It’s time again for the annual “Year in Review” post. We started this tradition in 2012, and by golly, we ain’t about to stop now.
2023 was the first year we spent on our new homestead and it was quite productive. We’ll get to the yield numbers shortly, but first, let’s see how we did on meeting the goals set at the beginning of the year.
PLANT AN APPLE ORCHARD
Done! We planted 10 trees in a small orchard where we run our ducks, and planted another 5 or so apple trees elsewhere. We also got six trees started from seed. (1)
BUILD A BIG CHICKEN COOP
Yes. We now have a nice bamboo coop. (1)
HIT 500,000 SUBSCRIBERS ON YOUTUBE
Nope. Youtube numbers were down this year. We did hit 300k, though. (0)
WRITE A POST FOR EVERY WEEKDAY IN 2023
Made it! (1)
FINISH WRITING MINIMALIST GARDENING
Done. Just waiting on final print layout. (1)
FINISH WRITING ALABAMA SURVIVAL GARDENING
Did not manage this. Did manage to edit Survival Chickens for Florida Bullfrog, though, and we’re putting that out soon. (0)
LAUNCH THE TACTICAL GARDENING KICKSTARTER
No. Decided not to for now. (0)
GROW 1,000 POUNDS OF FOOD
We more than hit double on this goal! (1)
We did this, crossing corn, radishes, watermelons and cucumbers in 2023 and will be planting our crosses in the spring. The crossed daikons are already on their second generation, as we planted the first ones in spring, then planted the f1 generation this fall. (1)
GRAFT ALL THE BRADFORD PEARS
We grafted quite a few, though not all. However, frosts and the cows damaged many of the grafts. We’ll have to try again on the ones that failed. (1/2)
HARVEST A MASSIVE AMOUNT OF FIREWOOD
It looks like we harvested enough for winter. Not massive, but decent. (1/2)
MAKE THE COTTAGE A GUEST HOUSE
We did it! Fixed the plumbing, patched the walls, painted the ceiling, floor and walls, and made it beautiful. (1)
PLANT A DEATH HEDGE
We still didn’t manage to figure out our front property line – plus, we wanted to plant a hedge later in the year, but the drought stopped us. (0)
FINISH READING THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE
BUILD A GIANT WALL OF BOOKSHELVES
Did it! (1)
Goals achieved: 10 out of 15. I could count “11”, if we counted hitting double the “1000lbs of food” goal, but we won’t get cocky.
Total Garden Yields
Now let’s take a look at how our food production went. The soil here is much better than at our former rented location, which helped immensely.
We did have a bad drought from July into November, however, which kept our vegetable production much lower than it should have been. We barely planted anything for fall, other then a few beds of daikons and other brassicas. Normally, the Grocery Row Gardens would be loaded with cool-season produce but the ground was hard and dusty even under the mulch so we didn’t plant anything.
That said, we still had a record year, even beating our previous best of 2008lbs in 2017 when we rented a working farm in the tropics.
Produce Total: 2573 lbs
Corn (Dry) 10lb
Jerusalem Artichokes 18lb
Potatoes (Unclassified) 12lb
Potatoes (Adirondack Blue) 65lb
Potatoes (Kennebec) 33lb
Potatoes (Red La Soda) 37lb
Potatoes (Red Pontiac) 48lb
Potatoes (Yukon Gold) 37lb
Pumpkins (Compost Pile) 483lb
Pumpkins (in Food Forest) 110lb
Sweet Potatoes 232lb
Watermelons 760lb (49 melons)
Yam (Air Yam) 13lb
Yam (Greater Yam) 177lb
Yam (Ube Yam) 18lb
Roosters (5) 14lbs
Pigs (2) 449lbs
Eggs: 2,467 (as of Dec. 26th)
Milk: 434 gallons
3036lbs of meat and vegetables
2,467 eggs (as of Dec. 26th)
434 gallons of milk.
We tested multiple varieties of potatoes in the garden and found Red Pontiac and Adirondack Blue gave us the best yields, with Kennebec giving us the worst.
We had a poor year for sugarcane due to the drought, and the cassava was also much less productive than it should have been. I simply cut the cassava canes to the ground before the first frost and mulched over the roots so they can keep growing in the spring. Most of them were still too small to harvest.
Our tomatoes did horribly, as usual, with the exception of Everglades tomatoes and some small yellow pear tomatoes.
One nice success was Ezekiel’s mixed-up landrace watermelons, which functioned as a ground cover in the Grocery Row Gardens and gave us a remarkable supply of fresh melons through the summer. They were a huge portion of our yields this year, with 760lbs of watermelons produced.
The cows would have made more milk except that we dried them off at the end of July before heading to the Homesteading Life Conference. This was fine, as they were both pregnant and safely delivered two female calves in the fall. Now they are being milked again, so we’ll have plenty of butter and cheese and cream and yogurt and milk through the coming year.
