Saturday 26 January 2019

Self Reliance Goals For 2019

I quite like having a set of goals to work towards each year. They don't have to be things to do, just stuff to work towards or maintain. Normally hugely optimistic, this year hugely late as well.


I made community a big focus of last year but I think my aim this year should just be to continue what I've been doing. Anymore and it might become too much like a burden. That said I'd like to maybe start a gardening club at the school or at least be involved in one there, I'd love for the pupils to have a crop of veg ready to sell at the school fayre.

Family And Friends

I want to have the TV and phone turned off more. I don't watch huge amounts of TV anymore but I am very aware that it's very easy for me to turn the TV on when the kids get home and whilst I do some jobs they are sat like vegetables in front of the goggle box.

To prevent this I'd like to do more activities after school. Not ones where they go to a club but stuff we can do here, together. In the summer it's easy, they come out and help in the garden or the orchard, but colder months are more difficult. Just the other night we spent the night bagging seed for the seed swap. They helped me for hours, to the point that they moaned when they went to bed because they hadn't watched any TV that evening! I'd be happy if this happened every evening to be honest!

Time away from here is something I need to improve on as well. Last year I think I only spent three nights total away from the homestead! I'd be happy with this but my wife deserves time away where we can all recharge our batteries and possibly breath in some sea air.

I also want to have more friends round to eat here. I grew up in a busy house where there was often other people for dinner and food shared, loud meals filled with laughter are simple the best. With the bigger kitchen it's so much easier to entertain people and it would be great to have people round just for regular meals. It would be great for the kids to see this as normal, amazing for improving their table manners (I've turned into my dad when it comes to manners, constant nagging at the table!) and how they interact with adults as well.

Building Projects

Ah well this is still a long list!

Finish the kitchen for starters, it's almost there. Just some painting left to do, as well as skirting and architrave! I also need to make up some doors for the floor to ceiling storage unit I've built in the old dinning room.

Then crack on with the shower room before tackling the next big bit - the pantry, utility and downstairs loo.

This is the last part of downstiars to be renovated, so will involve knocking in doorways, ripping plaster off walls and taking up floors. Hopefully I'll be able to seal it all away from the rest of the house and work on it that way, only opening up when things are nearly finished. Stupidly excited about the fact we're going to have a pantry, always been a weird dream of mine to have something like that where I live.

Off Grid

I feel I did well with our [low budget] off grid progress last year, but it's hard to do some bigger things (like solar, a well etc) without spending huge amounts of money, which we don't have!

I want to keep my budget small (free stuff only really) for this and see what I can do. I'd love to create an outdoor oven, one that could be used in the summer and one that could be used to cook bread. Although I like the look of pizza ovens they do use a lot of fuel to heat up, so I want to see if there is more efficient designs involving rocket type stoves that I could make.

Having this outdoor area combined with somewhere I could do butchery would be really handy, maybe with a large boiling pot I could scald the chickens before plucking them.

I'd also like to improve our water storage and usage, not sure what or how I'll do it though, but I'd like to use more rainwater on the garden if possible and work out how much I actually use in the summer.


As little away from here as possible! I want as much as my work as possible to be based here or at the furthest the village and surrounding areas.

I also need to see the writing and some of the other things I do as work. I'm terrible for thinking anything that doesn't have something I can see and hold at the end of the day isn't work! I guess it's in part to the way I was brought up, but also because I've always done practical jobs!

Garden and trees

The garden I had in 2017 was great from production point of view. I'd love to get back to that stage where I'm happy to walk someone round it! I'd like to grow a similar amount of veg but experiment with some grains or pseudo-grains to try growing staples and animal feeds. I need to increase the number of calories I produce here.

I want to take the seed saving more seriously. In 2017 I did a great job of saving seed but last year everything went to pot. It's a great feeling having a number of plants saved but it doesn't take very long to undo all that hard work. I want to work on having a number of plants that I save the seed from year on year for different purposes. I love saving for the seed swap and I want to start giving back to the heritage seed library, with ambitions of becoming a seed guardian at some point, so I need to prove my worth first!

Get some more fruit trees and bushes in the ground. We all love fruit here so it would be great to produce more, ideally a new soft fruit area where I could get in and pick it all would be great.

So many jobs need finishing off. I need to hang gates, fix the roof on my workshop and clear my yard. The main one is just to keep the place looking a bit tidier though. It does look messy and it shouldn't really.

I'd also like to apply for permission to build a garage where an old tin shack is.. This would provide some more undercover space and be a great area where I could try my hand at learning some mechanic skills to renovate something, maybe with the kids if they show interest, or I force them...

More undercover growing would be great but not sure time or budget will allow that one!


I'd like to make my chickens more self sustaining. Rather than buying in meat birds as day olds, I'd love to have a flock here that I could breed meat birds from, whether from a cross or pure bred. Then I wouldn't have to do batches and they could forage for food more.

I'd also like to have some reliable broody hens that I could trust to hatch out for me rather than using a incubator and heat lamp/pad.

Also resist taking on anything else!


I want to really increase the amount of writing I do. Its something I really enjoy and find therapeutic. Hopefully I'll write a lot more for Country Smallholding magazine this year, but I'd also love to write more on the blog as well as to start writing a book - the idea has been buzzing round my head for years now!

