January. Another year begins and aside from the fact that I turn 40 this year ( Not sure how I feel about that) I am really excited to get all our plans on the go.
We have been here 10 months already so we have a better feel for what we would like to see in the future. Our first few months here were crazy. We ran around doing a little of everything but not achieving much at all. So this year, I am going forward with a little more intention and some solid plans to get things done.
Here are my 5 Major Farm Plans for 2017 (in no particular order):
1. Extending the house to make two more rooms. It’s getting a little too cosy in our home. Too close for comfort. The kids are all still sharing rooms. The girls are in one and the boys are in another. Both rooms are small with just enough space for a bunk bed, set of drawers and a little bed side table. The boys are Okay, but the girls.. Oh the girls … they are a little tetchy with each other. We hope to build on another two bedrooms before Winter. It will mean everyone has their own room and personal space. Our house is an old 1950s weatherboard that was relocated to where it stands now. I often think that some family who lived in it before us probably raised 10 kids in the same space. We are struggling with 6 of us. I know we are all looking forward to getting that project on the go. This is also going to be our most expensive project, so I’m going to have to tighten the budget until this done to free up at least $20,000 this year.
2. Plant 300 limes trees. My test orchard of limes (all 50 of them in the picture below) are growing slowly. I have been mothering them for the past 6 months. Together we have faced insane winds, naughty sheep, ants and kids on quad bikes. But I feel as if I’m fighting a losing battle at the moment with the dry ground and clay soil. This month is all about fertilizing and watering. There’s plenty of poop on the farm, so no excuses here and Our dam still has water in it so I’m still watering. I’ve also been trying to decide which paddock to plant my next 300 lime trees.
Paddock #2 looks like it’s going to be the best choice to start my commercial lime crop. It’s the field that houses the dam and its two thousand resident eels, so irrigation should be easy to set up. Our soil is not the best, so we have to wait for the rainy season in May – June to get our trees into the ground. The next few months are going to be all about ground preparation. Our soil is predominantly clay which retains a lot of water and Lime trees don’t like having wet feet, so I’ve got a lot of work to get it ready before planting.
3. Growing at least half of our own food. A huge part of the decision to buy a farm was that we wanted to become self sufficient. That means growing and raising our own food. My current goal is get at least half of our food from the farm – including meat, eggs, vegetables and fruit. We currently have a small flock of 11 sheep, 6 cows and also chickens and ducks. At the moment, I buy almost everything from either stores, local markets or neighbouring farmers. The very minimal produce we get from the farm are:
- Feijoa (fruit) from a tree which was here when we arrived
- A few herbs: Mint and parsley
- Cherry tomatoes
- Fish (not on the farm but we catch it ourselves and it makes up a big part of our diet)
Growing our own food is the one thing that I feel most strongly about and I really want to get right. It’s a long standing joke in my house about how much I suck at growing thing. I have started countless veggie gardens which fail. I forget to water, the weeds take over, things die, chickens destroy it. Seriously, my veggie garden attempts and failures plague me. 2017 is the year I intend to be the one laughing.
4. Systemising the Maintenance. This sound pretty dull, but putting processes in place to keep the farm operating smoothly is going to make my life a lot easier. Self discipline is not one of my strongest attributes. I am a little too impulsive so I find myself doing a little of everything as it comes into view and this leads to overwhelm. A farm magnifies this and I run around mindlessly like a headless chicken trying to do everything but not actually making progress.
A couple things that need to get organised asap are:
- Getting the children more involved with chores and animal care. This is easier said than done.
- Setting up Irrigation. I am married to a plumber so you would think that this would be easy.Um. No. He is out there working so this one is on me. Putting it off is not making my life easier either. At the moment I am hand watering my 50 lime trees. As in walking around with a hose pipe. I still haven’t set up irrigation, so it means I have to go around with a hose pipe for an hour every evening. And it just doesn’t reach the last eight trees. Very frustrating. So they get a bucket or two each. I’m really struggling to find this extra hour though. I know I should get the kids to do it, but it’s so quiet out there amongst the limes. Kids stay away if they think there is a chore to be had.
- Managing the grass. We don’t have farm machinery or enough stock at the moment to keep our runaway grass in check so it looks a little messy compared to the well manicured farms around us. Our tractor is an antique and my husband spends more time fixing it than actually using it. I am way too scared to climb on it. It has no brakes and is a massive hunk of metal and rust. Each time he turns it on, I think it is going to be the last time. Our cows and sheep do their best but there is only so much grass they can eat. So we have a couple of options here – invest in better machinery (which is not in the budget) or let our stock breed. Which leads to me to my next plan for the year ….
5. Fencing. The fences on our farm are not really fences. The stock see them more as an obstacle to climb through rather than an actual barrier. My sheep are escape professionals. They can get through the smallest hole in the fence. It’s really surprising. You will get to a paddock and find 4 sheep on the wrong side of the fence and no clue on how they got there. And they look just as surprised as you. We had Rams and Sheep well separated until a week ago when we woke up to find them all in the same paddock. So… this means lambs will be here is about 145 days. Keeping everything on the right side of the fence = total peace of mind. . As you do with most things though, we will start with one paddock at a time.
And that’s it for now. I’m sure countless other little things will crop up but I’ll keep you updated as we go along.