Do you plan your year in advance? When living on a homestead, it’s essential to do yearly planning in order to have a productive running homestead and the best chance for reaching and achieving all your goals.
Planning for the New Year
No matter how you go about it, one must-do on the homestead is planning. Whether you are super organized and have it all written out in a central location, or whether it’s all planned out in your head. There are a few things that must happen before the year begins:
- Plan to Plan – set aside the time to plan
- Make a Plan
- Align Your Goals – discuss your plan with your spouse/family
- Think Back – discuss what worked/didn’t work the previous year
- Revisit the Plan – don’t just implement changes after one meeting, come back to what was discussed a week or two later and revisit the plan to make sure everything is doable
- Implement the Plan – this is where you actually implement the changes that need to be made, slot each project into the calendar, list out supplies or other things that will be needed to make it happen
Look at the Larger Perspective First
It’s easy to focus on the little changes that need to be made, but before you get to the nitty-gritty, you need to pull back and look at the larger picture first.
These larger items include things like:
- Relational/Family Moments (more on this below)
- Larger projects
- Reflect & Review (what did/didn’t work the previous year)
What are relational moments? For us, these are times we set aside throughout the year to spend as husband and wife, family trips, one-on-one trips with our children, etc.
These trips and time away don’t just happen on a whim, they take planning ahead and forethought, otherwise the intention is there, but the actual time never seems to be available.
In order to make this happen, it means looking at the calendar and blocking off those relational moments before the calendar year begins. We generally try to take one trip away as a married couple, one family trip, and if we have a child who’s reaching their 13th year, we like to take a special trip with them (mom with the girls, dad with the boys).
What are the trips you’ve been meaning to take with your spouse, your family, or a one-on-one trip with a child? Make this next year the year it actually happens by planning it now.
List out how many special trips this equates to for you, then start a list.
Healthy relationships are actually the most important part of building and maintaining a thriving homestead!
TIP: Don’t let this stress you out! A trip can be as simple as a weekend camping trip! They don’t have to be extravagant. We’ve found the time spent together is what matters, not so much the location or activity.
Next, we look at some of the larger projects that need to happen on the homestead. Whether it’s improving structures (barns, outbuildings, the house), adding/improving fencing, updating areas of the home, etc.
It’s easy to think you can do all your projects in one calendar year, but reality quickly sets in on the time and financial investment that these projects actually take.
Once you have a list of all your projects, prioritize them in order of importance. From there you can even get more specific into the investment that each project will take (both in time and financially), and then you can add those to your list (along with the relational moments) and start slotting your projects onto the calendar.
The hard part here is limiting yourself. When we are planning, we have often thought we can do it all, and then when we got into our year and were trying to get it all done we wonder, “What were we thinking!”
Plan enough to make it challenging, but not undoable.
What Isn’t Working
Sometimes the “pain points” of day-to-day life can help you determine the most important projects when trying to set goals for the year.
Ask yourself what’s not working around the homestead? Are there certain projects you could complete that would revolutionize your day-to-day life and really bring ease to your day?
Sometimes those things determine what makes the project list.
For instance, one of the major projects we’re going to work on this next year is fencing. When we bought our property there wasn’t adequate fencing, but there were other projects that took priority, so that meant we needed to find other property to lease for our beef cattle.
Now that we’ve chipped away at the more pressing projects over the last several years, this is the year we can focus on our fencing and finally bring our cattle onto our property.
So for us, the main priority for the year is to get adequate fencing in place. This will ensure our beef cattle stay in, and it will allow us to extend our pig herd as well as our sheep herd.
Another project that makes the list for us this year is improving our water systems. Originally, our water system was the first project we worked on when moving to Riverbend. But over the years, especially this past year in a drought situation, we realized we didn’t have enough water storage to get us, the gardens and the animals through a really dry season. And now, because we’ve expanded the areas where our animals are, we need to figure out how to get water to them in a better manner. So a secondary major project will be water storage and delivery on the homestead.
Whatever it is, make sure you give adequate time to get each major project done before moving on to the next one. Try not to overlap or stack them with other major projects. You still need to manage day-to-day life like gardening, preserving, animal care, and the million other things that go on every day!
Now Get Specific!
After setting aside time for relationships, looking at the larger picture, and pinpointing the larger projects that need to get done, you can then dive into the specifics (or smaller projects) and make plans for those things.
One obvious area where we get specific is garden planning. More specifically, what improvements need to be made to our garden spaces, what crops we’re growing, what crops will go where, how we will preserve and store them, etc.
If you plan this ahead of time, you’ll know when you need to start seeds indoors, when you need to amend your soil, and when it’s time to plant seeds (or starts) in the ground. This will ensure you’re getting the maximum amount of growing time for your location.
This is also a great time to think about last year’s garden. What grew well? What varieties did well (or not)? Did you grow enough of certain crops or too many of another?
There are many things you may need to plan from bringing in meat chickens for the year, to baby animals being born, to homeschooling, to….well, you name it. And after you’ve named it, think it through and make a plan on how these more specific and regular projects fit into daily life!
TIP: Be sure to place your seed orders early! Don’t wait until you get your catalogs in January. This is a good year to get a head start on your ordering as supplies are limited.
Look at your Systems
And finally, after you’ve scheduled in your relational time, listed your major projects, and figured out your specific projects, you’ll want to take inventory of your systems. This is another opportunity to ask yourself what is/isn’t working. What areas could use an overhaul?
For us, these areas include:
- Homeschooling on the Homestead – we take this time to check in with each kid to determine if there are specific areas they could use some extra help or guidance.
- Vehicle Maintenance – it has to happen, whether you like it or not, so one of our goals this year is to get ahead of the repairs before they become a headache.
- Meal Prep – maybe you want to make it a goal this year to get better at meal prepping and having a home-cooked meal on the table each night of the week. (These easy freezer meal cooking tips & recipes can help with that.)
Whatever area you’re looking at, now is a good time to write out a plan for how you’re going to improve it.
Set goals that push you a little bit, but that aren’t unrealistic. You want to be pushed, but not to failure. Find the sweet spot that pushes you just enough, but also allows for the projects to actually get done.
This life can be tough and it can be a struggle to get through the day-to-day, so it is important that we plan for successes that mark the journey and help us reach our goals. And with that, also plan some time to celebrate! Often, Thanksgiving is this time for us, where we review our accomplishments for the year and take time to thank God and enjoy it all together for a few moments in celebration!
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- How to Prioritize Homestead Projects
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- Building Up a Well-Stocked Pantry
- Prepping Your Pantry for Preserving Season
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