2020 Homestead Goals

I am so late on this

But it’s better late then never- just in time for summer – our 2020 goals blog!

Turns out that because of the late timing of this blog, we’ve already been able to accomplish a bit on some of these.

So as to condense blogs I’ll be giving short updates to kinda give you folks an idea of what we’ve been up to so far this year.

Have we bitten off more then we can chew?

Probably. But isn’t that a gloriously fun part of the zany thing we call homesteading?

Brace yourself & Tally ho!

1. Save the strawberries!

Turns out we planted our 300 strawberry plants in an awful place- it gets water logged even in dry spells because of the way the beaver colony dams up the pond system. Since we believe in leaving them alone for the most part, we are reassessing the situation. The new plan is to move all the remaining plants to higher ground up behind the alpaca enclosure and also- they shall be boxed!

We believe this may stunt them this year, but next year should be a banner year for whatever plants we manage to transplant. The great strawberry migration will happen in late August.

2. More raised beds-

And a varied type of bed as well. We’ve been looking into no till gardening & also these things which are basically compost piles you plant into.

Hugelkultur – the next frontier for our landscape. Pretty cool right? And anything that brings the plants closer to you and helps to save the back is appreciated in a big way. So very promising.

3. Focuslaser focus. –

We are pulling back on festival season, for a few different reasons- but the Covid pandemic is a big one. Not going to lie or sugar coat it, I believe crafters should do their part and try to sit out as much as possible to flatten to curve. If this is anything like other pandemics, it’s going to peak a couple times over the course of a few seasons. If it doesn’t, and this is the big peak, then fantastic. I’m just doing the literal only thing I can do to help, by staying home as much as possible.

We have already paid to be part of two, the blueberry festival in Machias in August (which has now been canceled until 2021) and the Mall Craft Show in Bangor in November. As of now those are it. We are not even going to take part in the towns farmers market- we plan on selling seedlings from our greenhouse and yard by practicing careful and responsible distancing.

This whole move really allows us to do a lot more around the farm- which is probably why the goals list is so long.

4. Landscape the ponds-

Duh dun dun- anyone know how to get rid of red alder saplings? They just overtook the entire bank on the middle pond.

The key to it is to plant lots of new bushes. So we purchased bayberry, Aronia berries, lilac bushes, blueberries, paw paws & witch hazel. Happy birthday to me – I bought a bunch of plants… pretty much like every gift receiving occasion.

5. Have some more fiber spun to yarn –

This is only if I can go to a show and make some money- otherwise the fiber continues to pile up.

6. Start new product lines-

This is kind of a secret BECAUSE EVERYONE ALWAYS STEALS MY IDEAS. But it involves making stuff as a family, so I’m super excited.

7. Get a functioning online store-

I had one on here that sucked (my fault) and one on Facebook that sucked(their fault)… it’s time to invest the time into making a real e-commerce presence- my peeps at the festivals wanted it to be so! So, so shall it be!

8. Butcher our meat chickens ourselves –

This is another expensive endeavor for us- we need a second fridge, an auto plucker, a clean outdoor work area with a stainless steel table and running water… we already have a turkey cooker big enough to scald, but this project is estimated at about $2000. But my parents are investing in some of it as well, since we grow out their chickens too. Also it’s a lot of front but the goods will last for years. I was paying our chicken butcher like $700 a year for his (fantastic and sorely missed) work.

We have invested in a nice new fridge for the house so our old one went to the shed to be an extra. We also purchased the chicken plucker already. We are getting ready and plan on doing our first batch late September.

9. Start our own selective clearing up back –

We have a whole area open that needs stumps pulled, and then across the brook is just a maze of areas that need to be cleaned. We’re looking into a lot of different options, but we’ll never run out of cedar poles, I assure you dear reader.

Please come buy some cedar poles.

 

10. Get the new roof on the shed(and basically just finish the shed project) –

With the calamity of a leaky roof destroying much of our hard work, this is a necessity. And it’s gonna be about $1300 for just materials. Like crap. Thank goodness we are able people that can do this stuff ourselves. 

We’ve also raised the roof- literally. The difference is amazing.

And as of this last weekend- WE DID IT! the whole shebang. A beautiful, not very shiny, brown tin roof. 

Also, we bartered goods for labor with MrGillis’ cousin and he came in and did the sheetrock, mudding and taping in the front room. Now all we need to do is lay the floor (already have it) and paint the walls and ceiling (already have the paint too!) 

