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Goals and Accomplishments

I can’t believe that it’s already time to develop the next part of my Learning Plan. Did I get everything done that I wanted to get done over the last six months? Nope! But I got a lot more done than I would have if I hadn’t written down that list of goals in the first place.

With my lap hen, Bach.

With my lap hen, Bach.

Along with innumerable, subtle internal shifts that could never really be captured in writing, here’s a quick list of the things I did these past few months that I am proud of:

  • I removed my above-ground pool. No more chemicals in the soil or excess water usage.
  • I built a chicken tractor. I needed a place to quarantine new and sick hens.
  • I built Cosmo’s memorial garden.
  • At home, I planted two peach trees, a fig, a seedless che, blackberries, a raspberry, swiss chard, French sorrel and strawberries.
  • I cared for all of my plants through a pretty rough Texas winter.
  • I started seeds and then learned an important lesson about snails.
  • I grew and dried catnip. I drank it as a tea and refilled the cats’ homemade toys with it.
  • I made some progress towards breaking my terrible food buying habits. I’ve started cooking a lot more and we’re eating out or ordering food much less often. I’m learning to eat more seasonally via my weekly CSA box and I’m buying meat from the Farmer’s Market. Preferably from the ladies at Indian Hills Farms in Smithville.
  • I learned how to can food.
  • I’ve dealt with non-stop chicken drama — one of them has a bad leg, two of them were eaten by a possum, one was put down due to egg yolk peritonitis, I treated two of them for bumblefoot and then learned how to give penicillin shots to treat their resulting staph infections, and lastly one had vent gleet so I learned to give them vinegar and yogurt to manage their gut bacteria.
  • I trapped a couple of feral neighborhood cats and had them spayed and neutered, my form of urban wildlife management.
  • I met with a Bastrop County wildlife biologist and learned more about how to plan our wildlife management transition at the Farm.
  • I immersed myself in learning about bees: I went to an Austin Urban Beekeeping Meetup, I attended a “Keeping Chemical Free Bees” class and a “Spring Hive Maintenance” class, I read Les Crowder’s Top Bar Beekeeping book and watched the video of the same name. I also read The Backyard Beekeeper and The Thinking Beekeeper. I joined the Central Texas and Top Bar Beekeeping groups on Facebook and I ordered my top bar hive from a local apiarist.
  • I started the Texas Master Naturalist (Lost Pines Chapter) training program in February, something that has been a goal of mine for a few years. This has been a very intense course with classes every Monday night from 6:30pm-9pm, 4 hour long Saturday field trips twice a month, and sometimes up to 100 pages of reading in between.
  • I went to a prescribed burn workshop and connected with the South Central Texas Prescribed Burn Association. I get notifications when they do burns and can go out and help them. Unfortunately, I joined up towards the end of the burn season so I haven’t been able to go to one yet.
  • I got 90% of my design maps done for the house. I did the Zones and Sector maps digitally but I hand-drew the concept map, which is ever-morphing as I learn more.

Going forward, instead of trying to learn a little about a lot, I need to focus on specific topics and strive to really understand them. That’ll be the biggest difference in how I’ll structure my future goals.

At this point, I’m not too worried about the things I didn’t get done. They’ll keep moving along in the Learning Plan and I’ll get them done eventually. And if I don’t ever get them done, maybe they weren’t appropriate goals in the first place.

Smile! You’re on Karr’s Kritter Kam!

Common Raccoon <em>(Procyon lotor)<em>

Common raccoon (Procyon lotor)

I put a wildlife camera up out at the Farm about a month ago as one of the three strategies we need to implement in order to convert to the Wildlife Management tax valuation — the camera counts as ‘Census’.

In addition to the raccoon and the turkey below, there were lots and lots of pictures of cows, a couple of doves, a crow, and a mystery rodent or bunny. No hogs, deer, skunk, coyote, or armadillos, all of which I expected to see since I’ve seen them out there before. I’ll give this camera location another week or two and then I’ll move it over to one of the stock tanks, see who I can catch getting a drink.

Female Rio Grande turkey (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia)

Female Rio Grande turkey (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia)

I’m really excited about the turkeys in particular. I’ve actually seen and heard them the last few times I’ve visited the Farm. I want to manage for them specifically and found some good information on the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s website about wild turkey food and habitat needs.

Look at My Plants!

They made it through the winter. Yay!

"Sequoia" strawberry

‘Sequoia’ strawberry

My passionflower kept its leaves this winter so now it's focusing on flowers!

My passionflower kept its leaves all winter. Now it’s focusing on flowers!

Globe artichoke

Globe artichoke

Self-seeded cherry tomato

Self-seeded cherry tomato

Goji berry

Goji berry (Lycium barbarum)

Hardy Kiwi vines -- "Anna" Hardy Female, 74-46 Hardy Male, 'Dumbarton Oaks" Hardy Female

Hardy Kiwi vines (Actinidia arguta) — ‘Anna’ Hardy Female, 74-46 Hardy Male, ‘Dumbarton Oaks’ Hardy Female

Seedless Che tree -- grafted onto native Osage orange, self-pollinating.  I'm crushing hard on this little tree right now.

Seedless Che tree (Cudrania tricuspidata) — grafted onto native Osage orange, self-pollinating. I’m crushing hard on this little tree right now.

Flower forming on the Che tree

Flower forming on the Che.

Lettuce, borage, French sorrel, cilantro, and swiss chard around the Che.

Lettuce, borage, French sorrel, cilantro, and swiss chard growing around the Che tree.

Fig -- I propagated this from one that is already planted in the yard.

‘Texas Everbearing’ fig — I propagated this from one that is already planted in the yard.

L- R: "Apache" blackberry, "Heritage" raspberry, "Natchez" blackberry

‘Apache’ blackberry, ‘Heritage’ red raspberry, ‘Natchez’ blackberry