Last year, we were eating spinach and onions by May 8th. Even though everything is a little later this year, the first harvest is just as tasty as it was last year. How lovely to have green things to eat again. We can take a little break from the root vegetables now. Every year, I look forward to eating fresh green onions straight out of the garden (I like to dip the ends in salt).
You guys, it’s Spring! For reals, this time! On Saturday, the temperature reached +18C! Yes, this news deserves all those exclamation marks and more!
We spent all day outdoors. It was so good. Will planted onions and spinach in the raised (covered) beds. We raked the grass, spread some of the snow, cleaned up the patio and set up the table and chairs.
Unfortunately, the girls had to spend most of the afternoon in dog kennels in the garage because a technician from SaskTel was here for over three hours upgrading our phone and internet lines. So they didn’t get to enjoy as much of the nice weather that we did.
(Backyard chickens are illegal in Saskatoon, and I don’t think the SaskTel technician can rat us out to the city, but we decided not to take any chances. We hid the girls away. We figured if he asked us what the coop was for, we’d say rabbits or homing pigeons, which weirdly enough, are legal in Saskatoon. Go figure.)
After our work was done, we sat in the sun and drank Will’s homebrew beer from Mason jars. I think I might actually be developing a taste for beer in my thirties. I’ve never liked beer, but lately, a cold beer on a hot patio is divine. The dogs rested in the shady, cool parts of the pavement, and I dusted off my bike, oiled the chain and took it for a spin. Glorious. Glorious, glorious, glorious.
As much as I loathe Winter at times, I have to wonder – would I appreciate Spring and Summer as much without Winter? Would a warm day ever feel this special without the memory of -40C? Would it be as awesome to take off your jacket because you’re too warm without months of having to wear Sorels and a goose down parka? I doubt it very much.
I hope Spring has come to your corner of the Earth!
Oh, this has been a long, grey, cold, dry winter, and everyone is just dying for it to be over. The girls are tired of being cooped up. They pace back and forth in the run, and squawk until we let them roam in the yard. The boys go absolutely nuts if they don’t get their daily 20-minute walk. And the humans? We just can’t wait til we can play in the dirt.
A few photos from our week:
Ziggy and his Frog. The Frog is on its last legs (you can see he’s already missing a foot), but Ziggy drags this thing everywhere with him. It’s his latest “baby. He’s had a few “babies” over the years, and they all end up in the trash eventually. He loves them to death.
Someday, I’m going to do a photo series called, “Eggs You’ll Never See in a Grocery Store.” I had no idea these weird things could happen to eggs. Before I had chickens, I only ate grocery store eggs. Clean, white, sanitized eggs. I had no idea that chickens could produce such abnormalities. Take this weirdo of an egg. It’s Liesl’s. I think she may have consumed too much calcium last week. Weird, right?
Oh, dirt. Glorious dirt. Will covered one of our raised beds with plastic a couple weeks ago, so the ground was thawed enough to actually work the soil this past weekend! It felt so good to put a shovel in the ground. Ginger was happy to be back to work in the dirt, as well. She had a great time scratching it up!
And now, as I’m writing this, it’s snowing outside. April 23rd, and it’s snowing. A few weeks ago, I was joking when I said maybe Winter will never end. Like somehow our world turned into Westeros (from Game of Thrones), and Winter may last for years. But as I watch the blizzard outside my window, I really am starting to doubt if this Winter will ever end. At this point, we are going to have snow on the ground well into May. MAY. The only way Mother Nature could make up for this awfulness is to skip Spring entirely and go straight into Summer. Okay? Okay.
Look who’s laying again!
Five years old and the eggs keep coming. It’s hard to plan to dispatch a chicken that’s giving us eggs again. If the laying continues, we’ll postpone her end until fall, probably September or October, because that’s when she usually stops laying for the winter. But if she gets sick again or stressed this summer, and the eggs stop, we’re going ahead with the original plan.
As you can see from the photo, Ginger’s neck is looking pretty bare these days. I’ve done a quick check. I can’t see any mites or anything, and the feathers are broken off, not falling out, so I’m sure that it’s due to pecking or excessive grooming. The girls are just as antsy for Spring as we are, and I think being cooped up has finally gotten to them. Most of the day, they pace back and forth in front of the door, dying to get out into the yard and scratch away at the little patches of grass poking through the snow. I think once the weather is nice, the feathers should grow back. We’ll probably also get another pullet this Spring, so that will wreak havoc on the pecking order once again, but should at least give Ginger a friend to hang out with. Scruffy is totally ignoring her these days, preferring to challenge Liesl for top hen.
Speaking of Spring, it came for a day or two and then Winter swallowed it back up. First week of April, and there is snow falling. Blah. Blah, blah, blah. I can’t even describe how blah that feels. Even in this day and age of science and all we know about the natural world, I am feeling a primitive anxiousness that Spring will never return. If any more snow falls, I am prepared to make a blood sacrifice to the gods. A little burnt offering couldn’t hurt, right?
