Each year I like to review what we have accomplished here. I go over what worked well and what didn�t. I also take note of what needs more work to accomplish a particular project. My assessments of our accomplishments this year did not turn out to be too impressive but that doesn�t take away my enthusiasm just lets me know how much I have to work on in the coming year.

            To start with the garden sure had mixed results last year. I did get two plantings. In the spring we had broccoli, cauliflower and several different greens. They all grew well and were harvested and added to the freezer. The second planting had more problems. The tomatoes didn�t produce anything until we got just a few late in the fall. The peppers also did not produce anything. I felt this might be because we had a lot more rain last year than we normally do but it could just be deficiencies in the soil so this year I will work on getting a lot more compost into the garden. The cucumbers grew very well for the first time this year but the squash was not as good as I would have liked. Beans did fairly well but then they always do. I also tried a fall garden. I planted more green onions, lettuce and okra. The onions and lettuce came up but soon died however the three okra that came up produced enough to put in the freezer. I am constantly trying new things in the fall garden though most of it fails. We just seem to be too hot at first and too cool later but I have not given up on it. Eventually I am sure I will find what I can grow here for a fall garden.

            We did not produce any of our own meat last year. We found we did not like the rabbit meat and finally gave them away and took the cages down. I did hatch out some Texas A&M quail and we were very please not to lose any to snakes this year, still we hope to have some more secure cages next year and hopefully will be hatching several of their eggs and raising the young for meat next year. We did not butcher any chickens last year as we didn�t hatch any and therefore had no young chickens for meat. My hope is to add some dark Cornish to our flock next year and maybe another heavy breed to breed them with so that we can have a better meat bird. I now have some empty cages that I can set up hens to brood eggs in this coming year so they all will not have to be hatched in our little incubator. We also did not hatch or butcher any ducks. We don�t enjoy butchering the ducks and basically didn�t have the time. The ducks may also be leaving our homestead soon as we may stick just to the animals I can butcher myself without help.

            The greenhouse is stuffed full this year mostly with banana plants. This is not just to produce bananas for us but to hopefully sell some next year. So far most are doing well and should make it through the winter. The greenhouse temperature is doing much better this year because of a new oil filled heater that was bought for it. I would like to get a solar fan for it for next summer. However it leaves little room in there to start plants for the garden. I did just make room to start broccoli and cauliflower but don�t know how I will fit in everything else I would like to start for spring.

            Fruit production really just got its start on our homestead last year. We got a decent amount of plums from our plum tree. The strawberry patch also produced quite well. We got cherries from the cherry bushes but the birds got more. We will need to work on getting a netting covering next year before they turn red. The fig tree produced just five figs for the first time since planting which the birds got before we did but we are hopeful that we will actually get figs next year. Since wild strawberries took over most of the lawn last year and grew so well with all the rain I decided to pick as many as I could and use them for something. They turned out to be very good mixed with other fruits in pies and we will be harvesting them again next year. The blueberries, gooseberries and grapes have never produce and we definitely need to take some time and do some research to see what we are doing wrong. The blackberries were moved to one side of the lower garden last year and did produce a few berries for the first time so we are hopeful for next year.  Both the hazelnuts and pecan trees are growing well but have a lot more growing to do before they produce. New additions in fruit last year included a pomegranate tree and a wild cherry tree both of which have a lot of growing to do before they produce for us. Next year I would like to add maybe a peach tree and another fig tree. We are not out of room yet so we�ll see how that goes and what I find available next year.

            I am not sure what other projects may pop up next year. As everyone knows a homestead is always a work in progress; as soon as one project is done another one presents itself and we welcome those things since they will ultimately make our dreams reality.


        Rebecca Whitford