I'm ready to end the year and start over fresh and new in 2012. The week before New Year's I mentally review the past year, all the highs and lows, and new experiences. I try to remember the valuable lessons I learned along the way as well.
2011 ~ Year in Review
Applegarth Farm Blog ~ For the last year I've been taking pictures and writing about our life here at Applegarth Farm. It's been good for me to have my goals staring me in the face and write about them, somehow writing and reading my goals regularly helps them to come true. Over the last year I've had fun discovering and reading other blogs, mostly women who work on and write about their farms and gardens, and cooking and family. There are some really incredible people that have taught me things I didn't know, and inspired me to learn new things I'd never thought of before. The blogs I enjoy have women writing about their lives and sharing from their hearts and I look forward to what they write about, and a little glimpse into their life.
Work ~ In early April I got a great new job working in a plant nursery on weekends. I wasn't even looking for a job but agreed to try it. I have met more wonderful new people and enjoyed working and learning in a field I love. You know the old saying do what you love and the money will follow, it really is the best advice. Thankfully I also get to go back to work again this April.
Moving from the barn to the big house ~ This added it's own element of work that I haven't talked about a lot, but it was definitely a highlight of 2011. We moved over a bare minimum of stuff to be comfortable in the beginning of May, so we could still work on the house. I've slowly been bringing stuff over as we need it, but I have a lot to go through still in the barn this coming year. In the midst of all we're doing it has been hard to devote the time needed to work on it. This will be a big goal in 2012, to continue finishing the house we're living in, not ideal, but it works and I'm happier!
Goats ~ I began talking about goats here over the winter, and began looking at them in Spring. Come early June when I still didn't have one, I went to the feed store and bought a bag of goat food by faith. By the end of June we had 2 goats, Joon and Stormy, both Nigerians and a Nigerian doeling on reserve. I wanted my own fresh goats milk, and realized it would be a year or more before I would be getting any. We looked some more and found a Lamancha in milk along with a young Nubian, they were a package deal. Then the baby Snowdrop was born and we had to wait several months for her to come home. In the Fall I couldn't get Joon bred so brought home a buck. Now we have 6 goats to start 2012 with. We haven't had to buy any milk since bringing home our Lamancha "Zolena", she has provided enough for our family. They were all big highlights and have added tons of fun and work to our lives.
Soap ~ I had been wanting to make soap for a long time and really had fun learning all about this last year. I spent time studying and reading after my failed attempts. I learned to render suet in tallow, and to make many different varieties. We just used up the last of the soap I made, and now I'm ready to learn to make goats milk soap this coming year.
Goldens ~ This was a year to learn all about breeding Golden Retrievers. We bred Summer in August to a gorgeous male named Ace, and she had 4 puppies on October 10th. We still have Josie and Fatolini, (aka. Jesu) and plan to keep them both. Yes 4 puppies and we keep half the litter :) We found great homes for both little Ace and Sunny, and will get to see them as they grow up, especially Sunny because she went to family friends.
Garden ~ When I say my garden, it usually refers to my vegetable garden, which is where much time and labor are spent. I had some good successes and not so good, and this really does need it's own post, so that will be coming next month. Right now I'm going over seed catalogs that come in the mail this time of year, and beginning to plan for spring planting.
Rabbits ~ It has been a year of change in the rabbitry. We still have 3 of the mini rex does, but in addition I got a breeding pair of Champagne d' Argents and American Chinchilla's. They are both meat and fur rabbits, and I'll be selling their offspring as pedigreed breeding stock for backyard farmers. This is an exciting new change for me, that of breeder.
Chickens ~ Our chickens multiplied this last year, we had 4 setting hens, 2 in the spring and 2 in the Fall, and we added about 12 new hens to the harem. By this February we should have 24 laying hens and will finally have eggs to sell after 3 years of building up to this point. We also raised our first batch ever of meat chickens and processed 30 of them, they are delicious and we have a freezer full.
Bees ~ I started out the year with one incredibly strong hive, unfortunately it swarmed when I was at work one day in early June. I thought some of it had come back, but in the end it never fully recovered, so I had bees all year, but not many. It has been a sad year for me with my bees, I was so disappointed I didn't want to write about it. This spring more bees will be arriving in the apiary, and we'll start over, these things can happen. The lesson learned, check the bees regularly in Spring and early summer and add supers before they need them. My plan this winter is to get all my frames rewired and new wax put in them. This deserves it's own post in Jan/Feb. I'll talk about getting ready for bees and what I'm doing.
That's a quick review of the farm highlights for the year. Goals and plans for the coming year are brewing inside me and waiting to be written. Some things I didn't get to last year that I plan to this year are cheese-making, more soap-making with goat's milk, candle-making and learning to propagate different trees and shrubs that I don't know how to do already. We'll also have our first goat kids arriving in early May, and will be building our goat barn and working on more fencing.
Happy New Year!