Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spring Busy-ness

Oh my, but we've been busy. Let's see if I can catch you up just a bit.

There's a lot going on around us - the apricots burst into bloom and are just beautiful this year. In spite of April snowstorms and frosty nights, they still look good - so far! This just might be an apricot year. Peaches are starting to blossom. I've been watching for canning jars at yard sales and Goodwill with the expectation that I may be doing a lot of canning this season. So far I've put up a batch of strawberry jam, but we're just getting started.

The daffodils have bloomed and the lilacs are starting to leaf out. We are behind most of the country, so our forsythia is going to bloom soon as well. The irises are leafing a lot this year, so we may get blooms in a month or two. I divided and transplanted them last year, so I'm hoping for flowers this season.

Because of the continued cold weather days, we don't have very much of the garden planted. The sugar snap peas are planted and sprouting, and we've put in some radishes, lettuces, beets and red onions. We still have tilling to do, then I think potatoes will go in next. We started some tomatoes, peppers and leeks from seed (still no luck with the ground cherries!), but it will be a few weeks before it's warm enough at night for them.

The garden space is one big square this year. We moved some small (and not-so-small) trees from the side of the barn to allow more light and tidy things up just a bit. Moving trees is exhausting work, especially those heavy pine trees full of needles. In addition, now we have a couple of craters in the garden that will need to be filled in. I also have some horseradish to get out of the garden plot. It's been taking over, so we moved a bit for ourselves, and we are giving starts to some of our nearby friends.

We've also put in a few new fruit trees. Home Depot sent us some buy one, get one free coupons on trees (they sent them to members of their 'garden club'), so we got a Stanley Plum (prune plum) and a Red Haven Peach. Hubby and Little Bit got me a Rainier Cherry tree for my birthday too - we planted it yesterday. We also put in a Linden tree and a Sugar Maple, and we moved a couple of Maple trees from out in the field as well.

Our asparagus is peeking through the ground and the raspberries are sprouting. The honeyberries bloomed, and so far, so good. They bloom so early that they often get frozen out, but it looks like we might get to harvest honeyberries this year. The strawberry plants have come back too, and we're looking forward to some delicious home-grown fruit. We also have rhubarb large enough to harvest - I just have to figure out what to do with it. (any ideas?)

Most of the herbs over-wintered and are greening up nicely. We're covered up in green onions - in fact, I need to get them all in one spot and organize them somehow. We've got sage, oregano, lemon balm, chives, several varieties of thyme, walking onions, parsley and mint. I'll add some cilantro soon, and possibly some rosemary.

The hens are going out more and more, foraging for sprouts and bugs. We want to keep them out of the garden, so we put up a fence between them and the west edge of the garden. One of the hens - Strawberry - is sneaking around the north end of the barn, so we may not be done yet with fencing. On the other hand, we do have a chicken tractor, so maybe Strawberry will have to forage from there! Peaches, one of our young hens, is broody too, so maybe we'll let her keep a few eggs to hatch this year.

With the addition of the new hens a few weeks ago, we had to find a few more egg customers. I advertised on the co-op message board and I was swamped with requests. Happy problem, because now we won't end up with more eggs than we know what to do with. The warmer the weather becomes, the more the hens lay, so I think we'll be able to keep up with orders just fine.

The ducks are doing wonderfully too. Those first two seem to be a drake (Oreo) and a duck (Daffodil). Daffodil quacks, but Oreo just sort of 'meeps', hee hee. The four Rouens are in with the two Anconas now, and everyone gets along really well. We don't know genders for the four Rouens yet, but Little Bit has named them: Swimmy, Pinto, Meepers and Beetle. They look so much alike that we don't know who's who, but it's all in good fun. I can't wait until they are old enough to swim in their little pond!

I've also been doing a little bit of working from home. I recently finished up editing a book for an author. It was a great experience - nice, because I really like the book! Right now I'm training to score standardized tests for company that has been doing this for over 50 years! In the training, they mention that it's likely that someone from their company scored my tests when I was growing up. These days, the work is all done online, and it's very interesting too. My first scoring project is to assist with scoring 6th grade writing assignments on standardized tests. I'm looking forward to getting started with it.

