So much has happened in the last month to prepare for April. April 9th is traditionally last frost here in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. All the leaves are budding out on the trees and the skyline is beginning to fill with color. This of course means that everything can start going out in the garden! So, what have we been doing here on the farm and what are we doing next?
As I tell new homesteaders, weather and seasons shape everything. All work on the homestead is really about preparing so that when you need to launch, you can. Feburary and March are two of those months.
What we did in Febuary and March are the following –
1. – Seed starts indoors on heat mats and lights.
2. – We also hatched out about thirty chicks from our own farm genetics. We hatched out Rhode Island Red Crosses with Production Reds – which is basically a 4/5th Rhode Island Red with some extra egg laying genetics thrown in.
3. – Gave BoSe shots to all our livestock – which is selenium and vitamin E to address the deficiencies in the soils that are necessary for optimal health in our animals.
4. – All of our Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats had their babies. We had seven girls and two boys which is phenomenal. You never have than many girls. All our babies were sold before the babies were even born. We had a fantastic set of customers this year who really are passionate about the same things we are.
5. – All of our Navajo Churro Sheep had their babies. We had five lambs in all, four boys and one girl. We even had a premature lamb that is blind that is now my favorite little follower throughout my farm chores. I call him Lambo.
6. – One of our two meat goats had her babies – twins – a boy Roman and a girl Sable. They are 50% Nigerian Dwarf, 25% Boer and 25% Nubian. So, this cross should be very interesting. They are absolutely beautiful little babies.
7. – Our Boer doe is still expecting so we have one last kidding to deal with this Spring and then all the babying is over! How fast that went by.
8. – We acquired another stellar doeling for our herd who has amazing coloring. She is not purebred Nigerian Dwarf, but rather 50% Nigerian and 50% French Alpine. Both are great diary goats. But, for our customers who want insane color – this is the girl that will through those amazing colors.
9. – We also acquired another buckling for our breeding herd. He will be standing at stud this fall for our customers. He is absolutely gorgeous with blue eyes, is polled and has amazing color. So we expect to see fantastic babies next spring along with our customers having the opportunity to use our buck services for their doelings, so they too can have phenomenal babies next Spring as well.
10. – We have done the typical Spring barn cleaning which is a killer for anyone who does farming for a living and a business. That is a big feat every Spring.
11. – We have brought in about 250 extra bails of hay and hoisted them to the second floor by way of hay elevator as late winter early Spring leads many to need more hay before first cut.
12. – We had a new barn built and riding ring for our horses. I will also have a beautiful tack room built into this structure and use the facility to house a great deal more hay and also serve as a place where I can conduct classes on homesteading and animal husbandry for our customers.
13. We did taxes. Woohoo! That is always a crappy exercise this time of year as adding up all the farm receipts and noting that you spend way more than you ever make in this business always makes us catch our breath a bit.
April Planning ~
With nearly all the babies born and many off to their new homes it is time to milk my goats twice a day and begin to make our farm products that are primarily goat milk soap and womens healthcare products.
I also spend a great deal more time in the kitchen making butter, buttermilk for the soap I make, yogurt, ice cream and cottage cheese from all the milk handling.
This week of april our first batch of turkeys will be hatching out – God willing. I purchased fertilized eggs from a neighbor farmer so hopefully that hatch will be successful. We will be sellng organic turkeys for Thanksgiving moving forward so I need a strong hatch with our first two rounds of eggs.
The second week of April we will be picking up two new nucleus colonies for our apiary. We raise bees organically and sell our honey along with salves, wax and other value-added products.
The other big push for the month of April is getting all the Spring plants in the garden, fertilizing our fruit trees, seeding our lawns and pastures, and putting mulch down in all the beds.
But, when all of this is done well in April, the following months of June and July are quite spectacular on a farm. There is so much benefit realized with this work being done and done well.
Oncea again, as we say to our customers, managing a homestead around the weather and the season, is imperative. When I really think about it, I believe the only months we really have down time is November and December. But, we can not complain as this is a great way to live and we love the work and the accomplishment that comes with it.
God Bless! L. Davis