Monday, February 18, 2013

Homestead goal review: one year later

Last year when I started blogging, I started out following Jill Winger's "Your Custom Homestead" e-book.  I sort of fell off that little wagon about a week in, but I did enjoy setting objectives for my homestead life over a number of different time periods.  Well, with my one-year mark of developing a homestead here in Summerside approaching its anniversary, what exactly have I accomplished?  Here's what I outlined in that post:

"Within one year, I hope to:

  • Get (at least) the support, funding, and basic infrastructure in place for the Lefurgey Community Garden and Food Pantry (think of a snazzier name for it too!)
  • Submit my complete application and gain council approval for my permit to have laying hens
  • Build a comfy coop and roomy pen for laying hens
  • Acquire said laying hens
  • Grow an awesome bumper crop of tomatoes (and do well with my other veggies!)
  • Increase my stock of preserves, particularly jam
  • Learn to make soft cheese
  • Attend at least one meeting of the PEI Beekeepers' Association"

So how did I do?

Well, I did (with a lot of help) get the community garden up and running.  We got permission and in-kind support from the City of Summerside, who gave us the use of a portion of a local park, paid to have the initial bed sites tilled, lent us a truck and a few pairs of hands to shovel and haul horse manure to enrich the beds, and installed an exterior tap on a nearby building so that we could have access to water.  

Our plot, just after planting.
I also very excitedly found out that after a number of steps, I did gain permit approval from the city to get four laying hens in our backyard.  I didn't get them last year, due to a few unforeseen events that temporarily turned our world upside-down, but a very wonderful person built me a coop.  It's beautiful, and I'll post more detailed pictures of it soon, but here it is in the winter:

The lonely, cold coop awaiting some fluffy feathered ladies to bring a little life and spark to the old abode (pen still needs to be built).

I planted SO many tomatoes that I couldn't help but get lots of them for eating, but due to a sad battle with blossom end rot, I didn't harvest enough to preserve my own (I did buy 65 pounds of locally grown tomatoes to can).  We had a super hot, dry summer so even though there was ample calcium available in the form of crushed eggshells, the scorching sun and my intermittent watering meant that there wasn't enough water for the plants to take it up.  I'm sorry, darling tomatoes.  I'll do better this year!

Some of the tomatoes that made it through the plague...
I made TONNES of jam this year though.  Loads of raspberry, strawberry, peach, spiced peach, peach marmalade, and blueberry.  I also canned tomatoes.  I bought a pressure canner and am hoping to up the ante a little this year, and preserve broths for soup.  

Spiced peach, yum!  I'll maybe post the recipe this coming summer. 

And, as the year drew to a close, I made my first ever batch of homemade soft cheese, an Italian soft cheese called stracchino that I can't find to eat here.  It turned out pretty well, too!  But I need to work on my cheesemaking repertoire--hopefully when the academic year is over I'll have more time to work at this. I also started making homemade yogurt, does that count as an extra point?

Stracchino on homemade bread, with a pear in the background to make it look classy.
 I did not attend a PEI Beekeepers Association meeting.  Something to put on the books for this year perhaps!  But have eaten lots of local honey!

It's exciting to look through my goals, some of which sounded a bit lofty at the time, and know that I have actually attained a lot of them (and lots more than weren't on the list).  Every choice I make now in terms of food, particularly, but also homemaking in general, is coloured by the homesteading life I hope to obtain.  And I've become pretty content with my little house in the suburbs, although I definitely still dream of a country property.

Shared with Simple Living Wednesdays


  1. You continue to amaze me Rosalyn! Keep learning more about you everyday. Sorry for creeping your blog but it was very interesting :). You inspire me to be a better person.
    Emily Y.

  2. Emily merci beaucoup de ton commentaire, c'était vraiment trop gentil! Depuis le début de l'année je n'ai pas eu le temps de continuer avec mon blog mais maintenant j'essaie d'y écrire de temps en temps. Honnêtement j'étais un peu gênée de mentionner tout ceci parce que je pense que je me montre déjà assez différente en classe--mais ça me fait plaisir que tu l'aies trouvé et que tu sois intéressée. :) Tu es une personne très chère et je suis désolée qu'on n'a pas eu plus d'occasions pour passer du temps ensemble. :) À demain!

  3. Ah merci beaucoup Rosalyn pour tes paroles gentilles! Désolée que je n'ai pas écrit en français. Je ne sais pas même pourquoi je ne l'ai pas fait.

    Je suis aussi désolée qu'on ne passe pas plus de temps ensemble. Un jour quand la vie n'est pas si folle, peut-être! :)

  4. That is fantastic progress! Well done indeed. For blossom end rot I use a calcium spray I get from the garden department at any store. It's best to build the soil but the spray saves the year's harvest. :)

    1. Thank you for the tip, Leigh! I'll have a look at our garden centres come spring. I've been saving eggshells and I'll spread more of them in the tomato beds (as well as my first batch of compost!).

  5. Wow, you accomplished a lot! I can't wait until summer so I can get back to work. I've been checking out everyone's blogs and it's just getting me more excited to get in the dirt! I can't wait to see how things go with your chickens!

  6. I feel like you definitely did accomplish a lot Rosie! Pretty impressive really! :D


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