I started this blog at the end of May – 7 months ago. WordPress tells me I’ve had approximately 5,500 views, which sounds quite impressive till you consider that one of the most frequent searches from the furthest corners of the globe was for roosters or pictures of roosters. My blog was probably a sad disappointment, as I suspect they were looking for fighting birds, and the only blog references I made to roosters were about Rusty Norrington’s crowing, complete with Wikepedia picture, and another post with a not very good picture of Rusty himself, looking very foolish in a nest box. The second most frequent search was for information about Joel Salatin and pasture management with cattle – again, I might have been a disappointment, as that info was in two posts titled the same thing (Joel Salatin workshop part 4). Well, I was new to blogging, OK?
Through blogging I have made contact with some interesting and diverse people around the world, some of whom I have been in regular contact with through this blog and their own – Australia, Scotland, Ontario, Nova Scotia, PEI, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Illinois, North Dakota, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska, and of course my own province of BC. I love this network of like minded souls, and the spider web of connections leading out from their blogs via regular commenters, giving a glimpse of an even wider world of folks with similar interests. Farming, especially sustainably, living green, peak oil, animal husbandry, self sufficiency, whole food, cooking from scratch, 100 mile diet, family life, permaculture, Polyface, are just a few of the topics we share. People make candles, soap, grow all their own food, don’t grow any but strive to be locavores in the city, live off grid, use every labour saving tool known to man, eat meat, don’t eat meat, have children (or not), grandchildren, pets, or favourite trucks.
I have found, too, that there is some risk with blogging. It eats huge chunks of time that I should be spending on other things. In the beginning, I was so excited that people other than my family were visiting the blog that I obsessed about the statistics, and strove for a while to write a post each day. Eventually, as you could probably tell from the sudden drop in posting frequency, I got back to the main reason for starting the blog – basically to journal our family’s experiences and growth as we delve into farming our little piece of God’s green Earth in the most sustainable way possible, while striving toward self sufficiency in food, and in reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible. Even when not posting something myself, I cruise around checking the new posts that my fellow bloggers produce, learning, laughing, thinking, offering suggestions. Like I said, this can be a real time eater.
When I go back through some of the posts, I can see that the journaling thing did help to keep me accountable to our goals and to-do lists. Well, more or less, anyway. We had our best ever year for broiler chicken sales, we finally acquired a proper dolly for the pasture pen, which made an unbelievable difference to the labour time on the broiler care. We put away an impressive variety, and in some cases quantity, of food including potatoes, onions, canned pears, frozen apple sauce, apple chutney, apple cider (soft), dried chili peppers, dried rosemary, sage and lovage, frozen blackberries, blackberry jelly, strawberry jam, frozen plums, frozen tomato glut sauce, frozen tomatoes, sauerkraut, mint sauce, and of course 14 roasting chickens, plus the breasts, legs, tenders and backs of 16 chickens cut up and bagged seperately. That’s all stuff we grew ourselves or were given by our neighbour (who we keep supplied with eggs). He also gave us about a dozen squash – butternut and acorn. We got a cold room going for winter storage of root veggies – this was my husband’s big goal, and though we ended up buying a bunch of the stuff that’s there, it was all from a local farm, and we got a good price because of buying it in quantity – beets, carrots, cabbage, all bought from Michell’s, along with our potatoes and some apples are all out there, rat proof and cold. A habit we got out of, but got back into this year has been making our own bread, and we bought our last take out pizza back in February, enjoying home made more anyway. We got in a week at a wonderful sandy beach up Island in August, leaving the farm in the nervous but resolute hands of a friend of my older daughter’s – and everything was fine. We discovered real sauerkraut at a Mennonite farm that week, which explains the sauerkraut in the list above We also picked blueberries at a farm near the beach, which we ate all week. We got the little old chicken house clear of brambles and patched up in time for the pullets to go into it, but we did fail to renovate the bigger layer house, now a first priority for spring. We got two of the bikes refurbished for local errands, though we have yet to really engage in that goal (the rain and short days are a little daunting for biking).
On the home front we replaced 17 single pane windows with thermal double glazing, leak sealed the whole house, blew pink foam into the attics (that’s a tale to tell, for sure), and got rid of the oil tank after installing a heat pump and electric furnace – all of this as part of our green energy audit, a government rebate programme which saved us about $4000 of the total cost of all those things. For the first time in my life in this house (I’ve spent about 30 here), the kitchen windows do not bang back and forth in the wind, and the curtains don’t move on the bedroom windows (with the windows shut). The house is definitely warmer, even though the thermostat (on a timer) is set for 65 most of the time. After two months of working on their painting project, the girls beat the rainy weather by about 6 hours and finally got the trim and eave painting done on the house, which sounds easy but wasn’t, as the house is 1 1/2 storeys and required a lot of ladder work. Not only that but we were switching to eco paint, so after scraping and sanding, it had to be primed, before it got a lick of paint – no wonder it took them weeks and weeks (taking into account summer jobs and sleeping in). All of this work completes our goal, at least for now, to make the house weatherproof and as energy efficient as possible for our climate. It also represents an admission to ourselves we have no plan to move or rebuild (a possibility in the past) – we’ve decided to invest in this place, make it solid and sustainable and permanent (well, this is an earthquake zone, but you know what I mean).
Goals for 2013? I’ll let you know.
Serious tools for the job – garden shovels and 5 gallon buckets!