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My Really Good Goals for 2011

Posted by on Monday 3 January 2011 in meta | 10 comments

I have set myself a list of goals for the year ahead – written up on my personal blog because they’re not all simple/DIY living related.

I did the same last year and found it useful – even if I did pretty much mentally abandon some mid-year. The most useful ones that weren’t a specific tick-off-done goal but one’s that helped shape my whole life – for example, I had a goal of “make a meal entirely out of things I’ve grown, raised, caught or killed” and in order to achieve that, I grew veg & herbs, raised chickens for the eggs and foraged for wild food.

My list is very simple/DIY living heavy this year! Here are the relevant ones:

  • Increase the food output from our garden and cook a meal using things I’ve grown/raised/caught/killed completely off-grid
  • Learn how to successfully take and propagate cuttings from every applicable type of perennial plant/shrub in the house/garden
  • Make a piece of furniture for the house (woodworking)
  • Make an entire outfit (to include conquering sewing patterns)
  • Go fishing in the North Sea
  • Buy no more than 12 items of clothing across the year*
  • Specific food makery and/or eatery (because if I did them all separately it would take up half the list)
    • Bake at least once a week
    • Grow a sourdough starter and make bread from it
    • Make a hard cheese
    • Try ten vegetables (or veggie wild foods) that I’ve not tried before
    • Build a cold smoking cabinet, try cold smoking more stuff & try hot smoking too
  • Participate more in the real world – engage more with our local community and meet some internet people in real life

(* I’m going to explain this more fully tomorrow)

There were a few things I also really, really want to try but I didn’t think warranted goal status on that limited list:

  • Keep records to track our usage of consumables – I mean, I want to know how many toilet rolls we use in a month, how much soap, how long it takes for us to get through a 10kg bag of rice etc. I might record absolutely everything we use for a month or so, and use that hardcore exercise to decide what is worth tracking longer term
  • Have regular “eat only from the pantry & garden” weeks in the spring/summer, probably once a month
  • Have more conscious “no spend” periods – minimum fortnights, possibly months, throughout the year
  • Find a solution to the dog poo problem – something more useful than a cork up Lily-dog’s bum. Probably a dedicated wormery.
  • Collect and store more rainwater for use on the garden – we can’t use the main gutter at the back for rainwater but could still collect off the greenhouse, from a gutter at the front and possibly off the extension area too. To be explored and implemented.
  • Make my own soap – something that’s been nagging at me for a little while
  • Make my own vinegar – for some reason, I have a really strong desire to make pineapple vinegar (probably the efficiency of using up the scraps)
  • UPDATED TO ADD: Make conscious efforts to reduce food waste at home – probably a period of monitoring it closely to see what we throw out (which I’ll post on here) as well as better menu planning.

It seems like 2011 will be a busy one!

I’m hoping that the last goal – getting to know more people locally and meeting internet buddies in real life – will help me meet some of my other goals — I’d love to find mentors for some of my learning-new-skills goals. If you fancy mentoring me, let me know! :)

What have you got planned for 2011?

10 Comments

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  1. Jan

    My suggested “easy starts” that I managed in 2010 are, make my own blackberry jam, (plum or apple or whatever is growing nearby), sweet pickled beetroot, carve a wooden spoon (no.1 was a bit useless but my no.2 spoon was near perfect !), carve a wooden bowl ( I used a chainsaw but this is by far and away the most dangerous suggestion, don’t attempt this without some expensive gear,chainsaw gloves and trousers & no first timers!).

    My final goal which I would say was about 80% successful was “Heat the house using the woodburner”. We did turn the heating on as the upstairs dropped a little during the night, but I was still pleased with the results. (this took a lot of wood and lots of physical effort to plan & process & store and probably didn’t really save much cash)

    • louisa

      Oooh, wooden spoon & bowl carving! I’d very much like to try stuff like that too – “carve a crochet hook from a twig” is on my (offline) to-do list. Did you follow a tutorial/how-to or just wing it?

