We spent the year learning how to be beekeepers. Although the scholarship was awarded specifically to Bug, we have all attended classes and meetings and helped to check the hive and harvest honey. It has truly been an incredible experience. Bees are way cooler than you realize. We were able to harvest about 5 gallons of honey, which Bug was able to sell. She won ribbons at three different fairs as well. The plan for 2017 is to split the hive into two, hopefully doubling the honey harvest. You can find Heapstead Honey on Facebook and follow her progress there. She so appreciates your support. I'm hoping to have her do a guest post here sometime soon.
We raised and butchered our heritage hogs. It worked quite well to have them on pasture and we were pleased with how well they grew. The pasture has a few places that need new seed, but overall they didn't do tremendous damage so that seems to work well for us. I feel like the resulting meat is a little bit off, though, so we will have to evaluate a few things before we raise more hogs. Because we raised a heritage breed and left the animals intact, rather than castrating them, it is hard to know exactly where the difference lies.
We have two grown sheep now- a (hopefully) breeding pair. Dodge and Annie are pretty low maintenance and are quite happy on the pasture, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of romance happening out there. We have no idea if this means they don't like each other or they just prefer the privacy of the barn at night. We're praying for lambs this spring.
A new freeloader joined the family this year. Nalla came to us from my mom, who couldn't care for her anymore. She's a sweet girl even if she doesn't contribute to a job here at the Heap. She's so cute I can't help but forgive her for the extra work she creates
Most of last year was spent working hard to make a special family vacation happen. We decided to funnel our funds and resources into a trip to Disney World rather than work on things at the Heap. Even though we did not make any progress on the house or homestead, it was so worth it. The time spent as a family was so absolutely perfect and wonderful memories were made.
This year, we plan to turn our focus to the house remodel. Homesteading is going to take a back burner for awhile so that we can use our time and money to make a comfortable home for our family. We will maintain our laying flock and the sheep, but we won't be bringing in any other babies this year and we'll take a break from butchering and intense gardening. It has been necessary for me, in particular, to really stop and evaluate priorities. Between working and being in school, I don't have much more to give and homesteading was beginning to stress me out way too much, so we are going to take some time off. In the meantime, expect to see exciting things happening inside- I cannot wait to make this house pretty!
Time marches on. It's hard to believe we've been here almost four years. So much has changed, but there is still so much to do. I think I'm starting to realize there always will be and that's okay. We'll take each moment as it comes.