So how'd all that work out?
I last wrote back in June, so long-lost readers may be wondering how this turned out, if at all.
The main story in the garden turned out to be the animals. The chickens, ducks, and eventually rabbits and bees consumed a huge amount of time. The chickens, ducks, and rabbits came with a set of feeding and watering tasks that were daily, with weekly cleaning, moving, and other tasks. The bees only needed occasional inspection, but anything involving the bees beyond checking the bottom tray for mites meant gearing up and getting ready for a lot. I only got stung a couple of times - no major damage - but I definitely need to do more with the bees and learn more about them.
We didn't manage to build the infrastructure I'd planned for the ducks or the chickens. Thanks to Angelika's parents we have a new planting shed, which I managed to insulate and partly paint, and it has a rabbit hutch leaning against it. We didn't manage to build the duck pond or a place for the chickens and ducks to winter. The ducks are in last year's chicken coop, which they tend to ignore, with some added strawbale walls and a swimming pool I'm regularly de-icing. The chickens - last year's chickens and this year's chickens - are in a "strawbale fortress" with a clear plastic roof.
Next year's project is pretty clearly infrastructure for the ducks and chickens - a larger fenced area, the pond, and a small barn/coop with areas for the ducks and bees, as well as space for pulling the fur from the rabbits and processing honey and wax. Finances and a new baby made that impossible this year.
In plants, we had one successful bed, growing lots of lettuce and radishes. Our tomatoes never really ripened, and we've concluded that cherry tomatoes (and maybe some other small and fast tomatoes) are our future. Our peppers and broccoli perished, but we did get some leeks and garlic. We need to rip out our dull-tasting strawberries and put in a new bed of the "strawberry candy" that grows further up the hill. (Tiny but delicious berries.) The lingonberries seem to be starting all right, and the blueberries are still getting established.
Overall, I'd say it worked out well, though (as usual) we underestimated the amount of time it would take and overestimated the time we'd have in life with a newborn. Caring for the critters ate up most of the hour a day. (Writing a book and failing to find a successor as Dryden Democrats chair until December complicated things too!)
There'll be more here next year. I have some stories I still need to publish, on the shed and the bees and more, and I'll post on new developments as they happen.