The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

The best of 2013

2013 was a transition year, angsty in places, but delightful on the whole.  Here are my top-ten favorite parts of the homesteading year just past:


1. Kayla.  A friendly face and helping hand have made all the difference this summer, fall, and winter.  Isn't it funny how all my goals and plans revolve around plants and buildings and livestock, but people are what top my best-of lists?

Early transparent apple

2. First homegrown applesScrumptious apples from our own trees was one of the reasons I moved to the farm in the first place, so our first harvest was both delicious and inspiring.  In general, 2013 was also the best fruit year our area has seen in a long time due to a lack of late spring frosts, and we took full advantage of the bounty, experimenting with canning, drying, jamming, and gorging ourselves silly.

Mother-daughter bonding

3. Continued good company.  Mark, Lucy, Huckleberry, and Strider provide daily good cheer.  In fact, this point should probably top the year's chart, but it's nothing new and hopefully won't change anytime soon either.  It's also been a joy to see new and old friends both on and off the farm, and our vacation with Mom will go down in history as one of the best ever.

Erecting quick hoops

4. Bushels of Brussels sprouts.  Okay, maybe not bushels, but enough to eat lots of them all winter.  Beyond the actual Brussels sprout, this also marks the second year when we've had copious fresh food available all winter --- delicious!

Hammock chair

5. Summer on the porch.  Being able to laze about after hours on the porch swing was delicious last summer.  Cozying up in front of the fire during the winter is no less fun.

Wringer washer

6. Greywater wetland.  In addition to drying up a bad muddy spot, our greywater wetland has been fun because it's given me a nature-filled location to do the laundry.  We're always looking for ways to turn normal household tasks into a joy --- that's part of the trick to living in paradise.  Our sky pond needs a bit more work, but looks like it will soon fill a similar niche.

Mailing chicken waterers

7. EZ Miser.  Between the kits and the premade units, 184 chicken-keepers have already tried out Mark's newest waterer invention, despite the EZ Miser having only been on the market since the middle of August.  The reviews have been glowing and we look forward to introducing many more chicken-keepers to clean water come spring.

8. Rooting and grafting extravaganza.  Being able to root a dozen fig trees from cuttings and graft a tastier variety onto two undelicious pear trees expanded my homesteading palette considerably.  I love the experimental and gifting possibilities opened up by these new skills.

Flying squirrel
Watermelon Summer9. Nature sightings.  There's always something beautiful and interesting popping out of the woods to see usThe trail I've been working on this month has made those sightings even more frequent --- in fact, I felt like I was flying Sunday while I carved out a foothold on the hillside above the inundated floodplain.  Catching a wild swarm of honeybees was also astounding.

10. My first ever work of fiction!  This would be much higher on the list if I'd figured out how to actually sell more copies in this new genre, but it still feels like the resolution of a deeply-held dream that began in elementary school.

Hauling lumber on an ATV

Even though we live and work together, Mark's list would probably be entirely different.  It might involve our new ATV and hot water heater, along with other things I've probably completely forgotten.  And there's much more excitement to come in 2014, so stay tuned!

What were the highlights of your year?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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You've made such terrific progress!

I think my favorite event in your blog this year was the installation of the greywater wetland. It must be wonderful to have something relaxing to look at while doing a usually tedious job. It's a great way to incorporate a typical waste product into something beneficial.

I have to say my best moment of the year was hatching chickens from a homemade incubator. And even though we had a freak late freeze that knocked out the power for almost 48 hours, I somehow managed to keep 8 of the 12 alive using my own body heat. I wish I could have gotten a hen to sit on them, but they were being quite stubborn about it.

I really look forward to another year of reading about your projects and ideas. I find it all truly inspiring! Happy New Year!

Comment by Roberta Wed Jan 1 10:03:00 2014
It was wonderful to see you sitting in the hammock chair. I remember often seeing you sitting in the chair on my porch and reading late into the evening until you could hardly read what was on the page of the book! Thanks for sharing your favorite parts of the last year.
Comment by Sheila Wed Jan 1 23:43:25 2014

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