I read a blog this week that really impressed me as living in the midst of the dream farmlife. The name of the blog: Just Another Day on the Farm (Living my dream life on the farm) She has it all; she raises all the animals (enough livestock variety to qualify as a real farm), and she produces goods from the things she raises (sheepsmilk cheese for instance). 
I stand in awe of the results of her hard work, knowledge and skill.

It's easy to cruise the web and find someone doing for real what is still only a dream for me... but they had to start somewhere too!
I suppose there are those lucky enough to have inherited a farm they grew up on, complete with the set-up and the animals and the flow of income from production/produce/products. They live the dream for sure. 

But, I expect these days that most of us with the farm/homestead/self-sustaining permaculture food security/farmgirl dream are starting from scratch in our back yard.
I'm 'rural',  but still a novice: without the wherewithall in finances or equipment or livestock or knowledge or skills to just jump right into it all.

Arriving at the ideal or the dream life – is a progression of becoming. It takes more than time and goals, it takes focus-and tracking, or you could arrive and never know it!

My to-do list is written on a calendar page inside a manilla folder with that month’s priorities and goals on the cover in the form of a sort of collage. It’s an inspiration picture.

This keeps me motivated and on track with goals and keeps me from getting overwhelmed or from getting a chair butt.
(You know how it is, when you’re offline you get a whole lot done – opposite that you’re getting saddle sore just from sitting?!)

I use a “12 Folder” system – 1 folder for each month. (Details, Scroll Down Here). But here’s a visual example (it doesn’t include my “TO-DO” list additions which would go onto the bottom half of each day – these are suggested ways to take action on the focus of that month. Some of the permanent TO DO items for instance are Home Maintenance – and those are listed on the link just below the “12 Folder” details):

*with motivational 'collage' coversheets and unfilled calendars: 

 *with sample of filled-in calendar - monthly focus:
 *notice the 15th and 16th - items I wouldn't write in because they are part of everyday items or on the necessity/practicality to-do list. I have to clean the coop, manage the groceries, water plants, etc. Every room in the house gets a month for deep cleaning etc. (which is all laid out in detail on the 12 Folders link).
I am pretty sure I’ll be adding one more facet to my agenda: “Farmgirl”.
(I wonder what I’ll take away to add this one – any suggestions?) I think I’ll give it priority this year- from then on I’ll just focus that same month on homesteading or animal husbandry...Farm Life (learning)?

First I’m currently creating an office/studio space for myself that is dedicated to my overall Longterm Agenda of simple homesteading & preparing for uncertain times. Everything that applies to that agenda is in that room. Painting and other creative pursuits included.

I am a farmgirl at heart and I want to live the part to the best of my ability. I think maybe some things like having an egg-gathering apron would add to the flare of this lifestyle.

It’s kind of a game with myself, wherein I grow into the part as I accomplish the short term goals, but I forgot that I could look cute doing it!
LOL I don’t really mean that, what I mean is more along the lines of feeling more ‘authentic’ in the role.
So many careers include some kind of uniform – a cook wears an apron or a chef wears a hat...Farmers wear Carhartt’s coveralls, or maybe it’s bluejean overalls.

Anyway, I have my pretty hat, and I need to figure out how to wear my hair under it. It can get hot pretty quickly under our high-altitude sun and “hat hair” is not a pretty sight!
I need to set this as a goal, what better way than to dedicate a slot of time and effort to the progression of becoming?
How do I picture myself in this role? What do I need to add or change to meet that picture I have in my minds’ eye (and hopefully will on paper)?

Any suggestions on what I should add to this?
What do YOU picture when you think of ‘farmgirl’ or ‘farmers’ wife’? Do you fit your own ideal? What would you add or change?

A long term objective is one that exists 1-5 years out. Where do you see yourself/what do you wish to accomplish in that time-span (1 year, 2 years, 5 years)?

Long term objectives are specific and tangible dreams.

To reach long term objectives : 
Create mid -term goals that map  to the longterm objective – as a tangible benchmark that shows you are in line to hit the long term goal/dream.

Next, set short term objectives (steps/ stepping stones).
These will be weekly, daily or even hourly goals.

