Tiny House Homesteading

have the courage to dream

Month: March 2017

Homesteading 101: How I set goals for my homestead.

How I Set Goals for my Homestead
I never run out of things to do and projects to work on here at the homestead. However my goal is simple:
Do something every day!


How to determine your target!

I usually pick out my target/goal early each morning. Sometimes I pick it out the night before, but it is usually close to the time I will be working on it. The size of my project is determined by a number of things.

Determination list:

  1. My personal energy level.
  2. My finances at the time.
  3. My resources.
  4. My helpers.
  5. Other activities on the schedule that day.
  6. The weather.

Sometimes my project is as simple as take apart a pallet for firewood or for a wood project. Sometimes the goals is to put up 100 feet of fence or paint a shed. The goal isn’t to do as much as I can as quickly as I can, rather the goal is to make progress as often as I can. If it is payday then I often focus on doing the shopping, if its Sunday I focus on the Lord, but every other day I set a goal and work on it.
Today’s goal was to hang two gates on my gardens. Very few goals on a homestead stand alone. Just like very few goals in life stand alone. Although my goal for today was to install three gates for my gardens. They were preceded in previous days by digging holes for posts that were set into cement. After that I attached fencing to the posts and then after the posts were installed and the fencing was attached I was able to set my target for today to hang the gates. This goal will be followed on another day when I go into the gardens and plant trees, shrubs, and berry plants. I will also build a pergola in the garden and install a watering system.

When I look at everything that needs to be done I realize that my garden project entails years of work. This is why I use the system that I have. I know what I want my gardens to look like when I am finished (well I have an idea that evolves), but I don’t have the time, money or energy to just tackle the project all at once. Instead I use my goal determination list to decided how I am going to make progress on my garden.

Assess your resources
When I got to the stage where I was ready to install my gates I wandered around my property to see what I already had. I had an old gate that was left on my property from previous owners. I determined that it would fit on the south entrance to my garden. I also decided that I had half the hardware I needed to install it. I just purchased the other half for today’s installation.

For the East entrance I used some wood from a pallet that we took apart. My daughter helped me remove all the nails and staples from the wood and build a gate. We then had to purchase the hinges and a wheel for the bottom.

To address the gate that was needed on the North side of the garden we used an old pallet to temporarily close off that entrance. To do this we put 3 t-posts into the ground and slid the pallet over the posts. If we want to use that as a gate in the future we just need to pull off the pallet. Because we won’t be using that entrance for a while we also attached 2xs to the posts on either side to secure it better.

My point is that the garden itself is a huge project that will take years, but I can set daily and weekly goals to work on my garden so that I can continue to make progress and work towards the end product and these goals are largely determined by the resources that we have. Also my homestead evolves as resources and finances allow.

Weekly Goals
Sometimes it is beneficial to set weekly goals. There are times when setting a goal for the week instead of the day is extremely helpful.  So what does setting a weekly goal do if I still have to set daily goals? A weekly goal gives me permission to not work on my goal if the day is crazy or full of distractions as long as I can keep working on my goal during the week. This also helps me to make progress during a crazy week because I know that I still need to work on my goal and make progress that week.

One example of a weekly goal was my loft doors. I knew that I needed to make progress on my  doors but I didn’t know how much time I had each day, or how many hours the project itself would take. Instead of trying to do it all in one day or break it down into daily tasks, I set the goal to finish the doors that week. During this project I worked on my doors at the end of the day making as much progress as time would allow for that day. The doors were finished by the end of the week and I set my next goal.

The following week I set the goal to frame in the opening for the doors. This brings me to my next point.

Patience is a valuable resource.
I used free wood for this entire project. I had to wait three weeks after the doors were built to actually install them because I had to get the finances to buy the hardware to hang the door.  In this area I am patient. When we built our home I often had to use whatever I had around and could find for free to do my projects. After our home made it to the stage of comfortable I decided that from that point on I would be patient with my future projects. I determined  that I could finish all new projects to be what I wanted instead of what I had to settle for. I still use free supplies as often as I can. I scavenge for things I can reuse, re-purpose, or get for free. However in my journey I use what I can get to build the best that I can build.
I currently have a pile of bricks that I obtained for free that will eventually be used on one of the projects on my list for my homestead, but I am not in a hurry to use my bricks. I will use them when the right project presents itself. Being patient helps me to make progress that is fulfilling and beautiful.

Treat your homestead goals like a job.
I find that when I set my goals (especially weekly goals) and I am only accountable to myself, it is important to hold myself accountable. I write down my goal and I often report to one of my accountability friends. I know that the people who I have chosen as accountability friends will ask me how I am doing on my goals. This helps me to accomplish them, but having someone to report to also helps me to me more accountable. When we work at a job full-time we are more accountable to our boss. If we are the boss we are accountable to everyone below us who depends on us making progress to keep the company alive. To keep our homestead alive we need to make sure that we meet our goals and this means holding ourselves accountable.

