In this episode I'm looking back at the year (2021), sharing some of my favorite takeaways and even sharing future plans for 2022. I’m covering topics from decluttering month by month, breeding cows, ordering chicks, whether we’ll be hosting more in-person workshops on our homestead, and how I’m partnering with The Homestead Documentary Project.
Thanks to my loyal listeners, the Pioneering Today Podcast is currently in the top 5 podcasts for Home & Garden and has had over 3.5 million downloads! I hadn't checked in with those stats in quite a while and I was blown away by that, so a big thank you to all my listeners!
My biggest desire is that this podcast is a place where people learn skills to live a modern pioneer lifestyle of self-sufficiency.
In This Episode
- Seasonal living – Flowing with the seasons and not just doing something because “we've always done it that way”, plus knowing when it's time to bring something back into our lives.
- Decluttering and organizing the home – Over the Christmas break I'm going to be decluttering the master bathroom and closet with my daughter. For more on decluttering month by month, check out my podcast episode with Traci Lynn.
- Are we getting a bull? – Our plans for livestock on the homestead and whether it makes sense financially and timewise to purchase a bull (plus when to breed cows).
- Ordering meat chicks – after my interview with Joel Salatin on maximizing your homestead for profit and production, my husband and I decided we would do our first homestead butchering workshop where we taught a live workshop on how to butcher chickens. Those who came to the workshop were also able to leave with their own pasture-raised chickens. This coming year we'll be offering two live workshops, as well as launching a poultry CSA.
- Are we getting pigs again? – Last year we raised American Guinea Hogs (listen to that podcast to see how we liked them and listen to this podcast episode on why we're not getting the American Guinea Hogs again).
- Butchering workshop – Discussing whether or not we will host a live butchering workshop later in 2022. Listen to hear how you can be involved in this!
- Alternative herbal remedies – What would you do if your medicine became unavailable? This isn't far-fetched. Listen to this podcast to hear how you can be prepared with herbal medicine you can grow yourself.
- Medicinal flower garden – I'm currently ordering seeds for medicinal plants so I can host an in-person herbal workshops this summer on when and how to harvest medicinal herbs as well as how to use them. If you can't make it to the in-person workshop, you can also check out my herbal course Practical Home Herbalism where you can learn all these things here.
- The Homestead Documentary Project – I got so excited after interviewing Carrie Wilson, the founder and creator of the Homestead Documentary, that our conversation continued for weeks after we were done! It ended up with me partnering with this project because I'm so passionate about modern homesteading reaching into so many more homes. The term “homesteading” doesn't mean what it used to, and people are practicing “homesteading” even in urban homes!
- Verse of the week – Psalm 56: 10-13
Hey pioneers, and welcome to episode number 329. Today's episode, we are going to be looking back at this past year, 2021, and going to be sharing some of my favorite episodes, favorite takeaways, as well as some of our plans and things that we are going to be doing in the next couple of weeks over winter break, or Christmas break, as you would call it, as well as moving into the new year 2022.
Welcome to the Pioneering Today podcast. I'm your host, Melissa K Norris, fifth generation homesteader and the founder of melissaknorris.com, the Pioneering Today Academy, this podcast, as well as the YouTube channel and all of my different courses, all the homesteading things that a content creator and online educator, I guess, for lack of a better word, uses and has at their disposal. I am so excited that you are joining me here on the podcast. The podcast, honestly has one of the most nearest and dearest places to my heart. And I just looked, I had not looked at this recently, thanks to you guys there are over 3,500,000 downloads of the Pioneering Today podcast, which is just incredible and so exciting to know that so many others are interested in living this self-sufficient and healthier lifestyle.
So let us get to this episode. I think it's really important to look back at your year, I think from several different lenses, shall we say, or aspects. Not only from a homesteading standpoint, though that is also important, but also from pulling back and the overall view of your life in general. So what I mean by that is I like to look at the past year and see what are the things that we really enjoyed doing? What are the things that made us super excited that we cannot wait to do again? And what are the things that maybe used to bring us joy? And I do this both on an individual level, but then also as a family level too. And really just kind of take an accounting, basically an audit of all of the things. And you can do this obviously by season or any time of year, but for a lot of us, when the calendar year changes over is when a lot of us will go through and do this.
