Our Third Year Homesteading: A Year in Review
I’ve been going over the goals I set for 2011, reviewing what I was able to accomplish during the year, and what I need to focus on this year. I must say I’m pretty pleased with all I was able to scratch off my list!! Always moving forward, even if only a little at a time. Here are the goals I set for myself, and the outcome of my progress:
- Learn how to sew! I’m especially dying to make skirts and dresses for me and the girls.
I finally learned how to thread my sewing machine, and sew a straight stitch. My ever so patient Mother-in-law came over one day and sat me down at the sewing machine I’ve had for almost two years, and taught me the ins and outs. Although I’m not anywhere near sewing clothing yet, I did create a pennant banner for the boys’ room, which I was super proud of!
- Get my medicinal herb garden going, and use what I grow to make tinctures and herbal remedies.
I planted several medicinal herbs last Spring: Marshmallow, Wooly Lambs Ear, Lemon Balm, Echinacea, Oregano, Catnip, Cilantro, Yarrow and two Elderberry bushes.
Only the Lemon Balm, Catnip and Elderberry bushes survived. We did make a catnip tea for my father-in-law before he passed away. He was having a very hard time getting any rest due to the cancer treatments he was on. But other than that, I didn’t get to experiment much with herbal remedies.
- Put up a proper fence and get a couple of milk goats. And actually milk them.
Yes!! We got two does already in milk, and learned to hand milk them. Sadly, one died from bloat. And, also unfortunately, when my husband was laid off this last time (for like the tenth time in the past two years), we had to sell the other milk goat. She had dried up, and was costing us feed money without giving anything in return. It was a trade up at that point: feed the goat, or feed the kids (the human kind). Hmmm. Tough choice. Ah well, we’ll get more again soon. Hopefully.
- Take some time every day to study the Word of God. Not just read a verse or a devotional, but really study.
We definitely have delved into reading the Scriptures like never before. And it has been AWESOME what the Father is revealing to us from His Word. I am so grateful that our relationship with Him has been rekindled, and given a zeal we have never known until now.
- Set aside a devotional time to do with the kids every day, and really work on character building.
Jada and I read the Bible almost every night before she goes to bed, but we don’t have a formal “devotions” time. I guess I’ve decided it just doesn’t fit us. I’d rather talk about YHWH throughout the day, and if a question comes up, or a story pops into my mind, I find it more real, I guess, if we stop what we’re doing and excitedly search the Scriptures to read over the story together right then while it’s on our hearts. Organized “Bible Time” just doesn’t work well for us. And that’s okay with me!
- Work harder at making the most of my blog.
Oh yes, I’ve definitely tried to work harder on the blog throughout the last year! And I’ve gained a few new sponsors, so that’s awesome. Though, I do have to step back at times and give myself a break. Family must be priority. Always.
- Finish writing and publishing a book I’ve been slowly working on.
Ugh. This one has been a failed goal for the past two years. Why does it take so long for me to finish one book?! Actually, I’ve started writing like three books, but have a problem getting burned out before I complete them. HOPEFULLY, I’ll be able to get at least SOMETHING finished and published this year!
- Learn to make hard cheeses.
Well, I didn’t learn how to make hard cheeses. But I *did* learn how to make goat’s milk ricotta cheese for the first time. Which was awesome! So, I’m cool with that.
- Learn to make soap.
Yes! I learned how to make cold process, lye soap. It was pretty intimidating, but definitely a great skill to learn. And we’ve been enjoying lots of homemade soap, which is great!
- Plant more edible landscaping around our home.
I can’t remember if we put the fig trees in over 2011, or the year before. But we did plant the Elderberry bushes, the lemon balm, some peppermint, and two peach trees. Hopefully they’ll all come back this year!
- Grind ALL of our wheat (no more excuses and running to the store for a bag of flour).
I did pretty darn good here. Not perfect, but I’d estimate I made 80% of our bread over the year. We did end up buying tortillas and canned biscuits quite a bit, just ’cause it’s so much easier than making them from scratch. And they’re pretty cheap. But I’m happy with the progress I’ve made in the baked goods department! Plus, my mother-in-law bought me an AWESOME bread machine, a Zojirushi, so now I can bake even bigger batches!
- Have an even more productive garden.
Every year we seem to get a little more, and a little more, out of our garden. Although it wasn’t nearly enough to survive off of, we definitely got a good amount of stuff out of the garden this year. Well, compared to last year anyways! Improvement is always good.
- Significantly reduce our power bill.
We aren’t anywhere near being under $100 on our power bill, like I’d like to have it, but we’ve been able to reduce our electricity by a little. We installed a wood stove in our fireplace, and have been trying to heat our home with wood mainly. We also replaced a leaky water heater, so that ought to save some money as well. And over the summer, we were better about opening windows and using box fans instead of the air conditioning unit.
Oh yeah, and I almost forgot! We sold our dryer and added a few more clothes lines. It’s a little tricky when the weather is bad, but overall I am loving not having the dryer anymore!
On average, we’ve saved about $50-$75 per month on our bill over the last year. A good savings, if you ask me.
- Learn to bake with molasses
I certainly didn’t exclusively bake with molasses in place of sugar, but I did play around a little, and found a delicious Whole Wheat Honey and Molasses bread recipe!
- Minister to my neighbors
We’ve been blessed to be fellowshipping with one of our neighboring families every Shabbat. We met some other neighbors for the first time, and have done some trading of garden produce and baked goods. And we’ve enjoyed a little visiting with other neighbors. But, it would be great to get to know more of them on a more personal level, still.
- And of course, home birthing this beautiful child waiting to be born. I pray, pray, pray that it all goes well!!!
Hands down, the BEST of all goals accomplished for the year! Baby Elias was born, at home, and was absolutely the most perfect birthing experience I’ve had yet. What an amazing blessing he has been to all of us!!
Oh, and in addition to these goals, we got rid of our microwave- something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Which has been so nice.
So, with all that said, I’m very happy with the progress we’re making!!! If you haven’t read about what we were able to accomplish during our first year of homesteading, read that post as well.
We’ve learned a lot, made a lot of mistakes, and enjoyed some successes. Guess I need to work on my goals for this coming year. It would be so much easier if we knew for sure what to be planning for!! But the ultimate goal is still to be off-grid (eventually) and self-sustaining.
Were you able to accomplish any of your homesteading goals over the past year? What steps are you taking toward self-reliance?