When we sit down and start to plan out our year, it can be very easy to quickly get overwhelmed and feel like there's no way we'll be able to get everything done. But that's usually because we haven't made a plan!
Remember those Staples commercials where they had the “Easy Button?” Isn't that what so many of us are looking for in life?
Sometimes we come into this homesteading lifestyle looking for a simpler life. However, we confuse “simple” with “easy,” and this life is anything but easy.
So how do we make goals and plan out the year while living in the moment but also looking toward the next season(s)?
That's what we're discussing in today's podcast (Pioneering Today Podcast Episode #375). So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let's chat about goal planning without the overwhelm.
My daughter has been getting a lot more colds this year (and I've heard this from many people, no matter where they live). She doesn't love taking tinctures, as many kids don't, but I was curious if Azure had any adaptogen herb gummies.
With a quick search on their website, I saw they had ashwagandha gummies. After ordering some for my daughter and myself, we've both enjoyed taking the herbs this way, and they've really been helping keep her healthy.
This podcast is sponsored by Azure Standard, but all opinions about how great of a company they are are my own. If you'd like to try Azure Standard, they're offering a 10% discount for first time customers on orders of $50 or more. Head over to Azure Standard and use code “Pioneering10” at checkout.
In This Episode:
Here are the topics I'm covering in this podcast as well as any links mentioned.
- The Modern Homesteading Conference (June 30-July 31, 2023)
- Over 25 speakers
- Joel Salatin demonstrating chicken butchering
- Brandon Sheard demonstrating pig butchering
- Demonstrations of milking a cow
- Food vendors
- Product vendors
- How to keep the overwhelm and stress from taking over and keeping you from moving forward and achieving goals.
- Make a list and do what has to happen this week only.
- What's coming up this year on the Norris Farmstead.
- Preserving classes
- Pig butchering workshop
- What our family is planning on raising and growing this year.
- Experimenting with amending the new garden soil at the Farmstead (learn how to do a soil test here).
- Starting seeds for the year and figuring out how I'll be adding more seeds than usual. (Learn how to start seeds here and check out this post on troubleshooting seed-starting issues.)
- How much to plant per person for a year's worth of food. Grab my charts to know how much to plant per year here.
- Understand that the first time you do something new, it's always harder.
- Consider the Pioneering Today Academy (sign up here for the waitlist to be notified when doors open in March).
- Thank you to everyone who reached out about losing Clover, our milk cow. If you missed it, you can listen to the podcast where I shared Rebel's birth story and the last days of Clover's life here.
More Posts You May Enjoy
- Supporting Small Farms (Cost Vs. Benefit)
- Grow Your Own Food: Helpful Tips for the Beginner Gardener
- Does Gardening Save Money
- Gardening in March (Garden Tasks by Month)
- Gardening in April (Garden Tasks by Month)
- Gardening in May (Garden Tasks By Month)
- Gardening in June (Garden Tasks By Month)
- Hot Climate Gardening Tips
- Best Vegetables for Small Spaces and Self Sufficiency
- 4 Tips to Success In Growing Your Own Food
Hey pioneers, welcome to episode number 375. On today's episode of the podcast, we are going to be talking about annual priorities, goals, and steps to take to tackle those projects that seem daunting at the moment. Now, this actually came in from a reader who answered one of the surveys that we send out. But what I found very interesting is I actually have been working through this very same, I hate to use the word problem, but in a way the very same issue in multiple facets of our life. So first, I want to say that I almost think that as a society, we have been inundated with the notion that things should be easy, and that that is always the goal.
Oh gosh, what is it? There's a TV commercial or there was anyhow back... and it was something for the easy button. Where's the easy button? I think it was like a office supplies place. I sound so bad. I don't know the exact commercial, it was from a while back. But the premise of it was the easy button. And I think that as humans, myself included, oftentimes that is what we are looking for. We're wanting the easy button, and I think a lot of times we come to modern homesteading, and what we often say, this simple life, simple living. And we equate simple with easy, but they are not the two things. And I really don't know that easy should actually be what we are seeking out, at least not all the time.
