Oh dear! It's been ages since I last posted. Spring has a funny way of slipping by like that.... We wait impatiently all winter for a little warmth and sunshine, and at the first drop of sunny wonderfulness, our days suddenly become a blur. It's wonderful to be busy again, but as usual, I find myself thinking that we'll never get to all our grand plans once again. I think that's the beauty of life- there is always next year, and the dreams we have that get put on hold keep us planning, preparing, and anticipating.
So here's what we've been up to so far:
- We bought another eight fruit trees to start building our
orchard. It's not very many, but we figure we'll add another eight or so each year until we have a sizeable collection. Last year we purchased our trees from Menard's, and unfortunately, 3 out of the 5 never blossomed. By the time we realized that the trees were dead, Menard's would no longer take them back. So we certainly won't be making that mistake again! This year we found a great local organization to support, the Van County Conservation District, through their annual Tree Sale. The trees are all healthy and doing great, and at $17 a piece, they were a pretty good deal. No matter where you live, there should be a local conservation district that you can visit, and chances are they have some sort of plant or tree sales. If you live in or near Van Buren County, MI, you can check out our local Conservation District here: http://vanburencd.org/archives/category/shop-online
- I've planted the potatoes, snap peas, regular peas, radishes, carrots, onions, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, and cabbage. Unfortunately the chickens keep sneaking into our garden and nibbling on my lettuce. As spring progresses, they usually find other stuff that interests them and stay out of the garden, but this early on, they can't seem to resist the tender green leaves of my heirloom lettuce. Arrrgggghhh!
- Our chickens have also been wandering over to our neighbor's house, and the neighbors are not happy about it. Chickens can kick up and make a mess of your landscaping very quickly (which doesn't bother us, but of course our neighbors are not pleased at all), and our rooster is becoming quite aggressive. So the chickens only get to free-range in the evening until Alex has the time to install a border fence between our property lines to keep them on our side. In hindsight, we should have placed the coop on the other side of our property, which backs up to the woods rather than a neighbor's house.
- We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our four piggies for this summer. It seems our pig farmer is busy planting his hundreds of acres of corn (there is no rest for real farmers this time of year), so we will just continue to wait.
- It's been four years since we added a big load of manure to our garden plots, so we will be doing that again this year. One of our neighbors raises organic, free-range cows, and has all the composted manure we could ever want. Be careful if you are planning to add manure to your garden- make sure it has been composting at least over winter, so that you do not "burn" your plants with the high levels of nitrogen. You also want to add your manure as early in spring as possible, a good 120 days or so before harvest (the more composted it is, the shorter that time period can be) to avoid any bacterial contamination.
- I am helping out this year with a Victory Garden project at the Bangor Alternative High School where I teach high school completion evening classes for adults. The high school students working on the garden project are so excited, and they are even making a documentary about their work. It's so neat to see the movement toward fresh food and community gardens springing up in schools around the country!
- Finally, we have some wonderful news: we are expecting a little helper on the farm! I am currently 23 weeks pregnant with our first baby. Not too sure how this is going to affect my ability to garden this summer, but I'm ready to take it all in stride. We have cut back a bit on the amount we are growing, though I do still want to have a fresh supply of food for both me and my baby come fall. I'll keep you updated on our adventures.
Wherever you are, whatever you do, I hope that spring is bringing you many enjoyable days and a summer to look forward to!