The Big List – 2017

If there is one point in time that sets the tone for the year to come, it’s probably this one…


The one hour a year I sit down– with a bottle of wine and a fresh piece of chalk– and plan out what the next 12 months will hold. Projects. Chores. Maintenance. Things I’ll plant. Things I’ll build. Things I inevitably won’t get done (which never stops me from putting them on the list.)


Building this bigass chalkboard and using it to track my progress for the year has been one of my best ideas to date. I started my big yearly list back in 2014, and it’s been going strong ever since. (See also: 2015, 2016)

I already recapped how last year went and here’s how my list looked at the end of the year…


I haven’t had a year yet where I managed to plant (and harvest) everything I hoped in the garden, but with the greenhouse up and ready to start seedlings in February, I’m feeling more optimistic about the garden in 2017 than I have past years.


Getting shelves and heat set up in the greenhouse will be one of my first “outdoor” projects for the year, in fact.

I’ll also be finishing up some of the things I didn’t manage to cross off my list in 2016:


The kitchen (cabinets and counters) are at the top of that list, along with the upstairs bathroom. Both of those rooms are close enough to being “finished” that I should be able to get them done this spring. (Famous last words.)

And, I’ve refrained from adding anything “new” to the farm this year. I’ll replace the grapevines that don’t make it through the summer, but no new structures, no new fruit trees in the orchard, no new animals that would require building coops or fences (although I am planning to add to my chicken flock in spring, but that doesn’t really require new equipment.)

There’s ongoing maintenance to all of the structures on the farm, maybe a few more fun spaces (and an upgrade to my swings) out in the field, but I’d really just like to spend 2017 giving everything on the farm the attention it deserves.

With, of course, the addition of one pretty substantial project: Farm Camp for Girls.

This idea is still in its early stages. I’ve been researching a lot about programs around the country that introduce junior-high age girls to science, math, and trade skills (like using power tools to build awesome things), and I realized they’re a very impactful way to drive home the same message I’ve spent thirteen years sharing on this website, namely: Hell yes you can do amazing things.

Farm Camp would be a side-project in addition to all of my other work and farm responsibilities, and there are a ton of logistics (and legalities) involved in this kind of thing which may take a year or two to sort through, but I’ve got the means and the space to provide a really awesome experience for girls to come and explore things they might never have guessed they could be passionate about, like puzzling out a mechanical problem, or making sawdust, or growing their own food. I’m hoping that eventually I’ll be able to create something here that will be meaningful to my community (and, you know, logistically possible given all of my current responsibilities.)

So, I have no idea how this year will play out, but I’ve got high hopes for really amazing things in 2017.

23 Responses

  1. Farm Camp for Girls? AWESOME!!!!!!! Chalk in Farm Camp for Girls 50+ . We’ll come learn all sorts of cool shit and share our hard learned life lessons with you at the end of day fire and drinks!

    1. I would love to go to a camp for 50+ ladies but in the summer I really hate to leave my place e for even a weekend! So much to do, and I want to do it all myself.

  2. That is an unbelievably awesome idea. Seriously inspired great idea.

    I’m a pediatric ER doc and I will gladly volunteer to be Farm Camp for Girls medical control whenever the camp plans get closer to fruition.

    I am capable of camping as well should you decide you need a doc for the camp.

    Honestly, I am amazed:
    1. that you thought of this
    2. that you are seriously considering it

    And I am so thankful that people like you do exist.

  3. OMG! What a fabulous idea! There are some very lucky girls out there just waiting for a chance like this. Go for it!

  4. I grew up going to (and later working at) a summer camp called Gwynn Valley that has a big working farm on the property. Campers learn to plant, pull, and eat! tons of veggies and also learn how to look after a farm and its animals. Check it out – I love your idea of Farm Camp for girls!

  5. Can grown so ups come to your camp? You know as guinea pigs or something? I’ll bring wine.

    You always motivate me to do more and I appreciate it.

    Good luck with your new year plan. We are building a new home so I am sure I’ll have a never ending (make it look less new build) to do list.

  6. I LOVE that idea! I’d attend in a heartbeat. If you ever want to do an adult version, count me in!

  7. I just want to echo everyone else that Farm Camp is such an amazing and unique idea. I really hope it works out (and you post about it!). Good luck on the to-do list for 2017. Looks like a busy one even if it’s just a maintenance year.

  8. Farm camp for girls is such a brilliant idea! This will surely turn out well. Goodluck on our 2017 and God bless us all. Happy new year!

  9. I grew up going to a farm camp and I absolutely love your idea for a camp for girls! The farm camp I attended really made an impact on my work ethic when I was young and has definitely impacted my future house/farm goals as an adult. 2017 sounds like it is going to be a great year!

  10. I’ll join the crowd in saying I absolutely love the camp idea. I never would have thought of something like that (I didn’t grow up going to camp), but given the interest I’ve had from other people since I moved to a farm, I can see it resonating with a lot of people–and being very valuable for girls in particular.

    And on the other topic of your post, good luck with your list. I love the process of planning for the year. We’re looking ahead to gardening season too and feeling like we’re so much farther along than in previous years. As much as I love building things, there’s much less anxiety in planning to just plant the garden and not having to build it first!

  11. Brilliant idea! Camp for Girls. I don’t know why, but I always thought you had plans for using your space for events like weddings or family reunions. Farm camp is even better!

  12. FARM CAMP. That’s brilliant. I live nearby (-ish… in the Metro Detroit area), and would love to volunteer my assistance in some capacity. I’m not sure what kind of help you might need, but I really love this idea and I’d love to help if I can. I hope you’ll keep us posted on it!

    1. That’s so awesome Abbie! I do think at some point I may need volunteer hands and I will definitely put a shout out… that may not be until next summer, as this year I think there will be a lot of prep (and potentially small focus groups). I’ll post regular updates on progress!

  13. What an amazing, inspiring idea! I wonder if there is a way you could set up a “Go Fund Me”-type page? I’d love to contribute.

    STEM stuff and power tools – totally awesome and so needed. Just please don’t forget to share your art and literacy (WRITING, READING, CREATING…), too. It’s so critical that girls see that there are no limits. I can think of no one better suited to helping them see the possibilities.

    1. I’m determined to try and figure out a way to make this a sustainable program, and it’s still very early days yet, but when camp is up and running there may be ways for people to participate (donating old tools, or sponsoring an underprivileged girl to attend) which I’ll definitely let everyone know about!

  14. wonderful idea of farm camp for girls! love it! you have always inspired me along my DIY journey and i have learned so much from you from afar. i can’t imagine the beneficial impact an actual camp could have on girls, up close and personal!

  15. Is the idea for Farm Camp still percolating? From the posted responses I see I am not the only one who would love Farm Camp…as an adult:–) Not just for folks new to farming, right? So many of us have limitations of time, space, energy, money, etc.; coming out for a week to care for chickens or building something one would never have space for at home, wow, what a way to recharge!
    Seriously, an all-women week building stuff, caring for animals, cultivating the land…an incredible opportunity to recharge our batteries.
    Let your readers know whether this is at all a possibility!

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