Now, of course, there's always a bit of a balance. I'm not saying that you should always be in the throes of really hard, always be moving under stress that you don't ever get rest, because rest and easy are two different things. But I think that we need to talk about that, because I think oftentimes part of our struggle is there's this expectation that something should be really easy or should be a certain way, and if we reevaluate that expectation, then it ends up shedding a whole new light on things, and we end up looking at it a different way. And that can completely change how we feel in a situation, even though the situation itself hasn't really changed.
So in light of that, we are going to dive into a bit on when you do have really large goals, and you're planning things out for 12 months in advance, which oftentimes happens in January, especially seasonal living. We look at things, and what's really interesting about being a homesteader and a gardener, but this applies to more than just the garden, livestock, et cetera, is we definitely have to be living in the moment, but we also are always looking ahead to that next season, and possibly even the season after that. Because there are certain things that have to be put in place in order for us to have that end result a couple of seasons down, or even the next season, talking about spring, summer, fall.
And so, it's kind of an interesting thing, because we do very much want to live in the moment, but there is a certain amount of looking ahead that has to be done and planned, in order for things to go as smoothly as they possibly can. And with homesteading, and livestock and raising food, there's always going to be things that crop up. But in order to help try to mitigate some of those things, there's this future looking that we have to do, and there's also then living in the moment. And I think that that's where sometimes that overwhelm starts to step in. I'm excited to dive into this in today's episode, and I'm going to share some of what we're doing right now, because I think that that is going to help you on a few multiple fronts. And also just help that some of this is normal, and sometimes when we know other people are going through it makes it easier for us to walk that path.
I've actually got two examples for you where I have been applying this in my life right now as we speak. And one of those has been in planning the Modern Homesteading Conference. If by chance you've not heard about the Modern homesteading Conference yet, and if you are a listener of the podcast, I'm pretty sure you've heard about it. We've been talking about it in previous episodes, but it is a live in-person event that I am the co-founder of with Katie Milhorn. And it is going to be in Idaho this June 30th and July 1st. So it's a Friday and Saturday, and we are anticipating 5,000 attendees, so 5,000 ticket holders. We've already got over 25 speakers and presenters scheduled and booked, and are working on that schedule, and coordinating all of the different talks that have to happen.
We're going to be having multiple demonstrations. That is going to include Joel Sellatin butchering meat birds onsite, in-person demonstration. We've got Brandon Shear from Farmstead Meatsmith, is going to be showing how to butcher a pig, and then how to break that down and also do salt curing. That's going to be over both days of the conference for the pig butchering. We are going to have goat milking, we are probably going to have a dairy cow on site, and we are going to have food on site. And as you can imagine with that many people in attendance, as well as sponsors and vendors, we're planning over a hundred vendors to be on site, so it's going to be a very large event. It's also our first year doing it, so we're having to do a lot of foundational work and setting things up. That once these things are set up for the following year in 2024, of course, we'll have a framework and protocols, and we'll have learned a lot. So we'll be able to do things more efficiently, and faster, and with less initial work as we're having right now.
But I tell you what, when I look at it's only six months, and right now we're at the end of January, so that's even less, we're on this countdown. I could quickly become overwhelmed. Honestly, start to maybe feel a little bit of panic and a little bit of stress, and do a little bit of a minor freak-out to be quite honest. Like, oh my gosh, are we going to have all of this in place? We still have to do X, Y, Z. You just go through the list, there's so much that still has to be done. But I had to remind myself, and Katie and I actually had a planning session where we were talking one another through this. We're like, yes, there is still a lot that needs to be done. However, we have to focus on what has to be done this week and what is just the next steps ahead. What do we have to have done just in this week, that needs to be done? And that we focus on just that.
Because when I look out ahead and think of all the things that still have to be done surrounding everything, I really lose sight of what I need to be doing right now, and then I just get stuck. And instead of really making any progress, I just spend a lot of time stressing out, and going over all of these things that need to be done, rather than making a list so that it's out of my head, it's down somewhere. Because we do use a lot of mental energy thinking about things, and there's something about creating a list, even if you are an old-fashioned pen and paper, pencil, paper type of person, if you are using a spreadsheet online, if you're using a digital, if you're using a planner, and some people like to use versions of both. But whatever that is, it really is true If you at least get it down on paper, there's something that happens in your brain where you can release it. And it's like, okay, this is in a safe spot. I don't have to hold onto this right now, because I know it's written down somewhere.
