Spring is in the air, and the homesteader (or semi-homesteading home-schooler) has a lot of chores to do. If one is going to get baby poultry or bees, plant a summer garden, or start harvesting winter-planted crops, now is the time to do it.
We’re still debating whether or not we’re going to get poultry, but we’re certainly planning a summer garden. On Thursday, we stopped at a farm store to see what they had. As soon as I walked in I could hear the peeping: hundreds of tiny avian voices calling out in contentment. I looked at my mother and grinned.
We weren’t there to buy chicks, as we were going to be gone for the next few days, but we were amenable to buying plants. I picked out a few strawberry plants, a bag of red onions and a seed-starting flat. I’ve started four varieties of tomatoes in the flat; it came with peat pellets, which I poured water over and watched expand. It was amazing and a little creepy to feel an inanimate object grow in my hand.
I’m going to put the strawberries and onions in our outside gardens, along with peas and spinach. In our gardens, we follow the principles of Square Foot Gardening, which I learned about from All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew (Cold Springs Press, 2005). When you plant in Square Foot Gardening, there are a certain number of plants allowed per square foot, which varies from species to species. To make sure that I have the right amount, I draw crisscrossing furrows in each square foot of earth with one finger.
On the homestead, you also need to clean up from winter. Winter Storm Saturn snowed us in and brought a lot of trees down, some of which dropped on our already-abused fences. Since a broken fence is fairly useless, I’m helping my parents repair them — which is to say, I usually get to stand there and hold one end of a board (with gloved hands to avoid splinters) while my mother holds the other and my father yells at the drill.
Home-schoolers too have chores to do in spring: namely, school-equivalency tests. Thankfully, I have gotten them over with, and the state can rest assured that I’ve learned enough at home that I can continue home schooling for another year. However, I also have to make sure that I finish all the subjects I have started so I’m able to take a summer break.
In a nutshell, we have a lot of work to do, but the chores of spring give way to the bounty of summer. Of course, the chores of spring also give way to the chores of summer. But I don’t really mind. For now, it’s just good to be active in the garden again.