Spring Arrives at the Hill

Reader Contribution by Heidi Nawrocki
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It’s April 9 and as I sit here writing this, snow is falling and the wind is blowing. We are to get record low temperatures here tonight in West Virginia. This is after a few weeks of 70 degree temperatures. Ah, Mother Nature, you finicky girl, you! But, the cold weather will be short lived and projects will pick up with full speed around the homestead.

There’s already been some work this spring, though. We have started our orchard! We planted 6 apple trees and 3 cherry trees last weekend. I’m particularly excited for the apple trees as they are all heirloom varieties. We bought a “cider assortment” and I see a homemade cider press in the future! My husband enjoys making wine, brewing beer, and making hard cider. Last spring he planted grape vines, this year is apples…who knows, maybe next year will be hops?

Another addition this spring is new chicks! We ordered some chicks to add color to the egg basket. We were so thrilled to get the call the other day that they were at the post office, but were a little disappointed to see that some had not made the trip and we lost a few more in the first 24 hours. I’m chalking it up to the colder temperatures and what seemed to me like an extraordinarily lengthy trip. The remaining chicks are doing well and running around like crazy! My son is hoping to go to the feed store on Monday to pick up a few other chicks to replace the ones we lost. I think I’ll be open to the idea!

We have started our tomato, pepper, and herb plants. We just ordered a legitimate grow light the other day as our plain old fluorescent bulbs aren’t cutting it. Our tomatoes have legs to make one jealous! But, I know with the proper lighting, they’ll be strong and ready to go in the garden later next month.

My project for the snow day is to plan the chicken coop landscaping. We planned and built our own coop based around the passive solar design of our home. We have only managed to get it primed (chalk it up to life with two little kids, a husband with a full time job, and the weather), but this spring it will get an overhaul – I’m excited to add in some beneficial plants surrounding it to attract the pollinators for the garden and to provide more shelter for our free ranging girls.

Happy Spring!

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