It’s mid-March in South Carolina and the pace is picking up around here! We are just 2 ½ weeks from our frost free planting date! Spinach, arugula, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and carrot seeds have already been planted.
We have hundreds of vegetable and flower starts on a rolling metal shelf, started in February and waiting till danger of frost is over to be transplanted. Many of my perennial flower seeds didn’t germinate; I kept the shelf outside except for nights with below freezing temps and it wasn’t warm enough for some seeds to germinate. I decided to do them all together as I didn’t have a second shelf and the time or energy for high maintenance seed starting. Whatever germinates is what we will plant- this year I just have to keep it simple. I will try to be prepared next year in order to cater to the more fragile/demanding seeds. I’d really love to build a potting shed with an attached greenhouse made of scrapped windows…….
We’ve enjoyed hosting biweekly pizza nights for 40-50 people, monthly classes in the kitchen (bread baking, soap making, fermentation, etc.), delivering meals to our sick neighbors, and hosting a 50+ person speed dating event at Valentines. Our huge dining room table is often filled and reverberating with laughter and sweet fellowship. All the rooms in the house have stayed full as people come for short and long periods of time for rest and restoration. We currently have five people (besides our family) residing here; two work part time for room and board, two are renting but have joined in wholeheartedly and constantly minister to everyone around them, and one is here to be loved on and heal. And our guest room is constantly flowing. I stand amazed at the beautiful orchestration of souls God has lead here.
2017 is the year of big time beautifying!! Last summer I didn’t even get the grass mowed, it was pure survival mode. This spring we will be reseeding grass for the third and hopefully last time in all the bare spots, along with scattering a few hundred bulbs around the property- lilies, hostas, dalias, daffodil, four-o-clocks, delphinium, peonies and many others I couldn’t resist J Six of the nine iris rhizomes I planted last fall survived my naughty digging dogs. I love seeing growth so early in the year (after living in Alaska this feels miraculous)
The pergola project is coming along. Kevin and Adam spent an entire week leveling, building the foundation and perfectly placing ten huge posts. Kevin is currently working on the framework of the roof with help and guidance from our brilliant carpenter friend, Hans. It may well be done by the end of March! Then I can plant wisteria to climb the rafters.
Isaac spread a huge pile of horse manure/shavings we had been composting since last summer. I was not looking forward to this job, but then he made some choices that necessitated a slew of labor hours (I much prefer manual labor jobs to grounding or any other form of discipline! The child gets to work off steam, learn a new skill, be productive and in the end feel good about their contribution. And Mama gets yucky jobs done!) We will also be making compost tea with our chicken manure throughout the season for nitrogen needs. This spring/summer I aim to master several JADAM inputs- primarily focusing on probiotics, calcium and nitrogen for now.
As we are weeding out bits of garden beds to sow seed, we are amazed at the amount of white mold and worms. The soil has softened and developed so much since we sheet mulched 15 months ago! Last year was work intensive as we shoveled and hauled dozens of truckloads of free mulch to the garden, but this year I am loving the no-till method!! Just plop in the seeds and goJ
In desperation to complete some big tasks last fall, I implemented a 9 am Saturday morning two-hour family work session. It’s amazing what 4-5 people can do together in 120 minutes! Don’t tell my kids, but initially the mandatory work session was only for a few weeks to complete a couple specific projects, but it went so well we have continued the tradition. As a result, forty pounds of pecans were harvested and shelled, hundreds of blackberry bushes dug out, kitchen cabinets scrubbed down, a forest of dead tree limbs cleaned up, windows washed, chicken tractors moved, chicken wings clipped, irrigation lines built out and repaired, compost turned and many other labor intensive tasks taken care of. Now I don’t have to feel overwhelmed with a big job all by myself and there is no fussing because they expect it (and some weeks I give them a “vacation”)
The chickens are laying well. Grace’s 10 Bard Rocks have a 90% lay rate and my flock is usually about 70% (I fight the temptation to be jealous) Mine are Black Austrolorp and Buff Orpington. In fact, we have too many eggs and not enough customers, so I just sold 8 of mine to our neighbor. I realized I was often stressing about how to sell all these eggs while there was such a simple solution at my fingertips! Minutes after posting the hens for sale the problem was solvedJ
After months of dancing and courting, the turkeys are “doing the deed” on a ridiculously constant basis. Popeye (our male) seems to prefer an audience, so every time there are a few people standing around or a project in progress, he is harassing poor Olive Oyl. Yikes. We haven’t noticed her nesting yet and are trying to encourage her to use the awesome two story dog house Kevin built last fall. I’m excited to see if we get to have baby turkeys this yearJ
Our geese on the other hand are a bit of a mystery. One is obviously a male as he has been following me everywhere and trying to climb on top of me whenever I’m working near the ground. It’s rather amusing, as he whispers in my ear and nibbles my hair in the process. I tried to gently break it to him that I love him, but not like that:)
This summer I hope to acquire new pairs of geese and turkeys, haven’t decided on breeds yet. We’re also going to try a couple of guinea hens. I’ve been reading and going back and forth on this decision for a year now- think we just have to try them and see how it works. Beautification, soil development and growing all the vegetables, berries and melons we possibly can- we have high hopes for this new season:)
If you want to know more, then just come over for a visit and join us for dinner!