Firefly Range

Homesteading For A Better Tomorrow

New Year is a great time to sit down and figure out what worked, what should be abandoned, and what can be improved on the farm. Sometimes the decisions we make are obvious but sometimes they can be difficult. All too often something we put a lot of time and love into doesn’t pay off. It can be hard to cut the cord on failed projects but this can make room for bigger and better things! Setting goals for your farm in the new year can be a wonderful way to get motivated for the spring season and over time will help you grow your farm in a positive direction!

What Worked in 2023

  • Chickens – Just like in 2022 the chickens performed wonderfully on the farm. Our Black Copper Maran hatching eggs are always in demand with the Olive Eggers coming in a close second. 2023 was a year of changes with the chickens. I sold my original Blue/black and splash Amearucana chickens in favor of starting a flock of Ermine Amearucana. I also purchased some Tolbunt Polish, Silkies, and Swedish Flower Hens to expand our breeds. 2024 will be their first season laying and predominantly a growing year for the new flocks.
  • Rabbits – Our Rex rabbits did fine, although demand for them was lower than the year before livestock always tend to run in cycles and I used the 2023 season to make some pretty good improvements to the herd overall. We have a lot of young up-and-coming does that I’m quite excited about adding to our breeding program.
  • Goats – We added our first Boer goats to the farm last spring and they have done very well, I am hoping to add a buck in 2024. Our Nigerian Dwarf herd has continued to do well although the demand for registered stock has fallen slightly I’m still very satisfied with their benefits to the farm overall.

What Still Needs Work

  • The Garden – I learned quite a bit about gardening last year, we tried out a MILPA garden with some success and I was able to harvest and freeze a few batches of beans, peas, and tomatoes. Our sweet potatoes did well and I saved quite a few to start slips for this spring. The onions grew very well but I didn’t plant enough of them as I ran out of dehydrated onion pretty early on this fall. We will be planting a larger amount this year! This year I will likely try out a more traditional garden as harvesting the MILPA was troublesome. In general, gardening has always been somewhat of a weakness for me.

What Isn’t Working

  • Turkeys – I have tried to get a flock of these going with only limited success for the last 2 years. Our first attempt resulted in mostly toms and turkeys are less than reliable for the first year or so when it comes to fertilizing eggs. When I finally did start getting fertilized eggs it was male after male and after a few losses, my single remaining Bourbon Red hen decided to wander off into the woods and get nabbed by a fox. I don’t have the desire to spend 2 years raising more poults to breeding age so this ends our foray into turkeys.
  • Quail – Although we have raised these very successfully for several years and I maintain they are amazing for homesteads with limited room, we don’t get much of a demand for them. I’ve decided to just allow our current breeding flock to live out their lives without replenishing them. I may at some point restart with Celedon Quail but for now, I want to focus on other projects.
  • Ducks – I like our ducks and we enjoy both duck meat and duck eggs, however, there is very limited demand for ducklings of fertile duck eggs in our area. I will likely be decreasing our duck flock, keeping only a few for personal use.

New Projects in 2024


  • Sebastopol Geese – I have wanted these since the first time I saw them. Last spring I found some local goslings and grabbed them up, while I fear I may only have one female currently they are coming up on their first laying season and I truly hope to hatch some more. Hopefully, this project doesn’t end up the same way as the turkeys did. This year will be focused on growing the flock for the most part with very limited sales.
  • Swedish Flower Hens, Tolbunt Polish & Ermine Ameraucana – Like the geese this year will be mostly focused on growing these flocks as I am starting with a small starting number. There may be some limited sales but it will depend on hatch rates.
  • Silkies – While I have a limited flock of silkies I will likely be able to offer more of these than the other breeds as I have twice the amount of hens to start with. I would like to eventually replace our rooster with a better one but he’s good-tempered and a decent enough guy to use for now.
  • Boer Goats – Just as I did when establishing our Nigerian Dwarf herd I purchased our Boer does a year before looking for a buck, this gave our girls time to grow and develop without having to deal with a larger breed buck. This spring I will begin my search for a Boer buck so that we can truly start our herd.
  • Meat Chickens – We dabbled in this last year and would like to increase the amount we produce in the coming year.


  • Establishing a Herb Garden – While I have dabbled in herbs in the past I would like to truly sit down and figure this out. There are several herbs we use regularly and growing them would be far more economical than buying them.
  • Experiment with Growing Animal feed – This would mostly be for supplementing the chickens. Chicken feed is expensive and if I can grow even a small portion of their feed myself it will help the farm quite a lot. I have bought seeds for Sunflowers, Amaranth, and Sorghum. I may experiment with millet as well. Of course, our regular garden will have a nice selection of squash and other chicken-friendly vegetables too.
  • Increase Production – The Milpa garden was a good experiment and I learned a lot from it, however this year I will be attempting a more conventional garden (perhaps with some companion planting)to see which option works better for us.

The Farm Itself

  • Increase Chicken Breeding Pens – While I love letting my main flock free range it does present some challenges when trying to improve my flock. I would like to build some more individual pens so I can focus more intently on certain traits.
  • Redo Brooding Area – I wanted to do this last year but the farm fund went towards improving our pasture fencing instead. Hopefully, this is a project that doesn’t get pushed back again.

There are, of course, many more things I want to work on throughout the year and this list is subject to change as time goes on..but these are the goals I would love to work through in the coming year. What are your plans for the year? Let me know in the comments below!

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