Now that Spring is here, it is time to start knocking out projects on the homestead before it gets too hot and humid. I can’t handle hot temperatures, so it can be overwhelming in the spring because so many needs to be done. That is the thing about farm life; there is never a shortage of projects, from fence repairs to spring immunizations and everything in between.
Farm Spring Cleaning
On our farm, spring cleaning includes going through the coops, barns, root cellar, and storage sheds. We decide what needs to stay and what needs to go and take inventory of what needs to be repaired. We pressure wash the barn and stalls inside and out. Our barn is close to a dirt road and collects lots of dust. Spring is the best time to remove any winterizing equipment, clean out heated buckets and de-icers, and put them up, so they are ready to use around the homestead in October. We also release our first batch of fly predators and put out our fly traps and mouse traps.
Start Your Seeds
Spring is the best time to start planning your garden. It’s essential to research your seeds’ germination and harvest time dates because seeds will grow at different speeds and must be created properly. Thankfully, all this information is provided on the back of all seed packets and the internet. Remember to look up your first and last frost dates based on your zip code and counts the days between.
With a 188% increase in the price of lumber, my dream of building a greenhouse is currently on hold, but that is okay. I decided to save the money and convert our root cellar into a temporary greenhouse. We were only using it for storage, and since it’s a functioning root cellar and stays a constant 50 to 55 degrees, it is the perfect spot.
My husband surprised me with a workbench he built for me, hung up grow lights, and installed heating mats to jumpstart my seeds. This is my first time growing from seeds; I have enjoyed it so far. This week, I have mint, basil, broccoli, snow peas, lettuce, carrots, and tomato sprouting. Hopefully, I can keep my seedlings alive long enough to transplant in a few weeks. Wish me luck!
Starting supplies, I am currently using:
Build raised garden beds
One of the fun spring projects I am looking forward to is creating a cut flower garden. I have three raised beds my husband built for me last spring in front of our root cellar. Two 6×4 raised flower beds and a 9×4 raised vegetable bed. Unfortunately, last spring, we had a flood from all the rain we received, which wiped out most of my garden. We were able to rebuild, but we knew we would need to find a better spot so we never had to worry about the creek flooding again.
I picked a spot between our house and barn, far from the creek, flat, and where the new garden will get plenty of sun. We need to install a water line, and I have all the necessary materials and equipment to complete that project. I have plans to do a small cut flower garden this year to experiment with and see what flowers I enjoy growing. I plan on growing dahlias, cosmos, zinnias, hollyhock, bachelor’s button, alyssum, poppies, and more.
With planting season upon you, make sure your compost is ready to go. Turn the pile and add any leftover bedding or kitchen scraps. Separate your piles if you plan to add more material. This will allow your older bank to finish “cooking” as the weather heats up. We currently have two compost piles. The oldest pile has been decomposing for almost a year. Our compost on the homestead comprises hay, pine shavings, pine sawdust, straw, and manure. We turn our newer pile at least once a week during the summer.
Whether you decide to purchase chicks or incubate them yourself, spring is the time to start. It will take a few days to collect enough eggs to start the incubator, depending on how many laying hens you have. Remember that a set of chicks will always take three weeks to hatch in an incubator. If you have a broody hen, you may also be able to hatch eggs beneath her.
If you do not plan on hatching poultry, but do plan on raising them, now is also the time to place an order with a hatchery. With COVID-19, some hatcheries are not shipping live animals, so you might have to pick up an order locally. You can check out ads on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and your local feed stores. My favorite breed is English Silver Laced Orpingtons that my good friend, Kipper, at Grace Haven Farm raises in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. They are not only stunning to look at, but they have the best temperament. So, if you’re looking for an excellent and unique breed, check out her website below or contact her via Instagram.
Spring Property Cleanup
Get your lawn tidy by cleaning up debris like sticks, leaves, and other decaying plant matter that may have been left behind in the fall. Spring is also a great time to prune or maintain your perennials and shrubs to ensure they are healthy and ready to embark on a new growing season. We burn brush piles before summer to clean up all the leftover debris on the homestead.
Fence and Equipment repairs
Winter sure does put a beating on the farm! We always find areas where fences are down or damaged or where limbs have fallen on buildings and caused damage that need to be repaired in the spring. Please make sure all fences are working and in good shape before you need to put animals inside their limits, and do any repairs to roofs, siding, or structural damage before the weather gets hot.
You will also need to repair any locks, doors, or latches damaged over the winter and those rusty or simply not working correctly.
Please make sure all your equipment is in top working order. If you need to repair an ATV, tiller, tractor, lawn mower, or other equipment, now is the time to do so.
You don’t want to ignore maintenance on your home. For us, it means cleaning gutters and downspouts, replacing porch boards, cleaning exterior windows and doors and checking the screens, pressure washing, painting, and any minor repairs that need to be done. All major appliances, our air conditioning unit and water heaters get checked out and serviced. We also deep clean our wood stove, remove all the ash, and add it to the chickens’ flower beds and dust bathing areas.
Please write out an annual spring homestead chore list that works for you. You can make it in the form of a checklist or a written list in a planner. Keep notes as you perform each chore as to what other tasks or chores may need to be done on future dates. You will be better prepared to go into the next season, you will feel less stressed, and it should make your homestead journey that much more rewarding. Yes, it is dirty and challenging work but rewarding and fulfilling. What is on your Spring to-do list?