It's been a long winter but, spring is around the corner. So they say at least. We continue to hold onto that hope on the farm, as do the animals. With over two feet of snow on the ground in some spots and an unrelenting cold spell, to say we've been beaten up this year would be an understatement. We've had the worst winter in 130 years with an average temperature of 21 degrees and 68 days below freezing. It's easily the worst winter I've ever been through in 34 years. A hell of a first year to own your own farm. Lots of lessons learned.
Spring is an enormous amount of work on any farm. It's when you lay the groundwork for the next 6 - 8 months to be successful and tenable. You need new fencing, tilled garden areas, new coops and anything and everything in between. In short, if your hands aren't covered in dirt and your back isn't sore, you're probably not preparing hard enough. Spring is the season of extreme tangibility though, it's the time when you see the most significant change over a short period of time. Things happen fast on the farm in the Spring and it's easily one of the most rewarding times of the year. It's when the end of day rewards of a drink and cigar on the porch starts to become a regular payoff. Well worth it we think.
The plans for the Spring are numerous. We have pigs that are going to farrow (give birth... fingers crossed!). Goats are being bred. We have chicken tractors to build and fill with our current batch of chicks. There are the new coops to be built for the new batch of egg layers. Maple trees ready to tap and buckets to be hung. Don't forget the aviary for the turkeys we have arriving in a month and half. Last, but most certainly, not least, we are expanding our garden area significantly this year. We've decided to forego our CSA membership and try and do it ourselves with the occasional supplement from the local farmers markets. It's a big undertaking for sure, but one that's quite exciting. We have high hopes given our success last year, however, I'm sure we're now jinxed. All kidding aside, the plan is to give it a go with seed starting occurring in the next few weeks or so and hopefully digging in the dirt in the next 30 - 45 days. Kate has been bouncing off the walls to do so and has started to just dig in our potted plants to satisfy the needs of dirty fingers. Perhaps our biggest expansion this year is with a Meat CSA. It's something that's unique to this area it seems, but the concept is simple. You sign up and pre-pay for a monthly supply of different types of meats. Different size shares for different size families and tons of options to make it the perfect fit for you. We currently still have spots open if you are interested.
The lessons learned this winter are numerous, but perhaps the biggest lesson is to keep focused on spring when the winter feels long. This season was a stern and constant reminder of this lesson. It's a lesson we've known, and one that's easy to lose sight of when you're not farming, but on a farm it's your only hope. The 60 gallons of water a day you haul, the falls on ice, the chainsaw work for downed trees from ice... it all makes sense and feels purposeful when spring rolls around.
We've done a lot well on the farm overall, and look forward more than ever to the upcoming spring and 2014 Season. We have animals bred, some still working on getting bred, chickens in the brooder and more birds on the way. Maple trees are getting closer to being tapped and seeds are ready to be started. It's oh-so-close, any day now and so exciting. We think 2014 is going to be a great year and look forward to sharing it with everyone.