And so, sometimes just the act of actually writing out the list instead of trying to mentally keep track of everything, can help ease some of the pressure and the anxiety. And then looking at that and reverse engineering in six months from now, this is what I need to have accomplished and where I want to be, but this is what has to be done this week in order to get me just that one next step closer to it. And I was really thinking of all the different ways that I could approach this subject and approach this podcast. And really that is the framework that we use for, as I said, planning something like the Modern Homesteading Conference, which is this very large event, lots of multiple moving parts. And even to planning out a garden, and our food needs just for us here on the homestead for the next year, I really have to attack it or use the same principle for both things, for all of the things.
I know for a lot of people it's the annual priorities, and you start to look at, okay, I want to grow X amount of food for my family. I want to preserve so much food for my family. And then I need to store all of this food for my family, and I need this equipment. And then as you can see, it just starts snowballing. So for example, my husband and I were looking at the food that we still have in our freezer, the livestock that we have on hand, and what our needs are for this coming year. We also are looking at the farmstead, because we are going to be putting in a large garden down there, that is going to be a teaching garden. We will have the workshops listed very soon, that we will be doing in person at the farmstead. But one of those workshops is going to be doing a hands-on planting session.
So in May, it's going to be the weekend of May 20th, we are going to do a full day, very limited amount, 50 tickets, and we are going to be going over putting in new garden beds, building your soil, companion planting, putting in a preserver's garden. So planting a garden specifically that's going to feed your family for a year, what those staple crops are, what those look like. Different techniques for growing them to get the maximum amount of plants into a square footage, so how to maximize that well. Putting in perennials, we are going to be growing some fruit down there as well as elderberries, which of course is a fruit, but is also medicine. And then also we are looking at the infrastructure on the farm down there. There's a lot of repairs that have to be made. And I know for a lot of you, if you're putting in new infrastructure, you're wanting to add things to raise livestock. Or perhaps you're like us and you have purchased something that needs a lot of work, then it's prioritizing that.
We are going to be raising pigs again this year. We haven't done pigs for a couple of years, but we're going to be raising pigs, because we are going to be doing a hand on pig butchering workshop in October. So there's a lot of things that we are taking on this year, in addition to what we already normally produce for just ourselves on our homestead. But we are going to be doing it down at this other property. And it's not just for us, it's also going to be having that extra food available for people in our community. So we are going to be selling more of our grass fed, grass finished beef. We're going to be selling the pork. We're going to be offering the extra produce that's in that garden that we're not using for workshops, because we're going to be doing preserving workshops, and we'll actually be going out to the garden, picking the produce and then coming in and showing all the different ways to preserve that, is going to be one of the workshops in August.
But I want to make sure that we've got a food source for people in the community that can come. And I'm not sure if it's going to be you pick, if it's going to be like a farmer's market stand, if it's going to be more of a CSA model. I don't even have those details down yet. But I know that for us, that warm weather growing season, May 31st, the end of May, we're going to do it the weekend before Memorial weekend, but that's our planting time. We have got to have things ready to go by that point, in order to get that garden in so that there's produce to actually harvest to even do some of these preserving workshops. And that's not even what I need to be doing for our own food needs, so that we still have all of the work in our own garden.
And so, that means I have got to figure out how many plants do we need to add for this additional garden space? How are we going to get this garden in? There's no garden spot down there. I just got the soil test back. We need to do some serious soil amendments to get that soil at a place where it's really healthy. Because our soil here, we've had the benefit of using all of these different means to improve our soil health where our garden is at, for going on over 16 years now. So my soil for the most part here at our home at the Homestead Garden, it is really good soil. I know I sound braggy there, but seriously, we've put in a ton of work, and we're seeing those rewards and it's really good soil.
