Farm Life · Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

The Sun, the Soil, and Springtime

This week, I noticed the tiniest little leaves of my mint plant poking their heads through the soil, the pastures brightening up with dotted patches of green, and the hint of warm air on southern breezes tickling my skin.  I absolutely love this time of year when new growth comes complete with vibrant colors, textures, and smells.  (Okay, it might also come with Flonase, Zirtec, and Claritin, but it’s oh so worth it.)

And it’s not just us humans who are soaking up the season.  Around the farm, the horses and donkeys are a little more playful, as they romp around in the hunt for all things green.  The cows are mooing and playing around the water troughs. The cats are seriously bird watching.  And the dogs, well they are napping, as always, but they love it best when they can nap on the porch with the sun warming their bellies.

It’s also the season for one of my favorite sounds of all time – the creaking of the screen door springs as the he pups push it open with their noses, and the fast recoil and slapping sound as it bangs against the door frame.  There is nothing better than fresh breezes flowing through that door, airing out the house from winter and inviting us to find a moment to soak it in, and maybe even play a little.  Do a jig around the kitchen floor.  Sip the perfect cup of tea.  Hum a tune.  

My Farmtastic Life - Our beloved old fashioned, creaky springs, doorframe slapping wooden screen door. Read about our door in the The Sun, the Soil, and Springtime at www.myfarmtasticlife.com.
Our beloved, old fashioned, creaky springs, doorframe slapping wooden screen door. Another one of Cowboy’s magnificent creations!

While I’ve always loved springtime, I don’t remember appreciating it quite so much when we lived in the big city suburbs.  Oh sure, it was time to head to the nearest home improvement big box store to load up on bright and showy annuals to tuck into the landscaping.  And yes, we maybe lingered outside a bit here and there.  But we weren’t connected to the seasons like we are on the farm.

With spring comes the much needed rains that turn the grasses green and allow the farmers to grow the hay we’ll buy later in the summer to feed our equine crew.  Wildflowers will pop up all over the farm in a kaleidoscope of colors and the bees will buzz from plant to plant to work their magic.  

I’ll try my hand, yet again, at a few raised garden beds and learn new things, like that mint I planted last year, oh my stars, it’s now everywhere.  (Experienced gardeners feel free to chuckle about this one.  When I asked one gardening friend of mine if it would come back, he just looked at me with amusement and said, “Oh my god, yes.  You won’t be able to get rid of it.”)

And while Cowboy and I still operate in the real world with day jobs, trips to giant grocery stores, the occasional fast food meal, this farm life has connected us to the soil and to the land in unexpected ways.  It has made us stop and think about what you put in the ground, what you take out of it, and how you care for it.  That the soil is in all of us, it connects us.  That this life with all of its bumps and bruises, seasons of lack and seasons of abundance, is truly a gift.

So as you go about soaking up the sunshine and the breezes and reveling in the deep down soulful joy as the earth literally springs to life, take a moment to breathe it all in. To find your connections – to your neighbors, to your garden, to critters.  And maybe just maybe, find a patch of grass to stand in, feet bare, toes wiggling.

 

Farmtastic Gardening

A Plate Full of Fun

Spring is inspiring around the farm.  Spring cleaning.  Spring planting.  Spring painting. (Admittedly, this last one is Cowboy’s least favorite on earth.) One thing all farm girls know is that you have to find creative ways to be thrifty.  Around here, we call our style farm chic. Enjoy some of our easy tips for use in your farmtastic spring garden.

Last year I wrote about how you can use dishes to liven up the garden.  They are affordable, and can easily be picked up at garage sales and thrift stores for less than a dollar a piece.  Well this year I found an even more exciting way to use them.  As plant markers in your garden.  The beauty is that you can use a Sharpie marker to write on them.  Water won’t wash it off.  However, if you want to reuse the plates, the Sharpie will come off with household rubbing alcohol.  Magic!

I’ve also struggled with finding pots that I love and that are affordable.  I just want to pot some plants not bury gold.  Terra cotta is classic, but it cracks and, let’s face it, it’s HEAVY when planted.  I’m not up for breaking my back.  So what’s a farm girl to do?  Galvanized buckets.  You can pick them up at your local hardware store. Simply drill a couple of holes in the bottom and line with a layer of pebbles or rocks for drainage.

In the same realm, I had an old kitchen stock pot that I burnt and warped the bottom of.  (It was a braniac move where I put the pot on the stove and turned it on to heat up but got distracted.  I can’t imagine how I got distracted with the zoo of critters around here).  Anywhoodles, it’s making a great home for my rosemary, and it looks super cute to boot.

Admittedly, I’m a garden novice and still learning each season what works and what fails miserably.  But hey, it’s the journey not the destination, as they say. Let’s just hope this journey yields us some fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs this year.  Happy planting!

 

 

Farm Life · Farmtastic Stories

Spring Is for the Birds

So I think it’s safe to declare that spring has sprung around the farm. (Oh Lord, please don’t fail me now.)  And let me just say after this winter with the ice and freezing temperatures, me, Cowboy, and all of the critters are singing a glory hallelujah to that.

One of the best indicators that spring has arrived is our annual welcoming of the hummingbirds.  They arrive at the end of March and drink generously from our feeders until October.  It’s the time of year when sugar is on our grocery list every week.  The local checkout clerks must think I am a baking fool.

With the arrival of the hummingbirds also comes one of our challenges.  Hummingbirds in the barn.  Inevitably, one, or heaven forbid two, will flutter in. The problem, as Cowboy has discovered with much research, is that when they panic they fly up.  Which is precisely where they cannot get out of the barn.  This results in numerous antics, as we move equipment and other stuff out of the way to make a clear path and hang a feeder right outside the door.  You can imagine how this thrills Cowboy, but let me assure you he is out there trying just as hard to save the little buggers as I am.

And if we can’t get the little guys to leave on there own, they will eventually run out of steam and gracefully flutter to the ground.  The challenge then becomes do we see it before Nightmare the barn cat.  I’m sad to say he’s beat us to it a couple of times in the past, and proudly presented us with his latest find.  Not fun, not fun at all.

But tonight was a great night for the first hummingbird-in-the-barn of the season.  Cowboy and I cleared out the barn, hung the feeder, and sat and waited. We watched as he flitted from light fixture to light fixture and then finally wore his little self out.  We sprinted to action, and I quickly scooped him up, much to Nightmare’s displeasure.

It’s an amazing experience to hold one of these tiny creatures in your hands.  I took him outside to the feeder and gently pushed his little beak into the feeder, then watched as he drank and drank.  He finally started to get his strength and gripped his tiny toes around the perch, and I could feel his body warm up.  And then it happened.  He sat there, turned and looked at us as if to say, “Thanks dear friends.  Much obliged.”  (In my mind they have very good manners.) And then flew off to meet his other hummingbird pals whizzing and whirring around the variety of feeders.

Cowboy and I smile at these moments because in some small way, you feel like you made a difference.  May you all get your chance to feel the wonder of the hummingbird this spring.

P.S.  You know your man is a gentle soul when you see him on ladders waving brooms and such in an effort to shepherd a hummingbird to safety.  Truly blessed here at the farm.