With a long winter just about wrapped up, it’s time to get to work. What a busy time of year this is for those who grow their own food, enjoy beautifying their yards, or just plain over commit to how many things they want to get done around their house. That is me. By early April, I already have too many projects going on. I have no shortage of things to do but for those still looking for ideas to fill their time I have provided a list of things that likely need to get done in spring on your homestead as well as some things I am doing on mine during my first year.
1. Spring Cleaning
Winter seems to find a way to wreak havoc on a yard or garage, or even in your house. Take this simple and quick step to have your homestead starting off on the right foot and cleanup all the garbage and debris in your yard. In the garage or whatever buildings you have, work is so much easier when everything has a place and is in it. Start off this season with a good working area by making sure it’s organized. Also, this is the time to clean animal pens and pastures from the winter buildup. It’s not a pretty job but sure is nice to get out and enjoy nice weather.
2. Start Seeds
Of course you need some plants ready for the ground when the time comes. Depending on your typical last frost date and what kinds of plants you are going to grow, spring is the time to make sure you have everything pre-started that you will want when planting time arrives. For some lucky people out there, Easter is the time to get plants in the ground but for us up here in the North, we are patiently waiting for sometime in May for much of our planting.
3. Setup a Beehive
This isn’t necessarily on my list this year but now would be a good time to establish a colony in your yard. Let these hard workers increase your garden’s productivity and get some free honey while you’re at it. Setting it up in spring gives your bees time to settle and then provides their use for the upcoming season.
4. Replant Grass
Many of you are firm haters in grass, but for those that maintain yard areas with the stuff, spring is in excellent time to do any repairs necessary. A well maintained lawn is a great addition to your homestead’s appearance. A dog is a great adversary to that well maintained lawn. For me, its sticks all over the yard and a bunch of dead spots.
5. Create a Pasture for the Chickens
Free range is great, but the mess around the house is uncontrollable. We will be fencing the coop into a pasture area for the chickens to still have the ability to freely range, but won’t have complete access to the whole yard. Also, to separate the chickens and ducks. Our Pekins will not leave our chickens alone, they have been plucking the hens feathers off of their necks.
6. Till the Garden
This is my first summer here so there is no garden space and one will need to be tilled. While I am waiting for the right time to plant, I will take a few passes on the future garden space so that it is ready when nature is ready for the garden. Unfortunately for me, the area for the garden is currently grass so it is a lot of work. I just rent a rototiller from the local hardware store. For $35 I can have it overnight and a few times of this and we are good. I am becoming a strong supporter of renting versus buying.
7. Build a Smoker
I don’t actually have time for this but sure would love to do this and have it ready for summer. I don’t want to just buy one because I want something a little bigger than I can find in my area and a little more durable. I also consider a small smoking shed instead so that I could also try a cold smoke but really I just want to be able to smoke some ribs or brisket so the smoke shed isn’t really all that important. In the meantime I have had some success just in my charcoal grill and will keep doing that.
8. Egg Hatching
We have chicks, ducklings and now some turkey eggs in the incubator. The turkey eggs were bought from someone in my area and they are the Red Bourbon variety. We also purchased some chicks locally and have the brooder running already. This is the time of year for new life so we are embracing that around here. We wanted to purchase some chicks because all of the ones we have are just mixed varieties, we don’t really know what kinds. I would like to maintain some specific varieties to possibly be able to sell some chicks in the area.
9. Handle the Drainage Around the House
This is one of the most import homestead projects for me. Our sump pumps very often and it seems that no matter what I do water ends up leaking on the outside of the house where the hose runs off. The dirt around our house is just always drenched and the water just seems to keep cycling through the ground back through the sump pump. I am adding about 100 foot run of buried pipe underground which is removing the water even further from the house, into a small pond and then running off into the drainage ditch along our property. This pipe is also collecting water from a few of our downspouts from the house. The pond serves as a place for the poultry to get their water so it keeps us from having to provide it all of the time. With the dryer soil by the house, everything just seems more under control and cleaner!
This will be on the list all year. There is so much to learn about self sufficiency, growing, raising animals and just taking advantage of the country life. I will continue to investigate and add to my knowledge and experience. This is truly fun for me.