It’s alive!

That’s the great thing about spring. It’s dynamism, it’s force, it’s awake-ness. There has to be a compendium of all the trite spring clichés somewhere on the internets, but I get them now…and why there are so many. This is our second spring in this land of things that actually grow and because I’m no longer in the throes of setting up house and banishing cardboard from my life, I’ve been able to stop and look at it more. The thing about the aliveness of spring is that it’s stealthy. Lying in wait, quietly, patiently, it ambushes you and smacks you in the head with copious green on the oak tree that wasn’t there yesterday. Or the trees turning white overnight with popcorn blossoms. It’s beautiful and even more so because it’s a beauty that surprises you. Now, don’t misunderstand. Spring is still a wild animal in my opinion. Something to be marveled at and appreciated, but never, under any circumstances to be trusted or counted on. I don’t love Spring, because I’m too much “The Planner” and “The Writer of Lists” and “The Checker of Boxes.” Spring doesn’t allow for too much of that, not unless you buy white out. And lots of it.

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First Daddy Daughter Dance. Oh. My. The Cuteness. Our church put on a dance for the girls 11 and younger and their dads, and my girls were over the moon. [like that cliché? I’ve got more!] Layna was a mite perturbed that her Dad had two other ladies to dance with, but I was told that cupcakes went a long way to assuaging any lingering jealousy.

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Strawberry Season is officially open! Having four able-bodied berry pickers this year instead of two pickers plus two berry eating liabilities is a revelation. The four gallons we brought home are already spoken for and I haven’t even started thinking about jam. This will be a weekly event for the next 5 weeks. Then we might have enough. Maybe.

Cleaning out the closet that doubles as a chick brooder, I found our incubator. The husband guy said, “hey why don’t we hatch some of our eggs? They should hatch on St. Patrick’s Day!” I was sold and we got to watch two babies for the full hatching process. Lucky (on the left) was born the day before St. Pat’s and Shamrin (on the right) was born on the day itself. [Aside: Farm kids are no different that normal kids in their desire to name all the things. They also are no different in the bizarre and random names that they insist are the right names and will defend those names to the death! All kids do this. Farm kids just have more critters to christen. We needed St. Pat’s Themed unisex names since we won’t know gender for a few weeks yet. I thought Lucky and Shamrock. Naomi insisted on Shannon and so Shamrin was the compromise.]

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As you might have noticed our incubator can only hatch three eggs at a go. That complicates things if you want, say, 25 chicks. So a week prior to our eggs hatching, we went to the feed store and got 10 buff orpingtons, 5 australorps, 5 black silver laced wyandottes, and 5 cuckoo marans. We should have a beautiful and bountiful egg situation around August. Luckily, we will have pigs to help with the surplus.

They are all settled in the tractor outside, and Lucky and Shamrin are doing wonderfully despite being a week smaller. It’s a good thing too. I need the brooding closet for the 5 turkey poults that are coming home tomorrow! More on that new endeavor later.

To the untrained eye, or the imaginationally challenged these look like twigs in trash bags.  But I see bushels of apples and pears and ridiculous amounts of elder berries.

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Its a good thing that’s what I see, because a few days after we brought home our orchard (11 trees and two elderberry bushes to add to the 12 blueberries, 2 figs, 2 paw paw, and 1 lemon tree) it snowed. SEE?! This is what spring does! It’s a beast. A beautiful beast, but a beast nonetheless.

All the trees are positioned and 4 are in the ground.

Currently we are facing one of the hardest things about homesteading. All the decisions and the trade-offs they embody. When the apple trees woke up the leaves started coming in curled. Same with the lemon tree. This says a pest problem. We can spray for pests (as our nursery expert recommends) but that would mean giving up the rosy, if nebulous, ideal of “organic” and “all-natural” and “Healthier trees and fruit.” It’s the same reason people pay $50 instead of $12 for a bag of non-GMO, organic, soy and corn free chicken/pig feed. Honestly, I’m torn. With the animal feed, I’m pretty sure cutting sugar out of our diets would have way more health benefits than the super expensive feed that makes our eggs and pork (especially since a huge part of those animals’ diets are high quality kitchen scraps and greens and bugs and all the things they forage for). With the trees, I can have more fruit and much prettier fruit with much less headache and difficulty if I spray. But then I’m already looking at 20-30 bushels (thats 960-1440 lbs) of apples on a good year when they are mature, 10-20 bushels of pears. Even if I lose some to bugs and birds, I think I’ll manage (read: drown in appley, pearful goodness) And reputable sources say that non-sprayed trees can be stronger and more resilient. I need to look into natural orchard keeping methods and see if I can find a way forward that feels good to me. Sigh.

Bottom line though: Spring makes me happy. It feels good to get the garden planted, even if I messed up my timing and got things outside way too early. It feels good to be watching my cows udder bulk up with promise of butter and feta cheese. It feels good, and I don’t mind keeping my eyes on Spring, just in case.

 

 

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