 

11. Get more comfortable with the bees-

Ugh. I feel like such a failure with the bees. I just didn’t do what I should have done. They really set off my fear reflexes. But I’m going to do better this year if our one surviving hive makes it. Which as of May they’re going strong.

12. Expand our perennial gardens –

This ties in with the witch hazel and lilacs I plan on landscaping the ponds with, but I want lots of food and herbs and medicinal plants that can just grow back year after year. It’s kinda the whole point of this. So more herbs, more asparagus beds, more flowers… it’s going to be so beautiful. So useful.

So far this year I’ve purchased paw paw trees, blueberries, grapes and aronia berries. We’ve also got elderberries, bayberries, witchhazel, lilacs… plus all the seeds we’ve purchased. Its gonna be a great year for the garden.

13. Get Ready for it! PIGS ALL YEAR – 

We did not have a great experience getting piglets this year. That’s about all I have to say other then it propelled us into deciding to breed our own piglets. 

So we have a few things we want to do:

We plan on giving them the pen from last year, but expanded to the brook and beyond into the forest. Really give them a lot of ground to forage thru. Plus gives them more to do, better sun protection, better wallowing area…also will hopefully make feeding time easier as they’ll have to run a half mile to get to me.

We invested in a 5th piglet this year. With the possibility of an impending meat shortage looming over us, 2 people are paying us to raise pigs for them. We are prepared to have one other to sell come harvest time, in case someone needs it.

Otherwise, we have one that we have already decided to keep named Sweetie that we believe may make a good mother. At the very least, we’ll try her out and if it doesn’t work out, she’ll go to the freezer so we can find a good sow. 

Ideally, we’d like to have two sows and one boar so we can rotate the sows and they only have 1 litter each a year. This is not common practice, I know, but I feel that what can dictate common practice is not always going to be humane, or even just not cruel. 

We have to have two separate paddocks and houses to control the breeding program… so this is a lot to get ready for. But we already have buyers lined up for the first litter. It seems like a good time to get into the pork business. 

14. Separate the alpacas –

Yup- it needs to be done. I just can’t build a barn extension on my own and money has been a bit tight. Plus they don’t do great in twos so I feel bad separating them without any plans to get any more… lastly Storm freaks out whenever he can’t be with his mom, Maddie. Maddie doesn’t help the situation by also freaking out. I’m afraid one or both would get hurt trying to scale the fence(which storm actually has done once already and is the reason we don’t separate them in the barn the have now) I’m going to do it tho. It’s going to get done. Good lord.

15. Streamline our gardening

Every year we get caught up in the ohmygod that’s so cool we have to grow it. Not this year. Our garden plan is going to be a lot different- we are going to plant food for the specific purpose of buying less.

We are planting lots of peas, beans, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, potatoes… stuff that we know we eat and that we know will grow in the area. 

I have two caveats to this – my paw paw trees, which are going to need winter protection and my loofah gourds. They have a really long grow season, but I started them weeks ago and I am currently hardening off 4 inch plants. I’d like to think that I stand a chance at a harvest of wonderful, all natural sponges. 

16. Start a mushroom farm

This is definitely a must to get away from stores- and it’s so easy too apparently. So I’ve bought a tote to start our first set in. I’m going to use stems from regular old store bought button mushrooms. If it works we will expand to maybe up to 4 types.

17. Spend less time on the internet

Or at least choose what I go online for as more then just a way to kill time. I have plenty of things to do to kill time that don’t involve social media.

18. Learn new things

Specifically I’ve been working on reading tarot cards, tea leaves and palms. We also bought a copper distillery to work on making essential oils and sanitizer. not booze tho. 

Well I happen to think thats more then enough for now. I’ve been working on this draft since February so it’s about time to just bite the bullet and publish it.

Until next time, have a wicked good day.

 

 

 

Published by gillisgardensllc

This is the official website for Gillis Gardens, LLC. Gillis Gardens is a farm, run by myself and my wonderful husband. We believe in biodiversity, organic growing methods and doing things ourselves. I knit, crochet, make jewelry and sew. MrGillis builds, doing everything from our plumbing to our mechanical to our renovations. We are both active members of our little community. We both take care of the plants and animals. He weeds, I harvest. He spreads manure, I plant. We raise multiple breeds of chickens for eggs and meat. We have a herd of Alpacas that we shear every year for their beautiful fiber, which we then have milled into ultra luxurious yarn. We make our own maple syrup, preserves and pickles. We raise bees for honey and herbs for medicine. We also raise pigs for meat and fun. We are the parents of two young children, and consider that our most important job. Follow our adventures here and also on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

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