We’ve been making progress on most of our immediate projects. As always, some things take longer than intended and holiday season sucks up more time than intended, but we’re still moving forward.
We’ve done about all the manure spreading, mulching, and winter bed prep we can, and are now in the dormant season. The next major tasks in the growing areas will involve getting ready for spring planting, starting in March.
We’re almost down to our winter population, with just a few more roosters left to butcher (we did a few plus the turkey just before Christmas). Two goats, five geese, and a target of ten hens and two roosters. Plus one cat. Winter housing is done and working well enough; I just finished putting up some plastic sheeting on the screened windows of the chicken shed in anticipation of the extra-cold weather coming our way this weekend. Otherwise the hay-bale/chain-link barn is working fine for the goats and geese.
We’re almost done with this project; I estimate a couple more days of work will finish it within the boundaries we surveyed. There will be more work down the road to push the forest lines back away from the fence, to give more sun to the edges, but the basic area will be cleared and ready for use this spring. We’ll be planting corn, beans, and squash here in 2010, and establishing fruit trees in 2011.
We’ve finally gotten started on this project, working to clear brush and small trees from various overgrown pastures in order to develop better browse for goats and poultry. Cleaning out these areas will also allow us to establish more permanent fencing around them, as I don’t want to drop trees onto good fences. Clear, well-fenced pastures will make animal management far more time-efficient, freeing up more time for growing vegetables and potentially making the meat geese more economical.
We’re well into developing our seed orders, which really require developing most of our planting plans for the entire coming year. Joanna refers to this as vegetable sudoku, given that it involves balancing many different factors against each other to come up with a reasonable, efficient, and effective planting plan. Our goal is to complete the seed orders by January 15.
There is always a lot of general office work to deal with, including preparing for tax time. We’re also researching employment law and various insurance possibilities, in preparation for an anticipated need to hire help in 2010, and a goal of increasing our agritourism potential and income.
We’ve held three of the four meetings we scheduled with local restaurants, with the goal of investigating interest and developing further sales relationships. These have all gone very well so far, and we have useful and meaningful commitments of interest that are allowing us to proceed on seed orders and planning. Rough estimate, around 20-30% of next year’s sales will be to restaurants.
WHAT’S ON TAP FOR JANUARY
Indoors, we’ll need to finalize and make our seed orders for the year. We’ll need to start preparing our paperwork for 2010 organic certification, including compiling and processing all our records from 2009. Tax work and other research will always be hovering. Outdoors, we’ll be focusing on both clearing pasture and pushing back forest edges around our growing areas, particularly the market garden. If warm, dry weather sets in, we’ll get to work on infrastructure needs such as new fencing for the market garden and pastures, and preparing to have a water line laid out to the main field.