But I think it's really important to do, it because we do have seasons in life, and oftentimes we will get stuck, so to speak, in just doing the things that we have always done simply because we are running off of habit and we're not really looking at how are they serving us now in this season of life? And I think we also, sometimes we think if we stop doing something right now, then that means it's forever. But that's not true either. There are some things that we have stopped doing for a certain period of time. Maybe it's just for a year, maybe it's for a season, and then we'll bring it back on when we realize, you know what? I actually really did miss that, or we've got the capacity to bring this in again. It doesn't mean that it's gone forever, but I think it's really important that we do this. For example, I was in a local Bible study with my mom and a couple of other ladies, and we did the Bible study together for years.
But jobs for some of the other ladies changed, schedules changed and houses changed where we were meeting, and so it just didn't work out for us to do the Bible study together any longer. And it's been actually, I think now it's been a couple of years, there was just life circumstances for several people involved that it just didn't work anymore for us to get together. But seasons changed and some things have went past, and it's something that we would all like to visit and see if we could come back to in some type of a capacity or another. But we took a break for a couple of years. So that's why I say all aspects of life, of course with homesteading. And I'll walk you through because this is the Pioneering Today podcast and we are definitely homestead focus. I'm going to kind of walk you through how we're evaluating, give you some resources for homesteading things that we did this past year, what we're going to be doing this coming year, what that may mean for you and that type of a thing.
But I think making sure you're looking at all the aspects and doing this is really great. Now, as we come up on the holidays and moving right into January, the past couple of years, this is actually the second year in a row, I take off the week of Christmas and then the week of New Year's. Now I know I worked a day job for over 18 years as a pharmacy technician, and the only day we got off was Christmas day and we got New Year's day off. Other than that, we were working Christmas Eve, we were working New Year's Eve, we were working the day after Christmas, all of the things. So I say that because I know what it means to not be able to take off a good chunk of time, and I just want you to know I have been in your place. But I would still be able to find weekends or on my days off and would try I to still do this. But if possible, it is a wonderful thing to be able to have a larger chunk off.
And so I know some companies, like my husband's work, they just shut down and they take off the week from Christmas to New Year's. So with that preface, I am excited because my daughter and I, she loves to organize. She loves to do organization for other people, which is quite comical actually, because both of her grandmothers know that she loves to organize and to declutter, and so they will have her come down and help them with projects. And mom's like, okay, I'm taking advantage of this too. Or not advantage of it, she actually will get, they'll pay her for help and that type of a thing. Though she is very generous and will just go and help because she likes to do it too. But I am having her go through all of my linen closets, and then all of the cupboards and drawers in our master bathroom. And so it's really fun. We've been looking online for ideas on organization to get inspired and how we might want to do things.
And so I'm really looking forward it because one, it really needs to be done. But secondly, I think it's going to be a great bonding time for us to work together, and also really see where her natural talents shine and for her to be able to put those to use. So I really like to do, especially after Christmas and or before the first of the year, whatever, around this time of year do decluttering. Because most of the time we get some new things as Christmas gifts, but it's a great time to go through and be like, did I use this at all this year? When was the last time I used this? Should I keep it and do decluttering? And we have got some awesome decluttering and organization podcast episodes in the vault, but they're available for you to use. I should say past episodes. First up is number 286.
This was actually the first episode of 2021. It was with Tracy Lynn, and it's talking about decluttering your home month by month. So she gives a month by month plan. So it's not overwhelming, walks you through how to attack it so that as you come up to the end of the year, it's all in bite size chunks, your home is decluttered and organized. So that is a great one to listen to. In fact, whenever I'm doing household chores, or even sometime homestead chores, I listen to a podcast. And oftentimes if I am organizing or decluttering, I'll listen to podcasts on that specific subject. If I'm out in the garden, oftentimes I like to listen to garden or livestock. So kind of by topically, and sometimes just other topics in general. But it is a great time to listen to those podcast episodes and also put them into action.
