We’re coming to the end of our first full calendar year in Idaho, so I thought I’d take a look back at what we accomplished.We got to experience all four seasons in all of their glory and put to use things we learned from our adventures in 2018.
January 2019 was unseasonably dry with little snow. Shawn took advantage of the weather and started dropping trees that were either in the wrong place or had bad genetics. Shawn took classes from the County extension program and is learning to become a Master Forester (similar to a Master Gardener, but the Master Foresters help people manage their backyard forests).
Once the trees are down, there’s lots of clean up. We usually ended up with three piles: wood to mill, wood to cut and stack for the wood stove, and wood to burn in the slash pile. Shawn felled (look at me using my lumberjack terms) over 25 trees, mostly Ponderosa pines. We had stacks of wood all over the property, which led to the erection of a wood shed over the summer.
We also planted 20 Larch (Tamarack) trees, a dozen Lodge Pole pines, and 3 Mulberry trees. We planted some trimmings from our Willow tree, but the jury is still out on those as the deer found them to be rather tasty before we had a chance to put up fencing.
Our laying flock of 7-9 provided us with so many eggs that we started giving them away and selling some. Throughout the summer, one of our neighbors bought 2-3 dozen eggs a week to feed her family of seven and we still had so many that we were trying to find new ways to use them.
We also raised about 50 meat birds in the spring to fill the freezer for the year. Instead of freezing them all whole, like we did the previous year, Shawn parted out about half the chickens. It’s nice to be able to reach into the freezer and pull out a package of boneless thighs or breasts in addition to a whole chicken. The whole birds usually go into the smoker or Instant Pot and make 2-3 meals for us, then we make a few quarts of bone broth from the carcass.
A new addition to our poultry production this year was six turkeys. After raising them for about 3 months, we sold one to a friend for her Thanksgiving dinner; we kept one for our Christmas dinner; and the remaining four were parted out for lunch meat, sausage and turkey drumsticks.
Shawn expanded our garden this year. He took down all the fencing, reconfigured the rows, and added compost before transplanting the seedlings he raised. He also built a new fence using the lumber we milled from our pine trees.
In addition to the plum and apple trees in the garden, we planted tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, ground cherries (we didn’t like them), tomatillos, chilies, bell peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, artichokes, green beans, black beans, radishes, beets, watermelons, pumpkins, butternut squash, onions, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, garlic, strawberries, basil, sage, berries, sunflowers, and probably some other things that I’ve forgotten by now.
You’re probably thinking that’s a lot of food, and you’d be right. We ate a lot of food fresh from the garden, but we also spent a lot of time preserving our excess. It tried to keep better records in 2019 of everything I canned, froze or dehydrated.
- Sour cherry jam – 15 pints from 25 cups of cherries
- Plum/applesauce – 11 pints from 5 lbs each plums and apples
- Plum jam – 12 pints from 10 lbs plums
- Plum leather – 54 rolls from 30 lbs plums
- Poblano salsa – 7 pints
- Spaghetti sauce – 7 quarts from 15 lbs tomatoes
- Applesauce – 26 pints form 24 lbs of apples
- Apple vinegar – 5 gallons from 10 lbs of apple scraps
- Apple/plum vinegar – 5 gallons from 10 lbs of scraps
- Pickles – 12 quarts
- Tomato paste – 9 half-pints
- Tomato soups – 6 pints
- Pumpkin – 5 quarts
- Butternut squash – 3 quarts
- Zucchini powder
- Shredded zucchini
- Shredded apples
- Dried basil
- Dried sage
I also canned pinto, kidney, black and garbanzo beans that we source locally. We probably go through at least 10 pints of each annually (no fiber deficiency in our diets).
We enjoyed tons of fresh food throughout the summer and had fun finding and trying new recipes. Most new recipes were keepers, but the zucchini gummies were an epic fail!
We worked on other home improvements as time permitted. We began terracing part of the yard and we planted peach, apricot, apple and fig trees along with blueberry bushes and milkweed to attract butterflies. Its a work in progress, but it was good to get more fruit trees in the ground.
We also continued on interior home improvements. We got more painting done and were in the process of having our leaking windows replaced when we discovered dry rot in our south wall. The new windows are on hold until the dry rot issue is fixed, so I may be reporting on that in the 2020 report.
All in all, a good year. We’re looking forward to snow for the holidays and a visit from the kids and grandkids.
Bring it on 2020!