It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted anything here. I’ve been taking this time to go through my house and get things in order for the coming new year. At this time of year, when the garden is sleeping and the days are short and cold, most of our days are spent indoors. When I’m surrounded by four walls 24 hours a day, it doesn’t take long before I’m overcome with the urge to purge, deep clean, and make things a little prettier. Plus, I want to start 2014 with a clean slate, so decluttering, reorganizing, and refreshing have all been top priority.
Boxes of kids clothes to give away.
I’ve been working my way through every room of the house, getting rid of things we don’t need anymore, weeding out clothes the kids have outgrown, and scrubbing behind hidden surfaces. It’s amazing how quickly junk piles up in closets and drawers! I want to start the new year organized and functional.
In the bathroom I went through our medicine cabinets and threw away any liquid medications which had expired. I also purged any cosmetics or toiletries that have been sitting around for years without being touched. Most of these things have ingredients in them that I just can’t rationalize slathering my body with anymore, so it was easy to get them out of my drawers.
The book shelves were cleared of any books that we know we’ll probably never pick up again. And the DVDs and computer games were also purged.
Don’t even get me started on the kids’ toys! I’ve filled three big boxes full of stuff to be donated. Where in the world does all of this stuff come from??
It feels good to look around and see less stuff to clutter up the home, stuff that was just taking up valuable space.
Keeping the decorations minimal and functional.
I’ve also spent some time fixing broken and torn things around the home: mending clothing that needed buttons sewed on or holes patched, and sewing up tapestries with tears. No point throwing them away if they can be fixed!
As I went through closets, I took an inventory of our clothing needs and did some sale shopping to buy a few essentials. Mostly socks and undies for the kids, and a few things for myself. I desperately needed a winter coat, so I was happy to find one marked way down at Old Navy after Christmas. I didn’t want to start the New Year needing basic things such as these.
I also splurged and spent a little bit of money on decor for our homeschool/playroom. The large wall letters were half-off at Hobby Lobby, for a little under $5 each, so I bought an R-E-A-D to hang over the bookcase. After reorganizing the homeschool stuff, I really wanted to do something to spruce up the place just a little. It was a simple addition, really, but it doesn’t take much to please me.
I’m also… still… working through our freezers, canning stuff and getting it out of the way for another quarter or maybe half a cow whenever our friends butcher again. I also have a bucket of dried pinto beans that I’ve been needing to can before they get too old. So much to do!!
My Top 20 Goals For The New Year
I failed to write down my goals last year, which I really regret. It’s always rewarding to be able to look back at your goals and see how many you were able to accomplish. I’m making sure right now that I list at least a few things to accomplish in 2014, in no particular order…
1. Fill in my flower bed with edibles. The flower bed along the back of our house has a lot of room that could be filled in. I want to get it planted to the max with edible flowers and herbs.
2. No more buying meat from the grocery store. I was thinking last night about how ridiculous it is that we still buy chicken at the grocery store. Sure, our hens are still laying well, but we really do need to get into a rotation of raising hatchlings to replace our layers, so that we can butcher our own without having to buy chicken from the store. Actually, that was the plan this past Spring, when we hatched out 30 something chicks. But the pack of dogs that came onto our property and slaughtered 20 of them really set us back.
3. Build underground root storage. We can’t afford to dig a proper root cellar, but we can at least dig a hole in the ground and bury a trash can or other container to store veggies in.
4. Make enough soap to last us all year. I’m ashamed that I’m not already doing this! I’ve made soap, but not in batches big enough to last the year. I have all of the ingredients I would need to do it, I just need to set aside the time to get it done.
5. Put up a new clothesline. Over the summer, both of the wooden 4×4 posts on our clothesline snapped at the base under a heavy load of laundry. Even though it was pressure treated lumber, Termites had destroyed them. We have something rigged for the moment, but I really do need to install a new line.