Set short-term and long-term goals
My daily goals are goals that I have set for my homestead. They are things that I need to get done that day, or it is a goal that I set because its convenient to work on it that day. However when I set my goals they are based on my long-term goals. I need to work on projects that I won’t see results on for years. When I plant a tree, I am setting the short-term goal of planting the tree for the long-term goal of having fully grown shade or fruit trees on the homestead years down the road.
When I compost I am preparing soil that I won’t use until the next growing season. When I get chickens or ducks I know that it will be months of raising them before I am able to get eggs.
I once had someone interview me. He wanted to know what I did on my homestead. He seemed disappointed when I told him I had spent years digging holes. I told him that I was getting to a point where I had new projects but there were still a lot of holes that we had to dig. In fact after my interview I spend the next 2 months digging holes for trees and fence posts, but now I can look out and see my beautiful trees and my gardens that I fenced in. It will probably take 5 years for my gardens to become what I dream about, but the work that I put in today makes a future for my homestead.

 

 

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Reaching your goals with limited income.

The purpose of this post is to share how I accomplish my goals on our homestead with a very limited budget. Sometimes our budget is actually zero, but this plan makes even a zero budget work at times.

Two years ago I was making progress by focusing on one project at a time. I did get things done, but there were always so many more things to do. My new approach came two years ago when I started the year with a list of projects that I wanted to get done that year, however my break through didn’t come until I put my list in a place that I would see it on a regular basis. What is important to know is that everything on my list was there because it was part of my goals. Here are the 6 steps I took to make my goals a reality.

  1. I made a list of the projects I wanted to work on. Sometimes it was simply buying something for my homestead lifestyle. For example, we live on a homestead that is off grid, so on my list was a stove top popcorn popper. I wanted to be able store and cook popcorn because it is inexpensive and stores well. If I had the right popper I could easily use it off grid and store popcorn to use now and later.  By putting the popper on my list I was able to buy one after my husband had worked some overtime. I looked at my list and my budget and purchased the popper. Until I had the list where I could see it often I frequently forgot to buy it when we got extra money for purchases. That leads me to the second thing that I did.
  2. I put the list in places that I would see often. To begin with I made more then one list. I wrote one in my planner. I put a second list in my Journal (but I didn’t see that often), and I put a third list on my bedroom wall. Perhaps the most important list was in my bill binder.  By putting it with my bills I was able to look at it on paydays and determine if we had the means to get anything on the list or work on any projects that were on the list. If I felt like we had money to put towards my goals I could then talk to my husband and determine what item on the list we would work on that payday.  This leads me to the third thing that I did.
  3. I discussed the list of things I wanted to do with my husband, my kids, and my friends. By telling others about my list it created opportunities for others to help me work on my goals. For example, my husband brought home a wood box and said, “I thought this would make a great chicken coop for you.” He knew that a chicken coop was on my list.

    It took a few days, but I was able to turn this box into a chicken coop using things I had laying around. The only thing that I bought was screws (I am always buying screws), door hinges, and some paint.

    The point is that when I share my goals with others they are able to help me accomplish them. They encourage me or keep their eyes open for things that might help with my goals.
    Once I told my friend that I wanted to purchase a small washer for my home. She responded by telling me that she needed help at her place and offered to let me come and work for her for a few days to earn the money to purchase the washer.
    Just recently a friend gave me some fertilized eggs to try out my new incubator. She had plenty of eggs and knew that I needed to learn how to use my incubator. When we share our goals with others they love to help us find ways to accomplish them. Sometimes they just give us encouragement, but that is extremely valuable. One friend tries to ask me often what my project for the day is. She knows that just by asking me what I am working on encourages me to set a goal for the day. This leads me to my fourth suggestion.
  4. When I get something for free I adjust my schedule to fit in a project on my list that includes the free items I get. Being flexible is very important to getting things done on my list. Its not realistic to drop everything on your schedule for projects, but I do try to work them into my schedule as quickly as I can. For example when a neighbor dropped off a box of tomatoes that were going bad I worked canning stewed tomatoes into my schedule as quickly as I could so the tomatoes wouldn’t go bad.

    Also I don’t have a garage or a barn so when I get free wood I try to work in my wood projects as quickly as I can because the wood will warp out in the sun, wind, and rain.
    When I told my husband that I wanted to enclose my loft area he brought home some reclaimed wood for me. However it was the middle of winter so I set to work getting the doors built and the rest of the area framed and installed so that the wood wouldn’t sit outside in the snow or sit inside as a trip hazard in our small house.

