Homesteading in Costa Rica, 2017
2017 Homesteading Goals
Normally, I subscribe to the ‘don’t tell people your goals’ school of thought. Due to my introverted nature, I prefer to work quietly behind the scenes and then appear magically with finished projects no-one saw coming. But this whole homesteading/self-sufficiency thing is new to me and I am genuinely curious as to what my family will manage to accomplish this year and what other families are planning on doing in the same vein. So please, include your homesteading goals for this year in the comments below and let’s see how we can grow our Permaculture community (no pun intended)!
Here are three areas where I see big changes happening in 2017: the barn, the kitchen and the garden, and a sort-of sneak preview of what I intend to do in each area.
- In the barn: Help to bring new animals successfully into the world. We have an incubator that the kids built (thanks WikiHow) that we should be able to use to hatch some of our eggs as soon as we figure out how to keep the temperature consistent as apparently none of my little hens has any interest in sitting on eggs. Theoretically, in three or four weeks we should have happy peeping chicks! It also seems that both goats are now pregnant. That means kids in the next month and then again in March! And this requires a whole new skill set as I figure out how to milk my darlings and then how to use said milk to make all kind of delicious cheeses and yogurt. Having animals has been the most fun and rewarding (as well as the most challenging because, let’s face it, both chickens and goats can be real jerks sometimes!) part of our journey thus far, so I’m really excited about having all the babies about. I mean really, have you ever seen anything as cute as goat babies? I didn’t think so.
- In the kitchen: Baking a couple loaves of bread every week at least once and keeping a continual batch of kombucha going. We are gluten free and gluten free bread simply doesn’t exist here in Costa Rica for sale. I’ve been making my own with a blend of brown rice flour made in the Vitamix, corn flour and arrowroot starch. It’s amazing. It makes my kids happy and my husband love me just a little bit more. And when there are easy and convenient foods in the pantry we are less likely to decide we need to go out to eat, so this small thing plays into bigger goals of self-sufficiency and spending less. Same with the kombucha, keeping a constant rotation is not only good for us, it keeps us from buying commercial juices and such for the kids. Plus, I’ve heard (though I have not yet tested the theory) that you can dry old scobys and use them as super-nutritious animal feed, which, obviously we need (see above paragraph regarding plethora of small hungry animals).
- In the garden: Building the second greenhouse and aquaponics system. We have the frame and roof welded into place, but there is some serious work that has to happen to make this ready for fishies! Outside, we will continue experimenting to see what works, but the goal is to be able to harvest some serious crops this year, not just the bits of salad fodder and such that we have acquired so far. We are focusing on the crops that seem to be doing well here and will plant many more starters for yucca, sugarcane and camotes (a kind of sweet potato), pineapples, bananas, coffee, chocolate and herbs. Ideally all of our fruit trees will start to produce a little this year, though we will have to wait until next year to see a real harvest. In order to accomplish this, we are trying to spend a couple hours each day working outside, weeding around the plants, prepping the soil, etc. A big part of it is getting away from the old mindset I have from gardening in Canada – where there is a distinct time to plant, to grow things and to harvest before leaving the land to rest over the winter. Here, in theory we have a year-long growing season for many things, so it becomes important to plant things in stages so they are ready at different times for continual harvest and also that you plan times to rotate crops and allow the land to replenish. I’m doing my best, but it’s a slow process!
There are so many other things on my list for this year, but these few things are important for us in order to be on the right path. The ultimate goal was basically to be self-sustainable within 5-years and the first one is down already! There are days when I feel discouraged, as it seems like progress is so slow. But then, I think that this time last year, we were living in the suburbs in a big house leading a reasonably typical dual-income family kind of existence. Compared to my current living in a cabin, pumping water from the creek, tending to my goats, planting food while surrounded by inquisitive chickens kind of lifestyle, I realize we have actually come a pretty long way.
What are your homesteading goals for this year? And, if it involves things other than a surplus of yucca and eggs, do you want to trade?