And I'm like, oh my goodness, I am starting over from scratch down there. And even though it's only a half a mile from where we live, it's actually a very different soil. There's an elevation change, it's an old riverbed that still does get flooded, and it's a lot sandier. Just very different soil all the way together from up where we are on a shelf, even though it literally, it's only a half mile difference, but it's very different soil. So it's going to need some different techniques, different amendments, different needs. So it's going to be a bit of an experiment for me. And talking about the overwhelm, when I think of all the stuff that needs to happen to pull all of that off, and all the stuff that needs to happen in order to pull off the conference, it can be very easy to feel completely overwhelmed and very unsure. And just to question, I don't even know what to do.
But it's important that you don't get stuck in that space. And so, it's taking a little bit of a step back, taking a deep breath, and doing just the thing that needs to be done next. So for example, with the garden stuff, I did the soil test. For me, that was really the first step, because I needed to know exactly what were the conditions of this soil, so that I knew what amendments needed to be brought in, or which plants were going to thrive a little bit better within these soil conditions. And for example, I want to put some berries down there. Berries need more acidic soil overall than a vegetable garden. And the soil down there is actually neutral towards alkaline. So I know that I'm going to need to bring in some amendments when I'm planting the berry plant specifically. And even to the overall garden spot, I'm going to need to incorporate some of the elemental sulfur in order to get that pH level a little bit near where it needs to be.
I know it has sandy soil, so we're definitely going to be using mulch in order to help retain moisture, which means we need to bring in extra mulch. So that needs to be delivered and ordered. Then I know that we are going to also need to add some organic matter, and we are definitely going to need to add in some extra nitrogen. We're low on the nitrogen down there, which doesn't surprise me because the section of ground that we're actually turning into the teaching garden did not have any cattle on it, or any animals for a long period of time. It was fenced off. I'm not really surprised that it's low in nitrogen, because it's just had grass growing on it for a number of years now without anything being added to it. And grass will take quite a bit of nitrogen out. I wasn't surprised at some of those things, but I need to get all of that into the soil so that it's ready to go, and as prime as it can be when we are looking to plant in May.
I know that we're going to want to be growing some peppers and tomatoes down there, as well as some flowers, so that means that I am going to have to increase the amount of seed starting that we do. Looking at our seed starting space that I have, the shelving and the crow lights, and determining if I can even start enough of those seeds with the setup that we have. Will I look at buying starts, extra starts maybe from a local nursery, or am I just going to increase, get some more grow lights in, and also have to get some more seed starting trees in, and my seed starting soil, and of course looking at my seed stock, and ordering more seeds? Because the inventory of seeds that I have has been based upon just what our family's needs have been. And so looking to put in an entire another garden, I don't have that much seed stock on hand. So deciding is it going to be something I seed start, or am I just going to purchase those starts for that?
And I honestly have not made that decision yet. I know I can seed start what we need, because I have that all set up, that foundation is there. But I'm not sure right now if I am going to try to do all of the extra seed starting ourselves, because I don't have a heated greenhouse to start seeds in. I use a good portion of our living room, and then we have the little, we call it the she shed, it's our little extra shed that we put up to be an onsite farm store. And also for all of the products that we have in the general store on melissaknorris.com. So the mugs, the autographed copies of the books, the linen aprons, the linen bread bags, the tea towels, all of those things. When the orders come in, we have to have an area, one, to store the product, but two to actually pack. So where we keep the tissue paper, and the shipping boxes and all of that.
Anyhow, that is the space where we got some shelving units and I did the majority of my seed starting last year. But now that I'm looking to increase this year, I'm not actually sure if that space is going to be enough. I might have to get creative and put somewhere shelving units in there. So I share that with you just so that you can see that it's not always a very smooth process every single time, even for people who have been in this space. Now, of course we are going a lot bigger because we're added the farmstead on, and are looking to serve not just our own food needs, but those of our community, and also create a teaching environment. That's creating some extra stuff. But really the process is the same, and that's reverse engineering down to look at the end goal of where you want to be. And then backing up, what has to happen this month? And then taking that one step, even coming back further and looking at what has to happen this week, and what has to happen today?