Now, the next thing is we kind of look at the house and some projects and things that we're doing there, but we also are looking ahead with our livestock planning. So if you are planning on getting livestock, especially for meat, meaning plans on butchering it and you are not breeding yourself, meaning you don't have, if you're doing pigs that you need to purchase piglets, you don't have a sow and a boar. If it's looking at chickens, if you're not breeding your own chickens, but you need to get meat birds, turkeys, cattle, and even if you don't have your cow and a bull, like we have our herd of cows and then some younger heifers, heifers just mean they haven't been bread yet, they're too young, but we need to look at and decide, are we going to get a bull this year?
We're thinking of possibly doing a bull sharing, which you're like, what? So we've been really fortunate that we've got enough people around us and close family members, et cetera who have larger herds than us. Because if you have a size of a herd like we do, we have about six cows, which actually we have three cows that we're breeding, but then their babies we butcher when they're two years old, so every year they're being bred so that we always have three cows to butcher each year. So that means though that for three cows, it doesn't make sense to have a bull for just three cows. Financially, it does not make makes sense. Time wise, it doesn't make sense. And really that bull with only three cows, they are going to be ... He's just standing around. He doesn't have a lot of work to do.
And so we have been able to either take our cows to, my brother has a bull, he has a much larger herd than us. My dad usually has a larger herd, though he's looking at downsizing this year. So we've got some neighbors that have bulls. So basically we've been able to either bring a bull on our property and we'll feed it and take care of it while we have him, which most people love, because like I said, the bull, once he has done the breeding of the herd he's at, then you're just feeding this animal for most of the months out of the year. So we have never had to have our own bull. However, there are constraints with doing that, because you have to wait until they are done with the bull and they're picking when they want their cows bred. And a cow gestation period is nine months, very similar to that of a woman.
And so you do want to time it by your climate on when you are breeding your cows so that they are not having their calves in the worst winter or the worst months out of the year weather wise. And there's some leeway in that, especially within our climate, there's a range of months that it's fine for the calves to be born, et cetera. But you are at the discretion of the person who actually owns the bull, because they're going to be picking their dates. And then there's getting the bull and moving it. There's just some more logistics that come up with it. But in our case with such having such a small herd, it's been worth it. But as things change and evolve, which is why we're talking about reflecting and looking at things. We also have some other friends who do have small herds now and they don't have a bull either.
And then also, looking at how do you want to possibly improve and or change the genetics of your herd? So looking at breeds, looking at the cows you have, and the bulls and what you want to bring into your program. For us, we do beef cattle. So looking at that, all of those things. And obviously you need good stock with a cow, but you also need and to have a good bull as well. And so just deciding, and then inbreeding. You don't want to be doing inbreeding. So depending upon when the bull that people have, when it was bred back. And so now we've got some cows that are coming up and so we need to make sure that we're using a different bull, I should say heifers, that haven't been bred yet, if we decide to breed them, then they need to be bred to a different bull. So there's all of those factors to consider, and those are some things we're looking at.
So we are thinking of talking with some neighbors who have smaller herds like us and looking at the possibility of getting a bull that we all share. So kind of looking at what is that going to look like? Is everybody just going to take individual months for feeding? Are we going to put our money together and pool for the hay bill just for the bull, and then take turns obviously with him in with the different herds for breeding, but also over the winter months, that type of a thing. So there's some logistics to definitely work out, but it's something that we're looking at and considering doing this year. And if we move forward with it, of course I will share how that works, what we did and all of the things that we learn as we go through that process, I guess being shared owners of a bull, because that's not something that we've really done in the past. But definitely just looking at ways and things to meet our needs, as well as those of our neighbors and friends, et cetera around us.
Which brings me to looking at talking about animals and what you're going to be bringing in and planning that out, because you will need to contact, if you're not breeding them yourself, you need to get on the list, if you don't have a list of a current breeder or a current place where you're maybe getting them from locally. You're going to want to put in pre-orders at hatcheries if you're looking at your poultry so that they can make sure that they have got enough eggs in production for hatching out for the different orders. So they really appreciate pre-orders, that type of a thing. So looking at last year and now, we are definitely doing our meat birds again. And last year, after going to the Home Centers of America's Tennessee conference and then getting to interview Joel Salatin, which that is an amazing episode, was very pivotal for us, and that's episode number 308, and it's Maximizing Your Homestead for Profit and Production with Joel Salatin. Highly recommend listening to that episode.
