Friday, January 1, 2010

New year, new goals

I meant to start writing today's post a few weeks ago, as my 2010 plans started popping into my head, but that never happened, so you're getting it off the cuff this afternoon. And you're getting it from the brain of a woman who just spent two days with some wicked form of stomach bug or food poisoning, which cut short our Chicago vacation. When I was throwing up (and other unmentionables) in that hotel room, all I could think of was how much I wanted fresh air and simple foods. As much as I love our little homestead, I never knew I could be so happy to see it as I was when we arrived home yesterday. I could write a whole post about all the little things that made me happy, but I digress. This is about the future, not my last two days in agony. So, I might forget a couple of things, but here's what's coming in 2010.

Since Margaret has been home from college, she's been working on a complete redesign of the Antiquity Oaks website, so if you've never been there, go give it a hug, because it's going to be gone in a few days. It will be replaced with an entirely new website that includes information on our cows, llamas, classes, and internships, and a few other things that I've probably forgotten about at the moment. But don't worry -- I have all that in my notes. And I need to spend the next couple days finishing up all the copy for that site. The blog will become a page on the new site, but we're going to keep the same URL, so you won't need to change your bookmarks and you won't lose us. The appearance of the blog will, however, change, and you will be able to visit any page on the website directly from the blog.

This also means that I'm finalizing plans for our internship and apprenticeship programs. I finally decided that we're not going to be another Joel Salatin in size and scope. I have no desire to grow 100 steers or 10,000 chickens a year. I do, however, have a desire to meet like-minded people and help them to get a step closer to their dream of self-sufficiency, a locavore economy, greener agriculture and energy, and all that great stuff, so our focus is continuing to shift from production to education, although production will certainly be a part of the education.

Speaking of production, it gets really depressing when I read about people living on little city lots who can grow thousands of pounds of food a year for themselves, and it finally occurred to me that we should be keeping track, so we're going to do that in 2010. We're going to keep track of all the eggs, milk, meat, fruit, herbs, and vegetables that we produce, raise, or forage on our little 32 acres for the next year, starting today, which wasn't very impressive, because it is January 1, in the middle of Illinois. We're at just over four pounds of goat milk for 2010 so far!

And speaking of depressing, the garden gets me the most depressed. I have never claimed to be a great gardener. In fact, I generally complain (in real life, if not on the blog) about what terrible gardeners we are here. But to be honest, we haven't really worked as hard at gardening as we've worked at everything else. Even though I get upset when lettuce doesn't come up or the tomatoes get blight, it's nothing compared to how upset I am when an animal dies. The animals always come first, and that's how it should be, but I also admit that I could have put more time into educating myself about gardening. So, in November, Mike and I attended a full-day organic gardening seminar, and next week, I'll be spending three days at the Illinois Specialty Crop Conference, learning even more about vegetables, fruit and herb production. When it comes to furthering my education this year, the subject is gardening.

And speaking of education, I've decided to stop teaching college. I've been hanging in there teaching speech, thinking I should keep my resume fresh so that if a journalism teaching position ever opens up within an hour of me, I'd have a better shot. But considering the number of unemployed journalists in the Chicago area, I'm thinking there will be a few dozen people applying if they require a master's degree or hundreds if they only require a bachelor's, so it's not worth it for me to keep teaching a class that most students loathe. If the majority of people fear public speaking more than death, how do you think that a required public speaking class stacks up? Although it has certainly given me some great stories. Probably my favorite "excuse" of all time for three students missing a speech was that they were arrested on their way to class. They didn't know why they were arrested and had no paperwork documenting it, and the best part was that they couldn't even get it straight who was driving the car!

So, those are my plans for 2010. What you planning to accomplish?


SkippyMom said...

I wish you the best sweetie - sounds like a great year. I swear...we have no yard [you have seen the pics!] But I am going to try container gardening on our deck this summer. I crave a real tomato.

I also want to start canning. But I am scared! :) We have so many pick your own farms around here - it would be easy to stock up.

Take care and enjoy your new year and new career.

Sunflower Hill Farm said...

Hi, Deborah. Sounds like a lot of plans for 2010. Wonderful! Hey, I quite my job in Nov and am feeling really happy about that decision. I taught childbirth classes at a local hospital for 14 years and have never felt free-er (the hospital changed so much, they made it impossible for me to stay). You'll have so much more time for thinking and dreaming and growing. Good luck!!