It boils down to truly prioritizing, and just putting it into small steps, and just looking at the next step in front of you, and then taking the next one instead of getting completely all the way overwhelmed. And I'll also want to say, if you're wondering how much to plant per person for a year's worth of food, that I have charts, and a whole bunch of episodes done, and blog posts for you where we've already done that math on average. If you have my book, The Family Garden Plan, then that I've got all of those worksheets in there for you, but I also offer them for free on the website. I know that that's part of the planning that I've been able to do for people. So you can go to the blog post that accompanies this episode, and we'll make sure and link to those different things for you, to help ease and take as much of the work as possible off of your plate. And you can grab that at melissaknorris.com/375, because this is episode number 375. So melissaknorris.com/375.
Now, I know too that we oftentimes want it all at once. Or I don't know, maybe that's just my personality, but I tend to fall into that. And so, it's been really important for us to look at what's most important to us right now, and maybe cut back on how fast we want to go. So for example, we really wanted to do both the pig butchering workshop and the chicken butchering workshop this year on the farmstead. But as my husband and I were going over everything, this was just last night, we looked at each other and I said, we might have to just pull doing the chicken butchering workshop this year. We've already lined up everything to do the pig butchering workshop. We still have to get the pigs, and redo the infrastructure down at the farm for the pigs.
And adding that in with doing the meat birds down there, I just don't know that we have the capacity to do it. Because my husband still works a full-time job. We've got the conference, my son is graduating from high school this year, and so a lot of that falls in June, which is when we would need to be getting the meat birds and dealing with them. And so we just looked at each other and we're like, you know, maybe we don't do the chicken butchering workshop this year because we're doing the pig workshop. We haven't decided yet if we're going to just raise some meat birds for ourselves, I'm still going through our inventory of what we have left in the freezer of our meat birds from last year, if it would be enough, if I am strategic in how much chicken we eat. Or if we just do a small amount of meat birds that's just for us, but it's not where we're butchering them in a workshop environment, and raising enough so that each person who comes to the workshop also takes home a butchered chicken.
We haven't decided that part yet. But we have decided we're not doing the large chicken butchering workshop, but we may still do just a small amount of meat birds just for ourselves on our needs. That's sometimes where you have to look at everything and some of those end goals, and then decide what really has to be done this year, and if it's something that can feasibly be done. Because this journey, this Homesteading lifestyle is something that I don't want to see people burn out on, myself included. And there seems to be this expectation that we put on ourselves, or at least I do, I put on myself, I want to have it all. I want us to be producing all of that. And sometimes that is not feasible in a year. We really do have to pick and choose what we're able to do.
And it's funny because with gardening, I've been really good about layering on, and each year we add another crop, or we increase the amount so that we're producing a year's worth of that food. But instead of trying to say, well, we're going to go from producing a year's worth of green beans to producing everything in the garden as a year's worth, was really good at taking kind of those baby steps. And saying, okay, we produced a year's worth of green beans. The next year, we raised a year's worth of garlic. The year after that, we raised a year's worth of tomatoes. Then the year after that, we raised a year's worth of carrots. And so on and so forth, to the point that we are today. I didn't try to raise a year's worth of every single thing of produce in those very first couple years of gardening. But I see a lot of people that that's their end goal, and they try to get there almost too fast.
And so, I would say being very realistic with the energy level that you have, that other commitments that you have, the time that you've got truly available to be able to devote to things, and making sure that you aren't trying to go too fast, so that you do have the longevity. And I'll also say that the first time you're doing this, it definitely requires a lot more work. And there's so much that you just don't know that you don't know, or you're having to figure out. And so, just like the first time that you are growing a garden, you are learning so much. The second year, it's a little bit easier. I say that because I think, again, it's that pressure that we put on ourselves. And you have to remind ourselves, okay, next year this is going to get a little bit easier. I'm going to take what I learned and I'm going to apply it.
And that's one of the things, or reasons why I have, and started the Pioneering Today Academy. We are going to be opening up for new members again in March, but one of those things is because there is so many different facets to homesteading, from gardening, to livestock, to cooking in the kitchen, to preserving the food. There's a lot of moving parts and elements to homesteading that I feel is a bit unique, that you don't usually have that many different elements working together. And so once you've done it for a long time, there's some things that are just intuitive. And you just know in January this has to be done, in order for us to have this outcome. In February, so on and so forth.
