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Planning for Self-Sufficiency in 2012 – A Review of 2011

by Victoria Gazeley

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Has there ever been a year with more baggage?  Maybe (Year 2000, anyone?), but with all the hype and predictions going on about what this highly touted year will bring, I figured it was time I got busy and finished my annual homestead planning.  You know, before some grand calamity befalls us.  Or the power goes out for a few days…

I’ve always been a goal-setter, going through the annual exercise of figuring out what I want to accomplish in the coming year.  But I’ve also been very much a goal-breaker.  That’s not to say that I don’t accomplish goals – I absolutely do.  But I still haven’t found a groove that works to help me get everything on my list accomplished.  Believe it or not, I actually know people who can do this!!  I need to hang out with them more…  I get some of my list completed, but there are always a few big ticket items outstanding at the end of each year. 

The question is, why?

Goal setting is a critical exercise if you’re wanting to live a more self-sufficient life.

It goes without saying how challenging it is to put up emergency food stores, get a food garden planted, tended and harvested, buildings completed and livestock brought in without writing it down and aiming your ‘get it done’ guns at it.  These aren’t projects you should take on on a whim. 

But even with intense planning, sometimes things just don’t get done. 

Stuff happens.  Life gets busy.  Children get sick and chickens commit suicide by wandering too far from the flock.  I’m incredibly fortunate in that I’ve got a lot of support and skilled people around me to assist with skill-building – and actual building – but even with that, there’s a lot we don’t get done. 

Again, I have to ask myself, why?  But first…

…What Did We Accomplish in 2011?

Part of the process of goal setting is to actually check things off your list.  You’re probably thinking, “Um, duh!”  But you’d be amazed how many people don’t give themselves credit for what they actually did get done, and instead beat themselves up for didn’t happen.  I’m one of them.  But I’m trying to focus more on successes – in order to have more success, we need to feel like we’re successful.  Seems logical, but I rarely do it.  Even though I know better.

So here’s our goal list from 2011 and how we did:

  1. Build 2-bedroom addition – This was the biggest item on the list, and it didn’t happen.  A full time business got in the way, and frankly so did finances!  Move to spring of 2012.
  2. Install two cold frames – I’ve got the materials, but didn’t get the cold frames built.   Move to 2012.
  3. Build chicken coop and get 10 to 12 chickens to startDone, with 15 girls to start (minus the one we lost to a coyote or hawk – we’re unsure of which).
  4. Order bees and beehive – This is probably a priority 2 item for us, but it’s definitely on the longer term list.
  5. Plant 20 blueberry bushes – I think we got to 16, so pretty close…
  6. Plant 10 new fruit trees – I’m still working this one out – apples?  Pears?  Not sure yet… Move to 2012.
  7. Plant 20 raspberry canes – Purchased a few, but they’re still in pots.  Ahem… Move to 2012.
  8. Optimize greenhouse growing space – I’m in the process of devising a better space-saving system for our 2012 growing.
  9. Install irrigation for raised beds – I did attempt this, but our water cube needs to be raised up off the ground to get gravity flow.  Also, this year we’ll be experimenting more with permaculture methods, so hopefully the need for daily watering of the beds in mid-summer will be reduced.
  10. Build root cellar – This is a project I wanted to complete last year, but we built the woodshed/storage shed instead.  But for anyone serious about long-term food storage and putting up food from your harvest (and the harvests of local farmers around you), a cold room or root cellar is pretty much a necessity.  Can’t wait to get started – should be a fun project.  Move to 2012.
  11. Install alternative power source – Here’s where things get a little more technical and far beyond my scope of knowledge, but should the power grid go down at some point in the near future like many people seem to think it might, or we just have an extended outage (not so uncommon around here), it will be nice to have a back-up system.  Not to mention lower hydro bills over the long term, as the payback periods get shorter and shorter as the technologies get less expensive. Move to 2012.
  12. Rebuild the outhouse – Our cabin actually used to have an outhouse, crescent moon cut into the door and everything, but it was removed a few years before we moved in.  As an alternative for the times the power is out for extended periods (without power, we currently have no water pump), it seems like it would be a good investment. Move to 2012.
  13. Plant an herb spiral – In the spirit of good culinary planning, and emergency medicine supplies, I want to plant a full herb spiral containing all the main medicinal and culinary herbs.  Not only will it smell great and attract pollinating insects, but it will be pretty tasty too! Move to 2012.
  14. Build two more large raised beds – Once we got the chickens (which we want to free range as much as possible), and I started down my permaculture design journey, I’m having to rethink this a bit.  Move to 2012.
  15. Order 3 months of emergency food rations – Done.