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

SkippyMom -- I'm constantly trying to figure out how to do more container gardening, so that I can keep the harvest going beyond our growing season. I had such plans for fall and winter tomatoes this year, and the blight killed them all before I even had a chance to try anything.

Sunflower Hill Farm -- Small world! I taught childbirth classes for seven years back in the 90s. (That sounds so ancient now that it's two decades ago!) It got discouraging because none of the doctors in my area supported natural birth. I was ICEA certified. So, obviously, I love teaching. I just have to get the subject right, and I think I've finally found it. Third time is the charm, right?

Gizmo said...

Thank you for doing this post. You are such a motivation and inspiration for me.
Now that you have your cows....your garden will do MUCH better!!! You might want to consider locking them up (stalling) them for some time. We usually do a couple weeks in late Fall, and dump everything directly into the garden to rot over the Winter. If we've missed an area, or have a heavy depleted area, we do this again, several weeks before the last thaw. You will be AMAZED at how well your garden will improve from the year before.

Gizmo said...

P.S. It works with the horses too! :)

Teri said...

It was great to check out your website before it gets a face lift. Great information on there!

Our great 2010 list includes:
Continuing to milk our 2 Alpine does and make cheese. We had a great time with aged cheddar this year.

Managing our chicken flock to have better production. We're culling the flock right now down to 20 and will add 10 new chicks this year.

I am inspired by you to raise heritage turkeys! Can't wait. I'm thinking a "turkey tractor" set up will work best on our farm.

We LOVED raising organic Tamworth pigs this year and will do it again in 2010. SO delicious!

Our garden continues to grow. Like Gizmo suggests, we take goat bedding and put it directly on crops as a top-dressing. For instance, we use it right on brassica and allium beds. The plants love it!

And that's just on the farm! We're raising a 2 year old as well. 2010 will be busy and exciting. Thanks for sharing your pursuits!

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Gizmo and Terri, I learned so much at that composting seminar I attended last February. I should have done that ages ago! When we cleaned out the barn this fall, we heaped up the goat manure and straw in a mound about five feet high, which I learned is really important if your goats eat thistle and you aren't interesting in growing it in your garden. In a previous year, I just used the goat manure as a top dressing and mulch, which worked fine until the thistle went to seed. It survives a goat's intestinal tract just fine, and come out the other end in lovely little fertilizer pellets. I bet I had the best thistle patch in the whole state of Illinois, not that it's anything to brag about. But by piling up the straw and manure, it creates a hot compost, which kills the weed seeds. Amazing how a little thing can make so much difference!

Love your list, Teri!

Anne said...

One of my main goals for this year was to milk my new Alpine doe and get into cheesemaking.But yesterday she had a bloody discharge and so I'm assuming that she miscarried. She is very lively and eating well and for that I am VERY grateful. I bought her in November and she had been with a buck for 6 weeks. She had been bred as a do) and had twins and had been milked some. Milky Way is a very pretty and sweet doe and I hope she can get back on track with breeding next fall. I kind of freaked out when I met the lady to pick her up, as she was SCARY skinny. I dewormed her with Ivomec 2 months ago, but weight gain has been slow. I wonder if the young pregnancy was just too much for her. I will concentrate on getting her the best condition possible. Still, I'm bummed about no kids this spring and no milking/cheesemaking. I know this probably happens alot, but still it's rough. It helps to write about it. Your goals sound awesome and I know I'll learn alot (already have) from you. Thanks for listening! oh, would you give Milky Way any antibiotics or anything? All of the vets around here are small animal practices only. Anne

Anne said...

Should read..she was bred as a doeling..something I wouldn't do.

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Hi Anne,
I'm really sorry to hear about your goat. She will be fine as far as the miscarriage goes, but goats don't usually miscarry without a reason. They are incredibly efficient at getting pregnant, staying pregnant, kidding within a couple days of their due date, etc. If they don't, it's usually because something is wrong. She could be deficient in either copper or selenium, or she could have eaten something that caused her to miscarry. When 1/4 of my herd was aborting a few years ago, that's what the vets of U of I were trying to tell me happened. Turned out they were deficient in copper, because we have a lot of sulfur in our well water, which binds with the copper. I really need to get this info on my website, as I find myself repeating it at least once or twice a month to someone. The feed question at the bottom of my FAQ page talks about copper briefly:
Let me know if you need more info.

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