Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
In the last blog post (read Part 1 here), we covered the establishment of dreams, vision and purpose. I talked about the importance of setting goals that will eventually make your dreams come true. Goals must be realistic. I like using the acronym SMART in order to clarify goals: specific, measureable, achievable, relevant (to your dream, vision, and purpose) and timely. I talked about setting major goals that meet the above criteria and I used the following example of a major goal from our homestead:
By August 1, 2016 the homestead provides 80 percent of family’s caloric needs, averaged out over any given week (when we are on the homestead) in order to obtain more self-sufficiency, provide work for the family, reduced financial strain and healthy food to eat.
Does this major goal support our dream, vision and purpose? Yes. It is nested inside of that. Designing major goals should be a very lofty goal but must meet the SMART criteria.
The next step in the process of realizing your dream is to take your major goals and break them down into mid-term and short-term goals. Everyone needs to see progress on big projects or the tendency is to get demotivated. Setting mid-term and short-term goals keeps us on track with doing things that support our dreams and they keep us motivated. What’s the difference between mid-term and short-term goals? It’s subjective but it basically boils down to timeframe. As a general rule our mid-term goals are between 6-12 months and our short term goals are less than 6 months. Here are some examples of mid-term and short-term goals that are nested in the major goal example.
These mid-term goals were established in October, 2014
Expand pasture (using a silvo-pasture model) by 2 acres by June, 2015 in order to support more animals on the homestead. We reached that goal with more silvo-pasture and forested paddocks expansion coming in the future.
Establish and implement comprehensive water strategy: system of swales, springs, ponds and rainwater catchment to supplement our well production by July, 2015 in order to improve homestead water for animals and irrigation. By July of 2015 we had a system of three ponds with 100s of yard of swales connected to the seasonal stream. We can irrigate the swales from the seasonal stream and ponds and we can use overflow from the swales to feed the ponds. Additionally, we have rainwater catchment set up with over a 1000 gallons of storage for animals and gardens. We are still working on developing springs to further improve our water situation.
Establish a food forest with at least 30 productive trees, bushes and plants by October, 2015 in order to start getting major perennial food production in the future. As of now we have terraced food forests and linear food forests along swales comprised of over 200 plantings of productive trees, bushes, and plants. Here is a sampling of our plantings with too many cultivars to list: chestnut, butternut, hazelnut, walnut, apple, pear, peach, plum, paw-paw, black locust, honey locust, Siberian pea shrub, raspberry, blackberry, mulberry, currant, sea-berry, elderberry, comfrey, clover, many different herbs and flowers.
These short-term goals were established in October, 2014
Build light, portable, inexpensive infrastructure by March, 2015: fixed chicken coop, mobile chicken coop, rabbit hutch, 2 chicken tractors and 2 rabbit tractors, in order to facilitate layers, meat birds and meat rabbits. Currently we have two fixed coops (one doubles as a greenhouse), one mobile coop, six rabbit hutches (10 stalls), five chicken tractors (including a few more built for customers), and two rabbit tractors. In 2015 we butchered over 150 birds and rabbits. In 2016 we will be doubling that number at least.
Establish and maintain an egg layer flock of at least 20 birds with production by March, 2015 to become self-sufficient in eggs. As of spring, 2016 we have 42 layers that keep us full in eggs with egg sales to offset all costs of having the birds except labor.
As you can tell, the above goals are connected and work to support the major goal. This is key. When making mid-term and short ask yourself this question: Do these goals, if accomplished, help me to achieve my major goal?
Quite frankly, most people don’t even set written goals. If they do, often times they are poorly structured and read something like this: to be a better person in 2016, to become fit, to be kind to my fellow man. For all the reasons stated previously, these will not work in any meaningful way. However, even with well written goals that conform to SMART goals, there is the harsh reality that goals are still hard to reach. Major goals, mid-term and short-term goals need a plan of action in order to accomplish them. A plan of action, simply stated is how you actually get stuff done. You’re moving from being the CEO, or owner of your life (setting all of your goals, thinking deeply about your homestead and business) to being the specialist and the operator.
Let’s use an example:
Mid-term Goal restated: Establish a food forest with at least 30 productive trees, bushes and plants by October, 2015 in order to start getting major perennial food production in the future.
Plan of Action
• Research micro climate and good cultivars for this area
• Research and determine best location for food forest
• Determine budget for food forest
• Plan and establish water in place for irrigation with water access and swales
• Fence in area for establishment
• Prepare area with animals: chickens and ducks
• Prepare area with cover crops
• Plan food forest layout
• Order appropriate productive and support species
• Plant productive and support species
These are all the major tasks that need to be completed in order to establish a food forest. The next step is to put these major tasks onto a calendar with a realistic timeline.
Establish weekly routines by committing time to your top priorities in life. Ideally, what you are doing here is establishing habit patterns to get stuff done. Even though much of your weekly routine may not directly impact a particular goal what it will do is keep balance in your life that allows you to accomplish your goals. Here are some examples of weekly routines:
Have a family planning meeting every Sunday night covering previous week, the next week and coordinating any scheduling events or conflicts
Watch a family movie, or play a family game every Friday night with homemade pizza and popcorn
Establish daily routines. These are recurring events that enable you to be more productive by putting many tasks on auto-pilot. Ideally, we would all have a morning and evening routine. As you can hopefully see all these things work together to ultimately help you to realize your dreams through a systematic goal setting and action plan paradigm!
Photo credits: Linde Mitzel, P3 Photography
Sean and Monica Mitzel homestead with their family on 40 acres and are using permaculture techniques and strategies for the property. The property will eventually become a demonstration and education site where they raise dairy goats, pigs, rabbits, chickens, and ducks. The Mitzels have planted more then 50 productive trees and enjoy wildcrafting, propagating mushrooms, and raising and training livestock guardian dogs. Listen to The Courageous Life Podcastand to learn more about the Mitzels, visit The Prepared Homestead. Read all of their MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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