Monday, December 31, 2012

What I *did* accomplish in 2012

Huh. Where to start?

I milked goats once or twice a day most of this year, except for a short period when the does were pregnant and dried off. Bast gave us triplet daughters, who are the cutest things EVER to arrive at Blessed Acre Farm.

 I used the wood-burning cookstove more and more, both for heat and for cooking.

Lydia with Lily, ten weeks
Lydia, ten weeks
I accomplished another of my long-term farm goals by acquiring an English Shepherd puppy to be my farm partner. Lydia is gorgeous, very smart, and my darling.
Lily and Lydia wrestling
Lydia and Lily playing tug-o-war


I nursed Sheba and Decker through their last days, and grieved their passing long and hard.

I taught several sessions of after-school "Wednesday Club" knitting classes to older elementary school students, and was delighted to have both boys and girls in my classes. I went on several field trips with my children. I raised 25 meat-breed chickens for the freezer, and partnered up with Christina for butchering. My brother went on a big field trip in my place with Andy, bless him. Amanda had the lead in the school play as "Harriet the Spy," and she was amazing. I did not get to visit my brother and his family at the Cape this summer due to scheduling hassles from my former spouse. I had my stovepipe cleaned by a genuine chimney sweep. I had the central vacuum serviced/repaired. Adam went to Boy Scout camp, had a great time, and inspired all of his siblings to become Scouts, too. I was chairwoman of the Board of Trustees for my church for a while, though I was happy to hand it over to someone else. I was part of the fledgling Grow Food Amherst program and helped organize a gleaning event in the fall. I learned more than I really want to know about climate change/'chaos' and have become more committed than ever to minimizing our footstep in this household. I replaced the switch on the whole-house attic exhaust fan - successfully - all by myself! Adam started high school. I took Amanda for an eye exam and learned that she needs glasses to see at distance. This was important, as she started middle school this year! I relied on friends when I needed help, and I helped friends when they needed extra hands. Amanda played volleyball for the middle school team, and had a great time. We found a new piano teacher for Andy. Amy Charlotte took up playing the cello. I had the opportunity to serve as a mentor for several folks starting out in homesteading-type activities. I survived more legal harassment from my former spouse, who just won't give it up. I started a series of allergy shots, after thinking about it for a solid year. (I'm allergic to way too many things... dog, cat, feathers, mites, tree pollen, etc.) Andy joined Adam's Boy Scout troop. We found a 7th grade Cadette troop for Amanda, and I agreed to co-lead a 4th-5th grade Junior troop for Amy Charlotte.

Jade, indoor cat until spring

Harry, king of all he surveys
We adopted four cats, one of whom is an indoor cat, and another of whom was injured and has become an indoor cat until spring. I hate litter boxes. There's a reason I self-identify as a dog person.

Spot - good outdoor cat!

Lydia, 11 months
Cheyenne - see her collie face!
We also adopted a cousin of Lydia's, Cheyenne. Chey is 7, and is half English Shepherd and half some kind of collie. Both dogs are considered "Farm Collies," though. So now we have Lily (8), Cheyenne (7), and Lydia (almost a year). We still miss Sheba and Decker.

Current count of hens is ~150, and they are laying like crazy. I have 50 rabbits out of nest boxes, and a few babies too young to count yet. The current spread of breeds are American Blue, Cinnamon, Creme d'Argent, Palomino, and New Zealand. The Cremes and Palominos are on probation at the moment; the Cremes are fussy to breed and not fabulous mothers, and the Palomino does won't breed. If they haven't accepted the buck by May 1st, they're outta here.

That mostly sums up 2012. I'm sure I've forgotten more than I've remembered, but that's par for the course.

And now to begin to wrap things up...

I see that I didn't do a wrap-up post last year. I'm not surprised; I was pretty damn sick all year. Here's what I hoped to do in 2011:

Follow the plan with spreadsheet and tame the beast that is a house with too much stuff in it.
Verdict: FAIL. It was May 2011 before I really got over September 2010's illness.

Get moving parts working properly, and keep them that way. PT and home exercise are essential to this goal.
 Verdict: Partial Success. My back has been behaving moderately better, and it's been almost a year since my last cortisone injection.

Manage weight. Yup, need to do that.
Verdict: FAIL. Huge fail. Working on it again/still.

Continue to breed for show, meat, and breed preservation. Select for excellent growth on pasture.
Verdict: Moderate success. I did breed, and added some new breeds to the farm. I did NOT pasture any rabbits last spring; the weather was too dodgy.

Show the rabbits - it's good for the breeds, and it's good for sales of brood stock.
Verdict: FAIL. We showed at Cummington only.

As mentioned above, put up fencing, get dairy goats and beef cow.
Verdict: SUCCESS! The fencing went up between May and October 2011, and we brought in four Nigerian Dwarf goats in October. I lost one in January 2012 to bloat (it was horrible to witness and I felt like a really bad farmer) and successfully bred one, who gave me triplet daughters. Had to give up the dream of a beef cow, though, due to conservation restrictions.

Contact the local Adult Ed folks and set up to teach some classes - I'm thinking knitting, mending, cooking, menu-planning, gardening, sustainable living, food preservation (canning, both methods; freezing), life skills for children. Suggestions are welcome!
Verdict: Partial Success. I did offer classes. Only one ended up happening, 'how to turn strawberries into jam.'

Pursue licensure to sell rabbit to the public. Nobody is quite sure whose purview this is - I've talked to town hall, state ag folks, and federal ag folks. Everyone thinks it's a great idea; nobody knows who's on first. *sigh* Well, it's not the first time I will have blazed a trail, right?
Verdict: Still in progress. Humbling, isn't it?

Get back on my bike/drive less. This is good for health, thrift, and the planet.
Verdict: Mostly fail. I didn't get on my bike at ALL in 2011, though I did ride some in September and October 2012.

Inadvertent progress

Does losing five pounds because you're sick count? I'm saying heck yeah... being that miserable has to be worth something.


Am joining Weight Watchers for the New Year. I've had good success in the past using their online service.