This time of year is the perfect time to reflect on our year and what we've done. My parents have always written a Christmas letter detailing what the family has done and this year was no exception. I always find it interesting to see what my Dad has decided to write about. This year I have apparently become a Hayseed. I'm not sure what exactly this means in my Dad's mind, but it appears to be his way of saying that I have a big garden and chickens. Mind you, my parents have had both as well. Apparently this never occurred to them.
In any case, it has been a good year. We did in fact get chickens. I had been talking about them for years, since we were in 4H and our leader got her first 4 chicks. J and I had said we wanted to get them and he had the plans drawn up for their tractor. Somehow, when I got the call from my friend that the chicks were in, it all seemed to soon. I got them set up in a big plastic tub in the basement. The kids were beside themselves wanting to hold the chicks all the time. The neighborhood all had to look and name the girls. We fretted over Mary and whether she was going to make it. She did wonderfully of course and now they are happily laying eggs and eating up all manner of leftovers and greens.
The garden was much more manageable for me. The previous year I had done the major expansion. My garden plan was crazy and made it difficult for me to manage the garden. This year I decided to go back to what I know. I made 7 beds that are approximately 4x12 or so. The walkways were lined with boxes from Hubby's computer business. I started all of my own plants from seed. This was not the first year for that, but each year it seems that I start more and more seeds. I tried making seed tapes for my carrots and beets. The carrots were a dismal failure, but the beets did well.
We had a crazy summer for weather. June was cold and rained 26 of 30 days. Everything was behind and waterlogged. The tomatoes got blight, but gave me a decent crop before completely succumbing. The zucchini did exceptionally well, but the winter squashes did nothing. Due to being ill prepared in the Spring, my peas got planted late. That combined with our crazy June weather, left us with a much smaller crop of sugar snaps than we would have liked. The bush beans, however, went absolutely crazy.
I grew tomatillos for the first time this year. They produced more tomatillos than I knew what to do with. After making a green salsa, I decided that we probably wouldn't grow them again next year. The lettuce loved the wet, cool weather and grew like gangbusters. I grew a mix from Baker Creek that I really liked. Morgan thought it was wonderful that Mommy grew a snack for her. She spent the summer snacking on the lettuce whenever she was out. The beets and chard did very well, with the chard still going up until last week's snow storm.
I had a crop of potatoes that I didn't plant last Spring. The previous year I had planted potatoes that didn't do as well as I would have liked. Apparently I missed quite a few and I ended up with several hills of potatoes cropping up. They did pretty well with all the rain we had and I ended up with 10 lbs of potatoes for my lack of work. The onions did pretty well also, although we only had enough to eat fresh over the summer. I also planted leeks that grew well. They didn't get used as much as they should have and probably won't be planted again.
The orchard expanded as well. We added another peach tree and 3 more apples. This brought us up to 5 apples, 2 peach and a cherry tree. I also added 6 blueberry bushes in the back yard. These did well, although they are where the kids play and 1 ended up a casualty of play. The rest look really good and I'm hoping for a good crop of blueberries next year.
I held canning classes for the first time this summer. We made Triple Berry Jam and learned how to water bath can. There was a second set of classes on pressure canning beans, but that was not as big a draw. We'll see if there is any interest next year.
In the fall I expanded the garden again. This time with about 350 sq ft of raised beds. This will allow me to continue on my quest to raise the majority of my family's fruit and veggie needs. We've all really gotten hooked on our own veggies, much preferring them to anything else we could buy.
In the same vein, we've really expanded on eating locally this year. We got half a grass fed cow from a local farmer, chickens from a local butcher and a pig as well. Our milk is raw milk from a local dairy of pastured cows. All that, combined with our own eggs, means that well over 90 percent of our protein sources are local and sustainable. As my kids would say, they're from the nice farmers, not the mean ones. Our little town started its first Farmer's Market, which was a huge success. It was great to be able to supplement our garden with fresh, local, organic veggies.
Its been a great year. This is my first year blogging regularly and it has been a blast. I'm looking forward to next year as well. The list of things I want to accomplish gets longer and longer, but that's half the fun.