2. The new deck and ramps off the back porch. It makes for easier access into the house, rabbitry, and chicken area. Now we have access to the screened porch from both sides. The ramp makes the transport of feed, and canned goods from the storage building much more easier for the both of us. Bringing firewood from the firewood sheds to the house is a breeze via a wagon. We have planted yellow mums under this deck section to prettify the area. We also planted spearmint and peppermint around the base of the storage building to deter rats.
3. We contracted out the refurbishment of our water delivery from the well to the house. It meant a trencher and dozens of new PVC pipe all buried two-foot down. You may remember our previous "pipe" was flexible hose buried, in places, 6" below the surface and was constantly leaking, breaking, and freezing in winter.
4. We added extra circuits to our power panel and had the electrician make sense to our two circuit boxes. The workshop/barn now has dedicated circuit breakers, and lights. We were using an extension cord from the house. The storage room also has it's own circuit to run the air conditioner, heater, and lights. A small freezer will be added later for frozen bunny water bottles and maybe a mini refrigerator for egg storage. The house also got some wiring and additions in the way of two new ceiling fans with overhead lighting for the living and breakfast rooms, and a dedicated circuit to run the larger air conditioner in the living areas. Yippee!
5. We had an additions to our homestead too! We bought twelve Rhode Island Reds and Buff Orpington chicks in the spring to revamp our chicken flock after predators maimed or killed 3/4 of our New Hampshire Red chickens. As of today, we still have eight after culling out the roosters. We now get seven eggs a day and have plenty of chicken in the freezer and canned.
6. We lost Bennie to a car incident and Devon Angel, but the Lord blessed us with Flynn. Other than Mel thinking she was a boy, she has been quite the character. She fits right into the Cockeyed Homestead Critter collection. You should see her playing in the rain and snow. Hilarious for a cat to do this. Everything is new and exciting for her and she knows no fear..only adventure and playfulness. At six months old, she still demands her Mama snuggles and follows Mel wherever she goes around the homestead.
7. We lost three of Mel's original English Angoras, but bought five in the spring. We also changed our rabbitry set up. The storage building we originally had our angoras in is no more. The building was cleaned and converted into a food storage building for our home canned goods, root cellar, and staples storage.
8. A quarter acre was cleared and terraced in preparation of a fruit and nut orchard. We are still laying cardboard and straw over the area in preparation of our organic orchard. Slated to go in are Muscadine and Catawba grapes, blueberry bushes, raspberry bushes, and blackberry vines in the spring. With apple, pear, cherry, fig, pecan, and black walnut trees to follow.
9. Our garden has a major revamp. With the addition of the side driveway and the drive through area beside the barn, the garden now has definite borders. The trapezoid shaped area has had two feet of wood chips, cardboard, and straw added to the whole area. The raised beds are gone. Along the driveways will be straw bale garden beds. These areas were previously weeds and hard packed clay. They need intensive conditioning and soil improvements. The whole area will get a thick compost boost over winter for the 2018 growing season.
10. The rabbitry was moved to the new rabbit barn. Mel built it with a broken wrist if you can believe that. The bucks are now housed in 24x36 cages along one side and the does are all in 30x36 cages along the opposite side. The grooming table is at the other end pictured with all their supplies and compartments for each rabbit's fur. When the grooming is finished the rabbits are allowed to run free within the barn. Two large hurricane type fans were added for their comfort and tarps were added to the ends for increment weather.
11. The chickens also got their own enclosure. It is wired across the top and all around to make predator access more difficult. I'm not going to say predator proof because predator will find a way in no matter what you do. But they should be considerably safer this winter. The nesting boxes are accessible outside the enclosure which makes harvesting the eggs a simple matter of opening a hatch. We can still free range our birds too. This way they will stay out of our garden. Yeah!
12. With the pick up of sixty cases of pint jars (free) from North Carolina, we actually have a food storage pantry. See #7. While the garden this year was lack luster in production, we made some new friends in the local produce market for produce to can. Some valuable contacts were also made for when we launch our own chemical free produce and products maybe as soon as next year. While we are no where near filling all sixty cases, we are comfortable in what we have. Next year, we hope to have even more. It's a start. I can see needing another sixty cases of jars easily to supply our needs for a full year. While we aren't totally self reliant yet, we are on our way.
As I write this blog, I'm amazed about how much we actually got accomplished in 2017. It didn't seem like that much with long periods of hurry-up-and-waits. It's good to jot things down and look at accomplishments. Hindsight is twenty-twenty after all and we have been truly blessed in 2017.
Y'all have a blessed day.