Wednesday, January 2, 2013

our homestead: goals and non-goals for 2013

New Year's Day in the morning in our apple orchard. Hello 2013.
What a beautiful New Year's day! After a fun-filled New Year's Eve at my mom's house which is found over the river and through the woods, I awoke back at the Swan Slough, with bright morning light shining through my white bedroom curtains. 2013's New Year's morning had a little fog but there was some blue sky and sun peeking through. Very peaceful. Gave me a strong feeling of optimism and hope for 2013.
Anyway, with the birth of a new year here, I wanted to write about my goals and non-goals. I previously wrote such a post last year here. Goals are what I want to achieve during 2013 and non-goals are pretty cool or memorable things I either accomplished or experienced during 2012 which weren't on my original goal list. I'll also re-visit my goal list from last year to see how I did. Enjoy this long jump of photos from my year on the way...

1. The Winter Wonderland week in January. The dogs loved playing in the snow.
2. Prepping my greenhouse soil in late winter for spring planting.
3. Starting seeds on almost every windowsill in the house.
4. My cousin Jessica came to stay. We adventured north to Bellingham together.
5. Bringing home my first chicks and ducklings.
6. Transplanting tomato starts into the greenhouse in early spring.
7. My troop of Muscovy ducks, gifted to me by a friend.
8. A mystery morel mushroom sighting in my garden. I wonder if more will pop up this year...
9. The budding vegetable garden with early spring radishes.
10. Banjo "Longfellow" growing into a sweet shepherd.
11. I hatched my own ducklings.
12. Rainbow beets from Frog's Song Farm. Took this photo while working a farmers market.
13. My vegetable garden in full swing.
14. Free range ducklings, growing happily in the pasture.
15. I harvested our 2-year wedding garlic.
16. We had an abundance of tomatoes this year come out of the greenhouse.
17. Camping at Coal Lake.
18. Working my first Anacortes Farmers Market with Shannon of Frog's Song Farm.
19. My husband and I bought property near a small bass-fishing lake north of the Swan Slough.
20. I made the most of apple season with weekly crockpots of spiced apple sauce from the orchard.
21. My husband and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary with dinner on the Shilshole Bay.
22. I saved many flower and vegetable seeds to plant in the 2013 growing season.
non-goals from 2012

1) I turned 25!

2) I think it's safe to say that this was one of my craftiest years yet. I completely embraced my inner girlscout. In a nutshell, I knit a giant wedding blanket for my sister-in-law, designed a 1960s inspired dollhouse for my little nieces, sewed gnome babies and toy whales, dried and bagged my own tea, made fancy twig ornaments, made collage-covered mason jar candle holders, printed my own fabric, constructed a giant ombre wedding cake pinata and more. I might have scars on my hands from my gluegun at this point. 
The ombre wedding cake pinata. And that's the bride. Photo credit: Nickel Images
3) I attended a reunion for my dad's huge side of the family hosted in San Diego and met many people including extended cousins and their extended cousins. I even had the chance to pop in and visit my Oma (my mom's mom), who also lives in San Diego.
4) I made it into the mountains for camping and hiking much more than I expected to get the chance to this summer. I even explored the entire perimeter of one of the mountain lakes we camp at each year (a mini-adventure I'd been meaning to embark on). This included climbing through a jungle gym of scraggly bank trees, bouldering, wading and climbing up a steep hill by holding onto roots.
5) I adventured on two trips with my big group of sister-in-laws. Once to a cabin in Chelan in the summer and once to a cabin near Leavenworth in late autumn. We enjoyed eating good food, girly movies, wine and relaxation (save for a dare-devil trip off-roading in the Volvo..that is a story!).
Chelan. Photo Credit: Nickel Images
Leavenworth area. Photo credit: Shop Wintage
6) In August, I boated all the way up to the San Juan islands, spent the night on Lopez and boated home with my dad (the Captain) and the Joe's (my brother and my husband). We saw a pod of orca whales splashing through the waves and stopped the boat. I watched the magnificent creatures pass by from the roof of the boat, bobbing up and down with the wind whipping through my hair. What an amazing experience.  
7) I rocked out to and band-vanned around with my husband's new band. Joe and some talented musician friends started an Iron Maiden tribute band called 'Maiden Voyage'. After their first show, they were hired by Ninkasi Brewing of Eugene, Oregon to play and promote the release of the 'Maiden in the Shade' summer beer at some cool bars throughout Western Washington.  My husband is the guy singing in the wig below. I look forward to showing my kids these photos of their dad.
8) My husband and I bought wooded property near a small bass-fishing lake about 20 minutes north of the Swan Slough. This was a huge step and accomplishment for us...kind of like buying our first home. We plan to build a small house this year. I wrote a little more about the property here.

9) My youngest sister-in-law tied the knot on November 25th. I was one of her bridesmaids and helped her craft awesome decorations, grew baby succulent wedding favors for her,  attended fun events in her honor such as a Sparkle Bridal Shower (where she beat up the pinata I made and I wore my mom's 1970s disco butterfly top) and a bachelorette party at the cabin near Leavenworth and helped setup decorations before the wedding. I remember her wedding day, held in downtown Seattle, was cold but bright and sunny and she was one of the most beautiful brides I'd ever seen.  
The bride in Volunteer Park on a sunny November day. Photo credit: Nickel Images
goals from 2012. how did I do?
1) To establish rows of interesting berry plants including: goji berries, honeyberries, gooseberries, lingonberries and hardy kiwis. We have already pre-orded three goji plants, due to arrive in April. We'll probably have to build some sort of trellis...but that means I can also throw a few more hops into the yard.
I did plant a few varieties of berries: hardy kiwis, gojis, honeyberries and lignonberries. I built a simple double hooped trellis out of two cattle panels for the hardy kiwis near our firepit area and they did fairly well in establishing themselves this year. I hope they will grow stronger this upcoming summer. The lignonberries also did well in our front yard. I don't expect to get much fruit from either the kiwis or the lignonberries for a few years. I might transplant the lignonberries to our new property since they do well in woodland environments and will stay relatively small, but I will probably leave the hardy kiwis at the house when we eventually move. The goji's fell prey to deer as I planted them at the bottom of our pasture for maximum sun exposure. I do think they would do well in our climate though, so I might try them again in the future. My honeyberries met their unfortunate demise at the end of a weed whacker by mistake. I did however enjoy a few berries quite early from these tiny evergreen shrubs, so I would want to plant these in a safer spot at the new property. Their fruit tasted like a blueberry.

 2) To raise a small flock of chickens, perhaps a duck or three, in the spring. I grew up on fresh-from-the-backyard eggs and nothing beats the flavor. I'm still lucky enough to be able to bring home eggs from my mom's house, but I'd like to learn how to take care of my own hens.
Ha ha, I definitely accomplished this goal. In March of last year I brought home 5 chicks and 3 ducklings, then was gifted a small flock of full-grown Muscovy ducks from a friend who was searching for their new home. It makes me laugh that my original goal stated having "perhaps a duck or three" as at one time this summer I probably had nearly 20 ducks roaming our backyard. I am so lucky I got to experience the wonder of hatching eggs. Granted, my momma ducks did all of the work with tending the eggs, but I'll never forget the day I opened the nest box door and found a tiny yellow ducky. I am very thankful to all of my birds and am glad I had the chance to get to know them.

3) To grow even more than 2011! This year I really want to learn how to grow broccoli, cauliflower, fennel and leeks, and melons in the greenhouse. I've also already ordered red brussel sprout'll be fun to see how these turn out. Joe has his heart set on doing a giant lacinato kale patch too. I'm also looking forward to seeing how my saved tomato seeds fare.

