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?

marie devine_1
2/19/2010 10:26:29 AM

You will be busy. The point is, God didn't intend us to work for others to get money to buy what He could give us through nature. life is to be lived joyfully, not hurriedly to get things done. This is our life; it is supposed to be abundant now. When all our efforts can be for our homestead, there will also be time to help the neighbors. This is all the teaching our children need to raise thriving families. We have been going the wrong way and destroying our health and our planet and causing a need for many social programs. That can change when we want it to.


melissa_1
2/8/2010 8:41:54 AM

@Cindy- yeah...I hear ya. I'm usually not wishing away the seasons either- its just been a bitter cold winter with not enough snow. Oh well. :) Hopefully we'll have a better one next year. And yes, I agree that we must prioritize if something must fall by the wayside, our critters must take precedence. @MountainWoman- no kidding!? I lived in Craftsbury for a short time with some friends. I love the NEK! Nice to see a fellow VTer, thanks for stopping in to say hi. :)


melissa_1
2/8/2010 8:40:04 AM

@Cindy- yeah...I hear ya. I'm usually not wishing away the seasons either- its just been a bitter cold winter with not enough snow. Oh well. :) Hopefully we'll have a better one next year. And yes, I agree that we must prioritize if something must fall by the wayside, our critters must take precedence. @MountainWoman- no kidding!? I lived in Craftsbury for a short time with some friends. I love the NEK! Nice to see a fellow VTer, thanks for stopping in to say hi. :)


mountain woman
2/7/2010 6:49:54 AM

I stopped by to say hello to a fellow Vermonter. We're in the Northeast Kingdom. I've enjoyed reading about all your critters. I'd love to have goats and piglets. What fun. I look forward to more of your entries.


cindy murphy
2/5/2010 7:22:14 AM

Ok, I'm doing that 'little bit of guilt' thing I sometimes do. It seems as if nearly all the Gritty blogs and comments here of late make mention of wishing winter was over. No, no, no...not yet please; I feel like we've only just begun. (Remind me I wrote this when April comes around; I'll probably be doing that 'little bit of be careful what you wish for' thing about then.) Sorry your garden was such a disappointment to you last season; hoping this year is better. But of course, if one thing is going to thrive while the other lacks attention, the pigs, goats, turkeys, and bees win out over tomatoes every time. Wishing you the best in both endeavors. Welcome to Grit. Cindy ~ A Lakeside View


melissa_1
2/4/2010 6:52:12 PM

Hi Shannon! You must be down 'south' somewhere! I hear Virginia is going to be getting a few feet pretty soon. We've yet to really get much snowfall up here which is unusual for us. Mostly its just been too darn cold to snow. Oh well! :) Yes, seed starting always makes me feel better- and I just noticed that I've got some lavender sprouting already! Love it! :) Good luck with your snow! I'll send 'warming' thoughts your way! :)


s.m.r. saia
2/4/2010 2:31:20 PM

I am SO with you on being over winter!!!! We're supposed to get another two feet of snow this weekend. Ugh! Maybe I'll take your advice and start some seeds this weekend. It might perk me up a little bit!!!!!


melissa_1
2/4/2010 6:21:46 AM

Hey Dave! HAHA! Great...I'm sure our neighbors are going to LOVE us. We're getting piglets that are supposedly 'electric fence trained' so we're hoping that will eliminate most chances that they'll escape. I really hope so. Yeah, I've also heard that heat mats help with seed germination. Typically when I have problems with seed starting it is usually due to either too much or too little water. Or else I leave them in front of our picture window too long and they fry- also not good. :) Good luck with your seed germinating!


nebraska dave
2/4/2010 1:06:19 AM

Melissa, I’m with you. I truly have enjoyed this Winter, but I’m ready for Spring. What does a fat ground hog that they have to pull out of the hole really know about weather anyway. I’ve already started playing around with the seed germinating thing. I’ve never had a lot of success with growing my own plants but I am determined to make it work this year. I had relatively good success last year with growing the plants I picked up at the big box store so now this year I’m making it a challenge to grow the plants as well. So far not so good. I’m 10 days into it and not a single sprout to show yet. I’ll give it another couple days and then I’ll go digging to see if anything at all is happening. The next round will be on top of the heat mat I ordered. Maybe that will be a little more successful. I’ve heard that the extra heat really works. Well, we shall see. I never was around goats or sheep much. We only had cows, pigs, and chickens. The chickens kind looked after themselves, and the cows stayed mostly where we put them, but those dog gone pigs were always out of the fences. I learned so many new words at a tender age from chasing down those blasted animals. It was such a relief when they were finally shipped off to market. I wish you great success with your animal endevours.