Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Review, 2015 Resolutions

Everyone is reflecting on 2014, and making resolutions for 2015... Here we go!
Last New Year's Eve was bitterly cold! RIP Miss Pepper (on lap)
Well, 2014 started off with a bitterly cold, extremely snowy winter. Our Jeep Patriot got stuck in the drifts in the driveway and the road quite a few times. Once so badly we had to wait til some Good Samaritans came along with an old jacked up F250 to help haul us out LOL It was miserable trudging through knee deep snow to change out frozen waterers several times a day...

The light in the darkness of winter is seed starting, of course. Everything got off to a great start- tomatoes, peppers, basil...  I have a 4 shelf "greenhouse" we place in the front picture window that faces true South, which has helped save on energy costs vs. florescent lighting. We will be using this method again in 2015!

Spring came, and we planted Sugar Snap and Alaska Garden Peas from Baker Creek. They all came up and grew fabulously eventhough our growing area is still in the process of being converted from horse pasture to garden (still full of weeds of all kinds!). But, unfortunately, the long cold winter must've left the rabbits exceptionally hungry, because every last pea, save less than a dozen, were eaten! The ones we were able to save were delicious, though! 

We did get several new barnyard residents spring 2014- Miss Baa the sheep, Specker the Rooster, 7 laying hens (Chili and Ginger- Amber Link. Caramel, Fudge, Cookie, Cream and Brownie AKA Mrs. Edwards - Ameracauna), Drumstick and Giblets the Bronze Turkeys, and 4 Pearl Guinea Fowl. We got an unexpected surprise on Memorial Day weekend from my Sister-in-Law- a Yorkie/Jack Russell pup named Emma, which you all know as "Lil Doggie"!

After the long cold winter came the dry as a bone, but very mildly warm summer. It was almost as though we didn't really get a summer. We don't have central air, so we bought a pool, only to have a summer with less than seven days over 90 degrees! Although. it was nice when harvest and canning time came! 

Speaking of harvest, it wasn't a very good one at all, due in part to weather, due in part to lack of proper equipment, due in part to my own laziness. While the herb garden close to the house and in range of the hose flourished, I essentially gave up on the back large vegetable garden after weeks without rain and no irrigation other than hand carrying 3 gallons of water in jugs at a time. Vast majority of the canning you saw me do this year was from my Dad's garden or purchased at the Farmer's Market in Madison. The Pink Oxheart starts I gave my Dad did extremely well, by the way, and made excellent sauce! 

Autumn was mild, although the rainy, cold Halloween was a bummer. We also had that one freezing cold week in early November, which worried us a little considering last winter's wrath. Thankfully, it has been unseasonably warm until today! Sadly, autumn did bring us two losses- Miss Pepper, our Barred Rock hen and one of the male guineas.  

I got many things I needed and a few I wanted for Christmas! New rubber boots for the barn, PJ's, slippers, a micro multi-tool, a backpack, gear for backpacking/camping... Lots more! I am anxious to try out the "Norpro 7-in-1 Slicer" I got from my Mom! I have been wanting a Mandoline slicer for canning purposes. I'll post a review! 

Which brings me to New Year's Eve Eve! We've been enjoying the last week in front of the comforting warmth of the new electric fireplace Brian picked up for the family for Christmas watching some movies we bought and received as gifts. 

As far as "resolutions"... Hmm... Well, the obvious first one is to get back into decent shape. Sure, I go outside a few times a day to check on and feed/water animals, but I need to start hoofing it more! That and old bad eating habits have been creeping back slowly (pop drinking, stopping for fast food rather than eating before we go out...). My reward will be a light hiking/camping trip on the Appalachian Trail spring 2016!

Secondly, expand and be more meticulous in the garden. I mentioned the watering issue. We were given Brian's Dad's ATV, which is capable of pulling a small wagon and a self-propelled tiller. Even without a wagon, I can fit a box of perhaps 8 gallons of water at a time on the rear rack rather than carrying 3 gallons at a time by hand. We will also be able to expand and till weeds under all summer long if we can get a hold of a tiller at a reasonable price. This will also propel us closer to being able to start offering herbs and other items at the Farmer's Market! With garden expansion also comes more dehydrating and canning- I hope to try more new recipes in 2015!

Lastly, I intend to write a new blog post AT LEAST once per week throughout 2015! I still have several books to review, as well as tons of recipes I can post until gardening/canning season arrives. I'll post up our seed order list as soon as it's finalized, too! I have been slacking this autumn/winter so far!

Tomorrow, we head back downriver to spend New Year's Eve with my brother and his wife, her siblings, and their friends! I'm making a Chili Nacho Dip, which I will post the recipe for tomorrow before I leave!

Hope everyone has a safe and Happy 2015!!!