Wow, I’m getting this out halfway through January! Normally winters are a tiny bit slower for us because we’re not in active growing season, but this winter has been quite full of lots of to-do lists since we’re currently working on carrying out how to take our farm full time (as well as looking into other opportunities for future growth). January’s a hard month in general for me because the dark days mess with my head, but having so much to plan out and work on has definitely helped.
I’ll go ahead and recap our December as best as I can remember, then I’ll hop right in and discuss some of the plans we have for this month!
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December Recap + Goals
Even though the holidays always come with an expected level of busy-ness and bustle, December is actually a bit slower for us in general since it’s basically the one month per year that we’re not really doing much active work with the flower farm. We still have all the events that come along with the holidays (as well as it being Hyrum’s birthday in the middle of the month), but because we’re not putting in as many hours on farm-related stuff, it’s not too bad of a month, pace-wise.
The big question this December though was how much we were actually going to be able to participate in everything because we weren’t really supposed to take Naomi out in public, especially before she got the new RSV shot. The local clinic never ended up getting the shot in (because of massive backordering issues), but we were able to snag one of the last two shots at a clinic up north for Naomi. They almost didn’t let her get it because she was older than the 6-month-old cutoff, but because of her congenital hearts defects and being born so premature, they called in an exception. It was a good thing too, because Hyrum ended up getting RSV (we think) about a week after she got the shot, and while she also got sick, it was overall pretty mild. It did mean she had to be put back on oxygen at night, but we’re just thankful she’s overall avoided any serious sicknesses so far.
Since she was able to get the RSV shot, we decided to at least go to the Christmas events with Matt’s and my immediate families, which were really fun. As for the extended family events and the big community things (like the older kids’ big Christmas program), we just had one of us parents go, and the other stayed at home with Naomi and the other kids who weren’t participating. Since I’m not a huge fan of crowds and loud parties anyway, I didn’t mind the excuse to have a quieter Christmas season, especially since we were closing out a particularly intense year.
I talked more about this in the corresponding Weekly Frugal Wins post for that week, but perhaps one of my favorite parts of December was our celebration of the Winter Solstice. Because of the mild temps, we were actually able to get out for a short hike (!) in the middle of the day, and it felt wonderful. We also finished the day with our traditional candlelit dinner and discussion around our gratitude for the coming of lighter days ahead, as well as our faith around the One who is the giver of all light. As I said in that post, it’s perhaps the day I can truly feel the Christmas spirit the most.
Christmas morning is always a favorite. Our kids all still believe in the “magic” (this year very well might have been the last one for our oldest, who’s 8), and Matt and I loved watching them carefully choose gifts for each other and get just as excited to watch their siblings open up the gifts they’d bought as they were about opening up their own gifts. Even though we’d purposely pulled back a bit on how many gifts we bought this year, it was the perfect amount — plenty for the kids to be excited about, a chance for them to get some of the things they needed most, and not so much that they became overwhelmed or got a case of the gimmes. I love Christmas with small children, and it’s something I never want to take for granted while we’re in this season of life.
That week between Christmas and New Year’s is a weird one for everyone, but not in a bad way (not for us, anyway) — sure, we might not have known what day it was half the time and kept running out of things like milk because we were out of our routines, but it was a chance for us to dream big for the farm, plan the year ahead, and start figuring out what we wanted from 2024. It might also have marked a pivotal shift in our possibilities for the farm ahead, but I’ll have to keep that vague for now, as nothing is definite and we’re still feeling out what we want to do. The week was basically a chance to rest, reflect, and dream, and it was exactly what we all needed to hit the ground running when January hit.
Here’s how we did on our December goals:
- Finish Minimalist by 2024 Challenge
- I didn’t finish, but I sure made some amazing progress! All in all, I made it through about two-thirds of the list by the end of the year. I do plan to still keep on going through our house area by area though, so I’m keeping the list up on my fridge and continuing to set goals around it.
- Clean out fridge
- Uh, nope. It really NEEDS a good clean out, but it hasn’t happened yet. Rollover goal.
Direct sow high tunnel
- Sure did, and I already have some little plant babies coming up, too!
