February in upstate NY means cold and snow, not really the type of weather that has you motivated to do projects, let alone step foot outside! While the weather is cold and the days are short, they are slowly but surely starting to get longer. The extra daylight hours certainly helps on the motivation side of things, and on top of that, February is a short month. Soon enough it’ll be March, followed by April, when we finally start to have consistently nicer days, then into the hustle and bustle of the summer.
Here’s the other thing, it’s really easy for things to get away from you. That’s life for you, for everything that you do there’s an opportunity cost. What I mean by that, is that there is always something that needs to be done, or things that you’d rather be doing. Outside chores need to be done, animals need to be fed, something always needs to be fixed, then there’s inside chores that need to be done. Family, friends, work, church, social obligations, the list goes on and on. For everything that you do there’s something else that you can’t do. I’m not saying this to come across as depressing or to be negative, it’s just a reality of life. It’s really easy to get caught up in an idealistic notion of homesteading or life on the farm. Movies, literature, social media, they all romanticize farm-life – and it is beautiful! It’s also hard work, both the physical and mental aspect of it all.
To sum all of that up…
A.) There’s always something to do.
B.) I wouldn’t change our lifestyle for anything
Since there’s always something to do and those ”to do” lists can easily get out of hand, I find it incredibly beneficial to do some goal planning, list out projects, and think of the major items that I’d like to accomplish. We may, or may not accomplish all of the tasks that we set out to do, and priorities do change throughout the year, but that’s OK! Go and ask the most seasoned homesteader/gardener/farmer that you can find, I guarantee you that they will all tell you that they’ve got a list that never quite seems to get finished!
So what are our goals, plans, and projects for the year?
- Order chicks and poults (baby turkeys) – this is one of those fun tasks that I look forward to doing. In addition to laying hens, we raise meat chicks and turkeys every year. The chickens fill our freezer for the year and the turkeys are for Holiday meals. This year I would also like to source and order orpingtons from a breeder. I want to introduce some new blood into out flock.
- Renovate and update the inside of the chicken coop – the vinyl floor (it’s over the plywood subfloor) is ripped and needs to be replaced. We also need to make some repairs to the roof, and I’d like to change up the layout of the nest boxes and roosts. The outside of the could also use a new coat of paint.
- Predator proof the baby/brooder coop – I refer to our original coop (it was the first building project that we ever did) as the baby coop since we use it for chicks once they’ve graduated from the brooder but still aren’t ready to be integrated with the main flock. Unfortunately, last year we found out it wasn’t predator proof when we had a mink get into the coop and kill almost 30 young birds in a single night. It was devastating to say the least. The mink killed a lovely batch of silver and chocolate pullets, turkeys, and meat chicks.
- Finish up the barn – last summer, which ended up trickling into fall and early winter, we built a small barn. It’s 12×20, has a large stall for the horse and goats, and an area for hay and storage. We have electric (working lights and outlets), but no running water at this time. There’s plenty of finishing and trim work to do, including building two stall doors, plus did I mention the exterior needs to be painted?
- Lay geotextile fabric and put down more stone – lots of clay + high water table = muddy paddocks. Last year we had an area that was ~60×80 feet, scraped, fabric laid, then stone put down, to the tune of more than 90 tons! It is amazing!! And guess what? Zero mud! My only regret is that we didn’t do a larger area. This year I’d like to have another paddock done with stone. This is likely a project that we will contract out.
- Fence and gates – would it be a project list without fences or gates? We have several stretches of fence that need repairs (goats are extremely hard on fences) and an area that needs to be fenced in.
- Buy and start seeds – Most of our seed purchasing is complete. I would like to order more raspberry plants, and will likely pick up a few more seed packets. We’ve started onions and some very early cold weather crops that will go in the greenhouse, but it’s still too early to start the majority of our seeds.
- Build a new seed starting stand – I better get on this one soon! I just ordered some LED strip lights from Amazon, I have a stand that I’ve used from several years, but have an idea for a better setup.
- Plan my garden – I need to transcribe the ideas that I have in my head and put pen to paper. It really helps to have a plan when it comes to seed starting and planting out time. This is one of those fun tasks that I love to do, it’s a great cold, snowy day activity.
- Build, install, fill new garden beds – I’m planning on extending the raspberry beds this year. We grow our raspberries and strawberries in raised beds.
- Repair the greenhouse roof – we had some severe wind damage to roof panels on our small greenhouse. They need to be replaced prior to planting in it.
- Plant the garden – this is another task that I look forward to!
- Dedicated herb garden, expand our perennial flower beds, landscaping around the chicken coop – I like tasty food and looking at pretty things.
- Run water to the barn – We have electric at the coop and barn, but no water, (yay! lights and outlets) which translates to us hauling water in buckets in the winter… Its my least favorite winter chore and I’d like to rectify that situation.
- For projects on the home-front – our deck needs an overhaul, I’m not sure if we are going to repair it or replace it. We’re going to need to evaluate later this spring, between material shortages and ever increasing costs, we might just look into a few repairs. we are also looking at replacing our kitchen countertops and doing a full bathroom renovation!
I’m sure this list will continue to grow as the days get nicer and we start getting to work on some of these projects! Be sure to drop a comment and let us know what’s on your project list, and check back throughout the season to see updates as we make progress on our list.