I’m already dreaming of new garden beds, baby animals, and warm afternoons. I can’t help it! Who doesn’t love Spring?
Part of surviving the coming Winter months, for me, is making plans for Spring. As much as I like the Winter for looking inward and reflections, it also represents a time to plan. And so, plan I must!
Not only does winter planning help my sanity, but it also helps me prepare more fully for the Spring. I can begin to acquire any needed materials throughout the long, cold months, and by doing so slowly, I don’t have to throw down a large amount of money all at once, making larger expenses seem more reasonable. See? There is a method to my madness.
And so, without further adieu, my tentative plans for the Spring of 2017. I say tentative because, let’s be real, we all know I’m going to keep adding to it throughout the winter.
I’ve had two raised beds for a few years now, and they’ve done well, though they’re small, and I’ve only planted some herbs and flowers in them. I’d really love to build at least three or four larger ones, possibly 3/4′ by 6′. We have terrible soil here, and though our gardens have done well enough with minimal amendments, I’m thinking the raised beds are really a better route to go. Not only will I be bringing in soil and compost, but drainage will be far better, as well. I plan on building in some PVC pipes or something similar so that covering can be easily added to extend the growing season.
I have a secret love affair with Raspberries and Raspberry leaf tea, so for sure, those will be going in. I also quite enjoy Blackberries, and so, those also will be planted. No blueberries, as I honestly don’t care for them in the least. I’ve toyed with the idea of planting gooseberry, but I’ve never had it, and don’t know if I want to waste the space/time on growing something I’m not entirely sure I’ll enjoy. For now, I’m content with Rasp/ blackberries.
Ya’ll, this is possibly the one goal I am most excited about, and determined to cross off my list. I’m leaning towards the All American. Expensive? Yup, definitely. Worth it? From all the reading and reviews I’ve seen, absolutely. It’s a powerhouse. I don’t know exactly what size I want–I’m thinking of going with the 21 quart. I don’t want anything too small or too big, so I think that size is a good compromise.
Added to that, I have a glass top cook stove, and the smaller sizes are generally safe to use on newer glass tops (though you should definitely check the weight limit set by the manufacturer of your stove to be safe). See the article linked for some safety tips to canning on a glass top stove.
Keeping with food preservation goals, another item I’m desperate to own is a quality dehydrator. I’ve been totally slacking on preserving the harvest these last few years, and I’m kicking myself for it. All that wasted produce! Part of homesteading is putting up food for the winter, to continue the cycle of self-reliance.
Being able to dehydrate is a simple, effective way to ensure food security. I’m eyeing the 9-tray Excalibur Dehydrator, of which I’ve heard raving reviews about. It’s definitely another investment money wise, but one I think will quickly pay for itself. If you’d like to try out dehydrating to see if it’s something you actually enjoy and to ensure it’s a good fit for your homestead, then I definitely recommend doing some research and perhaps starting with a model that is less expensive. After all, if you try it once and hate it, you’re not out of a large amount of cash.
Ya’ll. Is there anything as gorgeous as a big ol’ patch of wildflowers dancing away in the sunshine?
Nope, I don’t think so either! Which is why this year, as soon as the temps are high enough, this girl is ripping up the old garden and planting a giant wildflower bed. Like, HUGE. I am so excited! Not only will it look gorgeous, but it’ll act as food for the honey bees I’ll be adding come Spring (more on that later). Along with the bees, butterflies and a host of other beneficial bugs will benefit from all the flowery goodness to be had.
Swoon. I can’t even, just thinking about it makes my heart dance. Because I’m a sucker who appreciates beautiful aesthetics. And it’s going to be right next to the chicken coop/run, so it’ll just look darling.
After enrolling in the Herbal Academy’s Introductory Herbal Course, I fire was lit within me. While I had dabbled with herbs before, suddenly, there was all this information I’d never known. Which herbs healed what, how different herbs worked for or against each other, how to prepare all types of herbal products.
And a desire to grow my own herbs to put them to good use, and save a little money while I did so.
While I haven’t yet finalized the list of what I will be growing (I’ll post about that as soon as I have it all worked out), I do know come Spring, this homestead is getting a raised bed entirely dedicated to growing medicinal herbs. I’m am so freakin’ excited!
Possibly the goal that both thrills and terrifies me the most, this Spring, I’ll be introducing a colony of bees to the ol’ stead. Possibly two, if I think my heart can handle it.
No, I’m actually not afraid of bees. I’m just finding that beekeeping is a lot more in-depth than I originally thought, and I’m scared of doing it all wrong. But this is the year I’ve decided to consistently push myself outside of my comfort zone–and so, let there be bees.
I’m currently reading Homegrown Honey Bees: An Absolute Beginners Guide to Beekeeping Your First Year, From Hive to Honey by Alethea Morrison. It’s awesome, ya’ll. Within the first two chapters I realized how incredible bees are, from before they’re even born, to their social order, to their loyalty to their hive. I can’t begin to explain it to you! I’m planning on doing a full review of the book in a post later on in the month, but let me just tell you: you’re going to learn a lot of information, technical information, but Alethea has an incredible way of simplifying it into very understandable terms.
Yup. Because this girl needs more poultry, and definitely duck eggs, in her life.
Duck eggs tend to be richer (with more Albumen), lending itself well to baking (produces fluffier results!), with higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. I’ve also heard that they tend to last longer, due to having a thicker shell than chicken eggs. They are also an alkaline food, whilst chicken eggs are an acidic.
Downsides? Ducks are messy. They have to have enough water to swim, clean themselves, drink–like, at all times. I’ve known quite a few people whose ducks were rather skittish, and didn’t like to be close to people. Which means they’ll need to be in a confined run, because sorry, I’m not chasing wayward ducks around all day, as much as I would love for them to free-range. We’ll see, though. Perhaps I’ll get lucky and get the worlds’ friendliest ducks!
So! That’s it! It doesn’t seem like a lot, does it? But gosh, it’s going to be work.
And that is a-okay with me! Bring on the Spring, baby. Give this girl her farm back, she’s sick of the snow/rain/ice/gloom,etc.