So Many Plans

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a family with a baby on the way will be in want of a house move or major building project.”
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Somebody is enjoying the  Spring sunshine!

I’m currently 7 months pregnant with number 2 and I’m totally wiped out.  I am thankful we are not moving house or having major work done (this time last pregnancy we moved up here).

Pregnancy seems much harder this time around and frankly I’m making environmental compromises left, right and centre to get through the week.  I have lots of things I want to do and zero energy left after work, looking after R and doing my share of the cooking, washing cleaning etc.  But Spring is sproinging and I am reading lots of books and blogs about homesteading, permaculture and green living so naturally I’m full of ideas.

Last year was a slow time for us on our tinyholding. We put in a fruit patch, tried to get some veg in and Josh built the chicken run, chicken house and compost heap.  We also managed to get a couple of fruit and nut trees in.  But we didn’t move forward much and now everything seems to be under grass again. R’s naps became unreliable at just the wrong time so it was hard to garden while he slept and even harder to garden when he was awake since we had to stop every few minutes to prevent him climbing into the horse field by our property. We also worked on a separate writing project together which took up a lot of our time (and still is). But slow is fine, we’ll be here for many years and we’re in no rush.

This year I’m heavily pregnant in Spring and whilst the world around me is bursting with energy and action I’m starting to go into the new parent cave. The idea of bending over to weed or dig over ground or haul manure to the veg patch seems worlds away. I’ve read lots of blogs and seen videos of people doing smallholding work with tiny babies in tow and frankly I don’t know where they get the energy from.  Maybe I’ll find some of it later – I hope so.

But, I’m brimming with ideas.  So it is time to make a fun list of things I want to do around the place. Some small projects, some not small and almost none of which I can imagine doing until I’ve had the new babe and we’ve worked out what our new family routine is.

But I figured why not list them all in one place then as time and life demands – I can see what we can do.

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My beautiful hellebore in full swing.

