By Jennifer Woolwine

Reflecting: Goodbye 2021, Hello 2022

Simple Living

baghdad to barnyard

January 1, 2022

As we close out another calendar year, we’re reflecting on the positives and small victories that were part of 2021.

One year of blogging

I managed to post every other week and grew my email list. As someone who has difficulty expressing myself, blogging has challenged me. Being vulnerable and sharing my firsthand experiences was terrifying, but I’m glad I did it. Sharing my story allowed me to be my authentic self instead of trying to please others. My goal is to focus on helping others do the same and achieve their homesteading dreams.

First-year gardening

I successfully grew my first herb and vegetable and cut a flower garden from seeds. My rabbits and peafowl enjoyed the fruits of my labor with fresh kale, cilantro, peppers, blueberries, and strawberries. Nothing is more rewarding than planting and maintaining a garden and seeing your loved ones appreciate the garden and seeing your loved ones enjoying your fresh harvest.

cut flower garden in 2021

First-year as a small business owner

My small business is another passion of mine. I started selling greeting cards last December and learned so much about creating and selling my products. Learning is a part of the process, from designing my website to selling on ETSY (that flopped, by the way). It has opened so many doors, and I have big plans for 2022. I can’t wait to share the process with all of you.

Added animals to the homestead

While reflecting on the past year, we welcomed new animals to the homestead. We added two chinchillas and two mini horses, and said goodbye to my 16-year-old dachshund, Buddy, and my 15-year-old cat, Pickles. Saying goodbye to our beloved pets is difficult, but the joy and unconditional love they give to us makes it all worth it. I couldn’t imagine my life without our furry and feathered critters. It is a blessing to spend my days caring for animals and providing the best life I can for them.

new animals on the homestead 2021

Appreciate the small victories

Reflecting on the past year and all the craziness in the world makes you appreciate the small things in life. Taking time to connect with nature, cultivating a garden, and raising animals can benefit not only your mental health but your physical health as well. If you are interested in adding animals to your farm this year or want to learn more about how pets can improve our mental health, check out my popular blog posts from 2021:

How Pets can Improve our Mental Health

A Day in the Life of a Hobby Farmer

Homesteading is a mindset.

Have you always wanted to live a simpler life or dreamed of becoming a homesteader? You don’t need acres and acres of land to grow a garden or wait for the perfect piece of property to be a homesteader. Homesteading is a mindset. It’s about getting back to the basics, connecting with nature, and learning self-sufficiency. If you are interested in adopting the homestead lifestyle, whether in the city or on a small suburban lot, check out last week’s blog post to learn ten ways to homestead wherever you are.

Instagram vs. reality

It’s easy to get caught up in the homesteading lifestyle on Instagram with magazine-worthy farmhouses, barns, and coops. Sure, they are beautiful to look at, but the reality is, FARM LIFE IS DIRTY! Don’t focus on just the pretty snapshots portrayed on social media. Every farm has mud, manure, burn piles, and broken-down machinery. Ninety-five percent of the time, I’m caked in dirt, wearing my husband’s sweatpants, hair a mess, no makeup, and wearing a mixture of cat, dog, rabbit, donkey hair, hay, and pine shavings, broke, and exhausted.

Let’s encourage each other to show more “real-life moments” because that is what we can relate to more than the new squares on Instagram.

More 2022 goals:

  • Workshop remodel

  • Create a dry lot for the minis

  • Inspire others to live a simpler lifestyle

  • Be more organized

  • Create a wellness journal

  • Preserve food

  • Cook from scratch more often

  • Witness my first equine birth

  • Share more moments of gratitude

Thank you for reflecting and remembering so many firsts with Baghdad to Barnyard. I can’t thank you enough for sticking with me this year and for your encouraging comments and kind messages. I wish you a happy new year filled with love, laughter, joy, and new adventures! 

xo, Jen

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Jen Woolwine       Author

Jen is a combat veteran and wife who is passionate about animal rescue, homesteading, and mental health advocacy. Jen's amazing journey of transitioning from military service to homesteading can be followed on her blog and social media platforms @baghdadtobarnyard.

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