Brrr…. Its cold outside! Not as cold as it should be here in eastern North Carolina, but cold enough to chill you while doing chores. 2013 has been a wild ride of a year, and I feel as if I have already lived half of 2014 through my dreams. It is amazing how time flies when you are busy, and there is certainly no shortage of things to do on a small farm like ours. We have passed the shortest day of the year and now the sun will rapidly be with us longer each day, and so now is the time to get your plans in order for spring.
Here we are getting ready to order fowl for the year. Starting anew with some things, and starting for the first time with others, we are planning on ordering chicks (I think we are going to go with Delaware chickens this time), Khaki Campbell ducks, hopefully a few buff geese later in the summer, some blue-slate turkey, and possibly some guinea hens. We have almost all our swamp land fenced so that the fowl can roam the woods and low areas in their search for food. Our choices here reflect our desire to use the land we have to its fullest, and the ducks, geese, turkey and guineas especially will serve that purpose. They should be able to forage for food nearly the entire year, and thus will be very economical sources of meat and eggs while controlling insects and parasites. I really, really want guineas after seeing how many ticks we have!
It is almost time to move the pigs from their garden pen and finish preparing it for the first planting. I will sow cool-season crops that will help build the soil such as peas, rutabaga, turnip, etc. I am not expecting super great things from it this first year because it is very sandy and low in organic matter, but it won’t take long to build it up. The challenge will be keeping the crab-grass under control!
For the swamp we bought some seed called Big Trefoil. It is extremely nutritious and has been used in other states to reclaim wetland areas and also as a forage plant high in protein. Our hope is that it will supply enough cover and food for the fowl and pigs while re-building land that has eroded. I don’t believe anyone in North Carolin has grown this plant, so it is an experiment. It is very hard to come by seed for Big Trefoil, although there is a reasonable amount of information available online about it.
Last, I would like to share my goals for the new year. They are not your average New Years Resolutions. I believe goals should be attainable and sustainable. To that end, here are my goals for the new year;
- Create a garden that produces enough food to supply our families canned/frozen food needs for the entire summer and winter. A sub-goal to this is to only buy beans and rice and seasonings from the grocery store after June of this year.
- Create a sustainable source of meat on our own farm without relying on deer hunters for all our meat. A sub-goal here is to actually kill and process our first pig (THAT is a daunting task that I really don’t want to do but need to!)
- Install a working well pump with plumbing for the garden and install rain-barrels for garden watering and livestock needs.
I know it is only three goals, but they are pretty big ones. Our first year was simply learning our new land and putting in structures. This year the focus will be on actually feeding our family. As food prices rise it would be really nice not to spend a fortune at the store every week. The food has been less than stellar this year and there have been shortages and price increases that would not have affected us so much had we put food aside and had our garden growing well. That cannot happen again in 2014. We are able, with some work and planning, to be fairly self-sufficient on our property. It truly doesn’t take much to care for a small family if you are wise and willing to eat what is in season and eat simply, especially in this land with temperate climate and good soil and plenty of water and sun. I am going to try harder to keep this blog updated to share the things we do and create tutorials so that you can use our ideas as well. The big thing is we don’t want “$64 Tomatoes” we just want a clean, productive plot of land. Of course we want it to look good, so we do spend a little on our projects, but we are always keeping in mind the long-term value of each project and try to do things with the least expense possible. Hopefully our sharing what we do will empower, encourage and inspire you!