onions (bought) for onion flakes, elderberries, probably other things.
    • Dried corn for use as cornmeal.
  • Make all our own stock/broth.
    • Made chicken, pork and beef stock, plus saved bean stock from cooking dried beans.
  • Bought an apple peeler/corer/slicer for preserving apples.
  • Bought multiple-sized silicone trays for cooking and/or freezing food portions.
  • Acquired (for free) a bunch of different-sized stainless steel chafer dishes for endless uses in the kitchen.
  • Make a good supply of meals for the freezer before the baby comes. (Made some but not as many as I’d hoped – a bunch of soups and mini cornbreads.
  • Finish making chicken plucker.

Chickens

  • Improve the quality of our Australorps. (Made some tough choices about culling but because of this the quality of the chickens has improved.)
  • Downsize chicken flock to the best chickens for breeding. (Culled all chickens from the Frodo line, which had potential red feather genetics, and hens I didn’t want to use for breeding.)
  • Bought another heat plate for raising chicks.
  • Bought two more wire basket dividers to separate eggs from different hens in the incubator.
  • Supplied all our own eggs and sold some to family and friends too.
  • Butchered 49 chickens.
  • The Little Fulla raised two chicks, one of which he entered in his school’s Ag Day and won some ribbons for.
  • Build the chicken tractor.

House

  • Clean out spare room and get it ready for the baby. (There are still some things stored in there but they don’t have anywhere else to go yet.)
  • Installed little shelves in the baby’s room.
  • Installed a bracket for a mobile in the baby’s room.
  • Removed full-length mirror from baby’s room door and hung it in hall, installed two double-hooks on door.
  • Frame photo to put in master bedroom.
  • Build a shelf above fridge for extra/more efficient storage.
  • Bought items for better pantry storage: 2x 20L buckets and scoops for flour and 3x wire baskets for onions and garlic, hanging on back of pantry door.
  • Bought a mirror for the bathroom (to be installed).
  • Got gifted some good computer monitors.
  • Install remaining house light fittings. (The Husband installed one or two – two left that he can do himself.)
  • Sell or donate pile of unwanted things in spare (baby’s) room. (Did all except old stamp collection.)
  • Get toilet installed.
  • Get vanity installed.
  • Sort out window stays.

Crafts

  • Make herb hook cross to hang on wall.
  • Make some beeswax wraps (food covers).
  • Knitted three baby hats.
  • Knitted a baby wrap/blanket and tie for Miss Scarlet.
  • Designed and knitted a tractor coaster for The Little Fulla.
  • Finish knitting the log cabin rug. (I did knit more squares, but there’s a long way to go.)
  • Knit a cardigan for myself.
  • Sew a cover for a breakfast pillow for our bed. (Got fabric for it.)

General Homestead

  • Change homestead name – including website and graphics.
  • Open merchandise webstore.
  • I learnt a lot about different homesteading things from watching videos and reading – information that is beyond what we can do now but is homework for the future.

I was cutting it fine officially opening the merchandise webstore on New Year’s Eve, but it had actually been live for a little while, I just hadn’t finished tinkering with the graphics and clothing designs.

Thus, another year closes. I am thankful for another year of homesteading.


One thought on “2021 Homestead Report

  1. You certainly get to grow some interesting fruits and vegetables. Since I do not need to provide for a family, I would consider much of that to be luxury items in my garden. I grow only small volumes of vegetables, so can not justify much variety. Yes, I grow various fruits, but most get given to neighbors because I can not eat or can them all. (I do not even like apricots, but can not stop growing them just because I dislike them.) I am sort of fortunate that some of the people I work for request certain items that I would not otherwise grow. For example, I am not in the habit of growing corn because space was so limited where I lived in town, and I did not like giving it so much water. However, I can grow it here because there are people who really appreciate it! I still have not grown runner beans, but intend to, just because I like their perennial nature. I am hesitant about bok choy, although there are those who would like it. Celery, although not one of my favorites, is enviable, just because it has never done well here. Orach is one that I have never even seen here. Sorrel grows wild here, so I never bothered to grow a garden variety. I sort of wonder about that one.

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