I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to post a blog today. Our internet provider has been having network problems, so it’s been on and off, usually off when you need it most. The benefits of country living, right?!
I can’t believe we had snow a week ago, and yesterday the high was 85F, Nathan and I both dressed in summer clothing. We spent the morning grocery shopping in Sioux Falls with my mother-in-law, and then met Dan and Ryan for lunch. As I packed up and cleaned out Nathan’s diaper bag in preparation I smirked as I threw out the knitted gloves and hat, and replaced it with a sun hat and sunglasses, dressing him in a one piece shorts outfit!
Doesn’t the warm weather just give you energy?! Early this week I threw myself into weeding the strawberry patch, going for long walks, and just enjoying the fresh air outside with Nathan. Give him a pile of dirt to play in and he is a happy camper. After he tires of crawling around pulling dandelions (Good job Buddy!), playing with the wheels on Dan’s truck, and throwing weeds and rocks in the fire pit, he finds his way over to me in the strawberry patch. He crawls through the middle of the patch, crushing tender plants, so he can get to Mom. I’m usually on my knees, garden gloves on, hunched over a cluster of grass that would be beautiful if it just wasn’t crowding out the strawberries. Pulling himself up on my shoulder he leans over and looks at me, smiles, pats my back and talks to me. He needs a little cuddling, so I sit down and place him on my lap, and he just sits there content while I pull weeds with one hand. After a time of observation, he bends over and frantically starts grabbing grass and throwing it behind him, mimicking my weeding actions. I was so impressed! He found my weed pile and started happily throwing those over his shoulder, but he was pointed in the wrong direction, so he was aiming for the berries, I readjusted his rear to face away and he went on with his work. It was just so cute! I have a gardener-in-training!
Dan has separated a few of the hens to the milking parlor with the rooster to lay on eggs and hatch chicks. In the meantime, five of the hens “left behind” have gotten broody, and sit in the nest wanting to lay on eggs. Dan dunked them in water, as another chicken farmer friend suggested, to cool off their breasts, which would break the cycle.
So we have a percentage of hens who aren’t laying at all because they are broody, and then another percentage that are supposed to be broody and laying on eggs, and then the rest. Ironically, there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of eggs to clean!
The goats are happy and content in new pasture, as we await the kidding period. It appears that about five of the Nannies are expecting, as their bags have dropped and are starting to fill out. We wonder if that’s all we’ll get for the season, since we had so much trouble with a reliable buck last fall. Dan has had interest from three people in hiring the goats to eat down and clean out groves and pasture in the area as a natural form of weed control. One woman keeps horses and has had trouble with leafy spurge, which is poisonous to them, but not goats. The Minnesota DNR considers this plant as noxious and invasive, so we hope that our goats can help naturally control it’s growth for the horses best health.
The garden is coming alive with spring vegetables coming up from our direct seed efforts the last few weeks: radishes, spinach, romaine lettuce, potatoes, onions, peas and beets. The garlic is almost knee high, and the asparagus shot up for a fourth cutting during our heat wave yesterday. Sunday we grilled steak and asparagus, juicy and slightly charred. So. Good.
The broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage I planted in trays need to be transplanted into the garden and covered with our “greenhouse” milk jugs. The tomatoes need to be “potted up” from their broadcast tray, and we’re still waiting for all the lazy peppers to stretch out. The peonies, lilacs and chives have buds, ready to blossom at any moment. The fields are busy with farmers planting in the rich soil. The barn swallows arrived this week, marking the start of planting season, as the saying goes. Dan is anxious to get our sweet corn and popcorn planted, and while I planted some basil, cilantro, parsley and dill in trays, I hope to direct seed some in the garden this week as well.
And that’s the news from this winter-than-warm week on the farm!