This week was another week of maintenance and prep. It rained all week here, which we definitely do not need as we had a few feet of snow. The rain has melted a lot of the snow, so that is good, but there has been a lot of flooding. The animals are all cooped up and wet, which makes me nervous. Besides the ducks, our livestock does not do well in wet. On the positive, it has been well above freezing! That means… SPRING!
This winter, in Minnesota, went something like this: freezing rain, polar vortex, obnoxious amounts of snow, with a finale of more rain. Our ground coverage is a layer of ice, a thick layer of snow, and the continuous rain is melting the snow but also turning it into more ice. The ground is flooded, and we have a lot of MUD forming.
If you need us, we will be in our galoshes.
This rain and warm temperature has melted a lot of the snow on the roofs, which is causing it to fall down in large amounts. This week our barn shed its snow and unfortunately it all landed in the chicken run. This sudden amount of weight broke the chicken wire on the run. Womp womp. Another project to the list.
I have tried to make the best of this situation.
I have tried to make the best of this situation.
One of my big goals for 2019 is to add rain barrels to our property. That is a project for warmer weather, but for now I have been utilizing this spring thaw with water buckets.
You see, carrying 5 gallon buckets across our property is not for the faint of heart. They are not light – betweem 45-50lbs due to the weight of the rubber. Doing this under normal conditions is one thing, but doing this on a skating rink of a lawn is another. Hard pass. I like my back and bones where they are, I do not need the ice to adjust them with a hard fall.
My thinking brain saw all these puddles forming, so I put the water buckets under them. I filled the chicken’s water up with a bucket, put it back under the stream of water from the roof while I did my chores and it was half-full by the time I was done. That is almost faster than my tap.
Think smarter not harder.
From the Coop.
The birds in the coop are so over this weather. It’s like they can smell the bugs awakening from their winter slumber. They are so anxious to go outside and explore the fresh earth that has been exposed in areas. I opened the coop door and the birds all ran out into the rain.
Chickens hate rain, almost as much as cats.
The chickens ran so fast back into the coop and huddled up. They looked disappointed, I cannot wait to let them out tomorrow. The problem is, the hungry hawk has also been waiting for spring. I fear one of my birds getting swooped.
This excitement of spring has allowed my birds to start laying again! I have my duck and two hens laying eggs. The colors, I diiiie. The sage egg is from our olive-egger, the white/cream egg is from our Pekin duck, and I am not sure who laid the brown egg. I can usually tell by summer because I see who runs to the coop to lay. This egg I am unsure of.
We are so ready for farm-fresh eggs. Store bought eggs just are not the same. So far I have collected 3 eggs a day. SCORE!
I was planning on tapping for maple syrup much earlier this week, but I will end up tapping today due to rain. I have about 1/3-1/2 mile walk to my Maple Trees and I made some footprints on Monday to make it easier to walk when the time comes.
I have spiles (taps) from last year that I boiled for sterilization. I purchased 4 5-gallon buckets with lids and drilled holes in the top of the bucket (not lid). The holes are just wide enough for the tubing. I will drill a small hole into the tree, tap the spile into the tree and attach the tube to the spile. The tube will enter the bucket and I will place a lid on the bucket. The sap will collect in the bucket unscathed from dirt, debris, and without access to animals.
I will do a longer post on maple syrup in the next few weeks after I have finished a batch of turning the sap into delicious syrup.
My goal is to make 4 pint-sized jars of syrup, this is my estimated amount of syrup my family will consume this year. If I get more, I would be ecstatic.
Tomorrow when I tap, I plan to have a dear friend of mine with me and her 5 year old son. It will be all of our first times tapping maples (I tapped birch last year). I am SO excited to share this experience.
This week I prepped my garden by seed starting.
I LOVE seed starting.
I can visualize all of the yummy food, and all of the flowers in my yard. The fruits of the labor of gardening is so enjoyable to me. It brings my heart so much happiness.
Last year I used wooden popsicle sticks with permanent marker to label my plants, but the sharpie eventually wore off. This year I am trying to burn the seed tags with my wood burner, hopefully it lasts longer.
I got some of my annual flowers, perennial flowers, and most of my herbs and vegetables started. I sure hope they sprout!
I will do a longer, more in-depth post on seed starting on Tuesday.
Phoebe hasn’t made a TON of progress this week. I left her stubs without bandages a few days to see if it would improve her balance, it did not seem to affect her. Her bandages are back on, the moisture will help her wounds heal faster.
She has been enjoying her baths and blow-dries. Pheobe has been getting a lot of snuggles from the kids, and treats from the kitchen.
The boys adore Phoebe – the 2 year old will pet her and snuggle her. He pops a squat in front of her and squints his eyes and smiles a goofy smile as he talks to her. He calls her Fee-Fee. If ‘Fee-Fee’ is having troubles, he tells me so I can fix her.
The 4 year old also keeps a watchful eye on Pheobs. He is always picking her up and placing her back on her blankie. He has been picking her up and dancing with her, or carrying her around the house to show her his toys. Normally the 4 year old is pretty rambunctious, but with Pheobe he knows her ailments and is very careful.
The Modern Homestead Podcast.
This is the biggest news of the week, and I couldn’t be more proud.
I listen to my share of podcasts, some are inspirational, some are educational, and some are for entertainment.
One of my favorite podcasts is of a fellow modern-homesteader in the Midwest – Harold Thornbro. His podcast is The Modern Homestead Podcast, he also has an educational website, and an helpful Facebook Community. The Modern Homestead Podcast typically has an interview, and this week I will be interviewed on the podcast. We discuss how I got into modern homesteading and how I raise chickens.
I will share the direct link to the podcast on The Sheep Shed’s Facebook, so follow us and let me know what you think!!
Also – follow Harold’s Homestead, he has a compelling story. He chose to forego chemo and switch his lifestyle and is in remission. His tiny city lot is where he grows food, including meat quail and rabbits. His overall message is you can begin to homestead wherever you are.
If you ever have any questions, or ideas for future blogs, comment below or shoot me an email!
From the farm,