This was a bit of a rough year; between working full-time and keeping up with the kidlet, I didn't really have much spare time at all. Next year should be more productive, since Ethan will be able to "help" with gardening and cooking a bit more. I'm really looking forward to teaching him about growing food and raising animals. But even though this wasn't the most productive homesteading year, it was still a blast, and I'm really enjoying being a mommy.
As far as homegrown foods... All that really survived our hot summer was the tomatoes and green beans. The broccoli fried in the heat, and the carrots never even sprouted. I wanted to plant potatoes and onions, but it never happened. Neither did the spinach or lettuce. Oh well.
I did make lots of jam. I canned 6 half-pints of cherry butter, 9 half-pints of raspberry jam, and 15 half-pints of strawberry jam. There were also 6 half-pints of strawberry ice cream topping (also great to add to yogurt). And I still have a bunch of raspberries frozen in the freezer waiting for me to make them into jam.
The tomatoes were a big success. I only planted Romas, and I canned 12 quarts of sauce using only my tomatoes. I'm definitely planting more next year.
Frozen veggies... Didn't happen. I wanted to at least freeze some corn, but the harvest came and went before I even had a chance. Oh well.
I've started on applesauce, and canned 6 quarts so far. I plan on buying another bushel of apples at the market soon. A yellow delicious and Empire blend seems to yield the tastiest sauce, in my opinion, but I might pick up some "mixed seconds" as well. My goal is 18 - 20 quarts.
The best part of this year, and what makes up for the lack of productivity elsewhere, is the fact that we got chickens. Even better is that they now lay eggs! I got our cute little balls of fluff on May 4, and on October 11 my Wyandotte laid her first egg. One of the Australorps started on October 22, and the buff Orpington looks like she'll be laying any day now. The other Australorp seems to be a bit of a later bloomer. But her wattles have gotten a little bigger, and her comb a bit pinker, so I'm hoping she'll get started soon as well. Still, even 2 eggs per day is nice, and it's enough for me to share with others. I'm not keeping track, even though I probably should, but I've gotten at least 4 dozen eggs so far.
Chickens are so, SO easy. All I have to do is shut the coop door at night, open it in the morning, and check to make sure they have food and water. They pretty much feed themselves by free-ranging around the neighborhood, and eveny night they come home and put themselves to bed. They require about as much upkeep as a gerbil, but with the bonus of producing food. Can't beat that!
I'm thinking of adding 2 Easter Egger chickens if I can find some. The only thing more fun than yard fresh eggs is blue or green yard fresh eggs!
I'm already getting excited for next year! I want to order from seed catalogues instead of buying hybrid seeds from the garden centers around here. I'll probably get seed potatoes locally, but that's it. Time to start browsing the web to decide on varieties!