This is a list with some short term and some really long term household plans – some of this is probably 4 or more years down the road (just in case you think I’m being too ambitious!)
  1. Make Lemon and Lime Marmalade
  2. Make this amazing looking leftover mincemeat and marzipan cake from Make Do and Mend. – http://mymakedoandmendlife.com/2016/01/07/marzipan-and-mincemeat-cake/
  3. Read my chicken books
  4. Buy the rest of the kit we need for the Chickens (second hand if poss!)
  5. GET CHICKENS!
  6. Clear around the pig fence
  7. Weed the strawberry patch
  8. Weed the raspberry patch
  9. Get a new Damson Tree and plant in the pig pen
  10. Try making sourdough crackers: http://zerowastechef.com/2015/11/18/sourdough-crackers-2-0/
  11. Get a hammock for the garden
  12. Clear the Verandah of junk – get the council to come and help move the big items our builders left which we can’t shift.
  13. Repaint Verandah
  14. Put up candle holders in Verandah
  15. Get a giant pot, get grape vine, grow amazing grape vine over Verandah
  16. Make these totes out of leftover jeans – http://makezine.com/2011/04/25/denim_do-it-all_bins/
  17. Finish at least 50% of the mending pile
  18. Make Damson Jam – I use the Marguerite Patten recipe in this book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Basic-Basics-Jams-Preserves-Chutneys/dp/1902304721
  19. Make Damson Gin – this is the recipe I used last time.  It was the best ever and I’m never changing it! http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/two-recipes-wild-damson-gin-and-sloe-gin-37/
  20. Build Outdoor Pizza Oven
  21. Read Bee Books
  22. Get Bee Kit
  23. Get Bees (buzz buzz! Eat all the honey!)
  24. Re-learn how to make bread by hand (years of a bread maker have atrophied my skills – definitely one for when the kids are older though; right now I need that bread maker).
  25. Finish chopping cherry wood kindling.
  26. Grow Sweet Cicely
  27. Get a Poly Tunnel (then grow tomatoes – I’m on a tomato growing ban until then – too much heartache)
  28. Make Sauerkraut (again – I really like sauerkraut and it is so cheap and easy to do. The recipe in Five Acres and a Dream is a great one.)
  29. Make fermented dill pickles
  30. Conquer Yoghurt making (I am TERRIBLE at this!) But this idea might just be perfect – http://www.granny-miller.com/how-to-make-foolproof-crock-pot-yogurt/ and will save me buying a yoghurt maker.
  31. Make two really big aprons (WITH REALLY BIG POCKETS!) and wear them.
  32. Make Soap
  33. Dye the white yarn I’ve had for 5 years – then knit something awesome with it.
  34. Take a course on making Salami – these guys are local and told us they might start doing courses: http://www.jaquest.co.uk/
  35. Turn our clay soil into fantastic friable, nutrient dense gold dust.
  36. Empty contents of sand pit into veg patch and dig in.
  37. Refill sandpit for the Summer.
  38. Get a couple of geese (Honk Honk!)
  39. Redecorate the nursery
  40. Redecorate J’s study
  41. Insulate the floor of Josh’s study
  42. Make curtains for my study
  43. Redecorate tiny toilet and put old blind up.
  44. FIND OLD BLIND!
  45. Upcycle old blind into something nice
  46. Make curtains for nursery
  47. Put up old curtain poles in my study (then measure and make curtains… Not before!)
  48. Make an egg basket from the old denim I have in a moses basket.
  49. Clean and air out the old moses basket for our new arrival!
  50. Finish Hexapuff Blanket – https://tinyowlknits.wordpress.com/the-beekeepers-quilt/
  51. Knit rainbow stripe jumper for R
  52. Knit jumper for baby
  53. Knit hat for baby for hospital
  54. Clean out tiniest outhouse
  55. Clear out garage – find out what other tools we inherited with the house!
  56. Research what sorts of foodstuffs we can grow to supplement the chicken feed.
  57. Make a chicken tractor
  58. Prune apple trees
  59. Learn to quilt – quilt everything in the world!
  60. Make an apron with my current fabric stash (this apron maybe: http://www.stylemepretty.com/living/2013/03/20/diy-hostess-apron/)
  61. Make Vinegar – http://zerowastechef.com/2014/10/30/apple-scrap-vinegar/
  62. Make Kimchi
  63. Paint the shed with the protective woodstain (which we’ve already bought and is in the shed!)
  64. Clean and tidy the larder
  65. Finish my 10 stitch blanket: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/ten-stitch-blanket
  66. Finish my crochet blanket
  67. Successfully grow a melon (probably in the poly tunnel) The Prescott Ford Blanc is the variety I really want to crack! See here: http://www.realseeds.co.uk/melons.html
  68. Finish reading the Earth Care Manual by Patrick Whitfield – the book is amazing but so dense and physically large I sometimes struggle to hold it up to read it. http://patrickwhitefield.co.uk/books/
  69. Put up the two wall hangings in R’s bedroom
  70. Get my embroidery work framed and hung up in the house.
  71. Make Blood Orange Jelly – you won’t regret it I promise you! http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jan/04/how-to-make-your-own-jelly-cookery-club
  72. Make more vanilla extract ( I made 750ml over a year ago and it is almost all gone and it was delicious and cheap) – It is basically just putting whole vanilla beans in a bottle of vodka shaking occasionally and leaving it for ages. I use this recipe usually – it is great: https://mommyemu.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/homemade-vanilla-extract/
  73. Make big apron style pockets to go on the front of my purple cord and black cords skirts – Why do they think women want clothes without pockets!!! Where am I supposed to put my things.
  74. Make a bag for my Yoga Mat (yep – I’m totally a person with a Yoga Mat).
  75. Get rid of the two big wooden doors in the front garden – accepting I’m not going to be able to do anything useful with them and ask the council to take them away.
  76. Trip to the dump to get rid of/recycle a bunch of items which I can’t fix and which I can no longer even  I *might* fix.
  77. Make rosehip oil and use it on my face.  For 36 years my ‘beauty’ regime has been basically soap and water (I haven’t worn make up since I was 18 so I don’t need anything complicated).  Turns out that soap and water isn’t good for my skin anymore (especially in Winter!) and I’ve got a good recommendation and recipe for rosehip oil from here: http://lulastic.co.uk/thrifty-2/homemade-rosehip-oil-a-bit-of-thrifty-foraging/ We have a tonne of rosehips in the garden and even buying some almond oil to put them in will still be pretty cheap and might make a nice homemade present if I jazz up the jar.
  78. Make Beeswax food wraps to ditch the cling film.
  79. Take out some of the shrubs I hate (pyracanthas is the devils’s own plant) and replace with plants I like which are productive and attract bees.
  80. Build a solar oven
  81. Get rid of the long cement block in the garden.
  82. Get our porch ripped out and replaced (this is hopefully a possibility this year – which is good because it is standing only as a result of willpower)
  83. Clear out the front yard and make it into a safe play area for the kids.
  84. Make myself 2-3 new pairs of bloomers for Summer.
  85. Build an outdoor pizza oven.
  86. Build a treehouse from recycled materials for R (+ babe number 2)
  87. Create a raised bed/bit of veg patch for R to garden in.
  88. Plant an Acer in the garden.
  89. Plant a witch hazel in the garden.
  90. Do a cider making day with friends.
  91. Make Lemon/Lime/Blackcurrant or Raspberry Curd.
  92. Weed the herb patch
  93. Weed the soft fruit patch
  94. Transplant more strawberries into the soft fruit patch.
That is a good list and probably has various things missing.  It even looks like a schedule of blogs posts if I were so inclined.  I’ll report back as things get ticked off (probably slowly!)
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10 thoughts on “So Many Plans

