11 Goals for 2011: progress update

At the start of the year, I set myself 11 (+ another 5 subgoals) goals for the year. We’ve third of the way through the year now so I thought it was time for an update.

1. Increase the food output from our garden and make a meal only using stuff I’ve grown/foraged/caught/killed which can be cooked off-grid

I’m writing this during a tea break from working in the garden. We haven’t eaten anything we’ve grown this year yet but I’ve been busy busy busy out there. Our salad has been a bit slow off the mark this year but we should have our first lettuces this month, as well as maybe our first potatoes near the end of the month. We planted a lot of fruit trees and bushes at the start of the year too – six apple, two pear, a cherry tree, four blackcurrant bushes, two redcurrant bushes, two raspberry bushes, twelve strawberry runners, three honeyberry bushes, a cranberry bush and a loganberry bush. We also planted about six jostaberry canes but only one of them seems to have taken — all the other bushes & trees are growing well though.

The chickens are doing well – I spent a lot of time defrosting their water at the start of the year but not had to do too much of that lately ;) Two out of the three second batch of girls started laying in January and Buff, the fancy pure bred one, started eventually in March so (present broodiness aside) they’re all productive now. In March, when Buff started laying, they cranked out a massive 200 eggs between them. April has been a little slow – at only 180 eggs in total – because Ginger is broody. Only 180 eggs….! We’ve had on average of 5.43 eggs a day since the start of the year, rising to 6.45 eggs a day in March. We have give a lot away ;)

Foraging has been a little slower than I would have thought – we’ve eaten plenty of wild garlic but little else. I am getting better at identifying early Spring stuff – just not picking it and eating it ;)

2. Learn how to successfully take and propagate cuttings from every applicable type of perennial plant/shrub in the house/garden

Nothing has really been ready for this year – but I will start experimenting with some of the bigger herb bushes soon.

3. Create my own font – possibly of my handwriting

Not done anything on this yet.

4. Make a piece of furniture for the house (woodworking)

I have not done this yet but I have made a lot of things for the garden from wood – which is movement in the right direction. As I said at the end of last year, my goals were/are supposed to be putting me on a journey – this goal was supposed to get me making things, anything from wood, with the hope that my skills will improve gradually to the point where I’m confident to build something for the house out of nice, purpose bought (or nicer-than-normal salvaged) wood. I’m certainly making progress along that path so yay!

5. Make an entire outfit (to include conquering sewing patterns)

Spent January frantically crocheting a blanket but have done very little sewing/yarn crafty stuff for the last couple of months. Need to get back to it!

6. Go fishing in the North Sea

Not organised this yet. Am crap.

7. Learn how to screenprint

Yays! I’ve done this one! It was a lot of fun and we’ve been back for our Factory4 induction & a second screenprinting session since. Hopefully we’ll go back again in a few weeks.

8. Buy no more than 12 items of clothing across the year

This a Really Good Life challenge – and it’s going really well. I haven’t bought a single item of clothing or any accessories from either my exceptions list or from my quota in 2012. It’s actually been a lot easier than I thought – I do have “am bored of my clothes!” sulks but they pass surprisingly quickly.

I’ve also encouraged some other people to do the same challenge – which is great :)

9. Finish a developed piece of fiction writing

Not *really* done anything for this, aside from a short scene I developed with the kids from class as part of a performance at a youth theatre festival in February.

10. Specific food makery and/or eatery:

a) Bake at least once a week
I haven’t been as regular at baking as I’d like but if I include stuff like pizza dough as well as breads & biscuits, it probably is nearly once a week on average. We struggle with bread in the winter as we keep the house cooler than yeast-exciting temperature so hopefully we’ll bake more regularly over the spring/summer/autumn period.

b) Grow a sourdough starter and make bread from it
We’ve kinda done this – we got sourdough starters when we went on a bread making course with the Handmade Bakery in March — we’ve kept them alive and baked from them since. We didn’t actually grow them from scratch (they were started in Russia in the 1970s and River Cottage in 2005) but we’re cultivating them and using them. So yeah!

c) Make a hard cheese
Not done anything cheesy so far this year. Well, not cheese-making cheesy. Those in earshot of many of my jokes would contest the “done anything cheesy” assertion.

d) Try ten vegetables (or veggie wild foods) that I’ve not tried before
As I said above, I’ve not done much foraging this year but I did try wild sorrel earlier in the year and I’m growing three things I’ve not tasted before (rapini/broccoli raab, marigolds-for-salad-leaves and achocha!) so that’ll hopefully up my total. Oh, and I had pea shoots (which aren’t too exciting but were new to me) as part of my starter when we went to Salvo’s a few weeks ago.

e) Build a cold smoking cabinet, try cold smoking more stuff & try hot smoking too
I’m really keen to build another smoking cabinet and have been on the look out for furniture to adapt or wood to build a cabinet from scratch. Not spotted anything suitable yet but I’m hoping to get hold of some old kitchen cupboard doors soon, which should work. Can’t wait to make more smoked cheese!

