We did it everyone we made it through another crazy year, with masks, zoom meetings, supply chain issues, and just general insanity. I know for me the getting back to a more normal schedule this year was nice but also so overwhelming. I may be one of the few people that enjoyed having less to do since I am the type to just go, go, go. Today however we are going to take a moment to look back on this year and then forward to the next.
We shall start with what we were able to get done this year. As many of you may know from reading other posts some of my plans this year did not go the way I wanted. The garden was less than adequate, wood prices shot up so we never could get goats, and well I did not get to can things as I had planned. I can spend this whole post crying about what we could not get done, or I can showcase what I was able to accomplish.
A big accomplishment this year was adding bees. We had been dreaming of adding bees and just decided to jump in both feet first on a last-minute whim. We had no experience aside from watching things on YouTube and a few meetings at the local bee shop, but when we realized that we had enough money to get bees we just went by the shop and came home with some hives. I find this one of the best new additions. For me personally raising bees has added so much to the homestead. First I love watching them, seeing them fly in and out of the hives, catching them in the compost bin doing a little dance, or just seeing them on flowers around the yard gives me a joy I can’t explain. Second, raising them has allowed me to conquer that fear everyone has when they come in contact with Thousands of tiny stinging machines. Knowing that if we are calm and careful we can open the hives and care for the bees and they don’t mind is an amazing feeling.
We have of course learned a bit after getting them. For one I have learned that there was a much gentler way to have gotten them into our hive to start. When we picked up the bees and had to take them out of their packages and into the hives we just followed the instructions that we had found in the books we had. Of course, there was a better way. The books said that you pop open your package, put the queen into the hive onto one of the frames, and then shake the rest of the bees out into the hive. If that sounds a bit overwhelming I can tell you it was. Weeks after doing this we stumbled across a video of another method, one in which I would have likely not gotten stung 3 times. In the new method that we found you would still take out the queen and attach it to a frame but then you would remove enough frames to put the package into the hive letting the bees slowly get out, after a few days you would then remove the package and add the frames back in. This would have been a much better method and would have likely kept the bees from becoming angry stinging machines. This will be the method we try next time around.
This year we also increased the number of birds we raised to add in two rounds of meat chickens. This was another experience for the books as it introduced me to the horror that can be getting live animals shipped. I was very fortunate to have made friends with a local farmer who sold me chicks to replace the ones that I lost due to shipping so we were still able to raise birds this year. To make this goal obtainable we had to build a new shelter for them so that they would be kept separate from our normal laying flock. For this, we built our first-ever chicken tractor. This of course did not go as planned since wood was still expensive so I had to settle for a design that was not my first choice. Next year my goal will be to add some electric fencing that can go around the chicken tractor so that the meat birds have even more room to roam.
Although the housing of the meat birds did not turn out the way I had planned we were able to raise two rounds with success and very minimal loss. I was happy with the outcome and the meat we were able to put away for the year from this process. We also had good success with our turkeys this year. We did lose a few at the beginning of the year, and our hatching was less than successful but we still ended up with two good birds for Thanksgiving. We currently have two males and females and hope to have a better hatching this spring.
Last accomplishment for this year was the start of my business. As many of you that follow us on social media know I have launched our shop that has all handmade bath and body products. I hope to continue to add more in the next year but have learned so much this year while starting this journey. I chose to do bath and body products because I had made some for gifts and really enjoyed it. I then discovered bath bombs and thought it would be a fun and creative way to make products. Most of the year was spent getting supplies, learning how to make my website store, and coming up with the combinations I liked the best for my products. We only launched in October but so far I am having reasonable success. I hope that I can grow the business in the next year as I would love to one day have it as my primary source of income.
So for a year where so many things did not go as planned, where some days I look at our homestead and think, “wow we are behind” we have actually done a fair bit. I sometimes need to remind myself that we are not behind anyone. Yes, there are some people who have better gardens, more food canned, or have more livestock than us. But then of course someone may be looking at us and saying the same thing. We are all on this journey at the pace that is right for us. Everyone who is trying to live this life needs to remember it can not happen overnight, and we may have commitments or other things in life that make it slower for us to achieve what others have done. I hope that by looking at what we do and how much we do or don’t get done it will help you end up where you need/want to be.
My goals for next year are not to let the accomplishments of others overshadow what I am able to do, to remember that our journey is just that, ours. I can only hope to learn or teach others along the way even when I feel left behind. I want to work harder on getting to a point that working outside of the home is a choice, not a necessity. I hope that we can help others get started on their own homesteading journey and feel confident enough to give it a shot.
Let me know what you would like to know more about next year. Happy Holidays everyone!!