This post is Part 2 in a series about the first year on our homestead. Part 1 can be read here.
Month 2 was an eventful month to say the least. Among other things we celebrated our first Christmas and the first (but insignificant) snowfall!
*Have begun to become a part of and support the local community. We attended the local Christmas parade, got our tires changed at the little shop on mainstreet, and I chose to get my hair cut at the local salon rather than travel back to the big city. This was great fun, the proprietor and her mother (who is her partner) having lived here a very long time. I was told who was related to whom, and where I could get some goats when we decided we were ready.
*Applied for and received our farm tax number; wearing cute matchy matchy barn jackets (that was unplanned).
*Applied for and qualified for agricultural exemption of our land. This will lower our property taxes.
* Hosted a “scout” visit from a potential client who would like to sell our locally grown produce. Upon seeing the layout of our beds we were then told that if we could grow it, they would buy it.
*Purchased enough (or what we thought would be enough) seed to start with a small variety of cool season vegetables: mostly lettuces and spinach for our new client. While this isn’t a huge client, it is a significant switch from growing for just the two of us. How much seed does one need? We aren’t conventional growers, and since it is just the two of us working the place, we prefer intensive gardening techniques and are trying very hard to implement some principles of natural permaculture. As crazy as it sounds, we just sat down with a pencil, paper, and calculator; figured out the space of our beds, how we planned to space our crops, figured in a continual harvest, added it all together, and then doubled it for good measure. Will it be too much? Will it be enough? Can we even pull this off????
*Planted spinach seeds “early” in order for them to overwinter. This is an experiment and will be a learning experience to say the least. We have enough seed and enough additional space of this experiment goes awry.
And speaking of learning experiences:
* After a hard frost one morning we discovered we had lost nearly everything in our fall garden. Everything. Even the cold loving kale was gone. This was after each crop had been covered with heavy plastic. I nearly cried. Husbie however was very positive. “Now we know…” he kept saying.
Major additions to our homestead included:
*A grain mill. This may not sound like a major addition, but we saw it as just one more step to being self reliant. I like to bake with spelt flour and we discovered it was less expensive to buy the spelt and mill it ourselves. It also saves us a trip to the now-far-away natural foods store where we originally purchased our flour.
* Rural internet access. Our move included a switch from cable to satellite and the transition has been rocky. We’re on and off, the satellite and wordpress have a very fickle relationship making the blog tricky to manage, not to mention that the satellite connection is more expensive. I learned this the hard way when I sat down one afternoon to fold the laundry in front of Netflix streaming Toddlers and Tiaras (a guilty pleasure; I confess. I’m so ashamed.). We learned the next day I had nearly consumed our entire bandwidth for the month. Oops. So movies are no longer streaming. If we want to watch something we wait for Netflix to arrive in the mail, or we watch old favorites from our personal library that we’re now working to expand. We’re also beginning to consider spending our free evenings playing games (we love Rummikub and Canasta) or reading as an alternative to watching movies/tv.
And once again…
*Distance. This time between us and a local grocery store. While our little town does have a Dollar General, DG does not really carry groceries unless one eats frozen dinners and Wonder bread. We don’t. So every trip to the store 15 miles away is spent with the mindset of “What am I going to need for the next ten days?” I’ve yet to go and not forget something major. We’ve learned to stretch our menu, eat what we have, or make it from scratch. I see this as a good thing, but I’m ready for our spring garden.
Next month we hope to:
*Put a fence around the perimeter of our garden
*Start our transplants for the cool season veg that are not sown directly into the soil
*Start building the chicken coop for our chicks due to arrive in the spring