But after listening to that episode, my husband and I decided that we were going to do our very first homestead butchering workshop, meaning we've butchered our own chickens for years, but we brought in meat birds, extra meat birds beyond what we would use for our own consumption, and we taught live chicken butchering workshop. We did one. And we also then did a poultry CSA model where people in our local community could purchase the birds and they could get pasture raised, homegrown, whole meat birds from us. That was really exciting. We loved it. And we have decided that we're going to expand that, and we're going to be offering two live chicken butchering workshops here on our homestead, but also launching a poultry CSA. So we kind of did it as a test last year to see one, if people would come for a live chicken butchering workshop here on our homestead.
And secondly, if there were enough people in our community that would want to purchase ... We're not certified organic because we're so small, there's no need, but we use organic practices, I only feed organic feed as our supplemental feed that were on grass and moved every single day to fresh grass out on the pasture, and if they would be interested in purchasing birds from us in that type of grow environment, and then also getting them in bulk, coming and picking them up, et cetera. And yes, they did. And so we are very excited to be offering that, which also means that we are having to get our orders into the hatchery and planning out when we're going to be raising them, putting the dates so that we can get that up on the website and announced to people. So for those who obviously who live locally and want to buy into the CSA poultry and get their meat birds that way, we're kind of looking to see if we're going to be adding an egg element into that and just kind of roughing that out.
So that's some things that we have planned for these next couple of weeks to go over and get that up and ready to announce and go live so that people can get signed up for that. But also getting our orders into the hatchery. As I said, planning out the dates of the actual butchering workshop and then the pickup of the butcher chickens for CSA customers. And then we are deciding if we're doing pigs again this year. We took last year off because we did the American Guinea hogs, which you can listen to that episode. I'll have it in the show notes, which you can access at melissaknorris.com/329, because this is episode number 329. But we butchered in January of last year, and so we didn't raise pigs again because we had just gotten all of our meat. So we're deciding if we are going to raise pigs this year. And we're going to go back the Hereford, we're not going to do the American Guinea hogs this year. But we have to find breeder, local breeder to get the Hereford, which are still a heritage breed.
But there's some really fun upcoming episodes where we're going to talk more about pigs, and even within the heritage breed, your difference between lard pigs versus meat pigs, all kinds of fun stuff. So I'll try not to give too much of the information away that's going to be in that episode because it's really awesome. But we're going to go back to the Herefords or a similar breed to that. And we are looking at the possibility of offering a pig butchering live workshop here on our homestead, so that we're really excited about. We have butchered our pigs in the past, but we have done them when they were smaller, whole pigs for a pig roast. So not the actual cutting out, like this is how you cut out your bacon, this is how you cut your pork chops, this is how you cut your roast and this is how you do ... All of that.
That is not something that we have done yet or have learned. And so we're looking at doing a butchering workshop, bringing someone on that is going to teach us, but then also opening that up to others to come and learn right alongside us and doing it in a live environment. So we're very excited about that possibility. I don't have all the details nailed out so I can't say it's 100% yes. But we live in Washington state, and so if that is something that you would be interested in attending, it would most likely be in October of 2022. And it would be a paid workshop because we would be having to pay someone to come and teach us. So it would be a paid workshop. But if that's something that you would be interested in doing and you listen to this episode, let me know, because if there is enough interest, then we are seriously going to look into the logistics of making that happen.
So we're excited to continue to do more live stuff here on our homestead, not only in teaching other homesteaders the skillsets, but also being able to offer more things to our local community in the end and or finished product. So that was all really stemmed from going to the Homesteaders of America's conference, the Tennessee event last spring, and doing that podcast episode that I mentioned with Joel Salatin on Maximizing Your Homestead for Profit and Production. Which leads me naturally to, as that begin to evolve, and if you listen to episode number 324, and that is What if Your Medicine Isn't Available? And that was looking at using alternative herbal medicine, using natural remedies and being able to produce it yourself, because my husband came down ... I'll just kind of try to give a really brief encapsulation of that episode. Highly recommend that you go listen to it though.
