Barefoot days are coming fast, and the child in me is looking forward to shedding my shoes and walking barefoot in the new grass in my front yard.  I look for the signs of the tulips coming through in the small garden beside the wood shop, and the strawberries, rhubarb and asparagus peeking out of their winter covers in the big garden. I also have some daffodils planted in the front yard and am hopeful that the deer didn’t destroy all of them.

But, before I can do that, I have a laundry list of stuff that has to be done first, so I need to spring into action (no pun intended). There are things that need to be done before I can ‘play’.

The number one item on my list my favorite springtime activity of all: Starting the plants in the greenhouse. I put heat mats under the seed starter trays; it only takes a few days for the seedlings to come up. The real work begins with transplanting the seedlings once they get their first true leaves.  I use a sharp pencil to loosen each of the tiny seedlings from its nest in the starter tray. Then I nestle each one into fresh potting soil in the little cells they will grow in. I then give them a good drink of water and set in the full sunlight of the greenhouse.  

This works pretty well on nice warm days, which can be in short supply at times, so I use the heat from the wood stove in the workshop to heat the greenhouse and keep the young plants warm.  A cheap box fan moves the air from the workshop to the greenhouse via an open window. Aside from the daily watering, things go pretty easily until planting time.

Once I get the plants well started, and if the snow is gone and the ground is thawed, I get the garden tilled (#2 on the list), and maybe get some early radishes and lettuce started.  I can’t set out any plants until the very end of May because we normally will have frosts until then. (Sometimes, even into June.)

But, I can get the yard raked, which is a chore I break up into about 4 days (#3 on my list).

Next, I dig up the flower beds to make spaces for the annuals, and check to see how many of the perennials I have left (item #4 on the list). I’ve had some plants for 50 years that came from family and friends, and I am hoping that the drought of last year and the influx of deer and wild turkeys didn’t take all of them. I’m not sure how many survived.

Next on my list is chore #5: The dreaded Spring Cleaning! I’d much rather be outside, but the inside needs a makeover too. Cleaning cupboards and drawers of excessive stuff, which will go into a ‘donate’ box.  I also wash all the winter quilts and bedding and then hang them outside to dry in the fresh air and sunshine before storing them away for the summer. (There is nothing better than sun-dried bedding!) Last spring, I started repainting my basement walls and hope to finish the job this spring. I will also rearrange the storage tubs on the shelves, and this time, I WILL label them so I don’t have to spend half a day looking for something I know is stored away!
With all the ‘fuss and feathers’ that come along with spring and the workload of calving, planting, fencing, etc., we really do need to slow down at times and enjoy our world.  Walking is my way of slowing down to see what nature has to share with me each and every day. A bluebird making a nest high in the top of the old elm tree, a new batch of kittens peeking out from underneath the blooming current bushes, new baby calves playing a game of tag around their mamas. A magnificent Bald Eagle soaring overhead the pine trees to the south of me along the edge of the Badlands, such are the joys of springtime in the country.
If you have children, grandchildren or even a stray neighbor kid or two, take the time to share your world with them. It’s priceless to see the world through the eyes of a child and doesn’t cost anything but a little time.

Till next time,

Paula Vogelgesang, the author of the monthly column "Pennywise", is a monthly contributor to the Farm And Livestock Directory. Email her at [email protected]Please be sure to mention the "Farm And Livestock Directory" when you respond.