I’m thankful I’ve mastered the art of milking goats so that’s one less thing I have to learn. I love learning new things, but there’s something about springtime on a farm that makes me feel like there’s just not enough time for everything. It’s the season of “hurry up” before the “wait”. Not that there’s a whole lot of waiting on a farm, with so much work to be done all the time. But this weather has me feeling the urge to get the garden tilled and fenced (from the deer), the greenhouses ordered and up, and the seedlings started.
I love it all. But I am new. And sometimes my love for it (and my sense of urgency) gets ahead of my knowledge.
- What to plant: What do I know how to grow and what do I have room for?
- How much to plant: How much to do we need and what will space and time allow?
- How much to plant: Should we plan on extra? I’ve only canned salsa and apple sauce!
- How to plant: What soil, temp, water, and room does each plant need to grow properly?
My homesteading adventure thus far has pretty much been built on crash courses. I think it’s fun! My husband has a very good full-time job, so our lives don’t depend on our crash-course farming (Praise the Lord). However, we are in this for the real deal–to save money, to pay off our home, and to live off our own land one day.
I’m pretty sure I’ve overplanted cabbage. I have a whole flat planted… by the way, that’s 20 sixpacks with 2-3 seeds each (just in case). That’s 120 if only one seed grows per slot. Hey, half of those are late bloomers! But that is still 60… do I even have room for 60 cabbage plants? That would be a lot of sauerkraut and kim chi–which would be amazing! But realistically… I don’t know what is realistic. I haven’t done this long enough, and we haven’t had enough cabbage in the past to be blessed with winter storage.
Baby Steps of The Newbie Homesteader: on Farming
- Go ahead and plant it and don’t fret over it. If you throw out some seedlings this season, oh well. It’s not a waste because all learning has a cost involved.
- Ask if anyone would be willing to buy extra seedlings that come up.
- Don’t bury yourself in books and study while spring passes you by. Read what you need to do, but don’t get mad at yourself for not meeting every criteria perfectly.
- Grow fewer things better.
Learning Is Not A Waste
When my daughter was 13 months old and we discovered we were expecting again, my breastmilk was seriously drying up. We were spending $100 per month shipping raw milk to our door because the sale of it in-store or on the farm is illegal in our area. I mentioned to a friend that I was considering getting a goat, and within minutes she had found a craigslist ad and I was on the phone setting up a time to meet some doelings just five minutes from home.
We brought home our doelings, and while we nurtured them into adulthood, the previous owner offered to pass on her goat-keeping knowledge to us. The very first time my husband ever milked a goat was when our new friend needed to go away for a week and asked us to do the milking for her. My husband’s lesson was a one-time shot and then he was on his own for the rest of the week! No room for fear or giving up here! That’s the beauty of crash courses, they teach you to keep going on ahead and not turn back. Isn’t that the character of farming, after all?
Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk
Or unused seedlings, or rotten tomatoes, or bug-eaten cabbage.
When the goat would put her foot in the bucket and taint the whole gallon, or catch the edge of the bucket and tip it all over the floor, our friend used to say “don’t cry over spilled milk. I figure, it just goes back into the ground to nourish the soil for my garden and the grass that grows to feed them anyway. It’s never a waste.”
I tell you, we have spilled a lot of milk in our dairy-goat days, but we have saved and drank a lot more!
May this be the same at harvest time 2014.