But anyways, my husband came down with something, and it was in September and I hadn't restocked all of our cold and flu herbs and or remedies, et cetera, because I normally don't really have those going until about October. It was actually the end of August, I take it back. It was the first part of September, which is still summer and that's not normally when anyone around here comes down with anything. And it happened to be on a weekend. And I went to go pull out some of the herbs that I would normally use and that he would use in that situation with the symptoms that he had, and realized I didn't have them in stock. I had ran out. We had ran out and I did not have them back in stock. And it wasn't something that we were growing or I was able to harvest at that moment in time.
And it was on a Saturday night, and so the next day was obviously Sunday. And my husband said, "well, could you just go into town and grab these?" And I realized that, no, I couldn't, because literally within a two hour radius of me, there was no place I could even go get it. It just simply isn't stuff that's stocked in regular stores. It wasn't something I could just go get. And so I had this epiphany and realized that I needed to be able to grow more of these items on our homestead that will fit in with your climate. There are going to be certain things that I still will use medicinally wise, that can't be grown in our climate that I will have to bring in from an outside source. And I think that that's fine, because I can support other people as they're supporting me. There is no homestead that can produce absolutely every single thing that you are ever going to need.
And so being able to do as much as you can, but then being able to support other people, I think is a wonderful and beautiful thing. So with that being said, I have been spending the last few months ordering seeds to start the plants that we don't have. Sometimes that's been a few life plants. Sometimes it's live rhizomes or roots, et cetera. But really looking at what are the things that we need to have on hand that will grow in our climate that I'm not already growing? And coming up with a plan. We actually already prepped the beds. Some of the stuff is in the ground. Some of it I can't actually start and plant due to frost dates and that type of a thing until later. But we are going to be having a medicinal flower garden. And we are going to open that up, is our goal, this coming spring and summer to do live workshops so that people can see the space that's needed.
It's not as much as you would think. We're literally just doing it in a section of our front yard. So that people can learn, these are what these plants are. This is how you use them. This is how you harvest them. This is what you turn them into. These are their properties. These are their interactions. These are the things that you need to be aware of. This is when you shouldn't use it. All of that part, be able to do that in a hands on environment here on our homestead. I have a full on herbal course that people can access online, because not everybody is going to be able to travel. I completely understand that. So you can check out my Practical Home Herbalism for Colds and Flu course that is available. But then the excess of what we're not using for our own consumption, to be able to offer that locally to the community.
So extra elder berries, extra peppermint and herbs for different herbal steams, different tinctures, different tea blends, just all of the things that you can in use. Infused oils. Can you tell I'm getting super excited? We want to be able to offer those just in local to neighbors and people, because I realized I don't have a source for this, that means nobody else who lives around me does either, unless they're growing it themselves. And not everybody's to that point yet. But if we are going to be growing enough for us, then it's really easy for me to put in a few extra plants and have some extra to be able to offer to our community, because there isn't this resource for us locally. So anyways, I'm super excited about that. So that is things that we have planned for 2022 coming along.
And then the other thing that I am excited about ... Oh, and if I didn't, that was episode number 324. I can't remember if I actually said that. But we will have all of these listed, so you can just go bump, bump, bump and click links in the show notes so that you can go and listen to these episodes. But the other thing, and sometimes this is things that just take you by surprise. I'm kind of like, you always have to leave room for God's surprises in life, because there are things that you just never would have dreamed of, or knew that were going to come your way, or were going to be something that would evolve that do. And so I'm super excited, because by the time this releases, we will have announced publicly that I am coming on board as a partner with the Homestead Documentary Project.
So if you like, I have no idea what the Homestead Documentary is, go and listen to episode number 326. But after I recorded that episode and interview with Carrie Wilson, who is the founder and creator of the Homestead Documentary, we talked for a very long time after we had stopped recording, and then we continued the conversation over our phones. And it just, I was just so passionate about what she was doing and knowing there are so many more lives that could be touched. There is so much impact that can be made, both for those of us already in the homesteading community, so if you're listening to this, you're part of the homesteading community already, but also those who are, they haven't even taken that step yet, or maybe they don't really even understand the full concept of modern homesteading. And the reason I say that is because modern homesteading is obviously different than homesteads of old. We live in a modern world.
