Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reflecting on the Past Year and Heading into the New

2011 was a year of ups and downs on the farm. We received recognition for our accomplishments, some positive and some outright slanderous; we educated folks about urban farming; we welcomed new friends and said goodbye to others; we continued to build and expand in some areas, yet wreaked destruction in others.

Now it's time to look back at last year's goals and see what we have really accomplished around here. A little check in the rearview mirror before forging ahead, I like to see it as. Did I do what I had set out to do? Or did I get distracted by sparkly, shiny things and not complete one cotton pickin' thing from last year's list? Knowing myself, the latter is likely. Well, let's look at that post from last January and see.

1. Improve Organization. Um... er.... well... yeah, I guess that kind of happened. But my iPhone apps didn't save me in the way I thought they would. I started out the year strong, entering dates on my calendar, setting alarms, and making chore charts. However, this is a serious weak spot for me. I have good intentions, but in the long haul I tend to fall short. I guess I will just have to get back up on the horse with this one. Wish me luck.

2. Keep Production Records. I was so very proud of myself. I kept detailed records of every last thing I harvested on this property last year, from veggies to meat to honey. And then somehow in the New Year, in a blink of an eye, the app that I was using to record my stats disappeared off my iPhone without a trace. And, of course, I wasn't backing it up on my computer. Aaaarrrrrgh!!!!! Hence my current New Year's resolution: letting go. I may just forgo tallying up the harvest totals this year, as I seem to have lost my motivation after this debacle.

3. Offer Urban Farm Classes. Check. I also had four interns over the course of the year and gave tons of tours and talks in the area.

4. Build Attractive Fences. This goal was partially accomplished. I put up some new fencing that looks fine for now, but this next year I'm hoping to get something more permanent in.

5. Get Bees. Check! I was even able to harvest 15 pounds of honey, even though my hive split mid-summer.

6. Learn to Be a Better Gardener. I am ever improving in this area. I had a lot of success with cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, carrots, and greens. And I even grew a melon. One tiny, itty bitty melon.

7. Annihilate Rats. Check. There was much rat killing in the beginning of 2010 and ever since, things have been fairly quiet on that front. The new enemy? Mice and lice. 2012 is their year to die.

8. Install Drip Irrigation, Gray Water and Rain Water System. Check on the drip irrigation, but still haven't gotten around to gray water and rain water. 

9. Build a Deck Cover. Check. I never posted about this. One of the interns got an awesome picture of me hanging over a beam with my drill gun about 10 feet in the air. I'll try to dig that up. I felt super badass that day.

10. Install an Herb Garden. Check. Too bad the goats escaped their enclosure and ate three quarters of the contents and knocked over the brick walls. Letting go. I am letting go.

Wow, I accomplished the majority of my goals! I shall now pat myself on the back.

What I Want To Do in 2012

1. Maintain. The beginning of the year has brought about a huge transition in my life of a personal nature. I'm not going to go into it here on the blog, but suffice it to say that activities on the farm will continue as is with little growth. I will be focusing on maintaining and improving upon what I've already got going on. I have a tendency to become scattered in the excitement of acquiring new and interesting things, often biting off much more than I can chew. Not this year. I've got bigger fish to fry.

2. Scale Back. Sounds counter intuitive, eh? Well when you push the envelope, it's gonna push back. Recently, there have been complaints about my bees so I had to get rid of one of the hives. I'm also feeling weird about having taken over my neighbor's yard. I know they don't use it and all, but I feel kind of like a colonialist. They're renters and not native to this country, as are most of my neighbors. I think they might be letting me boss them around. I could well be reading too much into the situation. The goats and chickens DO keep the lawn mowed, which I will probably continue to let them do, but I would like to get all of our construction materials and my hoop house off their property. The Itty Bitty Farm is an experiment in using what you have available to you to provide for your food needs, not an attempt to usurp someone else's space like plundering 18th century British sea captain. My goal is to be a good, generous neighbor by tending to the previously neglected space without dumping all of my shit onto it. Maybe I'll sprinkle some flowers over there so that it looks pretty.

