Well, it’s a muddy, muddy mess here at Grace Note right now. We have had such a wet winter and the arrival of the Spring Equinox a couple of days ago didn’t really relieve this at all. Isn’t it funny how just as soon as that official day arrives on the calendar, we are all just ready for it to be spring RIGHT NOW. Winter in New England tends to drag its butt for a long time and we will still get snow right into April (it’s not only my prediction, but also the prediction of the Farmer’s Almanac). Don’t let that little warm up and rain fool you if you’re new to New England. It’s just Ol’ Man Winter’s little joke.
There has been more than one spring that I was fooled into believing that I didn’t need to wait for that last frost date. This is in May here in Southern New Hampshire, but with one year was such a beautiful stretch of two weeks that I thought, eh, I’ll get the cold hardy stuff in. Ha! That left me scrambling when we had a SNOW STORM on MOTHER’S DAY. Remember that? It was a few years ago now, but oh, it really happened. I covered my fragile little plants and prayed for the best. Guess what? I started them all over again after the actual last frost and vowed I would never make that mistake again.
Speaking of planting, are we all darn good and ready to get our hands in the dirt? I know I am! I have my seeds ready, the beds planned out and I’m just itching to get some dirt under the fingernails. You know how you get that dark staining the dermal ridges of your fingerprints? Yes, I want my hands to look just like that. It’s a badge of honor for us homesteaders, isn’t it? It’s our secret code. When you meet a person in the spring, you can make some inferences on whether they might be your kind of people by if their hands have that slightly earthy cast to them. A little dirt left under the fingernails is not a disqualifier to us homesteaders. In fact, well, it can be intriguing. I myself like to pose the question, “so, what are you planting?”. More times than not, I get a slight smile and a person willing to go into great detail about their garden planning. Yep, my kind of folks.
So, I told you guys I was going to be starting a full-time job soon. I did, and unfortunately, it didn’t work out. The complicated commute and then remote parking situation caused the total commute time to be a bit over 3 hours. And the job was 16 miles from my home. These hours, already added onto the 8 1/2 hour work day had me away from my family and homestead for 11 1/2 hours a day, WAY too long. Because my husband also works an hour from the homestead, it would leave my very active and busy teenagers sitting around after school and activities waiting for us, sometimes for hours. Many hours with nothing to do is a recipe for no good for teenagers. I was working in the largest city in New Hampshire, and though the people there were all great and it was a great company to work for, my family will always come first. The culture shock of being in a city and dealing with the traffic jams was more than I comfortably want to do anymore as well. Getting old, I guess. Plus, my first job is as a mother and these guys aren’t done needing a mother just yet. I have always taken my job very seriously and doing it to the best of my ability brings me more satisfaction then just about any other job I can think of. Even so, the pull for earning some income for us is also strong, so I will be looking for something part-time that suits our family/homesteading life better.
Hmmm…so pondering something…to chick or not to chick? That is the question every spring. My husband and I have talked about doing more meat birds this year, but as I am still trying to chisel out of the bottom of the freezer the last of the meat birds from the batch we did two or so years ago, I’m thinking perhaps we should wait another year. Or maybe start them later in the summer when we have a better shot at them not having to live in our tiny house for weeks.
For those of you who have never had new chicks…they are so adorable and cute the first two weeks…then they start to smell. And they want to dust bathe endlessly, so your whole house will be covered in a fine film of pine dust no matter what you do. As they grow they dump their water over when they try to fly and get bigger for their container and so you are changing wet, nasty bedding just about daily, chasing them around to catch them, all the while they are CHEEPING! at you like the devil’s got their butt. It’s fine if you only have a few birds, but when we do meat birds, we go for the 25 or so to bring us through the year. Yep, chasing 25 birds around, the dust that 25 birds create, the smell that emanates and all the while trying to keep them contained in the brooder (giant Rubbermaid bin in our case) as they WILL fly out. This, along with not having the farm dog eat them. Oh, yes, it’s not for the faint of heart. But…that is ALL negated if you can just put them right outside in the “little girl” brooder as we like to call it. It is big, has a nice outdoor space for them and a ramp so they can go up and down as they choose. So much nicer of a situation. So why not just do that, you ask? Well, because then you are harvesting them in the late fall/early winter. Young chicks need to be warm, like 90 degrees their first couple of weeks. This complicates things. And, believe me when I tell you, that harvesting chickens, which takes a lot of water to do, is VERY cold in the late fall/early winter. You end up with frozen little stumps for hands and lets just say frozen chicken…hmmm…how do I say this delicately?…parts, yes that’s it, parts, are very hard to work with as well. So that’s your downfall and why we usually just deal with the 3-4 weeks that they need to be in the house in the spring. I’m going to work on a happy compromise for that situation…perhaps the homestead just needs a proper barn! No, NO! Good Lord in heaven, we don’t need that complication right now. Don’t anybody let me get that idea in my head or we’ll be in trouble.
Alright, well, mud not withstanding, we’ve still got sapping going on here, lots of leaves to rake as we let them overwinter on the ground and plenty of wood stacking to keep us busy. What have you been up to on your homestead? What has been keeping you busy and looking forward to the hard work and rewards of spring and summer? I know we’ll all be at it soon enough. Until then, be well, be kind to each other and blessings to you all.