Books Read: 56
The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity by Timothy Ware
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on “Romanism” by “Bible Christians” by Karl Keating
The Mini-Forest Revolution by Hannah Lewis
Weekend Makeover by Don Aslett
Surprised by Truth by Patrick Madrid (editor)
Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn
The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
The Youtube Formula by Derral Eves
An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine by Blessed John Henry Newman
The Case for Catholicism by Trent Horn
Evangelical is not Enough by Thomas Howard
Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton
Edible Cities: Urban Permaculture for Gardens, Balconies, Rooftops, and Beyond by Judith Anger, Dr. Immo Fiebrig and Martin Schnyder
Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church by H.W. Crocker III
The Lost Art of Potato Breeding by Rebsie Fairholm
Infiltration by Taylor Marshall
Pasture Perfect by Jo Robinson
The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin
The Apostasy that Wasn’t by Rod Bennett
Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words by Rod Bennett
Bearing False Witness by Rodney Stark
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol VI by Edward Gibbon
Hail, Holy Queen by Scott Hahn
The Early Church was the Catholic Church by Joe Heschmeyer
Crossing the Tiber by Steven Ray
Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic by David Currie
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol VII by Edward Gibbon
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol VIII by Edward Gibbon
Biological Transmutation by C. Lewis Kervan
The Catholic Controversy by James R. White
Memoirs by Edward Gibbon
Organic Gardening: The natural no-dig way by Charles Dowding
The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity by Carlo M. Cipolla
The Bed of Procrustes by Nassim Taleb
Reformation Myths by Rodney Stark
The Sacrament of Confession by Very Reverend Canon Héctor R G Pérez
Forest Gardening: Rediscovering Nature and Community in a Post-industrial Age by Robert Hart
The Catholic Controversy by St. Francis de Sales
Sustainable Agriculture in the Tropics by Keith O. Mikkelson
The Dead Came Knocking by Ib Meyer
Restoring the Soil by Roland Bunch
Stunned by Scripture by Dr. John S. Bergsma
Leaf for Life Handbook by David Kennedy
How to Make a Forest Garden by Patrick Whitfield
Timeline by Michael Crichton
Human Evolution: The Astonishing Record by John M. Wynne
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller
21st Century Greens by David Kennedy
Edible Forest Gardens Vol. I by Jacke and Toensmeier
Cottage Economy by William Cobbett
More Food From Soil Science by V. A. Tiedjens
The Autobiography of George Müller
The Catechism Explained: An Exhaustive Explanation of the Christian Religion by Spirago/Clarke
Yams: Botany, Production and Uses by Anthony Keith Thompson and Ibok Oduro
The Bible (Douay-Rheims translation) by God.
That was a pretty good amount of reading this year, especially considering the density and length of some of the books involved. This was also my first time reading a Bible translation with all 73 books instead of the expurgated 66-book versions I had always read in the past.
This year I made a goal of writing at least one post for every weekday of the year. It was met.
309 posts total!
We managed 225 posts in 2022, so this is a big improvement. And despite the rest of the busted internet‘s approach, we still aren’t hiring third-worlders or using AI to write ’em.
70 videos posted (up through Dec. 20th).
We started the year at 254,402 subscribers, and last night we passed 300,000 subscribers, on the cusp of the new year.
Last year we gained over 100k subscribers, but this year our stats were much lower, with less than 50k subscribers added to the channel.
As of this morning (right before heading to church), we have 300,045 subscribers.
This year, we managed to start a new plant nursery.
We also built a gigantic greenhouse, thanks in large part to our friends James and Holly.
We also welcomed a new son into the world, which was the biggest success of the year!
We gained two new heifer calves, Sandy and Coffee.
We raised pigs and butchered them.
We added ducks to the homestead.
We bought a used Bobcat skid steer.
We planted a new food forest.
We built giant compost pile system.
Scrubfest II was a great success.
And finally, my wife and I researched the history of the Church and came to the conclusion that we could no longer remain Protestant. Instead, we converted to Catholicism and were received under the traditional Latin Rite into the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church on the Feast of the Assumption. We now attend a Latin Mass and have been growing in our faith by leaps and bounds. So many pieces came together once we studied Catholicism and Church history (especially the writing of the early Church Fathers) with an open mind, instead of just reading mainstream and Protestant attacks against the original faith. Deo Gratias!
The drought was really tough this year. We had to buy hay for the cows and did not get to over-plant our pastures in fall. We also got poor yields on cassava and sugarcane, as well as some other crops.
The pond almost dried up due to the drought and is still quite low.
Our goats didn’t pan out so we sold them.
Our chickens have not been super productive.
We did not manage to plant our death hedge.
Youtube was only so-so on subscribers and views.
Book sales were less than half of last year.
We have not been able to figure out how to legally sell our nursery plants in the state of Florida.
We had a lot of hospital bills due to our son arriving early when our midwife was out of town.
I didn’t manage to finish many book projects.
We did poorly on live-streaming. We also produced less than half the YouTube videos I would have liked to have done.
We lost my dear sweet niece Julie.
We also lost my long-time friends Ray, Eric and Ian, as well as Rachel’s grandmother.
Rest in peace.
2023 was a good year overall, with some challenges and some terrible losses. We are grateful for our new baby, our new church, our own homestead, great garden yields, good friends, God’s protection and provision, and all of you sticking with us.
Tomorrow, we’ll make some goals for 2024.
Happy New Year, everyone.