It has been quiet around here. It can’t decide whether it is spring with fruit trees, forsythia, and daffodils blooming, leaves developing on the lilac and some of the shrubs. Or still winter in April with a recent foot of snow.
The chickens are confused. The weather warms and they start laying lots of eggs, then it gets cold and they use all their energy just staying warm. The past couple of days have been mild and delightful, tomorrow, the high will be at 1 a.m. and fall all day to 29ºf by night and there are snow flurries in the forecast on Saturday and again on Monday.
I took advantage of the nice afternoon and evening to plant 66 garlic cloves and 100 onion sets and then to keep the Houdini chickens out of the newly planted beds and the just sprouting asparagus, three 25 foot rows of plastic chicken wire were purchased and staked around those boxed beds to try and keep them out so growth can occur undisturbed. Even when the chickens are allowed to free range all 30 acres if they are a mind to, they tunnel under the vegetable garden fence to dig in the spoiled hay and the compost. With four more 8′ X 4′ and 3 more 4′ X 4′ beds to plant, a better solution than the plastic chicken wire is needed to keep them out. After not having much luck with root crops and me being the only one who likes dark leafy cooking greens, a change up in the garden is due. Potatoes, greens, salad, radishes, carrots, and turnips are all readily available locally grown at the Farmers’ Market, so I’m not even going to mess with them this year. Tomatoes and Jalapenos are always canned or frozen and used up by the time the next growing season comes around, so they will be grown. Green beans and peas if I can keep the bunnies out of them this year will be grown. A block of popcorn with some kind of pumpkin or winter squash interspersed will be there. I have planted sweet potatoes for the past few years and then many don’t get used, so I doubt I’ll waste the space on them, but Kirby cucumbers will be added so I can make lots of pickles. They disappeared quickly last year the the cucumbers were pricey at the market.
The raspberries never did get thinned or pruned last fall and other than trying to control their spread into the other beds, it is too late to do anything about them this year. I would like to dig them all up and replant huge buried pots of them to control their spread. I also want to add to the blueberry garden and look at other fairly small fruit options.
One cold March day I took a fruit tree pruning class and though I can recite the rules, having an idea of what the finished pruning should look like still eludes me, but I have taken a stab at working on our small orchard. One of the Asian pears has gotten really tall and is thin and compact, not conducive to picking fruit and I have no idea how to deal with it. The apple trees and the other Asian pear have a better shape and I think I have a handle on the peach trees.
The early spring brought a trip to a fiber retreat and my first and hopefully last encounter with bedbugs. That put me on antihistamines and anti itch creams and salves for two weeks. Shortly after my return, a new travel size spinning wheel entered my life. It is a fun little wheel that fits in an extra large Land’s End canvas bag and only weighs 8 pounds.
Spring has brought two opportunities to spin at Historic Smithfield Plantation in costume before the season officially opened, a 5K and a fun run one weekend in March and an Easter Egg Hunt this past Saturday. Both of those events brought dozens of visitors into the Slave cabin/Summer kitchen where I spin, so it was fun and busy. When a child shows interest in what I’m doing, I will ask them if they would like to try. If the parent agrees, knowing that the child will have to sit on my lap or between my legs, they get to treadle the wheel while I draft the fiber and once they have helped spin a couple of feet, I double it back on itself to ply it and cut it off to give the child as a souvenir. The parents are always thankful and a bit surprised that I not only let the child touch the wheel, but help.