Hmmm…. 4 out of 15 completed.  Not so great. (You can see what we’ve done so far in the photos on our Facebook page.)

SO once again, why?

The Ugly Truth

I’ve spent a lot of time this past year with some incredible mentors, and through many hours of reflection and ‘doing the work’, I’ve come to a conclusion I didn’t really want to admit:  I’m easily distracted – ridiculously so.  I am a procrastinator extraordinaire, even with a plan sitting there, right in front of me.  If there’s a big project that requires work I don’t really enjoy, I’ll put it off and put it off until it becomes a panic, or I just forget about it altogether.  Does any of this ring a bell? 

Now, sometimes this actually works to my advantage, and what looks like procrastination is really an intuitive hit that it would be better to wait til a later date to start or complete a project.  That’s happened a lot in the last year, where waiting actually ended up saving a lot of time and money.  But ultimately, I know it’s a problem that has kept me from getting to where I want to be in  my self-sufficiency plans, my business AND my life

Which leads me to another habit that works to our disadvantage…

… and that is trying to separate our ‘work life’ from our ‘personal life’.  In the wise words of one of the mentors I’ll be working with in 2012, PJ McClure, ‘You don’t have a work life and a personal life –  you  have a life.’  I didn’t really get it before, but now that I’ve been working for myself for a year, it’s pretty clear that these are wise words indeed, spoken by someone who has been there and figured it out.

So it’s time to start celebrating successes, and moving ahead with our dreams.

The reason I didn’t get my his is where I ended up spending much of my time this year, and frankly, it’s the basis from which I’ll be able to build on the rest of our goals.  So from that perspective – success!!

In our next post, we’ll be discussing our plans for 2012 and I’ll show you exactly how I’m going to break it down into bite-sized pieces that I’ll actually get done, as well as how I’ll be motivating myself to keep going, even when things get muddy.  In the meantime, I’m going to take a couple of days to cozy in beside the fire and map out the year – with homestead, business AND life all together on one map.  I hope you’ll be taking some time to do the same…

Do You Have a Plan?

Do you have a list of goals for becoming more self-sufficient in 2012?  With everything that’s actually and potentially barreling toward us in the next few months and years, the call to more self-sufficient and self-reliant living has never been more pressing.  Even one mini-step towards self-reliance will make a big difference should any major disruption to our food supply (and economy) occur.  And if by some chance it never does, you’ll have made a huge investment in your future food needs.  That sort of peace of mind is worth the time involved in setting out a well laid out plan.

It’s a smart investment, any way you look at it.  Let us know what your plans are, or if you have any tools to share to make goal setting and planning more efficient and easy to follow, in the comments below.

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Revised on January 1, 2012

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Deborah Claxton December 29, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I have learned the best way to do things is to goal plan. I like your goals and that you have moved them to the next year instead of giving up. If we give up then we will never accomplish anything. I have just had all of my goals in my head and since I have read this post I think I will get them on paper and maybe can work on them better. Thanks for such a great article!!


Victoria Gazeley January 1, 2012 at 9:47 am

Thanks, Deborah – I move many things year to year… 😉


Susan January 1, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I am looking forward to following your progress on your goals. Your goals sound a lot like mine and I accomplished about as many as you did. I am really looking forward to learning more about your herb spiral. Susan


Victoria Gazeley January 9, 2012 at 11:52 am

I’m looking forward to building it!! Just have to finish my basic property mapping project and see where the best location might be.


Web Hosting Provider January 8, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I am visiting here first time and these are great and unique points you have shared about this concept.


Elvie Look January 10, 2012 at 8:35 am

You did amazing! You got a lot accomplished and I love how honest you are. Great article, always love reading your articles!


Victoria Gazeley January 14, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Thank you! The goal this year is to get MORE on the list finished… 😉


Sharon January 12, 2012 at 11:41 am

I liked seeing your list of goals. It is good to get more ideas of how to be more self sufficient.

We moved from our home on a golf course to a home in the country on a 4 acre lot in May 2011. So far we have put up an 8 foot deer fence around a 1000 square foot veggie garden, planted 11 fruit trees, built a chicken coop (now occupied with 24 chickens), finished a room in the basement, planted a few herbs, and took a course on harvesting wild foods for food and medicine.

My goals for 2012 include: putting in a well with a hand pump, buying a good hand grain grinder, fencing the back 3 acres for livestock, buying beefalo and goats (learning how to care for them), possible out building for animals and planting a large herb garden.

Thanks for sharing your ideas!


Victoria Gazeley January 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Hand pump is on our list too! Beefalo?


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