Taking Stock: 2010 and 2011

Well, we’re two weeks into January, and I’m already behind.  Anyone else feel that way?!  2010 was an eventful year, and my list of hopes and goals for 2011 (no resolutions here!) was mighty long.  But with starting a new semester of teaching, dealing with some unexpected issues with our vehicles, some extra cold and snowy weather (well, by West Coast standards.  You know.  It got below zero overnight, and it snowed, and the snow stayed on the ground!  For more than a day!  Classes were canceled and the campus closed!), I just haven’t found my groove yet.

I hit an overwhelmed moment over the weekend, where I thought, “We’re just never going to get all of this done.  It’s time to scale back the expectations.”  So I thought it was time to take stock.

My goals in 2010 were pretty modest (by my standards!).  It was our first year in our new house and property, so there was just a lot of learning.  We watched and celebrated every new plant that burst out of the ground, admiring and photographing each new bloom.  We weeded and pruned, we added cubic yard after cubic yard of bark mulch, cedar chip for pathways, and topsoil to top up neglected beds for vegetables.

We learned.  The Skipper took a pruning class, I read every book I could get my hands on (and a few I couldn’t–thank you Google books), we went on garden tours and farm tours and edible garden tours.  I started planting in earnest in February, and we ate until December (well, we’re still snacking a bit here and there, actually!).  Our pantry is still stocked with potatoes and some garlic, and the shelves are lined with jars of tomato sauce and jam.  We learned how to crab, and the freezer is still loaded with crab and salmon.

Most of all, by the late fall, I felt like this garden was really ours, and that after a year of observing and reflecting, I was ready to make some changes and create a homestead that would work for us.  Setting the goals was easy:

  • move and rebuild the compost bins
  • create a real orchard space where a few fruit trees are now; add pasture grasses and other forage plants underneath
  • move most of the perennial flowers to the front of the garden, where we can enjoy them from the house and deck, and create a few more small flower beds out of the overgrown perennial garden (where the orchard-to-be is now)
  • rebuild the main raised beds to make them much deeper and to get more growing space out of this section of the property
  • get chickens and ducks!  Which means decide on breeds and sources, build coops, raise chicks, and fence off the orchard to be their summer free-range area (they can free-range the rest of the garden in the off-season)
  • plant more fruit trees
  • rebuild, expand, and create a paved area around the pond so that we can better enjoy it (this area is a mess right now, but expanding it means a lot of work, including moving trees)

Like I said, making the plans is easy.  But carrying them all out is another thing entirely.  What’s not on this list is working full-time and maintaining the garden that we have now, as well as continuing to grow as many–if not more–veggies than I did last year.  And that’s not even the whole list, it’s just this year’s goals for the garden! The house, boat, and other projects would be another whole blog…

So I’m trying to find ways to make this doable.  This weekend I need to get my seeds ordered and the first few seeds of the year started (luckily, I have a large stash from last year’s buying frenzy 🙂 ).  I have started to weed the current raised beds to try and minimize the weeds in the future ones, which will incorporate the soil from these.  I’m trying to be thorough, which also means it goes slowly.  I also need to finish cleaning up the fall beds (the ones that aren’t getting ripped out) and get some manure on them, so that I can plant into those in the next couple of months as we rebuild the new beds.  This includes moving a VERY dense and overgrown strawberry bed.  Sigh.

My original goal was to get all the perennials moved, and the “orchard” re-planted with some pasture/forage crops so that spring chickens and ducks (March? April?) would be able to enjoy them.  But attached to that goal was moving and rebuilding the compost bins so that we could build and set up the coop and then fence the new section that’s been nicely replanted.  All by…the end of March?  It doesn’t seem possible now.

So what will have to wait?  I’m considering letting go of the poultry dream for this year…or even just for this spring.  I think just getting the gardens re-organized and the infrastructure set up should be our main focus.  If we manage to get everything done by the end of the spring, then we can always buy a few pullets instead of raising chicks.

It’s hard to let go of the dream, especially when dreams are so instant!  But I’m a big believer in avoiding burn out by going slowly and enjoying each day.  I don’t want to get frustrated and feel like giving up before the summer starts!  And I don’t want to see my beautiful garden as an overwhelming chore–the goal is to gain joy and have stress dissolve when we step outside, not to stop seeing the flowers for the lack of progress.

So there’s my official resolution for 2011: don’t try to do it ALL, and enjoy each of the baby steps along the way.


5 thoughts on “Taking Stock: 2010 and 2011

  1. I love your resolution. I will repeat it as my mantra too. Don’t try to do it all. enjoy the baby steps along the way. Yes, this will do just fine for me too.

    But man, will I miss having a garden this year! Perhaps I’ll have to trade you some honey for some produce? Yeah?

    1. Amanda, I already need reminding of this important mantra! I’m so sorry that you won’t have a garden this year, but it sounds like you will have LOTS to keep you busy. And if you are keeping up with the bees, I’d *love* to trade for honey. We may have to arrange a sail past of some sort… 🙂

      1. Sorry I’m late replying, but yes honey trade for veggies we’re up for any day! We’d love to meet you in a sailing past. We’re in Port Washington off Pender Island, come by anytime.

        I think if we don’t sell our little boat soon, we’ll be arranging a sailing week as well so we’ll let you know if we’re going to be in your area.

  2. You are smart to be taking it slowly. I work best under pressure, but usually bite off more than I can chew and wind up exhausted and overstressed. But as for poultry, there are options if you want them this year. Places like McMurray hatchery sell chicks for most of the warm season; plus remember that you will have to keep the chicks indoors under an incubation lamp for about 4-6 weeks, so that gives you another month of leeway after they arrive. You can also construct a small chicken tractor in just a few hours, if the chicks are ready to go outside but your fence isn’t up yet. Just a thought! 🙂

    1. Thanks for the kind thoughts, Summersweet Farm. You are absolutely right about the timeline for chicks, and I’m not giving up. 🙂 I’ll post soon about the progress we’re making!

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