    Working on projects as soon as time permits also helps to get projects done quickly instead of stretching it out over years. This leads me to my fifth suggestion.
  5. Have patience. Although it is great to jump on projects as quickly as you can, doing things before you can afford to do them can double the price of your project. Although I do everything I can as quickly as I can, I do it with free supplies as quickly as I can get free supplies buying things I need that I can’t find for free when needed. However patience is crucial to getting things done and doing it with a small budget. We try to do as much as we can as fast as we can, but patience enables us to wait for free supplies. This is where my last tip is very important.
  6. Have a long list of things that you want to work on. By having a long list of things to do you can switch up your projects as resources present themselves. My list includes inside and outside projects. It includes winter, spring, summer, and fall projects. My list is huge because life is so varied. I have projects that require supplies on it, and I have projects that just require time. I might have an organizing project that just requires time. I might have a planting project that uses left over seeds from the previous year so  I can put them in the ground if i don’t have the money to run to the store and get seeds for this current year.
    When it comes to paying down my debt focus is very important. Focusing on one debt at a time brings a lot of power, but when it comes to getting things done on my property, the long list actually allows me to keep making progress no matter what the weather or what my finances are. This method won’t work for everyone, but it has made it possible for our family to double or triple the number of things done over the past two years.  Make your list today and start sharing it with the people in your life who encourage you.

Sunflowers

Last year I determined that I was going to grow some sunflowers.

The first thing I did was purchase some seeds from the store. I immediately planted my seeds. The next morning I woke up and discovered that our puppy had dug up my newly planted flowerbed. UGH!!! However I was determined that I wanted to grow some sunflowers, so I planted some more seeds. The first time I planted half the package, so this time I planted the other half of the package. Again the puppy dug up my flowerbed. Still determined I went to the store and purchased more seeds. This time after I planted the seeds my husband used some clear green house plastic and made a temporary cover for my flowerbed.

Soon little plants were growing out of the dirt. It was so exciting. That is until a mouse started eating the pants as they came up at night. UGH! But I really wanted sunflowers, so I went to the store and I bought more seeds, and I planted them again. This time when the flowers came up I put cayenne pepper around the plants. This worked for a little while but as the plants got bigger the mouse was able to reach them and still eat some of them. I decided to deal with the mouse by setting out poison. That did the trick.

Finally my sunflowers were growing! I was so excited. Then one day my goats who were grazing got inside the fenced in area where the house and flowerbeds are, and you guessed it my sunflowers were, and as you probably guessed he ate the top off my sunflowers. UGH!!! But I was determined to grow sunflowers, so I decided to just let those half eaten flowers continue to grow and see what they became. Well those sunflowers kept growing and after a while they split into two.

My sunflowers never got as big as they could have if they had the full season to grow, but they grew.

I love the memory of my sunflowers. It is a reminder to me to keep trying even though things might not work out how you planned. In fact I believe that things never work out how we plan, but I also believe that life if beautiful and full of surprises. I know bad things are going to happen; that is part of life. But I am determined to grow sunflowers. I think it is very important to have sunflowers and to fight for the beautiful things in this world. I believe those beautiful things like love, kindness, generosity,  and sometimes literal flowers are worth fighting for. I believe that we should all be determined to grow our sunflowers whatever that may be because life is hard and we will have dogs, mice, and goats all in our path, but we can know success if we keep at it. The success probably will look very different than we originally anticipate, but it will still be beautiful. So be determined and grow some sunflowers.

Preparing for our worms

Worms, Worms, Worms
A string of cold weather meant that I haven’t gotten a lot done outside this past week. Instead I have been working on ordering some things for our homestead. One of the things we ordered this past week was worms. We are hoping that the worms come today. However, while we have been waiting for the worms, we have been preparing for them. First, we located 4 buckets that we can use for their homes. Second, we gathered some newspaper for food for the worms. Third, we drilled holes in the top of the buckets (not the lids) for ventilation. We want to keep the soil damp but we also need to account for ventilation. Our solution was to drill holes at the top  of the bucket but keep the lids on to keep good ventilation but also keep the soil from drying out.
After we prepared the buckets, we tore the newspaper into 1 inch strips, and we add them to the buckets. Then we added water, dirt, and sand.  We will start with about 500 worms per bucket and see if the space is good for that many worms. We will keep an eye on the worms over the next few weeks and see how they are doing.  If we have too many worms for the space we can always move some to the flowerbeds.
We will also keep them inside for now since it is still pretty cold outside (especially at night). Some of the worms will stay inside all year though.
Right now there are 4 different reasons that we want to raise worms as part of our homestead.
1. We are always looking for an additional food source for our animals. Raising worms that reproduce on a large scale would be a renewable resource for our chickens.
2. Worms castings are an amazing addition to any garden.
3. We would love to have a ready supply of worms for fishing!
4. Sell worms and worm castings for another source on income.