To set up short term objectives (steps) work backwards  from the medium term goal and be specific:

1) For motivation and visual cues - Set up a file: get photos of the end goal/dream/objective(s).
Create a collage to tack onto the wall or use as a cover for the folder (action files/steps with calendar), or as a cover to your binder.

2) Take action - Write a specific to-do list on the daily schedule/calender.
The Monday Pages – this is the weekly list of ‘to-do’s’ to schedule as daily tasks (or whatever)- set aside a specific time each week to go over them! (I like Monday mornings in the winter, Sunday mornings in summer where I can take my notes outside).

3) Tracking and accountability - Monitor on a weekly & quarterly  basis against the larger planned goal to make sure nothing has shifted or changed, and that you’re on target.  If you aren't meeting your objectives, perhaps you need to adjust your vision or your capabilities.
Create a table to track things (weight lost per week, costs of supplies, whatever).  This keeps you focused on what’s important and gives an immediate picture of where things are in progress.

 A good way to stay accountable is to share your goals and the journey toward them. I keep track with the calendars and lists.

For instance, I run an appointment desk for our service business from home during the week. Between calls and paperwork, I roughly organize my computer time 9am-lunch (3 hours), like this:

Monday-  e-mail, farm topic web surfing & research
Tuesday-  document creation, blog topic research, filing
 e-mail, weeding out, backups & creating disks (music)
blogging (writing, editing, posting)
 e-mail & PC maintenance (running scans, defrag, etc.), dusting desk & printer, cleaning keyboard, phone, mouse & cell phone
After lunch I attack whatever is on my to-do lists:
Exercising, animal chores, housework, errands, crafts, etc. as I determine their schedule.
At this time I dedicate my weekends to writing and animal care and getting out!

This schedule could be written on the top half of any calendar day leaving the bottom half, the 2nd part of the day free for activities based on my goals. It allows me to stay focused through blogging, through research, through actions (to-do list of activities), while keeping on top of the practical tasks or chores I need to do.


I really want to talk about the chickens and how I’d be going out right now to get their profile pictures while they’re all settled down on the straw for the night, but I PROMISED not to talk about them in this post.

Long sigh, as thoughts course through my mind of going back and editing out that promise from the last post.
I KNOW, it’s ridiculous to just be so caught up in this journey of learning how to be a farmgirl... the obsession beginning with chickens and ending with eggs. LOL

So let’s launch into something else... 

Winter hasn’t really been its brutal harsh self this year and I’ve been all mixed up thinking it’s fall or spring so far... but sure enough the days are getting just a bit longer and I’m thinking hard on Garden Plans. I  envision glistening micro greens and herbs in pots in the window, and seedlings spread across the table in the morning light.

I am burning to finish a picture layout of the plans, with a list of actual plants (and the seed sources), and what will go where and what planting methods I’ll use (indoor/outdoor, etc.)
It’s not just a yard garden we’re talking about here. Every method of gardening will take quite a bit of prep and effort to get going – we have so much land and it’s so unusable (as is)> that we’ve had to come up with alternative gardening methods.

Here's what the property looks like (10 acres):

First, we’re on the edge of drought country, so any plants (talking perennials) we plant need to be
1) close to the water source
2) drought and deer resistant
3) useful for something besides ‘pretty’
That is a limiting kind of necessity. A lot of labor and some amount of money will be going into everything we do- it had better be well worth it).
I'd like to add Russian sage and raspberry bushes as a hedgerow along our driveway – interspersed with Shasta daisies, and maybe a line of trees.
A tree-lined driveway! (It’s about 200 feet long, then another 100 feet around the circular driveway not including the parking area in front of the house).
HB would like pines trees, I would like fruit trees. Both have their value, so there’s something to decide. Pine trees would be FREE from our own property, but I would prefer to spend precious water on fruit. Perhaps we will combine everything and stagger the plantings, putting the drip line in two rows or between like a zig-zag...
*Russian sage, courtesy of Colorado U. Extension Office

We have about 1/3 of an acre of ‘pasture’ area (could be as much as ½ an acre that backs up to a hill):
CONS: Not fenced. No water sourced to it. All un-amended clay soil.
PROS: It has a few scattered cedar trees (good for shade). It’s near the road and next to the driveway. It would be good for small livestock or an orchard- if prepared and fenced.

