Thursday, March 13, 2008

Getting Ready for Spring

The weather has been warmer this week and snow is finally melting. I have been thinking about all the things I need to do to get ready for spring. I made an order of chicks through Ideal Poultry. I got some bantam cochins, Delaware pullets, Barred Rock pullets, and some Rhode Island Whites. There is something really excited about getting a peeping box in the mail. I have been moving my chickens and ducks into the barn because the dogs won't stay out of the coop and with the melting snow, it's too sloppy for the chickens. The barn is pretty dry, but there's a nice big puddle in the hog lot, so the ducks should be happy. The last 2 days I have come in from doing chores covered in chicken poop. Underneath the nastiness in the coop is a thick sheet of pure ice and I fell both days. The first time I hurt my knee, but at least I didn't lose the rooster I had under my left arm and I didn't crack the egg I held in my left hand. The second time I just fell on my butt, which didn't hurt at the time, but is a little sore now. I have about 8 more chickens to move today and then they're done. I'm still trying to figure out how to feed the poultry without the goats eating it. So far I'm feeding them at the same time, plus scattering scratch grain around.

I have been planning the garden the last few days. I have a bunch of seeds to get started this week. I have lavender, sweet basil, and rosemary for the herb garden. For tomatoes, I have Roma, Jubilee, Brandywine, Yellow Pear, and a packet of Best of Show Mix. I have sweet banana peppers and a packet of bell peppers in red, yellow, orange, white, purple, and chocolate. I also have some Sugar Baby Watermelon seeds to start.

I can't wait to see flowers blooming! I have peonies, lilacs, roses, tiger lilies, tulips, among others. Tate had me buy him so packets of flower seeds, so he's going to have his own flower garden this year. He's going to have asters, bachelor's buttons, zinnias, dwarf sunflowers, and marigolds. I bought a ton of sunflower seeds so I can plant a very long row of them. I am going to save the seeds for winter feed for the animals. I meant to do this last year, but after having Sullivan, I didn't have much time for gardening. I want to do some freezing and canning this year as well as selling at farmer's markets. I bought some onion sets and russet potatoes to plant, as well as carrots, parsnips, peas, beans, swiss chard, lettuce, and spinach. I can't wait to be eating my own organic produce! I couldn't believe the price of a little bag of lettuce at the store. It's insane! I'll save a lot of money by having my own produce, chickens, and eggs. I still would like to get a pig or two this year and maybe in a couple years get a cow. That would help immensely with the grocery bills!

Another big project on the spring agenda is creating a habitat for birds, bees, and butterflies. I planted trees a couple years ago that came in a songbird package from Iowa's State Forest Nursery. I need to put up some more feeders, as well as a couple birdbaths. I have quite a few flowers and herbs that they would like, but I want to have even more this year. I also need to put up some bird houses, I don't have any yet, so that's going to require some building. Better Homes and Gardens' website ( has a lot of plans and tips for creating wildlife-friendly gardens, so I will be spending a lot of time there.

My grandpa was an avid bird watcher and always had tons of feeders hanging around his deck. I'd like to continue that tradition so my sons learn to appreciate everything nature has to offer. Our dog, Annie, loves butterflies and I've seen her twirl all the way across the road to try and catch one. She never has though.

Earlier in the year I bought Tate and I bug nets and I'm making him a bug cage out of plastic canvas. We are going to have so much fun! I am starting to get very impatient waiting for all this snow to be gone. It's supposed to be in the 40s all week, so I don't think we have long to wait now!

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