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Some New Projects

I love March.  It's still winter enough to get stuff done before the really busy season, but it's not January or February (I hate January and February...).

I spend a lot of the miserable abyss that is January and February every year making ridiculous plans.  Plans that are usually far to elaborate or expensive or impractical for me to actually carry out.  I spend early March refining those plans into what I actually plan to do and actually doing some of it.

What am I up to this month?  Well, out of nowhere I have an insanely busy string of weekends.  Last weekend I was gone all of Sunday, this past Saturday I spent most of the day in the city running some errands (more on that in a minute...), Sunday I had church, a cheese making class, and then obedience class with the puppy.  Next weekend I'm going to Kansas City to go dress shopping with my sister.  The weekend after that we're going back to my hometown for a wedding reception.

All of that cuts down on what I will accomplish this month.  BUT I still have a list of things I would like to accomplish.

But first, my discovery.  I've been passively interested in tapping the lone maple tree on our farm.  While researching the supplies and techniques I cam across a site called tapmytrees.  And under retailers of their supplies I found this gem, Egg Plant in St. Paul.

I tend to procrastinate things, but I knew that if I wanted to tap my trees this season now is the time to do it- it's supposed to be the perfect weather for it next week.  So with that excuse I scuttled off to the city to check out Egg Plant and find my supplies.  They had what I needed, and so much more.  I ended up coming home with two wood crock inserts (the part that holds the sauerkraut/pickles under the brine and is pretty hard to find), a Tap your Trees starter kit, a book on cheese making, and seven more packets of seeds (that I totally didn't need, but my kids had such a fun time picking them out I couldn't resist!).  And I signed up for a class on making cheese.

But there was much more stuff I wanted to buy but didn't.  All different shapes and sizes of glass jars and bottles, a shirt bearing a cartoon-y jar of pickles with the word "preserve," wooden lids for every size of crock (they had crocks too, but I have plenty of those),  books on beekeeping, organic chicken feed (so hard to find here!), books on gardening...

It was a great find, and if you live in the Twin Cities or are ever in the area, you should definitely check them out.  They have several classes each month on farm related topics like beekeeping, chickens, cheesemaking, tapping maple trees, gardening, and just about anything else you could want to know.

But back to my plans for this spring.  If you're bored, you are excused.  This is one of those blog posts I do mostly for my own sake (record keeping, in a way).

In roughly chronological order:
  1. Handle the laundry.  I hate folding and putting away laundry, and every single person in this house has WAY too many clothes.  I am going to streamline somehow, probably by paring down what we have, getting into a better routine, delegating (my favorite!), and rearranging things.  In a perfect world I would have one big closet for the whole family, connected to the bathroom, and the washer and dryer would be in the closet.  It seems so much more efficient than the existing system.  But I don't have the space to do that here, so I'll have to improvise.
  2. Tap my tree.  My husband put one tap in today, but my maple tree is big enough for tree taps, so I need to put up the other two.
  3. Declutter both my house and my routine (and my brain).  I want focus this spring.  Thankfully I don't allow clutter to accumulate anywhere outside a few hot spots so the physical clutter isn't hard, but I'm going to be ruthless about it, especially in the kitchen (because even though my kitchen is clean right now, more than half of the counter is covered with crap).  I'm also going to continue to minimize time sucks like Facebook and TV and try to get into a simple, flexible routine that helps me focus my time and energy.  This is hard for me, because it's always been hard for me to get motivated to do something that I don't want to do (right now) and don't have to do (right now).  Things like weeding or pruning.  I've tried in the past and failed, so we'll see if I have any more success this time.
  4. Start my pepper and tomato seedlings.  It's about that time!  Last year I way overdid the seed starting.  Having re-evaluated what I plant and how it does started inside vs. started outside, I've decided that the best bang for my buck is to start the peppers and tomatoes inside and direct seed everything else.  And starting my tomatoes and peppers inside myself saves me the most money, as I would otherwise be buying seedlings at the nursery at $3-5 a pop.  I've also scaled back on the number of tomatoes I will be growing, as well as the number I will be starting inside.  Yes, I know that sounds redundant, but I know what I mean- last year I planned to start all my tomatoes from seed, but didn't have great luck and about half the plants I grew were ones I started myself and half were from various nurseries.  This year want to have 24-28 plants vs. last year's 49.  But I only want to start roughly 2/3 to 1/2 myself because I want to be able to buy and plant interesting varieties that show up at my co-op and the various other places.  Not scaling back on the peppers, though.  I planted 69 pepper plants last year.  My only change- pretty sure I'm gonna give up on the sweet peppers.  They're not my favorite vegetable anyway, and they do not do well for me at all.
  5. Finish my new chick brooder.  I have a lot of chicks coming this fall (some ordered already, some not).  To prepare for them I have built a new brooder box in the big shed.  It's mostly done, I just need to finish the second half of the lid, build a removable divider, and line the bottom with linoleum or something to make it easier to clean (and so the wood doesn't rot).
  6. Order meat birds and layers.  I have already ordered my Buckeyes, a heritage dual purpose breed, but I also plan to order 25 meat hybrids (not Cornish X, so over them) and 25 brown egg layer hybrids.  Hopefully I'll be able to find customers for the 40+ eggs per day I'll be getting by late July!
  7. Build a top bar bee hive.  Whether or not I get bees this year depends on whether or not I have the time and the money to do so, but I can at least build the hive!  I'm so glad I waited, because I'm only now starting to learn about top bar hives, and they seem so much more manageable to me than traditional hives!
  8. Finish pruning the apple trees.  I started, but have one more to do before bud break.
  9. (and once it thaws...) Fence the garden.  I have to keep digging dogs and ranging chickens out.
  10. (and after I have done all of this plus prepared and planted the garden...) Build an outdoor oven.  Mother Earth News has a few great plans.  I'd link but my laptop is about to do dead:)
Phew!  Makes me glad I got a lot done last fall and mulched MOST of the garden beds!

But for now, sleep...

Oh, and check out Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS!

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