Wednesday 1 January 2020

How Did I Do Against My Self-Sufficiency Goals 2019?

Okay, so those of you that have followed my blog for any length of time will know that each year I set myself a list of highly optimistic goals for the year ahead and then review it when the year ends.

So here’s how I did (or how I think I did)–

I said that this year I just wanted to try and maintain what I did for the community and I’ve done that. I’m loving being a Beaver Scout leader and I’ve certainly dedicated more than a few hours to this cause, with some really fun weekends away. My younger daughter has now joined scouts as well so she’s feeling the benefit as well.
I truly believe that kids need less school and more scouts, my eldest daughter was having a bit of a tough time at school in the summer and scouts was the one thing she really looked forward to each week, in fact when we broke up for summer she was just disappointed that there would be no scouts for 6 weeks! 

I’m still running the playgroup in the village, although the countdown clock is on this. It’s been a big part of my life but as my youngest starts school this year it will draw to a natural close for me.

The school did receive my help this year but on my terms as it can be tricky at times where things are expected of you. Instead I ran some bush craft lessons for a few classes which I really enjoyed and went in to do a few volunteering jobs around the garden. I offered to help run a club if a teacher would organise it, but unfortunately no one got back to me so I’ve pushed that time into scouts instead.

Friends and Family
I think we’ve made lots of effort his year, having a bigger kitchen has made us eat more socially and invite more people round which has been great fun.

The kids basically lived outside during the summer and so often the TV was just never even turned on. One thing I’ve really enjoyed is them having regular play dates each week where a friend comes round to play. It’s so lovely to watch them play and they never leave anyone out of their games, one night they played “Harry Potter” for five hours straight with one friend, while she dad and I chatted, had a beer and I cooked a big tea for us all. It’s become that lovely social house I always dreamed of.
We did manage a bit of time away in the summer and had a great family holiday.

Building Projects
I’m made some headway with this but I’m probably not where I wanted to be. I got the pantry finished, as well as upstairs being further along. 

But everywhere I look there are jobs unfinished. The trouble is balancing work at home alongside work that pays enough for me to do work at home! One day we’ll be finished here and I’ll have to find some other jobs.

Off Grid
Very little here unfortunately. Having the pantry in reduces our need to shop so often so I guess that counts towards it but otherwise not done much. We’ve done what we normally do like making our own compost, using rainwater where we can and using the composting toilet as much as possible but I’ve not made much headway anywhere else.

I’ve pretty much done what I set out to do here. Although I’m very much part time when it comes to carpentry more of what I do is now in my workshop. I had a great summer here where I could eat as a family each day as I was working from home, making things to be assembled elsewhere. I've also been making lots and selling things online which works well with my lifestyle

I’ve also had a regular writing gig with Country Smallholding Magazine where I write an article on machinery each month. This has been a great experience and great to see something that I used to do as a hobby pay me a bit of income. It’s also developed my skills as a writer as I’ve had to learn to write in a very different style to get them published.

I’ve also had the opportunity of some random work teaching bushcraft in the summer, which I loved and found very rewarding. I think having enough confidence to take on that work when it came up was due largely to working with scouts and learning how to teach children through them.
Doing the talks for garden clubs (and Hellens Garden festival) has been great this year. A little extra income from something I really enjoy. It’s also been quite the learning experience as some of the clubs have been huge so it’s really boosted my confidence to be able to speak to all these gardeners and be able to hold my own with them!

Garden and Trees
Ah well, not my proudest gardening year but certainly better than 2018. Not that that takes much doing! We were productive with some veg but I tried to tame a bit of the garden and it tried to fight back – and won! Still I got lots done, some new veg beds in and the frame for a polytunnel up.

I also started a very experimental soft fruit garden that is slowly growing in the bottom of the orchard. I’m not sure how this will work out but should be fun watching it grow.

Not much headway on this one unfortunately, other than the polytunnel frame, which will get some plastic on it this year!
I haven’t done anything about applying for planning permission for a garage and will shelve that idea until we have the budget for it.

I’ve not moved forward at all with this. We brought in day old chicks for meat, on the request of my daughter who was desperate to do it again this year. But we’ve not done anything towards a more self-sustaining chicken flock. 

Maybe next year we’ll buy an incubator and then can start from there!
Not having the sheep has been a huge weight off my shoulders though and allowed me to concentrate on other things. I currently have no regrets about selling them when we did.

I almost feel a little selfish with how much effort I’ve put into “self” this year, but I feel much better for it (well until I got flu, got better, fainted and broke my jaw a few days ago).
Someone said that how you treat your body in your 40’s will be how you grow old, well I wanted to make sure I start in my 30’s (I’m 36) so I’ve taken great steps to get into much better shape. I do a manual job anyway but it doesn’t get me out of breath like hard exercise does.
I’ve kept the Aikido up twice a week which has been great for body control and socially as I’ve made lots of friends and being a gregarious character sometimes it’s just what I need after spending the day alone in my workshop.

One thing I’m really proud of is taking up swimming. I could always swim, but it was very much – head above water old man breast stroke. I kept watching the kids at their swimming lesson and thinking “if they fell in could I save them” in my head I thought yes, but in my heart I knew it not to be true. So I enrolled in some lessons back in May and I’ve not looked back. I now swim twice a week (or did before the jaw thing) and can comfortably swim for 45 minutes straight or a mile in an hours lesson. I feel so much better for it as well. It was great in the summer where a group of friends always hires a local pool and for once I was in there swimming along the bottom and messing around like the other days rather than hanging back like I did the year before.
I’m hopeful that swimming is something I’ll do for a long time to come. I often look at the older men and women in the pool who are as fit as a fiddle and I think that’s how I want to be when I’m older! And getting into good habits now is essential. It’s easy to let fitness slip past you when you have a busy active lifestyle, so I feel better for finding a way to include it. Although getting up at 6 on a Saturday morning to go for a swim isn’t always easy!
As I said in the work section I’ve managed to write more and having a monthly deadline has certainly forced me to take writing more seriously, although at times I may have neglected the blog a little bit, it’s still a hobby I enjoy and want to continue with.

So that’s my round up from my goals of 2019.

I’m going to write some for 2020 but I already know it’s going to be a great year!

Anyone else seeing how they did against their goals for 2019? I’d love to see them if you drop a link in the comments.

Or anyone setting themselves some targets for 2020 or the next decade?


  1. Kev, I think you did very well! I love that your goals are so well rounded. Maybe instead of "self" you could call it "health" if you like. :) I agree working on an off-grid goal is the hardest, especially when there are infrastructure, building, and repair projects to be done.

  2. I once sent an article to one of those smallholding magazines and I received an email saying: We don't do humour!

    Good luck with your writing Kev.

  3. I'm so excited that I've stumbled across your blog! I am excited to browse through your past posts and to read your current ones. My son is in Cub Scouts here in Idaho and I fully agree with you about the benefits of scouts. I had to pull him out of public school last year and started homeschooling and scouts has been a huge benefit for him.

    Also, I'm 35 and have been thinking a lot about my health and getting older. My husband and I started a 40 day fast from sugar and flour today and have the goal of being more intentional about getting good strenuous exercise most days of the week. Health is so important and getting older definitely wakes you up!

    Thank you for sharing your goals!


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