During the first year we did a lot of basic planning and I started learning how to build things and grow things. I had had some successful vegetable gardens in the past but that’s a bit different from attempting to set up 2 acres of arid land permaculture gardens with view to self-sufficiency…
My brother came up for a couple of month or so and started some of the stone masonary for the outdoor kitchen/dining area but we couldn’t keep paying him at that point and of course he couldn’t stay for free so I moved on to other tasks
I started to build the shadehouse for the vegetable garden – this is vital out here with our hot summers so it was important to get it up as soon as I could. Using the bamboo on the walls has proven to be a fantastic solution for our high winds – they let the wind though without bending the structure too much. We also removed the old mostly broken clothesline soon after the photo to the right was taken
The summer vegetable garden was the most productive I’d ever had at that point confirming my thoughts about the necessity of shade. We didn’t have much water, or a pump down the well, so the garden had to be very small but it was still lovely to have so much vibrant green just outside the back door.
We also got our first chickens – day old barred plymouth rock chicks. It was another set of skills again, learning to care for the tiny things. They grew very quickly though so it wasn’t long before they were living in a makeshift yard built off an old goat pen.
Later in the year, after losing those first chickens to a fox 😦 I started to build a more permanent yard for them out of recycled materials that were found on the block. I learned during that process that while it is all well and good to use recycled materials, sometimes it is not worth it for the frustration and structural instability of less than fantastic quality. The yard was a definite improvement though! We also added an English Staffy to our family to help with fox deterrence. Happily, so far we have had no further problems.
That year I also started to build a play area for our son in hopes that in time he would be able to play somewhat unsupervised while I was working nearby – hoping to increase my productivity, but also because, who doesn’t want a sandpit made out of old tyres, in the shape of a stegosaurus?
All in all, I didn’t get as much done in that year as I had sort of expected when I started, but partly that was due to the small one, partly due to my learning process and partly due to unrealistic expectations. Still much to be done!