I came across my old homesteading notes. I started to make plans quite a while ago, and we seemed to have pulled together some idea of our expectations and goals. Now that we are here, I can see how these detailed notes helped shape our decision to move to this porperty.
I was looking for a “small farm, 2-15 acres to start.” We are on about three acres. We were also looking for a “4-5 room house, with a woodburning cook/heat stove.” The house is just about that size, and the stove is on its way.
My livestock ambitions were higher in days past: “2-4 dairy goats for milk and kids; 12-24 chickens for eggs, 20-25 for meat; 2-4 ewes for wool and lambs; 2-4 turkeys for meat; 1-2 horses for field work and transportation; 1-2 herding dogs & terrier for rodents.” I’m thinking now two dairy goats, two ewes and maybe a dozen laying hens. We have one dog. My experience with sheep is that first you have three, then you have seven, then you have fifteen, and you know the mathematical progression from there if none is sold or slaughtered.
While my garden list is reasonable: potatoes, onions, carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, cabbage, garlic, lettuce, spinach, kale, squash and about 18 other entries, my herb list is about 75 items long and is not exhaustive. If I were to grow all the herbs I would want, I would need a separate storage room just for the dried product.
Our primary goal listed is “self-sufficiency.” We can then worry less about finances. We can earn less, and get by on a fixed income. It gives us a smaller footprint on the earth in terms of energy consumption and waste produced, as complete recycling is one of our goals. We look to be as close to zero waste as we can be, which is impossible in terms of using fossil fuels. We can’t do much about vehicle emissions except stop driving altogether, which would be a foolhardy decision for us. Because of my husband’s health, I need to be able to get to doctors or emergency rooms quickly, so the vehicle and the telephone simply will have to stay. I know the Old Order Amish manage without them even when someone is in fragile health, but we are not in Lancaster County. We are not part of a neighborhood where we have community telephone access or hired drivers.
Looking at the equipment wish list, I know there are just a few things on it that I really will need: More canning jars, a pressure canner, a Foley food mill, seed-starting materials. The grain mill and a meat grinder would be nice, as would a water purifier for emergencies. And I can just keep dreaming about that marble pastry board.