Life slows down a little on the homestead in the winter, at least there are fewer projects to be done outside and more time spent on the computer and at the kitchen table. Now is the time when dreams and goals move to the planning stage. Now is the time when projects are started by buying supplies or drawing out the layouts and designs.
This year we aren’t planning on building any coops or out building except for maybe a shed. If we build an outdoor furnace, we’ll need a woodshed to go with it. We have talked about having a shed for my son’s collection of tractors and lawnmowers, too. These are very vague ideas and aren’t actually being planned. We are looking at diversifying our side hustles to bing in one larger income.
We don’t intend to add any meat animals to our homestead this year unless we partner with someone, and we chip in feed and a little work for them to be raised elsewhere. We will keep our chickens and pet duck, but do not intend to raise turkeys again.
I have a little of our garden soil in the house from when I transplanted the parsley in. It wasn’t from the main part of the garden, so I’m not sure if I should use it or wait until the garden thaws and use a “real” sample, but I need to test out soil and see what it needs added.I know the soil has been depleted and I can only rotate crops so much in the same space, dependent upon light needs.
I bought several containers last year that never got used (problems with the transplants), so I need more soil for this year. I’ll start checking potting soil prices to see whether it is useful to stock up now at a cheaper price, or if the price seems stable and it makes more sense to keep the open space in my basement for now.
Seeds. I need to do a final tally of what I have and order seeds now. Last year there was quite a delay on seed orders, and I want to start earlier this year. Last year I was a little early and had very little delay, but this year is forecast to be worse. There are so many seed catalogs to choose from, it’s hard to know who to contact.
I think this year I am going to focus on cucumbers and peas to eat fresh (we go out and snack on them). Some squashes because we eat a lot of those plus the chickens love them. Also, herbs and such to use in items I want to sell. There is a store nearby that offers fresh fruits and vegetables by the case that are cheaper, and sometimes fresher than the grocery stores. Hopefully we can do some bartering with Farmers Markets, too.
Canning and preserving
Once the snow leaves (so not for 2.5+ months) I still want another freezer. When I clean the basement and reorganize I am going to be sure to make a place for this.
Canning jars were in short supply last year. This year I have started stocking up now when I find good prices (Last year I started in April). I need more this year than in the past if I hope to be able to sell fruit butters and pickles, among other goods, at Farmer’s Markets and off our website. Likewise, I need to learn how to be able to sell these out of state, right now I can sell them following Vermont’s Cottage Laws only in-state.
I can actually start now on some preserving, as a few of the items I want have the fruits or herbs from greenhouses and it won’t affect the taste whether they are “hot house” or “garden fresh” (or hydroponic).
Along with collecting jars for canning and preserves, I am looking at collecting the containers needed for salves. I hope to sell these this year as well.
Last year, I focused on creating and marketing our reusable market totes. In the fall I began sewing and selling reversible face masks as well, with a little marketing. In between I did some crocheting, but really didn’t market it.
This year, I will continue to grow our masks and bags. Now is a good time for online craft fairs and to build up inventory. As I complete sewing the bags, I can better organize the basement. Decluttering is always good.
We will expand our sales also:
For crocheting, I would like to pick two types of coaster (eggs and sunflowers) and push those as they are fun and quick. Hats are also quick and easy, so I want to do those. I even have the labels to sew in for those to help with our marketing.
For sewing, well our totes, but they deserve their own category. In general, we intend to continue to grow these sales. So for sewing I hope to do more upcycled denim sales like our cutlery bags. More upcycled feedbag crafts. And, the “pie” hot mats, because I think it’s an open niche around here.
Bath and body – I have so many recipes to try. I want to focus first on the salves, the balms, and the shower items. I think these are easy to label, to market, and very affordable. Some of them are dependent upon growing the herbs decently. As we go through the season, I’ll narrow my focus to what is working the best.
Fairy crafts have been a big thing for a while, and I would like to do these. It’s cute to create the miniatures. I’m not sure if the market is oversaturated though. I should make up some samples and try online as well as my current craft stores. These are cheap and fun to make. However, I don’t want to overextend myself which is why hey have not been a priority yet.
Lastly, I would like to perfect the resined flowers. It’s hard to practice on them now in the middle of winter. These will make us lots of money if we can just get them right. We’re so close!
SInce I just mentioned marketing, let’s talk about that for a moment.
We will really start pushing our subscription packages as a large part of our marketing.
We will continue to find new outlets to commission sales.
We will try at least one-three farmers markets.
We will continue to improve our online sales. I just updated the website with our sewn items.
We will continue to work on becoming a brand on social media. The frequent posting schedule really helps with that.
We will continue to evaluate whether to sell from a roadside stand.
Blogging three times a week is a little challenging, but we seem to be ok for the first month. This will take continuous work. If I can find the time (maybe only on school vacations for now) I’ll look into other freelance writing work.
Book reviews, while I have a solid platform of free books for reviews, I need to find more paid reviews.
Kindle Direct Publishing is a goal for some of the children’s books I have completed. One piece is waiting on Spring and Summer for more photographs. Another needs illustrations.
I have sent off a query letter for one story. I need to send more.
I need to complete a draft of my thesis story. Eventually this can be self-published.
Once published, I need to actively seek reviews.