  1. Keely

    Yay chickens! Aside from the cats, chickens are the critter I miss the most from the house in Arkansas. They’re just such busy, comfortable birds. Your hellebore looks gorgeous. It’s still winter in Alaska – no flowers yet, not even pussywillows. In a few weeks, the snow will start melting, but today’s another windy, cold day in the arctic, fit for nothing but tea and indoor chores. You’re making me miss spring like crazy!

    Reply
    1. Becky A Post author

      I’m really excited about Chickens but I need to be realistic about how much I can manage right now. I’ve be re-watching Nothern Exposure recently and thinking of you 🙂 How are things going in Venetie?

      Reply
      1. Keely

        they’re going pretty well – I’m getting outside a lot this winter on my skis, and that’s been outstanding. The kids are learning a lot of geography, kind of by accident, and one of my students qualified to go to the state geo bee in a few weeks. I’ll get to take her to Anchorage to show off her skills, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m thinking of trying to raise a few chickens with my students next year. It’d take some engineering to build a chicken coop that could keep them through the winter, but we could sprout grains for them under a light and if we got some easter-eggers, the kids would be mindblown: most of them have never even seen brown eggs, so blue would be extra crazy.
        When Sean and I first had chickens in Arkansas, they were pretty high maintenance. Getting up to let them out and being home to lock them in was a lot to handle. After a while we got an automatic, solar-powered, light-sensitive chicken door, which seems super fancy but basically saved our butts. It got so that we could leave the chickens for a few days at a time with no attention at all (unless they were laying). Pretty handy gizmo. It really made keeping chickens low-maintenance, which, for us at the time, was the same thing as feasible.

      2. Becky A Post author

        It would be really amazing if you could raise some chickens in Alaska for your students! I guess you could keep them inside when it gets really cold in a heated shed (not ideal but as long as they had space and some light for 12 hours a day they’d probably be ok). It still wouldn’t be as bad as a battery egg.

        I’m in two minds about getting up to let them out and putting them in again. Because we both work part-time from home and of course (because I’m in the UK) for a year after the birth one of us will be on maternity/paternity leave (6 months each). So time isn’t so much of an issue. More at the moment I’m limited in how much bending down and stuff I can do so a lot of the cleaning out etc. might fall to Josh which I’d feel guilty about.

        I like the sound of the chicken door though, if we find it is too much – did the chickens trains themselves to get inside at the right time then?

      3. Keely

        for the most part, they go to bed at night like good little robots. We had a couple ornery roosters that liked to sleep in the trees, but once they know where they’re supposed to sleep, chickens are amazingly convenient.

      4. Becky A Post author

        That would be really convenient. I imagined I would have to cajole them into bed every night – bit like we have to with our toddler 🙂

  2. Liz

    I’m trying to finish my hexagon blanket, too. I even went through all the existing ones and sewed in their ends last week, which was pretty tedious. Now just ploughing through the remaining miniskeins, and then I’m declaring all the knitting done, and it’ll just be the putting together. Though that could easily take another couple of years 😉

    Reply
    1. Becky A Post author

      I am way behind. Because I’m doing mine solely on leftovers I keep taking breaks to accumulate more leftovers and then get distracted with shiny new projects 😦

      Also my original idea of sewing them all together with short lengths of yarn and then tying off isn’t really working and I’m wondering if I should crochet or proper sew it all.

      Maybe we should arrange a day to get together later in the year and have a big making up day to break the back of it with some carefully chosen tv. By which I mean tv shows and movies with lots of knitwear to ogle.

      Reply
      1. Liz

        I’m planning to crochet mine together. And I’m totally up for a hexagon-making-up day! It would give us something to aim for, and we could combine it with the post-preg feast plan 🙂

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