HiBar Ranch March Farm Life & April Preparations (BLOG POST)
Well it has indeed been a crazy busy month of March at HiBar Ranch, Farm & Forest. March and April are truly the two most important months that set a farmer/homesteader up correctly or BEHIND ‘the eight ball’ as they say, for all the coming months of summer and fall; in terms of time, energy and yield. So, let’s get into what our March was like.
- First, we had to assure the health and well being of our four lambs that were born January 19th and February 4th. They are growing well and have been given their BOSE shots for selenium & Vitamin E (we are short of these in our soils and thus BOSE shots are very important to provide to new borns). The lambs are all now out on pasture with their mothers enjoying the first green shoots of spring.
- We continued to care for our chicks and ducks we purchased February 25th. Over the course of March we were able to move them from their indoor brooder to their new digs in the chicken house where they are isolated from our larger chickens while still having the opportunity to go outside in a little run with a shallow wading pool.
- We also continued to tend to our indoor seed starts which include lovage, hyssop, dill, calendula, parsley, tomato, thyme, sage, celery and marjoram.
- We moved our grape cuttings into water to begin their sprouting process.
- We transplanted a majority of our seeds that were started in February, into larger pots, making them easily transplantable into the garden.
- We started our arugula, lettuce and tobacco seeds. We are experimenting with tobacco this year along with cotton.
- We are currently hardening off outside and in the garage a big group of seedlings that are ready to go into the garden in April.
- Toward the end of March two of our does had two sets of twins so we, as of now , have four little goat kids with two does still expecting. The kids are still indoors and have yet to go outside as they are very tiny (3-5 pounds) and are therefore great predator targets, though we do have a working Livestock Guardian Dog patrolling the premises.
- We purchased a new buck sire, Toby, to add new genetics to our herd.
- We distributed compost to all our fruit trees in our orchard.
- We added compost to our garden and also tilled it, with it now fully prepared and ready for seeds to go in over the month of April.
- And, today we tackled the big question of ‘how to move your farm herd when a forest fire is raging nearby’. Fortunately, the out of control wildfire blaze settled down after burning nearly 1000 acres within four miles of us, due to a storm front that blew through this afternoon. Yes, those natural disasters do seem to change your work day schedule on the farm with a hightened level of ‘oh, my we haven’t prepared for this.’ Alas, we survived the near tragedy thanks to a very large dose of God intervention, rain.
That is quite alot for March to accomplish but as we say here at the farm, “slow and steady, wins the race”. With my husband and I working as a team, we get a great deal done, though just not ‘quickly’. We log in about ten hours a day right now, but it’s mixed with iced tea on the porch, bible study, good talks over coffee, and lots of hugs, kisses and ‘thank you Lord’ moments for our wonderful life. Oh, I didn’t mention above that we did a majority of our landscape transplanting of our bushes and shrubs over the course of this month as well. That isn’t really a ‘farm’ item…so I will just mention that aside from the list above.
Below are a few pictures of the progress of our indoor garden and our new buckling that will in 2017 be our new herd sire.
So, with all that behind us in March, what are we up to with regard to our massive list of farm activities for April?
- We watch and wait for two more does to have their kids over the coming two weeks.
- We watch our rabbits for which three are due to give birth in the next five days.
- At the beginning of April we will plant outdoors some of the very hardy vegetables for our area (zone 6a/b) which include: brussel sprouts, summer cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, kale, leaf lettuce, onions, peas, spinach, radishes and turnips. Numerous of these have already been started inside.
- Two to three weeks before last frost, which on average here is April 20th but in worst winters, May 15, we will plant outside borage, caraway, cilantro and mustard.
- After frost risk has passed, we will plant outside basil, chervil, dill, hyssop, lovage, marjoram, summer savory, thyme, fennel and parsley.
- The last week of April we will plant/transplant broccoli, potatoes, beets and corn.
- We also always fertilize our lawns April 15th as it is the perfect time for this climate.
- During the month of April we also fertilize our hollies, magnolias, azaleas, etc.
- This month we also organically worm all of our livestock and schedule sheering for the season for our sheep and our alpacas.
- Lastly, and so importantly, we contact our hay guy and line up our 600 to 700 bales of hay for the season to assure we are first on his list for hay this season. THIS IS SOMETHING YOU NEVER POSTPONE. Always love your hay guy/gal. Without hay, there is no farm. This is our primary priority every spring.
With winter clearly gone and spring rapidly moving on, we are weary yet excited for another vibrant year on the farm. Our hard work over winter where we put in approximately four acres of new fenced pasture should provide an ample yield of nutrition for our livestock this summer. We are excited to see this benefit materialize. We are also very excited to see how this year’s experiments go: ducks, growing cotton, tobacco, rice and numerous new fruit tree varieties. We are happy to be ‘in milk’ again, as we love having our morning goat milk to drink. And, we make butter, yogurt, ice cream with all our milk. Having to go to the store to pay $6.50 for a gallon of organic milk just kills us. So, we are thrilled to have our dairy goats back in the milk business for the year. And, we worked very hard on our orchard this winter, putting up trellises for our grape vines, blackberries and raspberries and look forward to a yield from all these outstanding specimens in our orchard. All in all, we feel like we are ON SCHEDULE for this year’s growing season, which for us, is a blessing. We are usually already running a tad behind. So, 2016 is shaping up to be a great season.
We’ll keep you posted as HiBar Ranch’s 2016 farm life progresses and we wish all of you farmers and beginning and/or advanced homesteaders a great spring. This lifestyle is a very special journey and we are pleased to share ours with you and learn about your journey / learning as well.
God Bless! L. Davis