Enlisting Help for Tough Spring Chores
By Tracy Houpt
Spring has sprung here at Goat Haute/Adventure Farm! In the middle of the February freeze I remember thinking how good it would be to see green again. Now we have it aplenty, with the added beauty of the white dogwoods, purple redbuds and, in our yard, yellow dandelions and purple violets. I overheard a conversation between some folks in town the other day, and they were dismayed at the dandelion growth in their neighborhood that had not been controlled properly by the lawn services. I had to smile inside as I thought of my yellow-dotted yard. That thought led me to remember that last year I followed an old gardening adage I had read somewhere; it said to plant bush bean seeds “when the dandelions and violets bloom.” Sounded like good advice! My seeds rotted in the ground. Lesson learned … this year our clay soil will dry out and warm up a bit more before I plant those bean seeds.
We’ve been on our 10-acre place for three years now. Starting this adventure at age 50 has not been easy, but I can’t imagine anything more rewarding. Our two children are grown, and while they love visiting us and helping out when they can, they have busy lives of their own. I tease them that they need to adopt a couple of pre-teens so I can have some “instant grandchild help” around here! All kidding aside, some of the spring chores are just flat out too much for us.
During that previously mentioned February freeze, I was fretting a bit about how we would get the goat barn and chicken coop cleaned after a winter of deep litter bedding accumulation. (We did it ourselves last year, and paid for it with our aching backs for a few days.) In a “lightbulb” moment, I posted an item on a local college message board, offering to trade a home-cooked meal and some spending money for help with barn cleanout. We had to turn a few students away!
The seven students who signed on were an answer to our prayers. They cleaned out the barn and chicken coop in short order, then asked for more work! They repaired a chicken wire fence, cleaned out the honeysuckle-infested berry patch, pulled weeds, swept cobwebs … we were blown away by their work ethic. I’m pretty sure that’s going to be an annual spring event from now on! I would love to hear how some other “mature farm couples” get some of their tougher jobs accomplished, without breaking the bank or the back.
Until my next post, remember to stop and smell the apple blossoms!
Our apple tree in bloom.
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