The New Year, and winter on a farm in general, is the perfect time to reflect on what to do differently, what to improve, and where to grow the farm in 2019. We had a very busy and accomplishment filled 2018, an extremely exciting year in the development of our farm. But I think it could be said, 2018 lacked some of the joys in day to day farm life that make this lifestyle choice a pleasure. A few goals we lost sight of, and some non-farm things loomed larger in our lives. So it is the perfect time to regroup and get back to living the good life.
2019: getting back to the farm. Our first and most already-in-progress change is goat kids. We have a buck visiting this month to service our girls and ensure a big batch of goat kids bouncing around the farm in summer. While we are making every effort to sell a number of the kids, I do plan to keep somewhere between two and five (depending on how our pasture expansion goes, and who has how many babies) on the farm.
And with goat kids will come goat milk! For our first year milking several does, we’re going to play it a little bit by ear. I hope to do a lot of experimenting with different goat’s milk recipes, possibly try making things like fudge and soap, and have plenty of fresh, raw milk for my morning coffee and any recipes that call for it.
We’re also getting pigs! My friend Kate, www.themoderndaysettler.com, has a beautiful sow named Big Marie who will be having piglets this winter. We’ll be taking three home in April. Depending on how that goes we may be getting more piglets in the summer or farrowing our own the following spring. While I do love pork, the primary purpose of adding pigs has nothing to do with food. One of the most frustrating events of the past year was having loggers come in to clear around twenty acres of hillside below our fields. The intent was to turn much of it into useable pasture, leaving some as walkable woods and natural trails. What was left behind was a much bigger mess than anticipated - and that’s where the pigs come in. Pigs are great foragers, especially the breeds we are considering, and unlike goats they’ll root up stumpage and clear out brush piles. So these pigs have a job waiting for them, and we’re so excited to get them started.
I do not have great plans to expand bird flocks in 2019. I think twenty four geese is a pretty good number! We will be building a chicken coop so that our girls can be housed separately from the guinea fowl, which hopefully will be less stressful for them and result in more eggs. We may add a few ducks or a gosling or two if the opportunity presents itself, but overall our birds fill their purpose on the farm perfectly and we’re very happy where we are with them.
The vegetable garden on the other hand will see plenty of growth! We’re adding an herb garden bed which probably won’t be complete (at least in terms of producing) this summer but will start to supplement my cooking and home remedies. We’re also putting in some fruit trees and we continue to work on the land arounds us with a goal towards crops that can provide us with income and food. The garden by the house, my primary vegetable garden, remains and will see some new plants and a little bit of expansion this year. While I question my motivation in August since I say this every year, this year I want to finally do a fall garden and plant things that will be hardy come frost. I was absolutely thrilled with most of my harvests this past year so my plans will focus on planting the right number of veggies so I can have all we can eat, without waste or want. And now that I have a farmhouse kitchen, there will be a lot more canning and preserving going on.
Now that the house is done, time off the land will be spent with more writing work. I have a few ambitious goals for 2019 and my writing work, which will start with pitching more articles than I did last year and hopefully will end with some new books in the works. My writing work has connected me to some exciting people and has granted me amazing opportunities, and I’m looking forward to expanding on those and turning what has been a passion of my free time into more of a career.
We started living this lifestyle, even before we moved out to rural Maine, as a way to connect with the earth, to provide for ourselves, and to live simply. We’ve made a deliberate choice to grow our own food, to care for our little corner, and to get back to what is important in life. So if I have one resolution for 2019, it is to stay in tune to those first goals and to not lose sight of the things that bring us joy on the farm. It’s going to be an exciting, busy year, a year I look forward to sharing here. Thank you for following along!
Photo: Alissa Hessler/The Urban Exodus
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