This year I'm proud to say my gardening skills improved. I grew radishes, broccoli, kohlrabi, two varieties of kale, yellow carrots, three varieties of onions, garlic, fava beans, snap peas and english peas, arugula, chard, a few varieties of potatoes, zucchini, delicata squash, tomatoes, peppers, heirloom sunflowers and many herbs and edible flowers. I didn't grow fennel, leeks or cauliflower though. Maybe I'll try again this year. My tomato plants exploded this year! I'm sure some of this ample harvest has to do with the fact that I took really good care of my greenhouse soil months before I transplanted my tomatoes. I amended the soil in there with nutritious worm castings, compost and beneficial microbes. The weather was also much more tomato-friendly as the season progressed. We truly had an Indian Summer as I was harvesting tomatoes up until Halloween. My previous year's tomatoes also appeared to have cross-pollinated as the seeds I saved and planted this year developed into these colorful and fruity chocolate-pink tomatoes. I look forward to seeing what they'll become this year. Plant genes are fascinating.

4) To grow a massive sunflower patch. Why not? I saved so many sunflower seeds this year that I just might have to grow a big plot of sunflowers to nap underneath. I want it to be so big that you can see it from the road below my hill.
I should have taken more photos of my sunflower patch when it was in full bloom! In the first picture above, one can see the just-about-to-bloom big patch of sunflowers right outside my chicken coop (to the left), which provided the birds with lots of cool shade, protection from hawks and a tasty, nutritious snack as seeds began to appear. I also grew a patch of mixed heirloom sunflowers. Icey white Italian sunflowers, pink 'Strawberry Blonde' sunflowers, sunflowers so burgundy they were almost black, 'Teddy Bear' sunflowers and more. I dropped a few vases of sunflowers at loved ones' doors throughout the summer to share my happy bounty.

5) To make more soap!

Here's a picture of some of my mom's amazing all-natural milk soap for sale at a farmers market this year. Sadly, I didn't concoct much soap this year, but maybe I'll whip up a few batches with the help of my mom this year. I did make a few hand scrubs, but I don't think that counts.
Good ol' Calvin and Hobbes. Picture found at: The Nerd Files
goals for 2013

The fun part! My goals for 2013! I already foresee this is going to be a busy year. Friends of ours are having babies, passing Bar exams and getting married, and in our neck of the woods we'll start building our little house. Here are a few things I hope to accomplish in the coming year:

1) Have a livable structure built on our property by August. This seems like a far-fetched goal to me as I'm trying to keep our timeline for building our house realistic, however, we are building a small home, so we might be able to do it. On January 7th, my husband and I will be meeting with a Seattle representative for UBuildIt. UBuildIt is a building consulting business which caters to people who want to build their own homes with the flexibility of hiring friends, completing DIY work themselves and with hired help contracted by UBuildIt when needed. My husband and I are supposed to bring photos and sketches of our house idea, and any other property information our UBuildIt guy can use, to help us start drawing up professional house plans to submit to our county development office for permitting.

2) I have an idea for a handmade accessory for something I could use (and I'm sure there are other strange folk like me who might use it too). I can't say what it is yet, because no one else has made it, but I've been working on the design and making a few prototypes. Once I have everything to my liking, I hope to make a few to sell online as a little hobby job. I decided to list it here on my goal list to keep me motivated as it's kind of clever.

3) Grow more tomatoes! I feel like I'm cheating for writing this one. I'll be starting my tomato seeds in the coming weeks.

4) Taking a mini-vacation somewhere. Maybe a weekend in Portland with a gal pal? A train ride up to Leavenworth for a few days? Some sort of mini overnight adventure. Or two. Or three.

5) Interview and feature at least one entrepreneur, small house builder, etc per month on this blog. Again, I totally feel like I'm cheating for writing this as I already fully intend to write about cool folks such as these on this blog.

6) Swim, swim, swim this summer. I love swimming and it's the first thing I miss about summer. I've been dreaming of a warm sunset splash and am already counting down the days until summer. Did I mention I'm still in denial that summer is over? I realized that on New Year's Eve at my mom's house as we were standing around the bonfire...we were talking about the bears who inhabit the forest around her house. I was sad when I realized they were hibernating's winter!

Happy 2013 Everyone!

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