We're just wrapping up a fantastic strawberry season here on my little hobby farm. I was able to earn a net profit of over $1200.00 this year, not counting some trades I made for locally produced meat and milk, plus several flats of strawberries that we were able to share. It's been a stellar season. The berries have produced literally over 100% better than last year. We filled a lot of orders, I had no complaints, and the berries were huge and numerous! To top it all off, I'm not nearly as burnt out as I was last year, despite having less help and far more picking to do. Everything just worked out.
All that being said, the $1200.00 will give me a lot of "play money" to reach my goal of eating better food. You can save a lot of money on high-end food by either growing it yourself or participating in the local economy. Maybe you can't grow strawberries or produce meat to sell, but what about baking? What about kombucha? What about making soap and using the money and/or soap to get you those things? If you find something you're really good at, and there's also a market for it, you can go whole-hog into that one thing, instead of trying to do a multi-faceted hobby farm like I do. In that way you can supplement your regular budget. Strawberries are perfect for me because they're something I can do with my little girl (to a limited extent at this point, but hopefully she'll be able to help more when she's older).
Now that I have some hobby farm funds burning a hole in my pocket, I've been thinking of what new things I can try, or which old things to revive. The fact that we'll be in the house next year is just icing on the cake. A big (as in, I won't have to store cookie sheets in the oven, and I'll have more than three drawers), beautiful kitchen to work with. An extra freezer to put food in. A ginormous basement to store canned goods. A dishwasher to wash all of those jars. Wow. DISHWASHER!!!!!! In particular, though, I'd like to bring back the honey bees and work more on my chicken setup. I would love to have our own chicken meat again, but buying birds to raise is not cost-effective, and I hate butchering. So those hurdles will have to be overcome before we bring back pasture-raised chicken.
The garden is still doing well. Since it's not raining every other day, though, I've started watering. (*Edit: it's still raining every other day.) This year, since I'm doing the square foot gardening method (to a T), I'm watering with a cup and bucket instead of a sprinkler. Supposedly this is better for the plants, since the water doesn't get all over the leaves and cause rot. It takes about 30 minutes per week with all of the plants I have, but the upside is that I don't have to hook up or unhook hoses from the hydrant (we've been sharing the hydrant with another family ever since we moved here). Watering regularly also gives me a chance to check up on the plants, weed, trim, and do other maintenance tasks.
In the past two weeks I've harvested Swiss chard, lettuce and some herbs and flowers, in addition to strawberries. I froze about 10 quarts of strawberries. I will take some out of the freezer later on to make jam and/or wine with.
I found a wooden car at the VOA 50% off sale, for $2.50. Normally I wouldn't spend so much on a kid's toy, but our girl loves cars and this one fits her peg dolls perfectly. The boys are a little bit wobbly because they're skinnier, but the girls fit in like a glove. The car also came with three unpainted dolls that are a bit wider than the ones we have. My brother suggested that I paint one as William Howard Taft. LOL!
We've been potty training pretty consistently for about a month now, and I can definitely see progress. One of the the things I bought before we started was a little travel potty. It folds up so you can fit it in a beach bag or other bag for on-the-go use. I find this so helpful to have when we are outside. The potty came with special plastic liners to use, that cost $0.47 each. What? Fifty cents per pee, and we do this multiple times per day!!! I made my own liners with used grocery bags (the ones without holes....), some paper towels, and double-stick tape.
Party Favors: My sister-in-law is having a baby shower this weekend. I made little soap samples for party favors using goat's milk soap that I already had. I also made bath salts for some of the boxes and put lip balm in some of the other boxes. I think they turned out so cute!