You're listening to a podcast episode. We have online, we've got this information that we've never had before. We have in a lot of ways, and in some ways nothing has changed, human society, we're all still humans. But in a lot of ways, it has changed since the days of old, where you went and improved upon a property for so many years, the original Homestead Act at least in the United States. And if you improved upon that property and you stuck it out for so many years, then you got that land for free from the government. So that has changed. There are no more free homes since free land is not being given out anymore. But I think that there is a lot of people who they know deep down inside that getting back to some of the basic skillsets, to growing a garden, even if it's a small garden, to learning how to cook more of their own food from scratch, they know that they want that, but they're not sure what that looks like.
And they think that it means that they have to leave where they are right now and go live on a bunch of acreage on a farm way out in the middle of nowhere in order to do it. And that is not true. That is true for some people, but that is not true. And so I would love to be able to highlight all of the different ways that we homestead, because nobody's homestead looks the same, nor should it. Everybody's homestead looks different all over the country, all over the world. Some are in urban situations, and some homesteads are focusing more on one thing other than another at that period of time. But being able to bring that to people and to bring this greater awareness so that people realize, I can do this no matter where am right now at this moment in time, in this place that I'm at, I can begin implementing some of these things, because look, these people are doing it too.
And then also fitting them into a community, seeing all of these different homesteaders, and realizing that we all have so much in common and that we can also help one another, even if we aren't living in exact proximity as a geographic neighbor. So anyways, sorry, I went off on a little bit of a scroll there. But I am super, super excited to be coming on board and partnering with Carrie. And our hope and goal is to really be able to grow the Homestead Documentary into a much, much larger outreach than it currently has just to inspire and to bring so many more people into the homesteading community, but also get them to see that there's so much more possibility than they realize is there and that they can do it. So kind of the inspiration, but then also the push behind it.
So anyways, I am super, super excited to be partnering with Carrie and to be able to grow that and to reach so many other people. So I will have more details as 2022 rolls out talking about season two, and even season one and how you'll be able to be a part of that. And anyways, I am really excited. There's so many things coming in 2022, and so many good things that are coming. So that is kind of our plans and things that we're looking at for 2022. There's a few more things that I can't share with you just quite yet. But those are some of our exciting things that we have happening. And also, hopefully giving you tools so that you can kind of look at and see it like what we're planning and how that has been staged out, and using those previous episodes that I shared with you so that you can put them to advantage, and also apply that for your homestead and your upcoming year.
I will not be having any new episodes that come out for the rest of December, but we will be back with a bang the first part of January. I've got some amazing episodes that I'm very, very excited to share with you guys along with more information. So I hope that you have a fabulous holiday season and new year. Thank you so much for being a listener and part of the homesteading community and the Pioneering Today community. I really, really am honored and touched and humbled that so many of you have joined me on this journey. And for our verse of the week, I'm actually going to be sharing a passage in Psalms. And it is Psalm 56. It was part of my Bible reading this morning. And it is verse 10 through 13. This is the amplified translation of the Bible.
In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God have I put my trust and confident reliance, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Your vows are up on me, oh God. I will render praise to you and give you thank offerings, for you have delivered my life from death, yes, and my feet from falling that I may walk before God in the light of life and of the living.
And I wanted to share those versus. The entire Psalm is great. It's actually a fairly short Psalm, it's only 13 versus for the total one. But as I was reading that, just reminds me of how amazing God is. And that word amazing and awesome, we tend to use that a lot in the words that we speak and sometimes they kind of lose their significance. But just remembering that no matter what happens, because even though the best of plans, we don't know what tomorrow holds. We don't know what 2022 holds. But remembering that no matter what it holds, that we can put our trust in God, that we will not be afraid, that he is ultimately in control. And no matter what happens, we are to be praising him and thanking him for the things that he has given us. And that no matter what happens in this life, we have been delivered from death by Jesus Christ dying on the cross and raising from the dead.
And if we confess with our mouth and believe with our heart that Jesus is our savior, then that means that we have ever lasting life after this one. And that we are to walk before God in this life, in the light of life and of the living with praise and thanks giving. So my friends, I leave you with that until we meet again here on the podcast in January. So blessings and Mason jars for now.
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