We are excited to say we survived Spring.
Yes, to most, Spring just started, but on a farm, we prepare for Spring very early – usually beginning in January with seed starts and prep for baby lambs and kids.
With April nearly through we are finally done with all the lambing and kidding. Our two Navajo Churro sheep each had twins this year. Our four Nigerian Dwarf Does had a total of seven little babies. Our Flemish Giant / New Zealand cross meat rabbits had one litter with more litters to come. We have 12 new chicks for our layer flock and we have 13 new ducks, a combination of Rouen and Pekin. The babies are all doing well and thriving on mama’s milk and/or new green grasses in the pastures.
We were also able to get in about 1/3 of our yearly hay requirement. 20,000 pounds of hay we moved of first cut hay into the barn loft this week (yes, that’s ten tons of hay). My husband’s son has come out to help on the farm and the first treat on day two of arrival was the wonderful call from our hay guy saying, “we’re cutting!” Every farmer knows that getting hay in your barn is the number one project on the farm if you do not have your own fields to hay. The first cut this year is gorgeous so we were really happy to get so many bales. Having our son helping on hay for the first time was a real treat. We explained to him that hay time on the farm is both tradition and a right of passage really. He loved it and was a great help. Now all our kids who are grown and live in cities, can say they’ve experienced real farm life during haying time!!
On the farm the orchard is in bloom and our trellises we put in for all our grape vines this last winter are doing great. We look forward to seeing the bounty of those efforts. The apple trees, peach, pear, cherry, nectarine, plum, etc. are all in bloom and ready to burst out for another season. The blueberries have bloomed and the blackberries, raspberries and marion berries are all getting green on their stalks as we speak. The rhubarb is pushing out of the ground, along with the asparagus shoots now reaching toward the sky with featherlike tufts signaling new green shoots. The strawberries and sunchokes are making their presence known as they too signal they are ready to get productive for yet another season.
A great deal of the Spring garden is in the ground – potatoes, tomatoes, peas, cauliflower, onions, garlic (still in from last fall planting), lettuce, chard, spinach, carrots, radishes, parsnips and turnips. A large batch of my medicinals will be going in the ground this weekend.
In the house, the sweet potato slips have been removed from the potato and reinserted in water to form roots on each slip. That’s been done. The grape clippings have green leaves to further our grape orchard and our five varieties of tobacco seeds are in their seed starting container with ample greenery ready to shoot forth and be transplanted into larger containers.
It’s time to begin my seed starting indoors for all the summer produce, melons, cucumbers, squash, etc. This effort will begin next week.
As April begins to wind down, the month of May will truly be about tending to the garden and assuring we get maximum efficiency and space utilization going on within the garden footprint. And, of course I’ll be weeding, weeding, weeding. Weeding, seeding and watering is really what May and June are all about. If you get this timing right, and are consistent with the care and nurturing of your plant starts — June, July and August then become insanely productive months in the garden, producing ample food to preserve for the coming winter months later in the year.
The other endeavors I take on beginning now is the seperation of kids at night from the mama does. This allows me to keep the baby goats on their mama’s teat but enables me to milk them out in the morning. I will begin this next week thus we’ll have farm fresh milk, butter, yogurt, and ice cream for the remainder of the year at the farm. Additionally, I will begin processing a bunch of my wool and alpaca fiber — cleaning, carding, and spinning — during my non-weeding, watering and seeding times. I’ll also be making a great deal of my organic goat milk soap as our daughter will soon be home for the summer and loves her homemade goat milk soap.
We’ll update you with a photo-essay in the coming days of Spring life on the farm. We appreciate those who follow our journey in organic farming / homesteading and we wish you great blessings in your pursuit of this amazing dream!
God Bless! – L. Davis