2012 project report

remember back in late february, when i posted that long illustrated list of my ambitions for the year? here's how it went and what's still to be done. it's almost time for the 2013 list!

shed modifications
fully thatched awnings on north and west: nope. a partner drew up plans for the west side addition though. materials all ready minus a few rafters once ground thaws
earthen floor that keeps out mice: Check! thanks to advice and support from rejoice, ingrid, and mardock.
wattle walls with clay straw infill: Check! thanks to mardock, and a work party to finish the last wall's fill
fourth wall for above to happen: Check! thanks to seamus and mardock in ONE day while i was at work
seal up eaves: Check! i installed wire mesh to keep bugs out, and just finished wooden covering on the outside. still have to insulate and cover from the inside.
make a dutch door: Check! seamus built me one, and now that it's cold i covered the screen bits and am painting pretty things on the new panels
window in south wall: nope, but there's a window in the east wall!

summer hut:
hut in the creekbottom up on osage posts: Check! thanks largely to jon and hassan, who designed and led building of my awesome new summer house
shelter for critters underneath: possible but not decided yet whether i'll do that or not
steep reciprocal roof thatched with grass: shallow reciprocal roof that will probably get pallet wood clapboard roofing
roll down burlap walls: pallet walls but with burlap windows. still have to install a few glass windows
wooden floor: yeah, but it's got gaps. going to salvage tongue and groove boards for flooring
desk/table space inside: my sewing machine counts for now. will build something this coming year
mouse proof food storage: got a metal cabinet that will work well once it's down there
3+ person bed: check, but i moved it up to the shed. can move it back down in spring or build a new one
outdoor cooking space: not yet.
rain catchment system: not yet
stairs: mostly done. need about 20 minutes of work. mark built them for me at a work party

winter den
has totally not happened yet. in digging clay for the shed walls and floor, though, we have excavated at least half of the underground space for it. next year.

i lost 15 chickens over the course of two or three months this year to a mink. all my redcaps are dead, as well as all of my original flock. what's left are 8 out of the 18 hens that i bought in the fall, one of whom is laying. i have not built them a groovy coop yet, and will probably instead transition to building them covered nest boxes and a covered roost in the trees in the draw. they much prefer roosting in trees, and seem Way safer from minks when they can fly away on their own. less work for me, too, than building and maintaining a coop for them.

not yet. this coming year, though. once the shed is warm enough, i'll be building those top bar hives to prepare. will do my best to catch local/wild swarms rather than buying expensive bees to start with.

acquire two dairy goats: done! i bought two pregnant saanen does at the same time that my neighbors bought some. they were in okay shape and were the friendliest in the herd. they kidded in mid july, so now i have two milking does, two young does that i'll breed in mid february, and a young buck who i'll breed to the girls before slaughtering him for meat
fencing and shelter: the goat shack is complete for now, though next year i'll likely build something more primitive and nicer for them. they've got tethers and also a paddock made of hog panels that i can move around. serious fencing is on the list for 2013.

i got a movable paddock set up for the goats. i harvested osage oranges that are breaking down now, so in spring i'll spread them in lines along the land and mark them. i didn't order trees for the hedgerow in 2012 but plan to for 2013. i tried to transplant cuttings of local willow and they did not seem to take off. will try again with willow and cottonwood this spring. also researching fencing techniques to figure out a viable and affordable way to Really fence paddocks in 2013. mardock is finding out if we can get some grant money from a friendly community/organization to support us.

gardening/planting/food production
annuals: i started seed for annuals three separate times in a cold frame that i built, and nothing germinated. i'll try to have a better seed starting mix this year and put things in a friend's greenhouse if necessary.
herbs: i transplanted a number of herbs that i ordered online. the rosemary is surviving, as is a tiny bit of the lavender. other things may be doing okay, though most of what i was planning on failed to germinate. will attempt stratifying this winter.
trees: i planted the 300 trees that i ordered and mulched them when i planted them. some got mulched more than once, and maybe a third total of all my trees got flagged to avoid damage. archway/pathway trees got planted, as well as a circle of sycamores that may or may not have survived, to grow into a living house decades from now. did not plant a ritual grove yet. did not yet transplant the nursery bed of rootstocks.
trapping: did not do this at all. read about it, thought about it a lot. tons of rabbits around. got a couple deer hides from a local hunter that are salted. also salted hides when my own rabbits were killed by a mink.
preservation/fermentation: canned apples and peaches and tomatoes, some of which were free. made salsa and lots of pickled things, though the only stuff i canned that i personally grew were garlic scapes.

one dig site has been deemed 'failure pond' though it's likelier to become a semi-underground winter shelter. good to know the land holds water anyway. have not done much research on ponds or location, though i still have a decent idea in my head of where one will go and what it'll look like.

other building projects
tent platforms: nope. i'm lazy.
bath shelter: not yet.

other stuff
scything: rejoice did a Lot of scything. i did a fair amount of scything. the paths are maintaining themselves more nicely now. and we have something of a yard around the shed. it's amazing.
painting: i got the ceiling painted, and have painted a cabinet and a chair blue. also painted pretty lotus flowers on the counter in the shed, and started painting pretty things on the door. more to come.
basketry: made one basket with help from rejoice and started on another. hard for me to sit still long enough to finish a basket before the willow is too stiff (about a week)
hide tanning: have many more hides salted and stored. rejoice and i (mostly rejoice) made a rough tanned squirrel fur that i made into a pouch, and i tanned two rabbit hides that are kind of adequate but not nearly as supple as i would like. will work on more when i can use warm flowing water again.
primitive skills: didn't work on fire starting or using sinews, but i did makes earrings out of deer hooves, carved beads out of bone, and had various other fun using and collecting bits of dead animals. keeping the bones away from my dog is the biggest challenge. need to build a wire mesh crate so they can decompose with help from bugs but away from my dog.
herbal medicine: did a lot of this. made plantain and comfrey oils and salves, yarrow tincture, echinacea root tincture, goldenrod vinegar and tincture, motherwort tincture, cinquefoil tincture, chickweed tincture... dried a bunch of things for tea. missed out on some things. there is always more to harvest.
beds: was supposed to make a bed out of straw. i went fancy and bought a shearing bag of wool (20+ fleeces) and sewed a mattress cover for it out of duck cloth. it's about five inches thick and Super comfortable.
wool processing: i processed and spun some of it, but not all. more to do. seamus made me a spinning wheel that has a hard time with the crazy cold. will do more in spring.
paper/ink making: didn't do paper at all, but did make walnut ink twice and pokeberry ink once. i use them some of the time, especially when i run out of ballpoint pens (they seem to randomly appear in my life).
soap making: soapwort didn't germinate, and i tried to make soap once with olive oil and bought lye. didn't work, though i still have the stuff that failed and should be able to re-try. also have some lard and lots of ashes, so i could hypothetically try the other way now.

not bad for one year. as you can see, i've had a lot of help. friends helped with nearly every step of this process, nearly every item in this list. it feels good to have support and folks who i enjoy being around who want to do these things with me. this year taught me that i do not want to live alone - a scary realization, and one that, by year's end, was neatly solved by the decision of a partner and friend to come back in the spring to live here permanently. i seem to be manifesting the things i need in my life when i'm open to support, share my hardships with others, and generally feel positive and open and compassionate about my situation rather than hopeless and isolated. seems like a pretty good deal to me.


Jenell Jarvis said…
Missing your blog.. :(