More planning – this time meat

Now I appreciate not everyone wants to raise, kill and eat their own meat and in this post I am thinking more about next year and planning the meat,  Writing it down here lets my thoughts develop.  So if this isn’t for you, please take this as fair warning J  If you’re all about knowing where your meat comes from, giving animals a happy and healthy life and ensuring their dispatch is a stress free and quick as possible, then do read on.

As we won’t be self-sufficient in pork etc until November 2017 and as I am getting itchy feet I think I will ask Steven to bring home half a pig from work.  For those who don’t know, he is a butcher.  We would need to buy it from the shop of course, but I would be very interested to watch him do his thing and fill up the freezer for the coming months in 2017.  It would also aid me in my quest to be stocked up for the new year on as much as possible from day one. 
We eat a fair amount of meat.  My motto for food (and drink for that matter) is everything in moderation, which is key, but as there’s 4 of us we do get through a fair bit.  Most weekends we have people visiting and I usually feed visitors.  In 2017 I hope to have family round for Sunday dinners as we’ll have the dining room useable by then.  I would like to be able to put a roasting joint on the table every weekend and look forward to that being from our own smallholding.
I have decided (a stake in the ground was required, so I may be way off) that I would like 40 roasting birds and 40 jointing birds.  A lot right?  Well given that we have chicken a lot during the week and some weeks enjoy a roast mid-week, plus some will be given to family and that we host a lot of gatherings during the year where I put a big spread on, I think this is a reasonable amount to aim for.  I could be way off but until I try, I won’t know. 
We’ve made enquiries about getting fertilised eggs from a nearby farm for a large breed of hen. I think they are called Cornish or Ross cobs, either way, they are big.  We’ll pick 40 eggs up early in the New Year when they are available and get them straight in the incubator for dispatch early May.  The next 40 can go in later in the year for dispatching October time when the flies have died off a bit.  That should see us right with the chicken we would like.  I will need another new freezer though.
We also would like to increase the numbers of our laying hens and to ensure a good start to the year, have decided to trial some hens eggs that we’ve not bred from before.  The eggs are going into the incubator this Friday, 18th November to hatch in 21 days, meaning they will be point of lay (22 weeks) on 12th May 2017.  May 2017 is obviously getting on for half way through the year, so you see why we want to get going on that project?  The chicks will live in the warm kitchen or utility in the house and move to the barn in straw bedding when big enough.  They’ll be under heat in the garage in between those periods as winter isn’t the best time to hatch eggs out.
Obviously some of those will be cockerels so they will be our next table birds which will be dispatched as and when they are needed.

Come November 2017 we’ll have our own pork too.  That leaves lamb.  Our current girls will be going in with the tup in 2017 so we hope to have April 2018 lamb.  Yes, I do like to plan.  😉

Getting the balance of what self sufficient means to us – the balance

I’ve been thinking more and more about self sufficiency and how it applies to us, or rather how we apply us to it. There are some very strong views out there on it, but I’m just throwing some thoughts out there which aren’t getting down to the nitty gritty just yet so please bear with me.
I’ve had a little thought, which many people have had before however for us personally, it will help us on the road to being less reliant on supermarkets and more reliant on ourselves.  Thinking ahead to 2017, we’re not going to start having home grown items available on January 1st even though I’ve been planting through Autumn/Winter to make sure some things are available as early as possible.  I plan on tweaking my 2017 growing plan (as much as my experience and knowledge allows me) to ensure once we start producing food in 2017, we don’t stop.  I’m researching all of the time and learning so much through the experience of others via blogs too.  Making notes along the way to ensure I remember the following year what to do and what not to do.
With these thoughts running through my head, the other thing niggling at me is having to go to Tesco (or wherever) for household items.  I’d like to reduce the amount we go.  So I’ve started making a list of things we need such as toilet roll, soap, shampoo etc and the list was ever expanding.  Then I made a list of non-perishable (or very long life) foods that we have such as tinned tuna, cereal etc.  I appreciate people will say, you could make your own soap and shampoo and you could poo in the woods (ok I’m exaggerating) but we need to do what works for us on our self-sufficient journey.  We both work full time, meaning that I need clothes that I can wear in the office – that’s the kind of balance I’m talking about.  So whilst we’re mindful about those areas and we certainly only spend what we need to there, I’m going to focus on the food and wellbeing. 
I mentioned cereal amongst the other things, this is something I could make at home, yes.  Granola and muesli, so that’s one thing I am going to change.  I can’t make coco pops though.  The kids aren’t allowed them a lot, but they do enjoy them when they are.  So I will buy those in.  However the kids don’t eat enough eggs (for my liking , given how many chickens we have) so they can have those more.  We are getting pigs in March, so maybe by November 2017 ish, we’ll be self-sufficient in pork/ham/bacon/sausages etc. We’re not buying a cow though, so I will still buy beef as I enjoy beef.  We might get one in a year or two though, who knows.  We don’t have goats or dairy cows, so I will buy milk – that’s something we use a lot of.  I can freeze it if I buy it in bulk.  We have some chicken in the freezer of our own but it won’t last long.  We should have our home grown chickens ready early April 2017 so from then on, I shouldn’t need to buy more chicken.
This is a snippet of the thoughts I am having for 2017’s budget and lifestyle.  Can you imagine how full my head is right now J  I’m off to think more about how we can shop less and grow more. 

Need to get organised again

I seem to have got out of sync with myself. I do this every so often. I feel like I am forgetting things and generally not on top of everything but rather chasing my tail and marginally scraping through.
This month I have an important exam, one which I have already failed once and need to make sure that I don’t fail again. So what better time to get organised? 
On a normal school day Ste is out to work early doors so it is just the kids and I. We obviously have the animals to do and ourselves to get ready. I don’t,  though should, prepare tea for the night. Maybe I need to do this the night before?
It is this kind of thinking that I need to put in place, listing all jobs out per day, so that I can focus on what’s to be done.
Further examples are washing work wear timely so it isn’t a last minute panic, make packed lunches the night before, washing my hair on a night as I can never find the will to on a morning, empty the bin instead of trying to see how full it gets before it splits! Not to mention cleaning, it jist doesnt happen. The list goes on.
So fellow bloggers. What organising tips do you have? How do you manage to stay on top?