February, the calm before the spring

Although it is still pretty chilly in the mornings, the outdoor chores have begun in earnest the first week in February. Since Mr.Groundhog has announced that spring would come early this year, I have been up in the wee morning hours to grab a nice hot cup of coffee and venture out to examine the gardens. I am always glad to welcome the longer hours of sunlight on my morning rounds, as the dark winter months slowly give way little by little. I have stopped by the trellises, and unused water containers that were emptied, and most of the outdoor furniture to check for damage. I also have begun the task of removing old branches and pruning back fruit trees, rose bushes and berry canes. Two mornings in a row I felt brave, and tackled the huge Joseph’s Coat rose that has climbed all the way up the rebar archway in the lavender field, and has begun to pull it over. I have not cut this rose back in years, and it was quite the battle to get him back under control again. In the end, he got a severe lopping back, and I am covered from the elbows down in pokes and deep scratches. The hazards of owning rose bushes I guess. I will get to the vineyard soon (I hope). I put my used feed sacks to good use, filling them with the pruned branches, canes, and garden debris and hauling them off by the bag load. Leaves and things that can be put through the chipper will go into the compost piles and worm bins. Every once in a while I peek under the covered raised beds to see how the weed eradication is progressing. All of this starts to rekindle my interest in the garden’s design, and my head starts to reel with visions of the spring planting just around the corner.

I also use these fallow days to clean the chicken coops down to the dirt – when they are dry enough in between storms. Sometimes it is all I can do just to keep ahead of the mud this time of the year, and just when I get everything somewhat cleaned up and dried out, it rains again. It seems like I am forever changing the straw in the nest boxes and scrubbing muddy water buckets. The goats are still sporting their heavy winter coats and long beards. We had two days of much protesting as they were all tricked into a pen with a bucket full of sweet grain, and then systematically captured, removed one by one and secured on the milking stand strategically placed in front of the pen. Here they are each checked over and given their vaccinations, wormed, checked for lice and have their hooves trimmed. You would think they would be wise to this tactic by now, but they seem to fall for it every time. 14 goats times 4 hoofs each, makes for a lot of work and a few blisters later. We are all glad when this winter chore is done. So are the goats.

Not much new life here now, only a handful of eggs have been collected and put in the incubator lately. Just a few chicks and game birds have hatched in the past few months – we’ve watched them closely to make sure they are warm enough to make it in this off-season. It looks like most of the molting has stopped in the breeding cages and a few of the pens are even producing a couple of eggs a day now. This time of year the flocks are at their bare minimums, so as not to have to feed as many birds through this non-productive time. I even put the geese out to earn their keep by weeding the back field.

The new calendar page of set and hatch dates was taped to the clear door of the Sportsman incubator to remind me to note the days until Easter. I would remind my hens of these dates as well, but I doubt they would listen.

There is a bit of lettuce growing in one of the raised beds but everything else is still too cold and weary under winter’s firm hold. We will be gearing up for spring soon, but for now we can enjoy some lazier days, pruning back with not much to water, fewer animals to feed and tend, and a bit of time before spring hits us full force. In the meantime I will enjoy having a fire in the fireplace, time for a good book, and the house smelling of something baking in the oven. I will enjoy this time of calmness February brings.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by kirstin on February 9, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    All sounds nice and peaceful on the farm so far 🙂 Hope you can enjoy it to its fullest and the weather cooperates for you!

    Reply

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