But if you have not been raised in that environment, or lived that way, or have that experience, I think you have to give yourself some grace. Because there's really no way that you would know all of those things, or be able to just step into it and have it flow extremely easy. Now, there's lot like this podcast, my website articles, all of that. I share a ton of that. But that's one of the reasons that I started the Pioneering Today Academy, because I'm able to go with people each month and take them through, if this is your end goal, this is what you need to do right now so that they can focus on just what I need to do right now. And have that planned out for them, and go through that as a group. And basically I am in there coaching each month, and sharing what those things are that you need to do and being able to provide those resources.
If that is something that is interest to you, we will be sharing more about that as we get closer to March, which was when we'll be opening up the doors to the academy for new members. But it'll be a little bit of ways from now. The other thing that I want to talk to and actually share from our sponsor today, and that is the pacing part. As I said, we don't want anybody to burn out. I don't want you to burn out. I don't want to burn out. And one of the ways that I have found to help me manage my stress, and also make sure that I am adapting to all of the different things that get thrown your way when you're homesteading, is I use Adaptogen herbs.
Now, my daughter has been really involved in sports lately, and has had kind of a hectic schedule. And she keeps finding that she seems to be getting a lot of colds lately. Now, part of that is because she's playing basketball, and as you can imagine, you've got two different teams from different schools, and all these different kids, and everybody's touching the same ball. Even though we practice hand washing and all of that, she's just exposed to a lot more than she would be if she wasn't playing sports. Especially a sport like that, where everybody's sharing the same basketball. And so, she seems to just be getting a lot of different colds. She'll get over one, and then a week later she starts to come down with another one.
And even with using elderberry syrup and hit all of those things, it just seems to be hitting her a little bit more than anybody else in the family. And so I got her, she doesn't like taking tinctures, not that I can blame her. I'm fine with taking tinctures, but that could be a little strong flavored. And so, Azure Standard, this podcast is sponsored by Azure, has Ashwaganda gummies. I didn't know that they had them, I was looking because I was actually out of Ashwaganda tincture for myself, and it takes a while to make tincture. And I'm like, oh, let me just see if they have any capsules for right now. And when I typed it in, I saw that they had gummies. I'm like, oh my gosh, so excited. So I ordered her a bottle, and myself a bottle. And she definitely prefers taking those over the tincture.
Now, I will tell you, they are not a super sweet gummy. The aftertaste really reminds me of orange peel, kind of a bitter orange peel. She says they're much more palatable than the tinctures, however, but just to let you know in full disclosure. But I was so happy to find those, because those are something that I can send with her. And she can take them easily when she's on the go, because oftentimes she's leaving in the morning at 7:00 AM to catch the school bus. And then if she's got games, especially away games, sometimes she's not even getting home until 10 o'clock at night or later. Depending upon where their away game is, because we live very far out from a lot of the other schools.
So that's something that I can take with her. I'm not worried, like sending an alcoholic tincture, even though it's super small amount it's not something I'm going to send with her to school, or in a bag because it could get broken. But she can take the gummies with her. They travel really easy, and then she's still able to use those. So that is my Azure Standard product highlight for you for this episode. And if you are a brand new first time customer to Azure Standard, well my friends, I have a coupon code for you. Use coupon code pioneering10, that's pioneering10, and get 10% off your first order of $50 or more.
I want to thank you for listening to this episode. And I also want to thank so many of you who reached out to me on last week's episode, which was the episode about Clover and Rebel, and ultimately losing our milk cow. It was the hardest episode that I have ever recorded, and the outpouring from all of you was truly amazing. I could feel your prayers, and just the stories that you shared with me, and the encouragement, and just the kindness was truly amazing. I will try not to get choked up in this episode, so bless your hearts. You don't have to listen to me cry through two episodes in a row. But I really wanted to thank every single person who reached out, sent a note of encouragement, said a prayer, just thank you from the bottom of my heart. It was definitely felt, and I just really appreciate it. Thank you so much, and we'll be back here next week. Blessings and Mason jars for now.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.