We all survived the election, winter weather, holidays and oh so much more. But, the great news is that is all behind us. With inaugurations over, weather beginning to clear, pregnant animals in the barn and the motivation to begin to do the 2017 planting schedule, we begin.
So, what are we doing now through the end of January and in to February to prepare for Life On The Farm 2017?
The first things that take place for us on our farm each spring are babies, lambs, specifically. Our lambs are typically born the first week of February. After that, the baby goats – kids – are born three to four weeks after the lambs. So, we are now preparing all the birthing pens and isolating the does and ewes from the others in the herd to assure they get adaquate health treatment – BOSE – which is vitamin E and Selenium, and they do not have to compete for feed or worry about being headbutted etc. These are all things that can complicate the final weeks of a pregnancy. We also want to keep them inside where we can monitor their udders to see how close they are to going into labor. We do alot of barn repairs at this time if we need it such as wire repairs in our fence paneling to assure little babies dont get stuck, cut or harmed in anyway.
I spend a great deal of time organizing all my medicine and tools for birthing as often we have to help deliver the babies and 100% of the time I handle the post delivery care. Having had a farm in a remote region, I have learned over the years a great deal of the animal husbandry skills necessary to effectively care for livestock and their offspring, on my own and with the help of my husband.
The other big priority right now is to set up the growing lights and seeds, organic soils and pots for our seed starting activities. At the end of January I start onions via seed indoors. This is the beginning of a rather long list of seeds I start indoors. But, the end of January is the time to start this project. During our down times right now we also revisit our seeds we have saved and what seeds we do have, and then suppliment with seeds we need to order. We make sure all of our seeds are ordered by the end of January.
On days when it is cold and crisp, but not freezing and wet, we work the garden and pull up all the dead matter from the fall before. So, we discard the very large debris to get the garden ready for the old fashioned hand cultivator we use to turn the soil slightly and aerate it without damaging the bio-diversity such as worms and such, in the soil.
Indoors, my worms are working feverishly in their compost bin, breaking down all the holiday foods we didnt eat and are creating amazing soil for seed starts. I check on the worms every two to three days to assure they have the adaquate green and brown mix of food stock to do their thing.
On really cold days I spend time at the end of January cleaning up my bee hive frames. I have ordered new nuc colonies this year and have thus consolidated all my hives down to one. This allows me to clean up my hive frames to be ready for my new nuc colonies which I will pick up in the beginning of April.
I clean up the frames now because it is a good time to also take that wax, render it, and make more of my products I sell in the form of salves, medicinals and candles. All the bi-products of our farm, we use.
Another effort I jump into in January and February while I wait with anxious anticipation for spring, is cleaning and carding my wool and fiber from our sheep and alpacas. This is a good indoor activity I can do in small units at a time and it is calming to spin on my spinning wheel while I watch the weather twist and turn, trying to make up its mind if it wants to warm up.
Also during this period I begin hatching out chicks in our professional incubator. I try to get an early start so our customers who want chicks have the hens laying in summer versus fall when the sunlight is already starting to shorten, impacting their egg production. We of course, keep a light on our chickens so they can lay year around. But, it is easier for them to start their laying around six months of age when that time is during the summer, not fall, depending on where you live.
That is a short overview of how we are spending our days. It is that interesting period of time between the fever pitch that begins to wind up in February and March and the previous frenzy that was caused by fall harvest bumping up against Thanksgiving and then Christmas. Of course, I still have my Christmas tree up and all the decorations around because until February 1st starts, I try to stay as relaxed and in the holiday spirit as I can while I casually prepare for the epic ramp up, that we call spring.
God Bless! L. Davis