3. Get a Job. I know that doesn't really sound like it has anything to do with the homestead, but you all have to remember that I live in one of the most expensive cities in the country, own a house that is deeply under water due to the worst housing crisis our country has ever faced, and cannot keep what I have built if I don't continue to pay my mortgage. So it's back to the grind for me. Anyone need a professional goat wrangler?

4. Run Some Farm Camps. There is one area in which I am hoping to branch out and that is in the way of education. A friend of mine down in Santa Cruz, Pam of Peaceful Valley Farm who owns my goat Lucy's daughter (Ginger), has successfully run farm camps for young kids on her property. As a parent of an elementary schooler, I am always privy to the struggles of working moms whom struggle to find care for their kids over the holidays, spring break, furlough days, and the summer. I was thinking that an urban farm camp might be a neat option for folks who would like their children to be outdoors in nature, but who also can't make the drive to an out of town destination before their work day starts. In the next couple weeks, I will be creating a flyer to advertise for a trial run of this idea over SFUSD's spring break, the last week of March, and posting the details here on the blog. If anyone out there has any interest, please contact me.

5. Get Rid of Shit. A Lot of Shit. I have way too much crap. In fact, that is a HUGE understatement. I'm a person with many hobbies and interests whom has developed a tendency to acquire all of the accouterments that go along with said hobbies and interests. I also have a love of thrift stores and estate sales. In a word, I am a clutterbug. But no more, people! I am swearing off stuff and getting rid of all the unwanted and unneeded things that are clogging up my mental and physical space. I want to be free! Free to find the things I am looking for! Free to move about my home and backyard with ease! Free to not be worried about the pile of crap in the corner that I have been looking at for as long as I have lived in this home! I might even post about my exorcism of possessions as I know there are probably many of you out there that are in the same boat. 

Well that's the sum total of the list I want to make for this year. I'm going for minimalism. That way I won't disappoint myself. I'm sailing some rough seas this year and it will probably take all that I've got to keep my head above water. But I shall forge ahead, take the challenges as they come, and let the homestead I have created be a refuge from the storm.


  1. Heidi,
    Sounds like you have big work ahead.keep your pretty chin up. You CAN do this. I would love to see you sometime soon.
    Xxoo Anna

  2. I think I'm with you on 2012 #2 and #5. Too many goats, and seriously, how much goat milk does a family of three really need? Not so much from four goats, I know that! And as for getting rid of crap; boy do I need to do that. I know that on a farm (and with adequate "space" to cram crap) it's sometimes wise to have all those "extra" nuts, bolts, rake handles, etc., but honestly some of it is pretty much junk and hasn't been used in ten it has to go. Well, hopefully!

  3. Wow, Heidi - you have accomplished a lot! I just found your blog and am loving it. I would think the farm camps might be a great idea - since you are right in the city. Hope that, and everything else goes really well for you this year!

  4. You are a strong, creative, enlightened Woman! I predict that you will not just maintain, but rise above! Tough times don't last, tough Women do! You have a great support team, so be sure to use us! xo

  5. Sounds like a great set of goals! You have done alot and are such an inspiration! Good on you!

  6. Wishing you the best on your goals (and, wow, can I empathize with 95% of them in my own life, particularly 1, 2, 3, 5:). I've been a reader for some time and enjoy your writing and adventures. You do seem capable of rising above difficult times!

  7. How is your job search going? I wonder if a community college might give you the opportunity to teach a class about urban farming or maybe there is an ag supply shop or garden center where you could work and get an employee discount. I'm new to your blog and thoroughly enjoying it.

  8. Heidi, thanks for being transparent. I feel so much better after reading this post. I'm constantly thinking to myself how i need to organize, de clutter, make everything prettier, and just in general...get it together. But i also have a garden, chickens, and just brought home a baby goat (thinking about getting another one, or taking this one back, i'm not sure yet),a husband, and 3 children ( the youngest is 2). And, i also like thrift stores :) I'm glad to know i'm not the only one who sometimes feels overwhelmed and anxious about it all. Shoot, i feel that way almost every day. Thanks for the encouragement.