Seasons on the Homestead: Spring

It’s almost summer for most of you, but here in the north-north, we’re still in the beginning of spring.

We had a long, brutal, record-setting winter and we’ve had a lengthy wet spell as the temperatures have started to show signs of rising, so we’re not in flip flops or swimsuits yet.

Well, some people are, but we’re not rushing it at our house.

It’s been a rough start to spring here. My tomato plants were doing so well, they grew right up into the grow lights in our seed room, and were all quite flimsy and pathetic looking. I had to transplant them outside before we were ready to, in hopes most of them would survive.

Of the 48 tomato starts we began the season with, 18 made it outside to the garden, and several of those had to be replaced with nursery-purchased tomato plants, since the rabbits sampled them before we got our temporary fence up.

My pepper starts (of which I had 10 different varieties) all came up beautifully and I was so thankful, when I noticed they were “moving” one day… and discovered my indoor seed starts somehow were infested with aphids. Everywhere.

And then all my pepper plants died.

There were other seedlings I never even got started, because things were just so crazy and I couldn’t keep it all straight – so I was behind before I really ever got started gardening this year.

Over the winter, rabbits had destroyed one of our apple trees and the other apple tree was quite pathetic looking, so we wanted to replace them both this spring. Which meant starting over with our apples and putting us another year back on the timeline instead of forward, until we can enjoy our own harvest of apples and homemade applesauce.

So to our favorite nursery we went, to buy replacement trees and replacement peppers and a few replacement tomatoes. Thankfully, they also had ground cherry starts, celery starts, and a squash variety I had wanted to try: honeybaby.

Prior to our nursery visit, though, was Hubs’ and my 16th wedding anniversary. I surprised him with dinner out at a newer restaurant in the big city, and we had SUCH a great meal, SUCH an amazing dessert, and SUCH a wonderful time together. It was my favorite anniversary yet.

The visit to the nursery the following day was a different experience from dinner altogether, but it was still special time as a family and I love seeing the kids get excited about gardening and growing our own food. (Oh! And the nursery had asparagus starts, and I bought some because I’m afraid to ruin it by starting it from seed. So there.)

After our trip to the nursery, we did get a few of the plants transplanted to the garden, but not many.

The next day we went to church, and came home and got right to work outside. It was the most productive day of our lives.

We transplanted the rest of the starts (peppers, ground cherries, celery, squash, onions, tomatoes), got a couple potatoes planted, planted the two new apple trees, transplanted the pathetic-looking apple tree to another place on the property in hopes it does better and is a bonus tree for us, replaced netting over the chicken run, gave the chicken run fresh wood chips, mulched all 3 apple trees, mowed the yard, and probably other things I’m forgetting to mention.

Then after the kids were in bed, Hubs and I went next door to the bar and grill and had a tasty dinner we didn’t have to cook or clean up after. (And don’t worry, we had cooked and cleaned up after the kids for their own dinner.) It was nice to have two dinners with Hubs in one weekend!

Also, I’m not sure where to appropriately place this so I’ll put it here: we have a skunk. It’s huge. And I’ve seen it twice, just before dusk, milling around the property and being far too close for comfort. I understand skunks eat mice and rats and voles, and they’re good for that… but I also understand they eat eggs, chickens, and they have an offensive defense mechanism I want no part of. I’m unsettled knowing we have a skunk here, but we also haven’t been able to locate it long enough to do anything about it, so… yeah. Fun.

And really this post has not much to do with spring. It’s been super wet, and downright chilly. We’ve had more rain than sunshine, and the water table is ridiculously high.

But this past weekend was by far my favorite, and I’m thankful for the time we had as a couple and as a family. I’m also incredibly thankful for trusted nurseries who can start seeds better than I can this year, so we can have a better chance of having a harvest this fall than we started out with a couple of weeks ago.

We’re struggling finding space to plant everything – I still have to get cucumbers, green beans, peas, black beans, red beans, carrots, zucchini, pumpkins, spaghetti squash, buttercup squash, butternut squash, golden beets, lettuce, and potatoes in the ground. And since we learned last year we have to plant more than we thought we did in order to have enough to last us until the next harvest season, we need more space for those foods.

I’m thrilled (and humbled) though, to know how much we’re capable of growing out here, and how well we’ve eaten as a result of last year’s planting. I’m excited to see what this growing season brings and how our harvest and preservation this year will carry us through another winter with fresh, nutritious food, and ultimately, health.

And I’m glad it’s finally spring. It’s been a difficult year so far in a lot of ways, and dreary weather hasn’t helped, but there’s still an air of hope and productivity. Until the skunk ruins said air…

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