This year has been a pretty good one. While I worked throughout the year to be more homemade, from scratch and homegrown I learned a lot of lessons. I also never seem to realize in the moment how much was truly accomplished until I look back. Here is my year in review.
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Food We Grew
Although it often felt like the gardening season was rough (I CANNOT grow a tomato to save my life!) it turns out it was pretty good. Here is all the food we grew: 5 bunches of kale, 18 radishes, 33 strawberries, 20 peas, 4.5 lbs potatoes, 47 cucumbers, 55 lbs of cushaw squash, 5 figs (birds got a lot), 1 corn (disease), 7 beets, 15 heads of garlic, 46 okra, 2 butternut, 3 sweet potatoes, 60 loofah squash, 4 lemons.
To me that does not seem like much, especially because it was spaced out over the year. But that is a total of about 200 lbs of food all from my small, shady, pest riddled backyard!
This year was the year of the chickens. For the first time ever, we raised livestock to provide eggs for my family. The entire journey began a year ago on December when I took time off work to build my own chicken tractor from a YouTube video!
Even though I did not get the girls until April and I got them as chicks, we managed to get 106 eggs. That is almost 9 dozen! They started producing in late August at about 20 weeks old and despite the winter, they have not stopped. I do not provide any additional lighting but it is the south. They have had about 5 days this December of 0 eggs, which I expected.
Foraging for Food
This year I definitely upped my foraging. Around where I work you can forage for American Beauty Berry, dewberries and wild plums. All of this helped me hone my canning skills and was able to put up 15 jars of jams, jellies and syrups from these yummy goodies.
I am hoping to get better at timing, freezing and efficient foraging for next year. Maybe even try some new recipes for this unusual gifts, including how to use wild persimmons which grow all over the place here.
From Scratch Cooking
No more store bought bread. While we have a weakness for English muffins, which I have not even attempted, we no longer buy store bought bread and have not bought a loaf for the entire year. There have been a few fails but many successes and several different recipes. We recently settled on an artisinal one as we like that better than sandwich loaf.
Next year I hope to capture my own yeast and make my own bread from a sourdough starter. Despite many attempts to get this going, not one batch turned out well. I also managed to make all our pizza dough and pie crusts from scratch. More next year!
Last year we replaced paper towels with cloths, some of which I sew. This year we attempted to replace dishwashing liquid and laundry detergent with homemade varieties. We also replaced floor cleaner with vinegar and used vinegar and vodka on windows and mirrors.
However, none of them seemed to clean as well as we’ve become accustomed to. Next year, instead of using other’s recipes, I hope to try my own in order to find some that are better suited to our family and our appliances.
Hopeful for Next Year
Next year, I have some goals that I did not quite get to this year. Including vermicomposting, more fermenting, making soap from scratch and completing a sewing or crocheting project. I have some in the works but none of them made it to fruition. Partly because my two year old pulled the sewing machine off the counter and busted it, but no worries, setbacks are all part of the deal.
What goals do you have for next year? How might I be able to help you accomplish your goals?
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