It’s mid-March and the snow is all but gone. There are clumps of white hanging on in the areas where several feet deep snowbanks towered just over one week ago, but otherwise, the land is various shades of brown and green. We went from furiously trying to seal up drafts in the chicken coop while bundled up in heavy winter clothes, to ditching our jackets while working outside. Even though it’s March in Ontario, one can’t help but think it’s spring.
Most winters I would be hoping for the cold to last a little longer, just so I could spend more time on the ice and bridge the gap until trout season opens. Not this year. There are just too many things to look forward to and I want it to be spring.
While the winter has been relatively mild, we have seen more than enough snow for my liking. Today I noticed green shoots in the front garden, a sign that even the flower’s think it’s time for spring. The singing of the birds has increased and changed in tune – they have more than food on their minds these days. Even the species composition has changed drastically in the past few days. While doing my FeederWatch this weekend I noticed that the grackles, red-winged blackbirds, and starlings had all returned, while the number of dark-eyed juncos has dropped.
Aside from the usual reasons I look forward to spring – the nearness of trout opener and the chance to get the boat back in the water, this year I’m looking forward to all that we have planned around the homestead. At this time last year we had just closed on the house (yay – our first home!) and though we had plans, we were still just trying to settle in. This year…well, we’ve made enough plans to keep us both busy for quite some time.
As I type this, I’m listening to whirring of my new Brinsea Mini Advance incubator. One year ago I was just starting out with chickens and now I’m hoping my feathered friends are about to become parents (you know, the kind that don’t have to deal with their offspring). I’ve never incubated eggs before, so this is a learning curve and despite having done my research and read the instructions, I feel like I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping things will work out. I’ve been driving Darrell crazy since last fall, hemming and hawing about possible matings and constantly changing my mind. I finally settled on doing a round of Olive Eggers for my first try. These chicks (if everything goes well and I end up with chicks) are Ameraucana x Black Copper Marans and will hopefully produce dark green eggs. The incubator only takes seven eggs – a strategic buy on my part to try and limit the number of birds I end up with, since I so often go overboard with animals – so I’ve chosen a selection from four hens and two different roosters. We shall see how it goes.
Although planning for chicks has been a part of our winter, planning for the garden has been a much bigger part. Our ultimate goal is to produce as much of our own food as possible. We had a good harvest out of the garden last year and learned a lot about what works for us, what doesn’t, and what changes we need to make. This year, we’ve decided to move the garden, expand it, and try many different varieties. I’ll admit, I went a little crazy with the seed order. One of the things we found last year was that we didn’t have enough time with our tomatoes or cold season crops. The tomatoes started producing too late in the year to be much use, and since we went from final frost to summer heat quite quickly, the cold weather crops never got going. To counteract this I have started a pile of seeds this winter. To be honest, I started a lot more seeds than I had realized. It was when I was transplanting them to bigger containers that I started wondering why I had planted so many.
Despite the dire warnings we read about starting seedlings without artificial light, we went ahead and just used the sunlight coming in the windows. We didn’t have the money to buy and setup a bunch of lights. I was worried about this decision at first, but the plants seem to be doing well. Maybe they’ll end up a little taller and spindlier than plants started under lights, but I think it will work just fine for us. Darrell’s been building shelves and cabinets to house all the seedlings I started, and I bought a cheap plastic greenhouse from TSC to move them into once we get a little further along. I hope all this work results in a bounty of food, but even it doesn’t work as well as we hope, I’ve really enjoyed being able to garden in the house these past few weeks.
The list of projects is endless – building runs for the chickens, preparing a new chicken coop for the birds I plan to keep from hatching, getting areas ready for meat birds and turkeys, more fencing, lots of gardening, and many vehicle/boat repairs. But man is this fun!
Though it may seem like time for fishing will be scarce this year, I actually think we’ll get out more than we have in the past couple of years. We now know that we have a great brookie stream across the road, we have excellent lakes close to us to throw the boat in, and we can take the canoe into all the local ponds.
Spring is a time for renewal and hope, and I can’t help but look forward to it.