      What are you planning for 2011?

  2. Jan

    Hmm I am building a new wood storage (10x the size of my old box), and the tarp covered pile was looking a bit unsightly, I bought all the materials and planned to do it yesterday, but things didn’t really go to plan as I ended up in A&E in a really random accident involving a bendy tree branch oops, hence I am sitting around at home on the net reading the blog!

    I would like to grow more and may take over the old folks’ allotment as it is getting more difficult for them. Bark weaving would be nice, but the best stuff seems to be sweet chestnut and we don’t have any nearby here. I did a couple of containers 3 years ago, but have not had the time or stuff to do it lately. I would like to build a bigger chicken run so that friends can let them out, when we are on holiday, and the chucks can get some more room, when we can’t let them out in the garden, so hopefully they will stop pecking each other so much.

    I want to buy a plot of woodland but it is just too expensive. I probably need 2-3 acres, but the price is astronomical.

    My spoon advice is get a spoon knife, also called a crooked knife, and only carve freshly cut wood, a large branch of Beech for example is quite hard to cut but is much easier when it is fresh. Probably best to start with a fore-arm sized section of Birch branch. The knives are good fun, and cost about £20 and is almost definitely not going to save you any money making wooden cutlery.

    Crochet hook would probably take less than 20 mins for a complete amateur with a sharp knife (don’t use a folding knife like a swiss army, safer to use something like a Mora Green Clipper £10, less trips to A&E that way :-) ).

    • louisa

      A&E – oh no! I hope you’re feeling a bit better today!

      Thanks for the advice about the spoon & crochet hook – I thought the hook would be a relatively easy place to start.

      It sounds like you have lots of big plans for 2011 – do you have your own blog where you talk about all this stuff? If so, what’s the address? I’d love to hear how you get on with all this stuff!

  3. Amy

    Just wondering what the “dog poo problem” is? Is it that you have to bag it up?
    You should look into Prey Model Raw; more specifically, this page:
    http://preymodelraw.com/2010/11/14/the-proof-is-in-the-poo/
    [warning: contains pictures of poo]

    • louisa

      Hi Amy,

      Sorry for being vague! We don’t have a problem with picking it up (we have no fear of poo) but we don’t know what to do with it after we’ve picked it up – we don’t just want to throw the baggies in the bin.

      We need a solution for poos in the garden and a mobile solution as she tends to poo while out on walks.

      The raw diet poo comparison is interesting and is definitely something we’ll experiment with future dogs – but Lily-dog is an old girl (10 next month, although we only adopted her last March) and raw food *strongly* disagrees with her – I don’t think she’d cope well with a few weeks of adjustment even if it meant better food in the long term.

  4. Amy

    Hmm… Maybe consider a paper bag and a scooper? The paper bag can go in the composting toilet/outhouse if you have one or you can toss it in a non-edibles compost pile/bucket.
    I have about 50,000 red wiggler worms [give or take] in our tiny three-bedroom house and what I have done for each 2-3lbs of worms, is I take one five-gallon bucket and drill drainage holes in it. I put that bucket inside of another bucket with a solid bottom, bed it down with leaves/newsprint/old hay and voila! Instant portable compost bucket. You can use the tea from it to water your ornamentals.
    We have nearly 20 buckets; 4 in our guinea pigs’ room, 2 in our bunnies’ room/dining room, and the rest rotate daily from kitchen to basement. 2 years with this system and no escapees, no problems. Just remember to keep them watered!

    • louisa

      Maybe consider a paper bag and a scooper?

      Yes, I think we’ll go down that route – the decision is really what to do with it next – whether to get a “doggy digester” (like a septic tank), a dedicated wormery or just have a non-edible compost pile. There are maintenance and expense costs for each option so that’s what I’d like to look at – it won’t take much, probably no more than an afternoon, but I won’t get around to it if I don’t have it on a reminder list here!

      I like your bucket system!

  5. Cat

    I’d be happy to mentor you with anything having to do with sewing.

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