Perhaps the most time-sensitive task this month is to plant the onion seeds. I use plastic trays on our kitchen table, in front of a big, south facing window. I cover the trays with clear plastic domes to make it warmer and more moist, and even though our house still gets down to the low 50s or even into the 40s at night, the seeds do just fine. I will also make a note to myself to remember in the fall to set a tub of compost and the trays in a snow proof shed, since it took several hours this time to shovel out two sheds at home and one at my neighbor's (plus my car that got stuck going over there) before I had gathered the things I needed.
With a whopping 4 feet in 10 days and more after that, at least we have something to do outside most days.
We had a pretty hard time last year with voles in our garden and despite the time and effort put in to trapping them we still lost quite a bit of produce. In lieu of a cat or dog we must rely on natural predators to help us keep the pressure down and one such animal is the Barred owl. Its natural nesting site would be a big hollow tree, but since our land was clear cut in the 1950s, any trees of the right size are not old enough to be hollow. Instead we built an over-sized bird house that might attract owls to move in and hunt for food in our garden.
Our owl house is built with spruce and has the dimensions 10-by-12-by-20 inches, with a pitched roof and a 6-inch-diameter entrance hole. Barred owl are shy and it's best to hang the house in the woods, 20 feet up.
Sharing what we know and our way of living is a great motivator for us. Since a few years we offer workshops and lectures on homesteading related topics and this year is no exception. Foraging and cooking wild edible plants with Tom Seymour, permaculture introduction with Maine-based Mid-Coast Permaculture, and Medicine Making from Garden Weeds are just some of the topics we'll cover. We'll also bask in the delights of summer, with an herbal spa-day and our big, annual summer party, complete with live music, bonfire and dancing.
If I ever wonder what to do with all this time I have while everything is frozen or covered with snow, I remind myself how I sometimes in say, August, wish that it would all freeze over or snow under so that I would get a break. It's fun to do things that aren't absolutely essential, like walking around looking at tracks in the snow, or shoveling out another path around the farm or riding our winter bicycle to town to drink coffee at the local coffee shop 44 North.
Enjoy the winter – it seems like it's here to stay for a while.
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