We have limited indoor space with direct East light for seedlings or partial shade plants.
There is a deck for container gardening.
We have a 400 sq ft room with a cement floor and being unused would be available for grow lights and raised bed crops (not melons, corn or squash).
An outdoor garden area, an UPRIGHT coldframe, and possibly lighting in the chicken coop as an additional 'cold frame' are planned in the future.

The plans are therefore going to be accomplished in several stages. One aspect at a time. Right now- simply containers for growing on the deck when the weather warms, and in containers in the window (on a large work table in my Farmgirl Office). Sounds simple enough... hahaha.

I plan to plant 'bird feed' (multiple grains you buy at Walmart for wild birds) across the septic leach field (approx. 14'x 50') which lays behind the house under the partial shade of tall pines. This is the ONE area where green grasses grow thigh-high without watering! The deer often nap there and crush the grasses but they aren't damaged. If it successfully grows it will be used as supplemental feed for the chickens over the winter. (Before the bears discouraged me, I used to feed the wild birds on the deck. Our unwatered backyard sprouted many grains, so I am fairly confident).

I plan to plant black oil sunflower seeds/giant sunflowers around the perimeter of the chicken yard too. The hose reaches there easily.

 #1 Decide What Your Goals Are -  It is important to have an idea of what your goals for your garden are BEFORE you get started.

Questions like:
Do you want to grow enough just to add a few vegetables to your dinner once in a while? 
Do you want it to be able to provide enough food for your family if there is a major emergency?

Some people who want to live "off the grid" end up building a garden large enough that it will provide almost all of the food that their family needs.
There is a consensus that the #1 survival crop (w/o a doubt) is sweet potatoes.
“You can live on nothing but sweet potatoes as has been proven time and time again in times of famine - sweet potato must surely be included be in the top 10 (if not #1) when it comes to survival if TSHTF and the store shelves are empty.”

Fortunately most people don’t need to worry about planting just one thing!
On the PBS show Victory Garden, they made succotash from the garden using a small multi-colored corn, pumpkin, and 4 kinds of beans (black beans, the little round ones), and green, yellow, and purple pole beans. They said that the “Three Sisters’ Garden” was being used as a basic survival group for the last 1000 years for a reason- the beans grow up the corn ‘pole’ and fix nitrogen into the soil which the corn needs, and the squash (any kind), shades the ground, conserving water. All the roots and nodes remaining in the earth feed the soil and ‘refresh it’ for the next planting.

Of course it could be a messy looking garden. So what! I can’t think of a better use of land. Corn rows waste a LOT of ground. If all these ethanol corn growers were growing for FOOD instead, they could raise 3x the food on the same land.
Sure, the machines wouldn’t work well, but hey, people can pick corn, beans, squash. I don’t see the problem. Then you can allow animals to eat whatever is left in the fields and their manure can fertilize the ground. Seems like logic to me.

Anyway, back on topic...Then you need to determine or learn other things:

How to amend soil
How to compost/make compost tea/fertilizers
What to grow where (crop list, grow method by type of crop)
Know the Sow & Reap Timelines
How much to plant for desired yield
How to Preserve (or recipes for)
Special needs or instructions (needs 60 degree soil to grow, line of crown to soil when planting bare roots, etc.)
When to Prune & How
How to propagate (seed, cutting, etc.)
What kind of plant it is: Perennial/Annual?
Care and maintenance (sun/partial shade, keep moist, let it dry out...)
What types of beneficial insects do they draw?
Uses for/of end product (animal feed?)

And this is why I don’t yet have a visual garden plan!! 
There are plenty of illuminating and inspiring plans on the web... it's just a matter of time before I figure it all out. Right now it's a little overwhelming.

How do you decide how much of what to plant? 
What obstacles and challenges did you overcome and figure out solutions for?
What was your favorite crop or plant (why)? 

See you next time- when I talk about the chickens again! I have more news to tell!! (Super Exciting! LOL)

1 comment:

Amy W said...

what a wonderful post! You've got some great goals and I enjoyed the read.
Thanks for stopping by my blog and posting.