2019 vs. 2020

Hello, welcome to the obligatory awkward first post I'll look back on years from now and cringe about. I'm going to entirely skip the introduction and say if you're interested in learning about our family and our story check out our Instragram @jonesroots there is plenty of good stuff going on over there.

I'm assuming most of you readers know us from existing social media platforms and have followed our story from last year, but let me recap. 2019 was the year I told Nicholas we were going to put our money with our mouth is or to quit talking about our homesteading dreams. We had moved onto our rental farmhouse and small piece of paradise the year prior and while I had dreams of chickens and a booming garden we also jsut had a newborn and learning to take care of him and keep him alive trumped chicken keeping. So alas, January 1st 2019 came and we sat down made goals, planning them out month by month and at the end of the year we has a list marked off that read:

Get chickens - check

Keep chickens alive - kinda check

Expand garden to 20' x 40' - check

Start entire garden from seed - check

Learn to can - check

Get meat rabbit breeding stock - check

Successfully breed rabbits - check

Get bees - check

Keep bees alive - TBD

2019 was a year of getting our feet wet and experimenting. We had gardened for 5 years prior, I had a semi-clue what I was doing there. but REALLY doing it. Every day. that was the goal.

So what did we learn from 2019?

- Danielle, you do not need to grow 5 different cherry tomatoes. Maybe one day when we have a huge market style garden but in our small kitchen garden we need more varieties that will suit preserving and canning.

- For five years I grew the craziest seeds I could buy, purple striped Dragon's Tongue beans, Brad's atomic grape tomatoes, Rainbow Chard, and if the vegetable came in purple it was going in my garden. But with a husband who is a little less adventuress we simply were less inclined to grab for them. Your garden is only as good as the amount of it you eat. Grow things you want to eat and will eat a lot of!

- We grew our first flowers from seed in 2019 and to say I'm obsessed is putting it lightly. We grew zinnias and they lined our walkway garden bed. Every morning venturing out of the house butterflies would dance around you as your walked past the bright blooms. Joy, so much freaking joy they brought!

- You can freeze more than you think. Look, one day soon, when the good Lord lets me, I plan to be home every day and will be working in the kitchen till it because mundane. But now, as a working mother, business owner, wife and all the other hats I wear every day, canning everything our garden produces ain't happening. I tried last year and I failed. So many tomatoes and peppers and beans went to the chickens that it breaks my heart. The chickens were happy but our storage room is not. FREEZE the dang tomatoes Danielle and can them in the Fall/Winter, you live and you learn.

- Learning to breed animals for meat is a hard, long and sometimes heartbreaking process. We started the year with two breeding rabbits, a New Zealand doe and a californian buck. And after two lost litters you look at yourself and say why is this so freaking hard!? Our first litter our doe completely neglected, we spent hours a day trying to force nurse and eventually hand feed each of her 9 kits. And one by one we lost them and one by one we learned the hard lesson of life and loss on a farm. Our second litter our doe destroyed. Luckily, we have the best rabbitry who replaced our doe.

So what does the Jonestead have coming in 2020!

This year our focus is preservation and seeing how much food we can produce and put away. How self sustainable can we be with this little piece of land?

Our garden is going to focus on kitchen/preservation staples and varieties that are productive. We aren't focusing on novelty varieties but rather on storage varieties where necessary.

Meat chickens. We threw around the idea last year but it never came to fruition. This year we will be adding a small flock of cornish cross to our Spring chicken order and if it goes well we will be keeping a small rotating flock in a chicken tractor.

Establishing a productive rabbit breeding program. With our new doe this is the year we are determined to fill our freezing with rabbit meat. We've successfully bred rabbits now the simple need for a productive doe and harvest.

Diet. The story of Nick and my diet is a long one that has changed and morphed through the years. Back to when I was pregnant with Jackson i focused on plant based foods and ate meat minimally. Shocking? I know. While I feel this topic deserves a post all its own I can say that the diet didn't suit my body and I physically started to deteriorate. Our focus last year switched over to a wholefoods traditional diet and we reached out to our local WAPF chapter. This discovery has been life giving and we are continuing this journey into to 2020. Bring on the good stuff!

Preservation and local sources. Like I said previously, we are focusing on produces as much as we can to feed our small three person family but i want to look at various methods of preservation: freezing, canning, cold storage for root vegetables, preserving in oil. Gimme all the possibilities. Teach me all the skills.

So there it is, 365 days crammed into one post of successes and failures.

What are your big homestead goals for 2020? Do you guys have a strategy or focus for the year?

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