Aikido has been great over the last 9 months or so, I'd love to keep up with this as something I enjoy. It's very hard to think of anything else when practicing and it's good for fitness and increases confidence a little with self defence. IT's also highly social with a weekly visit to the pub afterwards and a good chat surrounded by friends.

Walking is also some thing I want to keep doing, we've been on some nice ones with the family and I'd love to combine this more with learning about nature and what's around us, foraging when we can and just enjoying being outside, taking my eldest "proper" camping (no tent) would be great as well.

So that's some aims for this year. Nothing hugely specific this year but lots of things to work towards. I'm sure there are many more I'll think of when I hit the publish button!

If you've set yourself a ambition this year what is it and what are you doing to work towards it?


  1. Great that you view writing as work Kev. My blog and writing is so important to me.

    1. Cheers Dave,
      I love writing and I do get a very small income from writing a few things for magazines now so I really want to push this and become a much better writer - I guess through practice! So want to write a book as well, hopefully going to start on that one this year! We shall see though, things always get in the way!

  2. Kev, this is a great post. I love your goals, especially those that hit at the heart of why we homestead in the first place, i.e. family, friends, and community. It's so easy to lose those in the long list of projects to finish and do.

    1. I think it's easy to focus on the "self" part of self sufficiency but at my heart I'm a very social person and love being part of my community. At the end of the day I try to do this stuff to show my kids and I want them to see that sharing it with others is fun as well.

  3. I’m always trying to make my birds more self sustaining- not easy in a relatively small space.

    We’ve been thinking about a pizza oven for agars but I’m moving towards a tandoor type oven for the same reason as you. I’ve seen some based on clay flower pots and chimneys that look pretty straight forward and that work on a rocket stove principle.

    1. Yeah, the birds is an interesting one. Not only do I buy them in but I also import at least 90% of their food. Something I'd like to change. But it's a hard one, how many could I support, how much land would I need to dedicate to producing their food? What kind of chickens live best off the land? Trouble is I can't even free range them these days due to foxes and dog walkers.

    2. I read an interesting piece by a bloke for his permaculture ?degree saying invertebrates were the way to go for protein, moisture content and chickens preference, and to provide habitat for them. He was very keen on bamboo too.

    3. The way our farming rules work here in the UK I don't think you're allowed to breed anything to feed it to anything else. maybe okay on a very small scale but if anyone got wind of it could land you in trouble. what did he do with the bamboo? I hate the stuff as we had it at our last place and it would come up everywhere, but there are lots of different types and I'm sure that was just the wrong one.

    4. Not breeding (though you can breed mealworms so not sure where invertebrates generally come under that legislation?) but providing habitat to encourage natives.
      I've linked to his site in this and he links to more of his own posts.
      I found it interesting as the majority of info on the net seems to come from places with a very different climate to us.

  4. I have no idea yet what I can grow here yet. My main goal is to get something out of the ground. I am going to try late garlic and onions. There will be potatoes in grow bags as it will be quicker this year. I am hoping that there will be a large green house. I have seen leeks, kale, cabbage and sprouts in a garden here. apart from this one garden I see no one else trying to grow anything. Lots of moss. I am thinking raised beds with cold frame tops? Everyone moans about moss growing quicker than seedlings. and we arent talking the short dark green stuff that you get on the roof of your house down south. This is long, you can comb it. I am utterly perplexed by it. no grass in the lawns just long moss. I have never seen anything like it before. This will be my main challenge. I also need to work on my stock piles. We have to fell trees, fire wood for about 3 years. Will have to be cut and stacked which means we also need some places to keep it and some how to keep it dry but ventilated. This will be the my main 2 things, wood to burn and the raised beds.

    Having moved my food stock pile is completely none existent and this bothers me as we are both contractors and could have it terminated at any point, especially as we are hurtling towards Brexit and companies are worried.

    What about a post on stock piling again. You post and I will post.

    1. Yeah, a stock pilling post is long over due again I think. I will do something soon I think. Maybe a £50 stock up shop and show what you can get? What do you think would make a good post? We keep good stocks but not much meat other than what we grow, struggle to find good tinned meat these days! Or maybe I'm being fussy.

      As for your new garden if you're competing with anything else growing (weeds here, moss for you) then I'd start as much as you can in modules and transplant when they can out grow everything. That's what I do here, The only crops I sow direct are carrots, parsnips and radish. Everything else gets a few weeks head start in the greenhouse before planting out (or a window sill). I don't have raised beds here because I have plenty of top soil so I'd only ever go tot he effort of making them if I had low top soil or a lot of spare soil dug from somewhere else I wanted to use it up. Ones I had at my last house dried out far too quickly as it was sandy soil. Here I have a few in wet areas to try to increase drainage. Try some axlethene pipe hoops and flease for cheap and easy protection for you crops maybe? great way to give some cover and the flease is really cheap. I'd love some proper cold frames though - I'd love the brick ones found in old country houses in a dream world, although no idea where I'd put them!

  5. Yeah Aikido! I loved practicing and teaching for ten years. I miss it but with my back hardware and double knee replacements I had to give it up. Hope you can go for a long time.


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