Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April 1 - Spring is here!

It's amazing how quickly things change, if you spend just a little bit of time watching, and a bit more time helping things along. So much has happened since last month - every walk outside brings our attention to something new.

In the garden, the garlic is now upwards of 4" tall and thriving. Snowstorms every few days that lay a thin blanket of snow and then melt by noon are keeping everything nice and moist. (This also means we are wading through ankle deep mud some mornings.) The chives are tall enough to be cut and used on baked potatoes, and the thyme and oregano are nearly there. We've tidied all the beds and added composted manure (plenty of that around!) and planted the peas and spinach and lettuce and mesclun greens. The lettuce and greens are just starting to sprout, though we're still waiting on the peas and spinach. It's a little hard up here, waiting so long for things to grow. When we lived in The Big City, we'd be close to harvesting spinach already, and peas would be happily climbing trellises.

In the flower gardens, tulips and daffodils are inches tall now, green life is sprouting from the dormant perennials, and the lilac is covered in buds. Littlest One and I spent a lot of time cleaning the gardens, trimming back old growth and getting ready for the new. I love listening to her talk and dream about flowery things - her little heart has a passion for the beauty that flowers bring. She's been filling her bird feeders again, and the house finches and goldfinches and chickadees and bluebirds show their gratitude every morning as they come for breakfast.

The birds are only some of the wildlife entertaining us each day - bluebirds fighting over nest boxes, birds hopping along porch railings, driving our cat absolutely bonkers, swallows just returning from wherever it is they go in the winter, swooping across the lawn and catching what bugs they can find. But there are also deer, finally back from their own wintering grounds, sneaking into the lawn through the open driveway gate and grazing on the green grass. The elk bed down in the pasture some nights, as many as a hundred at a time, so that when the sun comes up in the morning we are surprised to see them out there, just starting to wake up for the day and move down into the trees. Marmots scamper across the driveway when we come home, owls sing their eerie songs at night when we do barn checks, and coyotes howl, often a little too close for comfort. The noise and activity is constant, and yet peaceful.

There has been much new life brought forth this month in the barnyard. Mae, our milk cow, gave birth to her first calf, a little heifer named Clara Belle. The milking does each kidded, bringing five new little kid-goats into the family. All this new life also means lots of fresh milk, and we are having to get used to a new morning routine now. Between milking, feeding and watering, shoveling manure from one stall or another, caring for the old poultry and the new poultry (5 turkeys, 3 chickens), watering the garden, making and eating breakfast and some basic household chores, we average about 3 or 4 hours of work each morning before we even start school. Eventually, this will work into a (relatively) smooth routine, but right now it sure feels overwhelming!

The kids are reminding me a lot of everything else - growing and changing. The beautiful weather has them playing outdoors now, instead of stuck inside. They are constantly exploring the hill or the pasture, racing sticks in the irrigation ditch, working on their hayloft fort, playing with dinosaurs in the pond, riding bikes, cuddling chickens or baby goats... the list of things goes on and on. Between their imaginations and the never-ending supply of outdoor activities, they are like little butterflies, flitting from one thing to another. Some days I don't hear from them until they are hungry, or until I sneak up on them and take a few pictures of them engrossed in some imagining or another.

New life, new growth, surges of activity everywhere - our world is awake again!

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