It’s snowing again where I am. Probably where you are too. We haven’t gotten very much though, so I am pleased. Here by the ocean there has not been much accumulation. Perhaps an inch of light powder. I set my alarm last night at 3 am so that I could check to make sure our $200 high tunnel hadn’t collapsed under the weight of white fluff. We’ve got heat lamps suspended in there to keep the temperature above freezing at night. It’s worked well so far, but at moments like these, I worry about the potential for fires, mid-night wake up call. Fortunately it wasn’t needed. Our shabby little seedling oasis was still erect at 7 am by the time I went out to dust it off after feeding and watering goats, rabbits and poultry.
I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to go into that hoop house and unwrap flats of little swiss chard, onion, cabbage, broccoli, kale and flower seedlings. It’s easily 20 degrees warmer in the hoop house during early mornings, and it gets up into the 80’s during sunny days. Many of the hardier plants one grows in the spring garden are in their element under that hideous plastic bubble. When the sun sets, the temperature dips again so, we have a low tunnel inside of the high tunnel to protect the seed flats at night. We’re still awaiting germination on our tomatoes and some of our herbs and flowers but so far, so good. We start eggplants and peppers in the next week or so. Peas will start soaking for planting too. Just typing that gives me the school-girl giggles.
The time I spend in the high tunnel makes this ongoing wintery weather seem less biting than it would otherwise. There have been times in the past couple of weeks when I’ve worked in a tee shirt and bibs and got a little bit of a sunburn on my neck. It’s a nice respite from that ever-present bone chill that has seemed to persist this season. I haven’t been letting the cold outside stop us from meeting spring halfway. Prepping beds and planting seeds out in the snow to cold-stratify makes me feel nearer to spring than ever. It really is so close. It won’t be long before the first of the pink, round radishes and silky butter lettuces and pungent green onions grace our table. I’ve never craved a salad so badly before.
In other news, we’ve finished the last of our goat’s milk. This is a sad development, but in a few weeks we’ll have the first of our spring kids. It’s a new experience for us and while we have the jitters to some degree, we feel reasonably confident that it will go well. We’ve got a great vet on call and a number of goat-loving friends on speed dial to coach us through any problems. I’m personally excited to have some bouncing, precocious babes running around. It will be a real test for our Maremmas, Stevie and Peach, but I believe in them. I think with a little guidance from us, they’ll take well to looking after our new additions.
On the egg front, our hens are laying at about 70% capacity right now. We’ve got some VERY late molters in the bunch, which is surprising. The ducks have just begun laying again sporadically. I’m looking for creative solutions for nesting for them at the moment, as they tend to just drop them in random places, making them challenging to find. If anyone has an recommendations, please drop them in the comments section!
Just a couple of weeks left, guys! Be strong!