6. Make our almond milk, almond butter, and almond flour. Unfortunately, some of our children have food allergies. One cannot tolerate uncultured dairy, so we’ve been buying almond milk from the store. But that stuff has so much added to it, I really want to start buying raw, unpasteurized, organic almonds in bulk and making my own almond milk. We also have a peanut and wheat allergy to deal with. If I can make all of our almond products at home, that would be fantastic! I will definitely share more about how to do these things as I accomplish them. Too bad almonds don’t grow well in my area!!
7. Make hard cheeses. This has been on my list for a couple of years, and I’ve yet to do it. Soft cheese has been fun, but I’d really love to learn to make a block of cheddar or colby. I did recently learn how to wax hard cheeses, so that’s something, right?
8. Drink more tea and less coffee. Herbal teas are so good for you. I’ve been gathering ingredients to start brewing my own mixtures for health, and for a morning/afternoon pick-me-up.
9. Completely fill up the garden space. We’ve only used about 3/4 of the space in the garden. This year, I want to fill it up! This means buying more compost to amend the soil in the unused areas, where it’s that hard red clay.
10. Focus more energy on the health of our fruit trees. I’ve noticed our peach trees have developed oozing places in the bark. I can’t imagine that’s a good sign. And our apple trees have a rust spot fungus of some sort. I really need to study up on these sicknesses, and do what I can to make our trees healthier.
11. Make a kill cone for butchering our chickens. I think having one of these will make it much easier for me. (You can read about my first butchering HERE). There’s a great article on why and how to make a kill cone at Razor Family Farm’s blog. These things are expensive to buy, and so easy to make. It’s time we make one.
12. Make my own lye. All it takes is wood ashes and water. Why should I continue buying it when I can make it at home? At least I can learn how to, in case I ever need to know. There’s a great article on how to make lye at Mother Earth News.
13. Build an outdoor canning kitchen out of reclaimed materials. My grandparents recently replaced their patio’s glass sliding doors, so we have a stack of their old ones just waiting to be turned into an outdoor kitchen. I have some plans in mind. It won’t be huge, just big enough to do some canning on the propane stove, or butchering outdoors. It would be nice to keep the heat and mess outside during the hot summer months.
14. Learn more herbal treatments. I’ve been buying a lot of herbs in bulk over the past couple of months, building my medicinal assortment. I’m anxious to start making more salves, tinctures, and teas. I’d also like to get more good quality essential oils, as I’m able.
15. Mix our own Organic chicken feed. What’s the good of raising your own chickens if you’re feeding them the same GMO junk the storebought chickens were raised on? Yes, we free range. But we also supplement their diet with corn and laying mash. I really want to find a local source for non-GMO corn, and start mixing our own scratch feed and laying mash.
16. Make my own hominy (grits). We’ve just recently begun enjoying “grits” with our eggs at breakfast. I’d love to learn to make my own from dried corn. I found a really informative forum on how-to make hominy, that I’d like to try myself.
17. Plant Rosa Rugosa bushes. These are one of the best varieties to grow for large rose hips (for making a vitamin C rich tea, among other uses). I mistakenly bought several Knockout Roses, thinking that all roses grew good hips. Not so. I’m hoping I can propagate a few Rosa Rugosas from cutting off a friend’s plants.
18. Make homemade crackers. I’ve seen so many delicious looking recipes online. It’s time I give it a try!
19. Paint my chicken coop. Can you believe I still haven’t done that from 2012?? How embarrassing. I have got to get that done this coming year.
20. MY BIGGEST GOAL… To really get my Canning DVD, At Home Canning For Beginners and Beyond, out there!! If you’ve followed me for a while you know that it is my deepest heart’s desire to pay off our mortgage. The faster we are debt free, the more free we can really live here on our land. I haven’t had much time to promote the DVD since it’s release a couple of months ago, but I want to really work it in the coming new year. (You can help me by spreading the word about the DVD!!)
Of course, I have many family-oriented goals as well. But these are just a few pertaining to the homestead.
I’m sure I’ll think of more things I’d like to get done in the coming year. What about you? What are your top goals for 2014?
Today is the last day of 2013. Let’s make next year even better!! Happy New Year everyone!
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.