During this slow period we can take stock in what we have, and begin to plan for the busy season coming up in a few weeks. When we moved last summer we downsized quite a bit, and thanks to a family of racoons what we didn't eat, they did - with a vengeance. We lost 20 chickens and about 30 quail. This means we have no breeding stock to ramp back up. We didn't grow anything last year since we would have missed the harvest so we have no seeds stockpiled. Looks like we are about at square one, which I think is a good thing.
Lori and I decided we wanted to invest in as many heirloom crops and heritage livestock as possible. These great strains have survived in some cases for centuries, and for good reason. Heirloom plants are important for many reasons, but for us it comes down to taste, nutrition, and ability to save seeds for the following year. I've been looking around for a good supplier of heirloom seeds, so if you know of any please comment! It's important that we find heirloom seeds that are specific to our region here as it is believed they are more resistant to issues that hybrids might face including diseases and pests.
Our blue-sky wishlist for this year:
- Plant a large garden for day-to-day use and for canning or other winter storage.
- Plant several smaller "landscape" gardens or raised beds to extend growth.
- Raise heritage meat birds in two groups for early summer and fall butchering. Birds will include chicken, quail, and turkey.
- Plant a food plot for deer and turkey. The deer use our property to bed down only. This makes it very difficult to hunt as they return after dark and leave before first light. A food plot should help this.
- Figure out how to get the grape arbor to produce enough grapes for wine and jelly, if not this year, then the next. Grapes are a new experience for us so we'll need to read up on this.
- Plant a small orchard for peaches, pears, plums and apples. Again, we have no experience with fruit trees, diseases, pruning and care.
- Fence in a pasture for small animals such as goats and sheep. We would like to use goats for milk, meat and reclaiming overgrown areas.
- Figure out drainage issues on lower property. This includes clearing out the creek for better flow, creating a rain garden or pond, and maybe even getting a civil engineer involved.
- Honey bees!