- Thanks to our weirdly warm December, we were able to miraculously get this done.
- Publish four blog posts that aren’t Weekly Frugal Wins
- Finish 3 books
- I actually finished five! Winter is definitely more conducive to reading than the growing months are. I’ll do an update soon in my next Loving and Learning Lately round-up.
January for me is all about mindfully preparing for the year ahead and trying to put good habits in place to help with my mental health, which tends to dip a bit in winter. For the past few years, I’ve purposely planned things for January that I’m particularly excited about since it’s historically my least favorite month out of the year, and this January is no different — this year, I’m once again teaching a community class through our local college all about cut flower gardening, and I’m also taking an online class myself that I’ve wanted to take for years (more on that below). Matt and I are also attending the Utah Flower Conference at the end of the month, which is an all-day workshop event that pulls together hundreds of florists, flower farmers, and flower enthusiasts from across the state. I attended it last year, and it was the perfect way to get me fired up about the season ahead.
I’m also using these winter months as a chance to catch up on neglected house projects and tasks because we simply don’t have the time during the growing season to do many of them. For this month, that looks like continuing in my Minimalist by 2024 Challenge, which I got about two-thirds of the way through by the end of last year. Since minimizing the stuff in our home is the #1 thing I can do to streamline my household management list right now, it’s top of the priority list. Second on the list is meal planning, which I talk about more below.
Here’s the official goals list for the month:
- Start tax preparation
- Filing taxes is always top of mind as a new year starts, mostly because we pretty much always get a pretty sizable tax return, and it’s nice to have that money to put aside as close to the beginning of the year as possible. Our tax preparation is definitely less straightforward now that we’ve gone to flower farming full time, so I imagine it’s going to be a bit of a migraine trying to work through it all. Best start early since I plan to file as soon in February as I can.
- Finish minimizing master closet
- I was tempted to just say “Finish Minimalist by 2024 list,” but I knew that wasn’t super realistic with everything I need to do this month for flower farm planning/behind the scenes stuff. So I just decided to narrow it to finishing the two areas that are bugging me the most :). I actually tried to originally tackle the master closet very first (just because the current system is not working), but because it’s our house’s main storage area for the main floor plus our actual closet, it’s been trickier to pare down and streamline than I thought it would be. We’ve already come so far, though! I think this one last month should hopefully do it.
- Finish minimizing master bedroom
- I’ve been really close to being done with our bedroom for months now…I just need to tackle two more minor areas and then one major area (filing cabinets) is all.
- Clean out fridge
- Rollover goal.
- Get back on the meal planning train
- I mentioned in my last Weekly Frugal Wins that I had fallen out of the habit of meal planning months ago, and that I desperately needed to get back into it again, both for financial reasons AND for sanity reasons. I did a whole post years ago all about how I meal plan (when I actually meal plan, that is), and that’s still the system I’m going to use this month.
- Do all homework for Floret course
- The paid course on flower farming that my husband and I are both doing started this month, and it’s just as awesome so far as I was hoping it would be! There is a decent amount of “homework” for the class though, and even though it’s not actually stuff we have to turn in or anything, we’re still trying to do all of it in order to get as much out of the class as we can. It helps that it’s the kind of homework that I love to do for fun anyway!
- Finish flower farm planning for the year
- Now that our flower farm is more than a side hustle for me, we need to be super organized and systematic about it all, particularly as we’re scaling up production by about 10X this next year. I’ve already made some good headway on my farm plan for the year, but I haven’t completely filled out all areas yet.
- Research (and apply?) for farm loans
- We’re actively looking for more land to buy (an “actual farm,” if you will, not just our backyard and rented land from neighbors). Right now we’re in the beginning stages of seeing if that’s something we can do sooner than later, and one of the first things that needs to happen is we need to figure out our financing options.
- Publish four blog posts that aren’t Weekly Frugal Wins
- Considering I’ve published this one and the 2023 Year in Review, I figure this should be a shoe-in, right? 🙂
- Finish 3 books
- New year, same reading goal. Except maybe this time I’ll actually be able to meet it?
How’s your new year going so far? Any big goals ahead?