In addition, I'm making some really neat garden markers for a friend. Each marker is a piece of flatware with the name of a plant stamped into it with carbon-steel alphabet stamps. They are fun, because I get to use a hammer and an anvil! More on that soon.

The Spring order for the food co-op is delivered next weekend. I'm heading up the food crew again this year. We'll serve a light breakfast, then double up at lunch and serve the morning crew and afternoon crew. I have wonderful helpers, plus I 'cheat' and get pizza from Domino's. Still, I've got a bunch of stuff to gather up, and I'll be making a honkin' pile of cookies - chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin. I really like distribution day, and I look forward to a fun, busy time. Also, I get my order - woo hoo!

Our next door neighbor had her baby - a sweet little boy! Their daughter is just a little younger than Little Bit, and she has been coming over to play on pretty days. They get along well and play nicely. Unfortunately, we are all sick right now with some sort of sinus cold. We're drinking our fluids and getting as much rest as we can, in the hope we'll heal up soon.

Other than that, I guess it's mostly the same old same old - bake bread, make tea, clean house, work on projects. We'll all be glad when this cold is gone, but we just keep on keepin' on.

Hope you're having a wonderful, busy Spring!


Anonymous said...


It sounds like y'all are busy and having fun. I pray that you get well fast. What is a honeyberry? I've never heard of that.

Kristy (krm223)

tenthingsfarm said...

Hi, Kristy,

From what I understand, Honeyberry is a Siberian Honeysuckle that bears a fruit similar to a blueberry, except that the fruit is elongated..cylindrical. It tastes a lot like a blueberry, and the plants are very hardy. The only problem with them is that they bloom super early, then we get weather and lose the harvest. (It's May 2 and it snowed some today!)

The two honeyberry plants we have were given to us by a lady on freecycle. They are doing well this year, and if they continue to thrive I'm going to try to pin down some of the longer stems and get them to root so we can divide them to make more plants. They seem to do good as an understory plant, below our pines and junipers.

Grace said...

Rhubarb: We grow it, too. You'll want to cut off the seed pods when they show up and you can extend the season for that. We usually freeze it for use in rhubarb cherry pie, rhubarb strawberry pie, and crisps. Dh also uses some in winemaking.

Growing up, we used to can it as a sauce/syrup and serve over icecream. Amazing! Just a couple ideas for you...

Prairie Farmstead Ponderings said...

I'm glad to hear your fruit trees and bushes are all blooming. Don't the blossoms smell lovely?!

We have cherry, pear, apple and mulberry trees here on the Farmstead. But we've never gotten any cherries or pears...if the frost doesn't get the blossoms, the winds blow them off the trees. The apple blossoms must just be hardier, and the mulberries bloom later.

I hope your precious little family is feeling better very soon!

tenthingsfarm said...

Ooh, Mulberries! I would love to have those again - we had them different places when I was a kid. Thank you for the reminder!

Little Bit is feeling much better, Hubby is still feeling pretty run down, and I seem to be turning the corner today. I felt better yesterday, but today all the congestion is leaving (ew). I'll be happy when it's gone, though!

Also, thank you, Grace, for the rhubarb ideas - I think I will be picking some today!

Anonymous said...

Wondering if you would be willing to explain and maybe post a picture of our "chicken tractor"? I'd like to get chickens this year, but my DH is not going for it...thinks they'll be too much work. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

A yum dessert using rhubarb:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup rhubarb, diced
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup brown sugar- packed
1/4 cup butter (or margarine)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 pinch nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F.
In bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in rhubarb & raisins. In separate bowl, beat together milk, egg and vanilla just enough to combine; stir into flour mixture. Turn batter into greased 8″ square baking dish.
Sauce: In boiling water, stir sugar and butter until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Add lemon juice, zest and nutmeg. Pour gently over batter. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes till pudding is golden brown on top and centre is firm to touch.
SERVES: 2 - 6 and is best with ice cream :)


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