2015 Goals Completed:
1. Have a farmer's market stand. This was my one big mammoth goal completed this year. You can read about it here. It definitely pushed and stretched me in more ways than one and I learned a TON. I got to meet a whole new group of people that I look forward to seeing again next year.
2. Milk & breed goats. My first season EVER of goat milking began in January and ended in October. I absolutely loved it! After a year or two of buying milk, it was like a miracle to see a quart of milk in our fridge every single day. It meant doing chores twice a day, but I didn't mind the chores too much. I actually looked forward to doing chores with Hubs (it was kind of like a date), seeing how much milk I could get and checking up on our broody hen and her chicks.
In November we bought a buck and I got to learn how heat cycles work in goats. It was so entertaining to me to sit and watch the does and buck interact, him wagging his tongue and she wagging her tail in between "fighting" with each other. And yep, I got to experience the famed "goaty" smell from Mr. Buck.
3. Get chickens and feed sustainably. Though I'm still working on the sustainable part, we were able to get nine chickens over the course of the summer. Some of these chickens were a broody hen and her chicks, which were a joy for me to watch. I got to see mama hen calling her chicks, finding food for them and keeping them literally under her wing at night. We watched the chicks grow bigger and bigger until they got to be teenage chicks and mama kicked them out of her nest and actually started pecking on them when they got too close to her. What a funny analogy of how life really works.
Later in the year we were blessed with a whole coop of hens and also some free Craigslist roosters. This is when I got to try some of my sustainability experiments, including alternative animal feeds, co-habitation with goats and a sheep (the sheep didn't work out, by the way) and butchering the Craigslist roosters for meat. It took a while for us to butcher the roosters because we are novices, but the meat was excellent- not tough at all.
4. Grow some of my own spices. My new gardening experiment this year was growing mustard seeds and chili peppers. Both were grown for free from seeds I already had (you can grow mustard from the store bought "mustard seed" spice). The mustard seeds were a lot of work, but I will definitely be growing chili peppers again next year.
I also learned about some other spices that grow wild here in Michigan- things like sumac and shepherd's purse.
5. Learn one new Spanish tense. In October and November I completed the Duolingo Spanish language tree, and in the process learned several new tenses.
Things not on my goal list:
1. Learn to drive a motorcycle. This was something that got pushed to 2015 from my 2014 goal list. This summer Hubs helped me drive his motorcycle around the yard and practice here and there... when I was feeling brave, which wasn't very often. As the summer drew to a close, I decided it was time to get down to business and take a class to get my endorsement. In the end, I went from being terrified and, at the best, NOT confident in my driving abilities to being able to hop on the motorcycle and make a run to the grocery store with (almost!) no fear. This was huge for me!
2. Do an Ebay selling blitz. In May I found some Ebay-worthy sewing patterns at a garage sale. I have regretted not keeping track of Ebay earnings in the past, and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to start. In addition, a blitz would tell me if it is really worth my time to be an Ebay seller. Finally in November my life slowed down enough to do it, with phenomenal results.
3. Make goat milk soap. This wasn't technically on my list for 2015, but I have always wanted to make soap successfully. Not only did the soap turn out, but I was able to sell some of it at the farmers market.
4. Try lasagna gardening and raised beds. This experiment actually started in the fall of 2014 after a horrible summer of weeding. Hubs made me three raised beds and I filled them with "lasagna" of kitchen scraps, grass clippings, leaves, manure and compost. I put some newspaper on the top and left them over winter. In the spring I poked holes in the newspaper and transplanted a bunch of home-grown tomato and pepper seedlings into the beds.
For the entire summer I did hardly any work (weeding, watering) on the beds. The tomatoes absolutely thrived, enough to choke out most of the peppers and overflow into my other plants. I made a few mistakes (planting vine-type tomatoes without supports, planting too many in one area, not pruning, etc.) but overall the experiment was a smashing success and this fall we were able put out and fill four more lasagna beds and two raised beds for strawberry transplants. Paths between the beds will be covered with plastic and mulch to almost entirely eliminate weeding.
5. Teach piano lessons. At the beginning of the year, one of my sisters-in-law asked if I could give her piano lessons. Specifically her request was to learn how to read sheet music. In the course of a few months she went from being able to read NOTHING to reading and playing music by classical composers like Mozart and Bach. I was super impressed that she did in a few months what it took me years to do as a kid taking lessons.
At the end of the year I was able to work with a few younger students aged 4-12. This was a completely different ball game! With a little bit of internet research I discovered many games and fun exercises to use with younger students in order to keep them motivated and having fun (which is the biggest challenge). Again I was absolutely blown away at how well the different teaching techniques worked. Some of my students have been able to learn a new piece every week. After this experience, I feel like I was ripped off as an elementary piano student. Why weren't MY teachers doing games and aural training?? Oh well, I guess they didn't have the internet back then.
Cumulative Effect of Learning New Things
You'll notice that over the course of an entire year I only have only completed five of my official goals and five unofficial ones. However, even these ten things will have a massive effect over the course of a lifetime. Getting experience in something is so valuable, and I got a lot of it this year! I will never have to wonder if selling on Ebay or doing a farmers market booth is worth my time. I'll never have to look back and wish I would have learned to ride a motorcycle when I had the chance. How many hours of weeding have I prevented by discovering raised bed lasagna gardening? And I've helped five people learn to play an instrument and hopefully fueled their desire to become better musicians.
To some people, a year seems like forever. Others just see it as a small part of a lifetime. If a year is going to go by anyway, why not do something fun, exciting and rewarding with it? Certainly I can set aside less than 2% of my lifetime to learn a couple new skills and improve the remaining two-thirds (God-willing) of it.
These ten things will quite possibly become stepping stones for what I will accomplish next year. 2016 will bring (hopefully!) more profit and a better experience at the farmers market. It will bring more eggs, meat and veggies to the table. This next year will bring more new people into my life and new opportunities. The year hasn't even started yet and I've got some things planned that make me nervous. But it's good to stretch yourself.
I've talked up my ten goals and accomplishments from 2015, but even so there were just as many that didn't get done. I missed the deadline for some, forgot about some, and some of them were completely derailed by things that happened out of my control. However, I don't feel disappointed. Nobody is perfect, including me. There will always be things that don't get done (or done on time), but what's important is to be thankful for and proud of what you did accomplish with the time that you had.
Happy New Year!