Saturday, January 4, 2014

Goals for 2014

This year is the first full year I've got on the new farm, and I'm pretty excited by that.  It means that I can plan out a full crop year and plantings, which I'm really looking forward to.  

So here's my list of goals for 2014

Plant all trees that I'm likely to want for the next 15 or 20 years this year.  Design orchards around tree types, and group trees that have fruits that birds love (cherries, nectarines, apricots) so that they can be protected by netting when they start producing.  

Establish a berry yard -- marionberries, blueberries and raspberries.  Just personal consumption quantities, but these three berries are what I like to eat most, and they all grow very well around here.  No reason to buy them from the store.  

establish 3 vinyards:  Concord grapes, because I love them fresh or juiced, champagne grapes because I love to eat them and... well, that's a talk for the future, and a variety of grapes that I found here on this farm that has done very well, call it the native grape vine.   Probably 30 or so vines of each variety.  

Plant 3 acres of organic silage corn and see what it takes to get a good crop.  How much and what type of tillage.  See what the yield is like vs the conventional corn grown last year.  

Plant 2 acres of clover for the bees and the critters both.  

Designate some of my land for native species.  Last year I let 2 acres of my land go fallow, and was surprised by the native bugs and butterflies and other critters that used the plants that grew up.  I'd like to make sure that there are local-friendly areas on my farm for the natives to call home.   

Have a good kitchen garden  -- move towards growing most or all of the vegetables that I eat over the course of the year.  Particularly those things that are either covered in pesticides and herbides when conventionally grown, like potatoes, or things that cost a lot relative to how they grow here.  If it's expensive and grows here, I'm going to take a stab at it.  

Plant stuff for the pigs to eat.  Pumpkins and acorn squash -- whatever doesn't make it to the market will be used by some happy critter.  

start producing forage; this is the year of the mower and the rake and the baler and the bale grab.  

expand my cow herd to 20 by hears end, with 10 of those being good quality dairy heifers.  

Complete the perimeter fence, and start rotational grazing of ruminants in earnest.  

automate the feed handling on the farm; feed goes into the bin, and then out of the bin and into the barns where needed.  Automate all waterers.  Reduce the feeding/watering chore substantially.  

Put sides on my big barn


Unknown said...

Sounds good, Bruce.
It must be a great feeling to be making plans for your land knowing that you will be staying put.

Rich said...

"...Complete the perimeter fence, and start rotational grazing of ruminants in earnest..."

Have you ever seen the "rotational grazing" thread on the Homesteading Today Forum?

It's mainly about a system with a centralized lane with a few watering points that allows a lot of flexibility setting up paddocks of various sizes.

You basically just lift the wire, and run a couple of temporary polywire fences to layout each grazing period. The cattle use the lane to access the nearest watering point so it's relatively easy to provide water (no hauling or multiple water hydrants, etc.) Since your only "permanent fence" is the central lane, you still have the option to plant something, make hay, spread fertilizer, etc.

The method seems to be tailor-made for a big open area of cropland or former cropland.

EBrown said...

Hey Bruce,
I finally worked my way through the last three years of your blogging. Thanks for putting a lot of interesting stuff up on the web to read.

Since you seem to be seriously considering dairying do you read Graze Magazine?

Hands down my favorite 'alternative' ag periodical. The editor is good and doesn't view the world through rose colored lenses the way many bloggers and alt ag people do. And many of the farm profiles he runs have actual financial numbers included!