Planning Your Homestead Year

Purposefully planning your homestead year and getting it down in writing will help you work towards your homesteading dreams and achieve your goals.

Reader Contribution by Kat Ludlam
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Kat Ludlam
Use a master calendar to keep track of your homestead planning.

Whenever we end a season, year, or chapter in our lives and start a new one it is natural to look back and remember as well as look forward and dream. Purposefully planning your homestead year and getting it down in writing will help you work towards your homesteading dreams and achieve your goals.  Life is constantly changing and we can’t plan for the unexpected, so you need to be flexible with your plan. But making a plan and writing it out will help ensure that no matter what life throws your way, you will make some progress towards your homesteading goals.

Master Calendar

The first thing you need is a master calendar. This can be a wall calendar, a desk calendar, and agenda book, a notebook of your own creating, or an app. Whatever works best for you to keep track of your homestead plans by date. Make sure it is something you know you will like using, because the goal is to refer to it every day throughout the year.

Once you have your calendar ready, it is time to sit down and start filling it out. Choose a time when you are in the mood to plan. Make sure you are well-rested and able to work through it uninterrupted. If you have a spouse, kids, or other partner(s) in your homesteading endeavors, this planning time should include them, or at least have them plan out their specific parts of the homestead.

I go through our homestead one area or type of livestock at a time. I think through all aspects of that part of the homestead (see below for ideas) and write out all the things that we need to do and when we need to do them.

Often, working backwards from a certain date or event is the best way. For example, if I want to sell poultry at a certain poultry sale, then I will start by writing down the date of the sale. Then I will count backwards from that date the number of weeks that I want the poultry to be grown out. That will be the hatch date. Then I work back from that to write down the setting/incubating date. Then I work back from that to write down the hatching-egg collection start and finish dates. Then lastly, back from that to setting up the breeding group at least two full weeks ahead. If I were buying the chicks, I would write down the date they needed to be hatched, and two days later the pick-up date at the store or post office. Then decide when they needed to be ordered and write that down as well.

I do all my garden planning based on first and last frost dates. Again, working backward from the dates is very helpful. I break down the garden planning by what is being started indoors, planted outdoors (seeds and seedling transplants), planted in hoop tunnels, planted in cold frames, and planted in the greenhouse (if you have one). I also include a section for basic to-do items. I have a separate notebook for the garden plans since they are so extensive. Each week has one side of a sheet of paper and the weeks are based on how long until the last frost or first frost. Keeping it in a binder also makes it easy to carry it out to the gardens with me.

I try to write down as many steps as possible in everything to help me remember. When you are juggling a homestead full of different animals and gardens it can be hard to keep track of it all. So, the more you can get written down while you are sitting down and focusing on the plans, the better. Then you just have to follow your own directions through the year, and adjust them as necessary as life shifts.

Homestead To-Do Idea Lists

Here are some ideas of the things you might want to plan out for your homestead year:

Gardens and Orchards

Pruning, mulching, checking seed inventory and viability, ordering seeds, prepping the garden(s) for planting, building new garden areas, repair and maintenance of drip systems, amending soil, putting up and taking down trellises and hoop tents, repairing and/or buying new equipment, starting seeds indoors, transplanting seedlings, planting seeds outside, arrival dates for trees and bushes, prepping planting areas for trees and bushes and planting them, fertilizing, pest control plans, harvesting, canning, cleaning out and preparing the root cellar, and winterizing the garden hoses and drip systems.

Animals/Livestock

Obviously, different livestock have different needs, and hoof stock is much different than poultry, which are both different than bees. And don’t forget your guardian dogs and barn cats. Here are some ideas of the things you might want to plan for your homestead animals – I am sure there are more things you will be able to think of for your certain situation.

Breeding, vaccinations, worming, restocking minerals or giving mineral boluses, hoof care, poultry nail and/or wing care, shearing, docking tails, castrating, preparing the barn for birthing, inventorying and restocking the birthing kit, inventorying and restocking the vet kit, birthing due dates, drying off (stop milking) dairy females, buying new stock, hive inspections, repair and/or ordering of equipment, feeding bees, ordering bees or chicks, marketing your selling stock (don’t forget specific sales or events you might want to sell at, as well as certain seasons – such as turkeys at Thanksgiving), hatching plans, butchering, harvesting comb and honey, preparing honey processing equipment, preparing butchering equipment or scheduling with the butcher, and cleaning out hives or livestock housing.

Property Maintenance

Whether big or small, a homestead property has maintenance needs. And every property’s needs are different. But here are some ideas to get you started:

Road grading, winterizing water systems, repair and maintenance of solar or other systems, repair and maintenance of gutters/downspouts/ditches/water run-off, fence and gate checking and maintenance, cleaning up trash and junk piles, organizing sheds and outbuilding, painting and/or staining, tree trimming, slash disposal (sometimes there are free slash drop off days and locations that you want to schedule for), and mulching and landscaping maintenance.

New Projects

Along with the upkeep of what you already have, are there any new projects you want to do or add to the homestead?  Here are some ideas of what to plan for:

Construction of new outbuildings, animal housing, or fencing (don’t forget to schedule when to order the supplies you need, especially with supply shortages and backorders you need to plan ahead); remodeling outbuildings or animal housing, adding new types of livestock and all the preparations you need to do to make that happen, new landscaping projects, and building new garden areas.

Taking time at the beginning of the year to sit down and make some plans will remove a lot of the decision-making stress and help you to reach your homesteading goals. By writing out your plans and doing your best to follow them, while allowing for flexibility as life demands it, you will find that your homestead will be more productive and thus more satisfying.

Kat Ludlam has been homesteading in Colorado for 15 years now. She and her husband, Daniel, are the owners of Willow Creek Farm, where they breed and raise specialty wool sheep, milk sheep, Nubian goats, chickens, Muscovy ducks, and crops that thrive in their location. They also own and run a custom fiber processing mill, Willow Creek Fiber Mill . Kat loves to feed her family from their land, and teach others to homestead as well. Read all of Kat’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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  • Updated on Jan 18, 2022
  • Originally Published on Jan 15, 2022
Tagged with: Colorado, Kat Ludlam, Reader Contributions, yearly calendar