I think Spring has finally come to the prairies. The sun is shining, there are puddles on the ground, and only three topics of conversation can be heard at any given coffee shop in the city: shoveling snow away from houses, shoveling snow off roofs, and what terrible shape the roads are in.
Here are a couple more signs around the homestead this week that Spring is finally sprung:
1. Boys get an urge to build things with wood. Will is helping Ryan build a desk for his condo out of walnut and plumbing parts. Sounds strange, I know, but I think it’s going to be totally awesome. The wood they picked out is gorgeous.
2. The Chicken Coop gets a scrub down. I clean the bedding out of the coop two or three times a year, usually November, March, and July. I scrape the wood chips out to be composted or tossed straight into the garden, then I spray the walls with vinegar and rinse with hot water. I actually climb right into the coop and make sure every bit of poop gets scrubbed off. Then fresh new bedding gets tossed in and the girls are happy again.
(Someone’s been pecking at poor Ginger’s neck feathers. It’s a real soap opera in the coop these days. I think Scruff is trying to oust Liesl from the position of top hen, and meanwhile Ginger sits all alone most of the day. We have to get her another friend to play with this Spring)
3. The garage leaks like a sieve despite all our best efforts. Will went up to shovel the snow off the roof yesterday, and put his hand through the roof. Eep. Guess we can’t put it off any longer – we need a new garage. We shut off the breaker to the garage because there is literally water streaming down the walls. It’s not good. This is how you kiss $10,000 goodbye. We need to tighten up our budget and save our pennies.
We got tired of waiting. The first official day of Spring came and went, and we still had snow and ice.
We lugged the BBQ into the garage, and like a true prairie man, Will grilled our first steak of Spring during a mini-blizzard.
We had to celebrate. The green stuff has returned to the Farmers’ Market.
Our entire supper – seriously, everything on that plate – was grown/raised/butchered right here in Saskatchewan. Right down to the delicious bacon fat that we rubbed into the grass-fed beef rib eye steaks.
I LOVE decorating Easter eggs. Even though I don’t have kids, I do it every year.
Last year, I took a pysanky workshop at the Ukrainian Museum of Canada, and quickly fell in love with this folk art. I hadn’t made a Ukrainian Easter egg since I was in grade school, but the memory of it came rushing back. I love the smell of the melting beeswax, and the careful concentration it requires. It’s totally zen. A small meditation.
Apparently, the tradition pre-dates Christianity. It’s an age-old tradition to decorate eggs for the Spring Equinox. Maybe that’s why I’ve always loved decorating Easter eggs. Turns out, it’s not just for kids after all.
Opening weekend is over, and it went very well. I’m learning lots of stuff about performing in small, intimate spaces. Mostly, it scares the crap out of me, but in a good way. In a “I’m still learning, and I’m so alive” kind of way.
We’ve been neglecting the homestead a bit because theatre tends to be a black hole that sucks all your life energy. Seriously.
But we have a few homestead-y things to report:
- Took home all the leftover veggies from opening night catering and made a lovely, yummy vegetable stock.
- First time in months that we haven’t bought eggs at the Farmers’ Market because Scruffy is producing so well. Way to go, Scruff! More money to spend on wild boar bacon.
- Bought some more wild boar bacon at the Market. Plus carrots, and (happy dance) cucumbers! The green stuff is starting to return. The end of the root vegetables is in sight.
- Attended Seedy Saturday last weekend. Bought some seeds. Planted some shit. The grow-op in the basement keeps getting larger and larger . . .
- Made yogurt. This is now a weekly occurrence. Love that stuff.
I’m going crazy for Spring. More snow and -20C make Jamie very unhappy. I hope next week warms up and the melting starts.
I’m so done with Winter. I’m done with snow, and goose-down jackets. I’m done with root vegetables and Sorel boots. No more scraping car windows and shoveling sidewalks. I’ve had enough. Every day I tell Winter to go away, and every morning I wake up, and it’s still there.
Spring, I’m starting to doubt that you’ll ever show up.
I want to ride my bicycle. I want to plant the garden. I promise, Spring, I won’t even get mad at the dogs for having muddy paws in the house. Just please, Spring, please come early to the prairies this year. Winter’s been a bitch.
Your biggest fan,
Oh my lord, the wind is incredible here today! Gusting up to 65 km/hour. Crazy. The wind makes me so angry sometimes – always messing up my hair and pushing me around.
My poor husband rode his bike to work. I don’t even want to walk outside, let alone try to peddle. Perhaps these handsome handmade bike accessories would make the ride more pleasant? (65 km/hour? Probably not.)
(Click on photo for source)