In an ideal world, here’s what next year should look like…
January: Return Zeus, the rent-a-ram, to his rightful owners and cross our fingers that all the girls are preggo. Hopefully collect our first eggs from the chickens.
February: Start fencing off the woods from the pasture in preparation for moving the pigs, assuming we have one of those wonderful Virginia mid-winter warm spells to thaw out the ground a bit.
March: Move the pigs. Borrow a tractor (?) and finish the tilling job the pigs started in the garden plot. Plant early veg, like peas and greens. Plant blueberry bushes. Prune the raspberry and blackberry canes. Plant more raspberry and blackberry canes. Figure out where the herb garden should go.
April: Take one of the pigs to slaughter. Hopefully all the ewes will give birth to our first “crop” of lambs. Egg production should be hitting full stride. Plant even more veg (potatoes, onions, carrots, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, beans, etc.). Plant strawberry patch. Move the New Hampshire Reds to the lower chicken coop along with the rooster to try and ensure we have some fertilized eggs (and hope one of the gals gets broody and I don’t have to buy an incubator). Plant the herb garden. Find a new summer home for the guinea hens.
May: Harvest our first veggies (lettuces and greens). Still more planting (tomatoes, peppers, etc.). Find a boar for the remaining two pigs to shack up with. Hatch out our first chicks, to be raised as broilers. Order day old turkeys and maybe another pair of geese plus one from the hatchery, so we have birds for the holidays. Build a home for the turkeys.
June: Now the veg starts to come in wonderfully. Buy a flat or two of strawberries for making jam (as we won’t have any until the following year). Begin the great weed battle. Breed the chickens again. Harvest raspberries.
July: Process our first batch of broilers. Start in on canning pickles and early tomatoes. Likely buy a pressure canner and a chest freezer so we can put up veg for the winter (and sell the rest to the restaurant). Hatch out the second batch of broilers. Harvest blackberries. Buy a bushel or two of peaches for jam.
August: Be completely buried in vegetables. Never want to see another zucchini again. Become a canning black belt. Welcome our first piglets to the farm.
September: Process our second batch of broilers. Harvest beans and peppers for drying. Reconfigure the basement to double as a root cellar (for butternut squash, pumpkins, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, etc.). Plant winter crops (greens).
October: Secretly thank the gods for the first frost, marking the end to the heroic efforts involved in maintaining a 1/3 of an acre vegetable plot. Buy several bushels of apples for pressing into cider.
November: Take all the lambs to slaughter. Enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner that includes our own turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, greens, pumpkin, butternut squash and eggs (in the pies). Move the pigs back to the garden plot.
December: Borrow Zeus again to knock up the ewes for 2012. Enjoy our own goose for Christmas and force jars of jam and pickles on relatives in lieu of real gifts.