Spring Is Sprung (Just a Little Early)

We Modern Pioneers, have had an eventful weekend.  Today, March 11th, 2012, marks the return of Daylight Savings Time here in South Dakota.  This will be a difficult adjustment for Mordern Pa and the 2 Farmer Boys, as they will have to start getting up and getting ready for school and work an hour earlier.  It won’t really affect the Littlest Pioneer Girl… babies are funny like that… if you can’t understand something as complex and weird (and currently pointless in my opinion) as Daylight Saving Time, then it has absolutely no bearing on you.  A baby sticks to the same schedule that is typical for that individual baby, regardless of where the numbers on the clock are set.

Yesterday we had a blessed event take place in our barnyard.  The advent of our 8th kidding season.  In the wee hours of  Saturday, March 10th, our 6 year old Toggenburg doe, Hokey Wolf’s Wilma (owned by our Farmer Boy Charles since March 2008), gave birth to a 9 lbs buck kid, sired by our Toggenburg buck, HDGD John-Christopher Sparrow (Johnny).  the boys have decided to name Wilma’s son Racer.

We also began preparing our garden for spring this weekend. For the last couple weekends, Pioneer Pa has been cutting pieces to size for raised garden beds out of plastic pallets he brought home from work to recylce for this purpose.  He built two such garden beds last summer and I would like to eventually add 8 to 12 more of them.  The black plastic of the pallets help to warm the soil and this is particularly useful for growning heat loving garden plants like tomatoes, peppers and melons in our quite short northern growning season, since warmer soil helps the plants grow more rapidly.  Working in the garden this weekend, we decided to build a new raised bed to a spot where a peony bush used to be but did not come back after being transplanted last spring.  In one of the existing 2 garden beds, I planted lettuce seed in this weekend (Iceburg and Black Seeded Simpson that we had left from last season’s garden), as this cool season crop needs to be in as soon as soil can be worked, so that it can be harvested before weather turns hot (very warm growing conditions caused plants in the lettuce and cabbage families to “bolt” or go to seed, rather than produce the crisp and delicious leaves and immature flowers (in the case of broccoli and cauliflower) that we harvest as foods.)  Much of the lettuce and cabbage crop families will be turned under in our garden beds around the end of May or first weeks of June to make way for tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, herbs and melons.  In mid or late July, we may plant more of these “cool season” crops for a fall harvest, just before the frosts return.  As soon as the groud thaws out a little more, hopefully next weekend, we will reset the other existing raised bed so that  there is a wider aisle between most of the garden bed areas.

We also decided where and how we were going to space the new raised garden beds and our wide planting rows to facilitate using some of our chickens for weed control by pasturing them in our garden in moveable “chicken arks” or “chicken tractors” (so-called because the birds till the soil when they scratch about looking for weeds and bugs to eat and work their own manure into the garden soil).

Pa intends to buy a rototiller later this spring to facilitate breaking in some new ground to expand the garden.  Giving him a place to grow amaranth, milo (sorghum) and millet for gluten-free flour, popcorn, winter squash and pumpkins.  We will also be re-doing our garden fence this spring to keep the goats and calf out of the produce.

Saturday, during a trip to town for a bottle of propane for cooking and running the clothes dryer and for buying soy formula for the baby, we stopped in at the local farm & feed store.  The children had great fun looking at the baby chicks and young rabbits, this got the boys into the mood of helping to decide what kinds of chicks and ducklings we should think of purchasing to refresh our flock.  We will be starting some new pullets (young female chickens) soon to replace the more aged hens, since most of our flock is between 3 and 5 years old now.  We plan to put the oldest hens (most of which are Pa’s Cuckoo Maran hens (lay a very dark brown egg) and Americuna’s (lay a green egg)  in the chicken arks in the garden along with our roosters and get a new incubator in order to hatch some of our own replacement chicks from specific breeds or breed crosses.  Pa wants to purchase some Light Brahma pullets, as these are supposed to be good winter layers (unlike our current hens, although being feather-footed, Brahmas are often poor layers in the heat of summer). I would like to get some dark cornish chicks (from which I may keep a few roosters, the females will probably go into the freezer as Cornish Game Hens for roasting and cooking purposes) and some White Rock pullets, so that next spring we can produce our own sex-linked (chicks that can be gender sorted by color at hatching) broiler or roaster chicks that can be pastured.  (Traditional white feathered Cornish-Rock cross “broiler” chicks that can be purchased at feed stores, from most poultry catalogs are the same as those grown by Tyson Foods… chicks that grow so rapidly that they are unable to walk even a few feet and are completely unsuitable for a pastured growing system.)  The boys are planning to get both a few chicks of their own and some ducklings, but aren’t sure what kind they want yet.

This evening will be spent pouring over poultry catalogs and online poultry websites deciding which birds and how many we will be adding to the barnyard this season.  Some of our favorite poultry websites are: www.cacklehatchery.com and  www.mcmurryahtchedry.com.

4 responses to this post.

  1. What a darling little goat kid!


    • Racer is a little sweetheart! My younger boy, Henry, couldn’t stop playing with him and carrying him around all weekend. It was all around a very busy weekend. We did quite a bit of work outdoors Saturday and Sunday. I made coconut milk yogurt again Sunday evening, as I was getting low (what with everyone having been on antibiotics for the upper respitory stuff and all.) Then late sunday night/early this morning, we had a litter of 5 new puppies born. I’ll be blogging them after I get some sleep, but quite excited that there were 3 female pups this time as this mama dog’s big sister had ALL BOYS in Jan that we are still trying to find homes for.


      • Puppies, too! How lovely!

      • They are cute! We raise Miniature and Toy Australian Shepherds for Service Dog work. My oldest son has autism and he got us going on that, before that we raised them for herding/farm dogs… then Narcissa was born into one of our litters and taught us to work with our dogs for a higher purpose. Some pups are still placed as farm dogs or just as pets, but we manage to find Service Dog homes with disabled kids or adults for 4 or 5 a year now.

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