11. Participate more in the real world – engage more with our local community and meet some internet people in real life
I so nearly met an internet person but then got sick. *shakes fist at culinary establishment that caused food poisoning* Boo.

Have mostly hidden inside/in our private garden for the last few months so not really done anything locally.

Not particularly local community related but at least away from my computer – I’ve been still doing dramatic things at Bingley Little Theatre – I made my debut as a stage-manager on the kids’ production of “The Would-Be Gentleman” in April. (I shadowed as a ASM & SM on a production earlier in the year too – didn’t really do much but learnt a lot.) We also went to the aforementioned youth theatre festival in York – two days of dramatic funness.


One goal (and one sub-goal) done, six (and two) in progress, and four (and two) still to do. On track!

10 goals for 2010 – June progress update

Half way through the year – so where was I with these things…?

1. To make a meal using only ingredients I’ve grown, raised, caught or killed myself.
I’m getting closer with this. Ok, I don’t grow my own wheat but I’ve made slow-rise bread about every other day for the month, and handchurned butter too. We’ve had homegrown salad & herbs nearly every day for lunch and for most dinners too.

We’ve got about half a dozen courgettes & lots of their flowers begging to be picked, more salad (two different types of mixed leaves) will be ready for picking early next week and some broad beans might be ready this weekend too. Aside from slug damage to a lot of the beans & peas, everything else is growing well – it’s all kinda exploded over the last few days. Going to spend a lot of time potting stuff on/out tomorrow and over the weekend.

But you know what though? Sod that veg stuff – at long long last, we got chickens! We only got them on Tuesday night but we’ve had four small-but-perfect eggs (and two not quite there but almost eggs) from them, so if I was being pedantic, I could right now have a herby courgette frittata with side salad to complete my goal – but I’d rather keep striving for it ;)

2. To travel to a place on my “top ten places to go before I die” list.
Nope, still nothing on this one. I think my first step would be to re-write my list because I think I’ve plum forgotten about half of them.

3. Finish writing my second novel.
I’ve been thinking more about another idea but really. really. should. refocus.

4. Learn how to make sausages – wet English style ones and cured ones too.
Completed in April. We’ve not made any of our own at home yet though. Maybe this goal should change to that…

4. Make some sausages at home – wet English style ones and cured ones too.
As I’m thinking of making/getting a smokehouse for my birthday, I’d be able to make some interesting dried ones!

5. Spend at least a day fishing out on the North Sea.
Another idea of something I thought of doing for my birthday. Also been looking at changing the sea focus and doing a “learn to fish” thing in the Lakes or North Yorkshire instead…

6. Finally finish learning how to drive.
Still done nothing on this and, well, tbh, I’ll losing the will to do so. I know I should just do it because sometimes it would be useful to go exciting places like Morrisons without John but I think I’d drive so rarely that it wouldn’t be worth it. I will expect a kicking from certain people for saying that ;)

7. Make a full outfit’s worth of clothing for myself – including spinning any wool used.
Oh, I had lots of fun spinning during my two days off work at the start of the month! I started on a little DIY CD-and-pencil type spindle but bought a better one mid month, as well as some more roving – and I got a bruised palm pad from spinning so much one night. Extreme yarn crafts! I still haven’t spun enough yarn to make much though.

To update on what I spoke about in my last progress report, dyeing was lots of fun. I dyed two lots of wool yarn – from cream to duck egg blue and heathery lilac – and with more of the original cream, imagine it’ll make a nice chunky blanket. I had purple dye left over from the purple-ish yarn so dunked some of my slightly-greyed white knickers in and they went a lovely plum, then I told John about it and he demanded I tie-dye some of his impractically white underpants & made a vest stripey – I had to comply ;) I definitely want to try natural dyeing some time soon.

8. Learn how to program and make a mini-game/application using Ruby.
The weather has been too nice to be sat inside on my computer. And the people who claim I’ve spent many, many hours playing Theme Hospital this month are LYING.

9. Climb a mountain or at least a jolly big hill.
Lots of walking with Lily but nothing more than the Chevin in Otley – and that looks a lot bigger than it really is.

10. Participate more in the real world – plan/run a real life green event or scheme.
I’ve taken the first baby steps with two of them – but haven’t heard anything yet from my contacts. Will poke.