New Year at Big Oak Ridge

Well, Christmas number three at Big Oak Ridge ended as our daughter Tara, son in law Jon, and granddaughter Addie left early this morning. Now we face that slightly hollow feeling of having the house all to ourselves again – at least for a few days. Now we turn our attention to the New Year ahead.

I’m eager to reflect on and digest what we have learned this past year. I would like to use the information we have gathered to plan our road map for the coming year. There are many things we would like to accomplish, but we are going to probably have to pare the list down to what we will have the time and resources to accomplish. A few of the items on our list:

  • A high tunnel or hoop house: One of the things I learned a lot about this year is the differences between green houses, hot houses, cold houses, high tunnels, hoop houses, row covers, cold frames, and all the other various and sundry versions of “season extenders” available. This year we failed to get this aspect of our gardening off the ground, much to Paula’s chagrin. In 2013 we need to have a “win” in this area. Basically we are hoping to build a high tunnel/hoop house, possibly one that is moveable like the ones at Four Seasons Farm.
  • Hogs: We are expecting (hoping?) that we will have milking goats soon, and one of the great things to do with extra goat milk is raise hogs. Milk fed pork is just about the finest pork you could ever want to eat. We’d like to pasture the pork and use the milk as a supplement.
  • Chickens: We have chickens now – Buff Brahmas – and our hope was to establish a self-sustaining flock of dual-purpose chickens. The Buff Brahmas were good setters, but poor hatchers (less than a 25% success rate I think) so we’re thinking we may have to try another breed. We also want to try to get set up to try pasturing the chickens.
  • Wood heat: Having an alternative source of heat has been “on the list” practically since we built the new house. We would like to clear some more land, so it seems only reasonable that we would put the trees we cut down to good use. We’ve been discussing the possibility of a Rocket Mass Heater type of stove.

So, those are just a few of the projects we are considering. We need to fit all of this in between and around our lives, our jobs, and our limited resources, so we’ll see how it goes. We are full of the optimism that a New Year brings though, and our New Year’s resolution is to live every day to the fullest, enjoy each day we are given, and use our time as wisely, effectively, and efficiently as possible.

We look forward to sharing the New Year with all of you!

Kent and Paula


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