Grit Blogs > The Vermont Homesteader

Groundhog Be Darned: Forcing Spring

A photo of Melissa Brooks SenesacOk, I just can’t stand it anymore. I mean, I love winter, the snow is gorgeous, it helps keep the house warmer, and it’s fun. But seriously, I can’t stand the cold anymore. Kyle’s truck has died, and we’ve spent too much time freezing in the sub-zero wind gusts trying to figure out why (more than likely something related to the cold). We’ve lost too many eggs to the frigid temperatures, and I’m sick of having to supplement feed with so much grain. Our kids need grass. I am ready for Spring!

I know yesterday was Groundhog Day ... and Phil has officially proclaimed six more weeks of winter ... but I’ve got a news flash: I DON’T CARE!! Mwah ha haaa (maniacal laugh inserted here)! Spring never comes early up here so even if he had forecasted an early spring, it wouldn’t apply to us folks up here in Northern VT anyways. Best case scenario: we won’t really see spring until May, we need get through mud-season first. Regardless, I’m determined to hurry this season along. It was a welcome guest, but it’s time to show it the door.

This past weekend, Kyle and I made a run to Gardener’s Supply Company, an awesome, employee-owned, local gardening supply store. We thought we’d grab some house plants (they’re having a sale: buy two, get one free), and while we were there we picked up a handful of seed packets to start inside the house. I was planning on just doing one big order on the High Mowing Seeds website, but I just couldn’t wait any longer. I’ll order the rest of our seeds online, probably later this month, but I wanted something in-hand to start right off. We came home with paste tomatoes, Ring-of-Fire hot peppers, basil, parsley, rosemary, and lavender. We also grabbed some Provider bush beans, Chamomile and Echinacea that we’ll start later next month.

I’m planning the garden a lot more than I did last year. I’m reading more about companion planting and non-tilling, non-weeding options. The garden was the biggest disappointment of last year. I make no claims that I am a good gardener – I’m actually pretty terrible at it. I’m more interested in animal husbandry, and I think it shows: my livestock is thriving. But it also shows in the garden: it’s always overrun by weeds, and I don’t harvest what little there is to harvest in time so some things end up going to seed (which I don’t realize until things start sprouting after we’ve turned everything under for the year).

We’ve also spent quite a bit of time working on our pig shelter. Its relatively large, too big really for the size the pigs will be when we buy them. So unless we really pack it with mulch hay these little piggies will probably spend the first month or two in the barn where it will be a little warmer. We’re planning on picking up the new additions to the farm this Saturday. I’m pretty excited about it. I know they’re going to be meat for our table, but until then they can till our garden and enjoy the dappled sunshine in the little grove behind our house. They will be happy, which makes me happy.

This is going to be a big, busy year. It will be the first time keeping bees and raising turkeys and pigs. It will be the first time our goats will kid, so it will be the first time bottle-feeding babies and milking goats. I’ve worked at a dairy before, so I’ve done the twice-a-day milking, but never in conjunction with raising so many other animals, gardening, and beekeeping. And of course, on top of that we’re still renovating our house and working full time jobs.

Do I feel overwelmed? Nope. Well, not yet, give it some time. Spring is rejuvenating after waking up from a long winter slumber. I’m ready to wake up. How about you?