Spring has made its much-appreciated, but albeit delayed appearance here in the Hinterlands. I thought I would share how I go about preparing my green house for this year's crop, the amazing changes we see with the wildlife, and how to incorporate some of the “remains” of winter for utilization now the snow has (finally!) melted.
Winter here started with a whimper, but I knew not to celebrate as Utah seems to always have a punch in the face for us as the season progresses. Snow in May and later is not unusual. What was late Winter like here? A challenge to say the least, and I had to call in the cavalry and get assistance from neighbors with their Caterpillar tractor, as the hit we took was beyond the capabilities of my little plow.
Could I stay here until the thaw? Absolutely. Fortunately, that wasn't necessary, and it is a nice reminder of the importance of community; here, as opposed to in my former home in California, neighbors don't turn each other in to the local government to report minor code violations; we help each other and support each other in times good and challenging. I very much appreciate this sense of community, and hope by writing and talking about it, to help preserve and foster a self-reliant lifestyle.
The most noticeable change I see here now is the re-awakening of the environment, the grass is a deep green, the stream behind my home is flowing at its fastest, the birds are busy building their nests. I have the feeders ready and the variety and colors of the species that arrive are truly a sight to behold. Several varieties of hummingbirds have arrived, and their feeders are ready for them as well. The silence of winter has been replaced with the sounds of the birds who have returned. Their melodies never get old.
My lawn is soon to be blanketed with the yellow of dandelions, for which the bees will be grateful of this first food of the year. I really wish people would appreciate these flowers and stop using chemicals to kill them. Here, my chickens, the deer and the bees all benefit from them, and the plants also have numerous purposes should times ever require their use in that manner.
The deer have come back and can be seen ravenously munching down the grass; this past winter was very hard on them, and many perished. Those that remain will have a lot of eating to do to replace the weight they have lost in their struggle to survive the past 5 months.
I Love My Greenhouse!
The growing season here is short, especially if you like to grow tomatoes, like I do. A few years ago we tried to set up a hoop greenhouse, but the winds here would have none of it. Undaunted, I purchased the one pictured above and with heavy reinforcements, it has managed to survive high winds, hail and the harsh winter conditions here. Because it gets warmer in the day time, it also keeps the plants warmer at night.
Thus far, I have planted a few varieties of tomatoes, and some herbs. A couple plants suffered during a snow and freeze a few weeks back, but they may recover. We shall see.
One of the byproducts of winter we have here is plenty of wood ash from my stove. During the winter I will (after making sure there are no lit embers!) place it in the chicken coop so the birds can enjoy their “baths,” a treat unavailable in the snow. Once it is time to prepare the soil for planting, I take some and stir it into the beds as a soil amendment.
During the winter, we practice the deep litter method of keeping the birds warm. We add layers of wood chips/shavings throughout the coop, essentially forming a compost. This serves to also help keep the birds warm. We do not use heating lamps for safety reasons, and even in temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, have not lost a bird due to harsh weather.
Now that is is spring, I shovel out the shavings (re-purposing my snow shovel!) and put them in a pile in the garden. The chickens find this fantastic, and scratch and roll in it for hours. If only they would use that exclusively and stay out of my flowers!
Fixing What Broke
Thanks to the help of my son, we are repairing minor issues in the motor home, and getting the mowers back up and running. Lots to do, but fun times ahead and I am VERY much looking forward to this upcoming Spring!