Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spring To-Do List

As we're out walking the dogs and goats, or gathering firewood, or just strolling we're taking a good look around the farm.  Now is the time that our Spring list of chores is formulated!  This is a list separate from the on-going daily and weekly chores like feeding and watering critters, cleaning pens and coops, collecting eggs.  These are 'special' chores that, largely, fate has brought us.  It's different every spring, always full of surprises!

We notices, as seen in the picture on the left, that the hoop house has sustained some damage this year.  We love our hoop house!  It was so successful last year in supplying a steady supply of tomatoes to our CSA families, with some extra for Farmers' Markets!  We also had a much nicer crop of basil and peppers in the hoop house than what came from outside beds.  We won't know until we get a ladder out and have a good look just how big this chore will be.  Hopefully, it's just a repair and won't require replacing the entire covering of plastic: a much more expensive and time consuming event!  We are also putting on the to-do list the building of a second hoop house - they are wonderful for earlier and later harvests and protecting from damage.  Both of these are chores we'd like to have done in April, once we start planting in May, everything is about the growing!  Farmer Man is also putting some cold frames on the list - great mini, in-ground greenhouses which can ease some of the over-crowding that happens every April and May in our sun room and greenhouse as the seedlings start to take over!

Late last growing season a garden renter accidentally ran over one of the hose bibs for the rental gardens.  We were in the middle of potato harvest, still doing October Farmers Markets and just didn't get to the repair before the ground froze up.  So, that repair is on the to-do list.  We'll have to dig up the area and find the break, repair it, let it set and then re-bury the main line.  I say 'we' but Farmer Man will be doing most of the work,  I'm not a very efficient digger.  Also, in the rental gardens, as more and more people get interested in growing their food and our plots expand, we've got to build and place a couple more compost receptacles.  We make these from used wooden pallets, and some of the time involved will be cruising back alleys and commercial zones looking for the pallets!

Dealing with compost is another big to-do!  Compost is pretty much the only fertilizer we use.  For the seedlings and containers, we're using a kelp seaweed liquid fertilizer, but once things are planted in the garden we rely on the nutrition in the soil.  We purchased a load of compost last year and although the product was very nice, it was full of stones!  A number as big as a man's fist and lots of pebbles of various sizes.  We have to create a more efficient screening process to clean it before we apply it.  This chore also needs to be completed in April, so we can apply compost before planting.  We also have to turn an awesome pile of chicken coop and goat pen bedding.  Through the winter, as we remove it to clean the coop or stalls, it goes outside and largely freezes right away.  We'll need to mix it, pile it and leave it to compost this year!

We'll have Berkshire piglets coming in April or May so we've got to create new pasture.  We like to rotate the pasture around, so there is fresh grass, a clean area and no chance of passing on any parasites or disease.  It's like rotating your plantings - you don't want to keep animals in the same area year after year.  The pigs, goats and chickens really 'eat up' any pasture so the previous pasture needs a chance to re-grow.  We'll also need a nice area for Randie, our buck goat.  When we, fingers crossed, have baby goats in late Spring, we need him separate so that he doesn't hurt any babies and, later in the season, doesn't try to breed with any of his children.  Fencing is never a good time, but a chore that needs doing!

We've got to get some pruning on the list!  Our raspberries need pruning every Spring to take out old, spent canes.  We could also use some maintenance pruning on the fruit trees - they were somewhat neglected last Spring as we were distracted by flooding and other unusual events.  Good pruning will keep fruit trees producing much better!  I've also been offered some mature grape plants, so we've got to find an area for them and create some sturdy trellising before we go dig them up and transplant them!

Oh, the to-do list just keeps getting longer and longer.  The more I think of it, the more things that come to mind, and not all garden or critter related.  The house could really use painting, we've got a back patio half made (a project that has gone on a couple of seasons already!), we'd love to create a veggies washing area, Farmer Man wants to build a chicken tractor a la Joel Salatin, the two 'Blue Boy' clematis in front of the house could use cutting back, some of the iris in the front border need just keeps going!  Have you started a Spring to-do list?


  1. I'm tired just reading your list! What will need doing in August, aside from me selling squash to the unsuspecting locals?


    1. Ah, Kelto! Of course, selling squash to unsuspecting locals is first and foremost on your list! And you'll have to pat some doggies and kitties, maybe some baby goats! How about scrapping down the sides of the house as Farmer Man prepares to paint?

    2. Again, that whole fatigue thing is creeping up on me. Hopefully more energy by summertime! Who can I get to come with me if they know there's a chore list? Let's keep that between us for now.


  2. For sure the spring list can get long. We are trying to clear out old granaries, old metal and such like. This yard has been around in one form or another since 1905 or so. I think all that is left from that era are the very old Manitoba Maples which are beginning to fall down. Good firewood if someone would come and cut it up. I am still making room for more Edible Blue Honeysuckle seedlings and lilies but need to quit that as well. We only have one son and he and his wife are not into country living so the work load is getting to be too much. And we do not do any commercial stuff so it does not pay either! Ha! All the best with the hoop house repair. So far our greenhouse looks like it survived another winter so I am glad of that.