The Amazing, Grand, Very Good Plans for Keeper’s Croft in 2021

Woohoo! It’s 2021! Yeah!

……And everything is pretty much the same. Regardless, I have to say, never has a new year felt more cathartic even if only in a symbolic sense. I also happen to be one of those people that does like to reflect and plan at the changing of the year. So that’s what I’ve been doing, though as far as homestead planning goes I’ve actually had my plan for the next year drawn up for a month or two.

Why so premature with the plan? Well, it all goes back to the nervous breakdown I had in November…or maybe October? I don’t know. 2020 was 5 years long. As I’ve said at least 75,356 times (maybe more), I am trying to do this thing solo, on a slim budget and with no real practical skills. It’s hard on the nerves and has caused fairly regular bouts of self-doubt and concerns for my sanity. What on earth was I thinking?!?

It was during one of these moments in “Novemtober” when I realized that I needed to get to the bottom of why I get so upset at the slow pace of progress at Keeper’s Croft. I’m almost 50 and part of me worries I am running out of time. Out of time for what exactly? Only having chickens for 15 years vs. 20? I also don’t tend to enjoy the uncertainty of the between time – the “journey” time if you will – I want to get to my destination and just start having fun. I’ve already addressed this on the blog so I won’t belabor it but the point is I really needed to start appreciating and enjoying the process.

So how does that work?

I need to start seeing the fact that I have zero skills as crippling and see it as an opportunity to keep learning and experiencing new things which is a more and more precious commodity as life goes on. So what, if it means my kitchen light is non-functioning and has been for the last month because I couldn’t figure out how to change the switch and am too cheap to call an electrician? Who needs light in the kitchen? My cooking has never been so tasty – HA!

It is this new, more patient Stephanie that is heading into 2021 and it is she who sat down and was brutally honest about what could get done in the next year. Wanna see what I’ve prioritized for the next year?

2021 Homestead Plan

Garden and Growing Food

  • Get to 50% capacity: This will involve continuing to use the chicken run (so no chickens this year) as well as starting to build beds and use in the main garden space.
  • Temporary fence up around at least parts of main garden: Anything I plant in the main garden area will need some kind of protection from deer/rabbits but I don’t know that I will be ready (or have the money) to build the permanent fence. So maybe snow fencing or more flimsy wire fencing around at least part of the area?
  • Seed Starting Set Up: I want to have a pretty robust set up so that I can not only start vegetables but also some native plants to give away and sell.
  • Fruit Trees Planted: These take a few years to start producing so prioritizing these as well as any other longer terms plants this year.

Habitat

  • Cut and treat invasive understory (honeysuckle and buckthorn) in woodland: This is mostly just labor and the cost of chemical.
  • Treat burdock areas and plant more native plants: The burdock is a native and was a huge favorite of the bees and butterflies last year but it’s seeds are just too obnoxious with two long-haired dogs.
  • Start some native plants: Growing starts of prairie wildflowers is not entirely straight forward so this will be my experimental winter.
  • Paw Paw Tree!: I have been gifted some Paw Paw seeds and I am going to see if I can turn them into seedlings!
  • Can I cut down small trees? Clean up in woodland: The property has a LOT of dead trees and a lot of downed limbs and trees in the woodland. Woodlands aren’t meant to be clean but it is a tangled mess. And I’d like to test my self and see how brave I can be about taking down some of the smaller trees that need it.
  • Plant native shrubs if free or inexpensive can be found
  • Prairie Maintenance: I dormant seeded the prairie in late fall and it will need to be mowed a time or two this summer to keep the competition of the non-natives in check.

Herbs

  • Fill in holes: I got a fair start on the herb garden in 2020, but it’s not full and there will be plants that don’t make it.
  • Calendula and Comfrey: I’d like to identify some space to grow substantial amounts of calendula and comfrey.
  • Start Seeds: Grow as many plants from seed as I can.

Home and Kitchen

  • Learn to crochet
  • Learn to make candles
  • Expand my home crafts
  • Continue to expand my food preservation knowledge and activity: Fermentation!
  • Continue to work on cutting my food waste

That’s It

No chickens. No fence for the dogs. No permanent garden fence. No greenhouse. No hiring someone to take the big trees down. No farm truck or UTV.

It doesn’t mean I won’t take advantage of opportunities when they arise. There will also be things that need attention that I couldn’t plan for. But as much as possible, I will focus on the above items and enjoy working on them!

I also identified what I will need to spend money on:

  • Fruit Trees and Seeds
  • Seed starting equipment (primarily LED grow lights, trays, native plant conetainers)
  • Big load of compost
  • Herbicide
  • Some Fence supplies including a post pounder
  • Extra chain, chain sharpener, steel-toed boots, and perhaps a second bigger chainsaw.

I will avoid spending any big cash outside of this list.

Homestead Planning

There it is! My to do list for 2021! And also my to don’t list! I am still working on my finances and budget, so I really tried to focus and stay away from too many big ticket items (like chickens, trees and fence). I made sure to include things that will give me the opportunity to learn and hone new skills. Looking at the list, I feel happy for the year ahead!

I’d really love to hear how you approach planning on your homestead? Do you plan on an annual basis or do you just have some overarching long-term goals you keep in mind? If you’ve been doing this homesteading gig for a while, what’s something you wish you had known/done early on?

Happy New Year!

As a reminder to always appreciate the moment we are in and be grateful for the beauty of this world:

May you always be blessed

With walls for the wind

A roof for the rain

A warm cup of tea by the fire

Laughter to cheer you

Those you love near you

And all that your heart may desire

Irish Blessing

If you want to know more about me and Keeper’s Croft, check out the ABOUT page.

2 Comments on “The Amazing, Grand, Very Good Plans for Keeper’s Croft in 2021

  1. Great mindset, Steph! Reading this makes me excited for planning my garden and starting seeds (Feb at the earliest for us), and adding some fruit trees to the orchard (Asian Pears!). You know, we never did have a “permanent” garden fence in Iowa– we used 2″x4″ coated welded wire that was 36″ high, zip ties, and t-posts. The deer discovered they could jump our fence after a couple years, so we we strung an additional wire along the top of the t-posts and that did the trick. I’ll message you a pic, in case you’re interested in how that garden fence looked. It was fairly inexpensive and easy to install, at least 🙂

  2. Hey! I’m stretching out my writing muscles again thinking about putting up some more posts and I saw I had never responded to this! Thanks for the info on the fence! It is what I ended up doing and is working great!

Let me know what you're thinking!

%d bloggers like this: