Thursday, December 31, 2009

Planning For 2010...

I'm not altogether 'there' yet, but I have plenty of plans rolling around. I'm trying to sort them into some kind of time segments instead of just some long, overwhelming list of To-Do's in the new year.

The Focus Train This Year:
How to Spend the Day with God...what more focus do you need? We need alot of work on this and this is the year. It's just 'crunch time' so to speak. It needs to be more serious here on the homestead.

One certainty, the focus will be on preparing and stocking, as usual. Probably with a bit more gusto and determination than in the past. This will be a year of changes in this country, of that I have absolutely no doubt. I'm not planning for the short-term, I'm planning for a complete change of lifestyle here. I believe everyone else should be as well, but I know most of you don't really prescribe to any sort of preparedness levels, so I won't push and you won't complain about some focused posts in that direction, deal? You keep enjoying the blissful ignorance of a continuing range of normal, and I'll do what I can to keep ahead of the rapids. We'll get along great :o)

I have the school review coming up where I (yet again...ugh...) look over what we have been doing, what's worked, what dug its heals into the mud and got stuck, and what bunny trails we enjoyed the most. It's time to plan ahead for 2010. We school year-round here. We don't do any sort of "traditional" school routine at all. We are a bit more planned out than unschooling, but not nearly as planned out as most homeschoolers. I'm best labeled as eclectic at best, but I don't like labels of any kind.

We are sticking with Rod & Staff as our spine or core here. We are currently using math, english, Bible Nurture and Reading Series, and spelling every day.

I have some science we use, but I also have Considering God's Creation, Handbook of Nature Study (our absolute favorite), and the hardcover tests from CLE that we refer to and use quite often. Science is, still, a subject that we wander through without any real pathway.

Same with history. I just haven't found a text or anything that I like that we can really sink our teeth into yet. We go with subjects we like and just read from there. We use alot of DVDs from Netflix for both science and history -- Blue Planet is outstanding, Ken Burns' various documentaries on things like the Revolutionary War, Civil War, etc. And we find books, preferably nonfiction and we tend to draw more toward autobiographies than anything else. I don't mind fiction with alot of real facts/events woven through, but we aren't trying to study someone else's story of what happened, we want the real deal.

I have yet to find a Bible curriculum that really suits us. We do not use anything that is 'doctrinally specific' to any one denomination. There are flaws in interpretation and comprehension in every denomination. If I had to label us, I would not necessarily choose Baptist, though that is the church label we attend (well IFB...). I would not link us to Mennonite or Amish, despite our chosen dress and other people's serious misconceptions over what we might believe. Now we have been labeled "Baptinite" by several friends...a mixture of Baptist and Mennonite. Maybe somewhat close to a fitting label. I prefer to stick to plain ol' Bible Believing Follower of Christ I guess. Labels are rarely a good thing.

We, of course, have odds and ends we are doing also, handwriting, arts and crafts, lots of "Phys Ed" with outdoor duties and fun, and a TON of just plain ol' Life Skilling, as a friend tags it.

And I see Sara went and mentioned Simply Charlotte Mason and I do love that site, and so much of the CM philosophy, but there's just too much of me that likes some textbooks. I don't trust my own focus enough to walk that line between all living books and at least that core of real textbooks. I like their structure in alot of areas...I think we'll take a better look at their history structure this year, and their Scripture Memory looks like something we need to use. We are always looking at hand skills as well. We have the Keepers at Home/Contenders of The Faith books, as well as the Joy of Womanhood set but have yet to spark any sort of interest with anyone locally to do a group, not that we aren't a group in and of ourselves.

Menu and Pantry:
We have menu planning in the works as well. We need to really use our storage and create as many (I'm reaching for ALL here...) meals strictly based on what we have here available. That means, no garden will really put in a crimp in our meal plans. Tomatoes will be utilized when they are plentiful and fresh, and if I don't get enough variety canned and put by, we will simply be without them. No more grabbing this or that...which we don't do a lot of, but we do it enough.

That sort of "grocery store isn't so far away" mentality has to leave. The prices aren't getting cheaper and the recalls aren't getting fewer or farther between. If it isn't totally accounted for from birth to butcher, we really need to reevaluate our need. We have a great butcher we can get meats from, and they do know the history of every animal in their market, from birth to processing. They cost a bit more than grocery store meats, but they are accounted for wholly, and that is a big deal anymore.

Chickens, well, we'll hatch several brooders out this year again and see what happens. If we continue to be plagued by critters enjoying a meal on us, we'll find friends with chickens to sell or just go without. Same with the eggs those babies produce. We need more layers here. I can't make it on a dozen eggs a week, plain and simple. I need way more than that, though I imagine I could learn to do without. It wouldn't be much fun around here, though. We bake way too much to be eggless...

I am still working on getting everyone wrapped around the meat rabbit plan here. They are all for it -- just not getting the work done on what is needed to get started. And meat rabbits aren't as easily found locally to get started :( I know where I can get a couple of females and a male to start us off over in Alabama...and I have wanted a visit down to some online friends...just need to get going I guess.

Our goats will be kidding January and February. Ahhh, milk again! Finally! It's only been a few months, but wow do we miss that fresh milk here! I will definitely be staggering the breeding next season.
With the goats, we also have to consider the future plan here. I would like to keep (if we get one...or several...) at least 1 buck from Malachi to add to the breeding here. I can easily barter/sell any oth bucks we may have here. The idea right now is keep the females and increase the herd here. I am pretty much ready in terms of laying out some better paperwork here, for milk numbers, breeding issues, etc. Just waiting on the first run of babies now :o)
I do have some things yet to get set up to ease us along with the milking. A couple decent stainless milk pails is top on the list. And a good hanging scale for the barn. LOL...right now, the milk room, such as it is, is storing the barrels of feed as well as the new windows we have in waiting. Need to get them relocated...soon.

Barn and Land:
We have repaired alot of the tin on the peak roof of the barn, not really the best repair/fix as it truly needs to be dismantled and some main boards replaced, not just fixed up, but it's a start and it was needed.
We still need to add some area to the buck's pasture, preferably before adding to the male population here.
We are currently on the doe side of the barn and pasture working on those birthing pens, as well as setting up a lean-to in the pasture for those not in need of a birthing pen. It's hardly fancy...we are taking 3 cattle/hog panels and arching them, just as I did for the grape arbor last spring. They will be arched over and anchored down with T-Posts, butted up 3 deep for space, then covered with a heavy duty tarp. That will be replaced later on...tarps don't tend to last long int he relentless storms and heat around here. For now, though, this little goofy looking contraption will keep the goats comfortable and content.

Firewood, of course, is an on-going project here. I think, given last winter and this so far, I would like to figure on 3 cords just for winter. That's heating as well as cooking. I haven't used the cookstove during other seasons, with it being in the house and not an outdoor kitchen area, so I don't know what an estimate would be for all year round usage. While I still really like the versatility of the Flame View stove, I've heard some good things from online friends about a more simple stove, Bakers Choice, Pioneer Maid, and of course, the Kitchen Queen. I like them all :) and of course, we want to get the most stove and heat for the money. I just don't know. Need to do more researching before we decide. We had pretty much settled on the Flame View last year, but when we were ready to order it, we purchased the camper instead. And I don't regret that, I just would have felt more comfortable knowing there was a good cookstove in place as well. Part of the stove decision will include overall heating power (Mississippi is a mild climate, I don't know that we really need a separate cooking and heating set up here...) as well as connecting a water boiler for whole house use. I've spent several hours over the past year discussing our needs and wants in cooking and heating with the family there at Stoves and More. I definitely suggest calling them and getting all the information and suggestions you might need if you're in the market for a water boiler, propane refrigeration, off-grid washing needs, etc. Speaking of which, I'd love that James Handwasher as well, but with our laundry amounts right now, my carpal tunnel would lay me out!

We have an option of perhaps buying another 11 acres next to our property. Not sure how that will play out yet. It would be great to get it -- I can already see a new housing location...way off into the hills over there -- but I don't know what the plan is just yet or if we can even get it. We'll see. We had pretty much put the whole idea out of our mind, but someone else opened that can back up a few days ago, out of the blue. Just something to look into, and keep high on the prayer list.

Other land or not, perimeter fencing is another on-going project around here. And gardening. That garden is going to make it this year, period. I'm tired of farm market foods, even if I am beyond blessed to have some great farm markets with organic, chemical-free foods to offer. We are hardly sustainable if I'm relying on the gardening fruits of others to stock my larder. The raised beds are fine, but simply not practical for the amounts we need here. Yes, you can harvest a great deal of food via raised beds, square foot, intentional planting...Path to Freedom is an outstanding example of what you can do with so limited a space. Maybe I just need more determination.

These are all just random thoughts rolling around for the coming year. Nothing specific yet really, and I'm sure that list will continue to grow and refine itself as we get going.

So many much time is there for all of them?

Happy New Year Everyone! I pray this year finds you healthy, content and prepared as you Walk in Faith. May you grow deeper in each area as the year unfolds.


LizBeth said...

Thinking things through here, too. People need to be planning for more independence and for the long-term.

Blessedmom said...

We are also very much a textbook family where it concerns the core subjects like math and language arts, but we are really excited about using living books for our history, science, and bible studies. We will be continuing to use our good ole McGuffeys and Ray's texts, it was a struggle at first, but they have grown on us, and now we actually enjoy them.

It looks like you have big plans for the upcoming year, I pray you all are blessed in all you do this year.

Anonymous said...

i always enjoy your posts so much!!

i am the same way about science and history as you are- right now i am using abeka becuz we already had it and i am teaching 9,8,and 6 together so i just read and they listen lol the babies pick up what they can get from hearing their siblings discuss.

we also use rod and staff for all else but math- we are using saxon for some and r&s for others this year,.

thanks for the advice and name dropping about wood stoves and off grid "appliances"- prayerfully we will be needing these soon :)

Lisa said...

Sounds like you have quite a plan there! Please keep posting about your preparedness efforts and outcomes. Some of us ARE interested in being way more prepared than we are. Time and money constraints aside, the mentality has to shift first. I have one foot firmly on the path, but am having to drag my husband along forcefully. But I NEED inspiration!!

Thank you for a year of thought provoking posts and "keeping it real." It' is refreshing!


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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