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Although it’s only February, spring is already in the air in some parts of the country. With spring comes new baby animals, starting seeds, and getting the garden ready for planting. One of the most crucial aspects of a successful homestead is organization. This Springtime Chore Checklist will help you make sure everything is running smoothly during the hectic time of year on the farm.

1. It all starts with a plan and a list.

The first thing you need is a plan. Make a map of the garden and decide what goes where. Will you be adding new animals to the farm this year? How about new fencing or other infrastructure? Walk around your homestead and see what areas need attention. Putting it all down on paper will help you prioritize, so you’re not just jumping from one task to another without any sort of plan. Once you’ve decided what needs to be done, make a priority list to help you stay on task. List the most important things first and work your way down to the things that can wait a little while.

2. Figure out when you need to start your seeds.

If you’re anything like me, this is one of the most anticipated of homestead chores. Some seeds, such as artichokes and celery, will need to be started indoors as much as twelve weeks before your last frost date. Pull out your calendar and use an online seed starting tool to help you figure out when to start your seeds. Of course, your planting zone and last front will be the deciding factor on when you actually need to start your seeds.

3. Get your greenhouse ready for seed starting.

Winter can be hard on greenhouse plastic, so check carefully for rips and tears. Get your seed starting equipment cleaned up and ready to go.

4. Expand your flock.

Now is the time to decide if you will be expanding your poultry flock this year. Are your incubator and brooding area ready to go? If you plan to incubate your own eggs, it will take around three weeks or so for the eggs to hatch, depending on type and breed of the bird. If you plan on purchasing day-old chicks, you should place your hatchery order early. Some hatcheries will set out of the most coveted breeds early. Remember, your pullets won’t start laying eggs until they’re around six months old, so you’ll want to plan accordingly. And, if you plan to let your hens raise up some chicks, you’ll want to make sure they have comfy nesting boxes and brooding areas.

5. Prepare for lambing, calving, and kidding.

Calving, lambing, and kidding hit us full force during the springtime, so it makes sense to get ready for birthing and milking early. Have your birthing kit ready to go and set up your birthing stalls. Know who you’re going to call if you need advice or things go wrong. If you have dairy animals, make sure your milking stations and other milking equipment are clean and in good repair.

6. Get the barn and other animal shelters ready for spring.

As the weather starts to warm up, it’s time to do a deep cleaning on your barn, chicken coop, and any other animal enclosures on the homestead. Remove any winterizing equipment, such as heat lamps or plastic coverings. While you’re at, do a thorough check to see if any repairs are needed and add them to your list.

7. Get your poultry and rabbit tractors in tip-top shape.

We use tractor style enclosures a lot for poultry and rabbits on our homestead. It’s a great way to practice rotational grazing but still provide protection from predators. It’s also the easiest way to keep your birds from destroying the garden but still give them all the benefits of free ranging. Our young poultry and rabbits go in the tractors as soon as they’re old enough and the weather cooperates. Early spring is the time to build any new tractors you’re going to need and make sure last year’s tractors are in good repair.

8. Repair your fences and outbuildings.

If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow in the winter, you’re really going to want to inspect the roofs on all of your outbuilding and make needed repairs. This is also an excellent time to check your fences and repair as required.

9. Maintain your equipment and machinery.

Now’s the time to perform necessary maintenance on all the equipment and machinery that you’ll be using this spring. Give your tiller, tractor, mower, ATV, and any other mechanical equipment a good going over. Change oil, replace spark plugs, sharpen mower and chainsaw blades, and perform any other service that is recommended by your machinery’s manufacturer.

10. Repair your raised garden beds.

If any of your raised garden beds are damaged or rotten, now’s the time to do repairs. If you’re planning to add more raised beds to the garden, now’s the time to do it.

11. Get your in-ground garden ready to plant.

Remove any old plant material that’s left over from last year. Prepare the soil for planting by adding compost or manure and tilling it in. Lay black plastic over the rows that will be planted first to help warm the soil.

12. Get ready for harvest season.

It’s time to clean out your freezers, root cellar, and pantry to get ready for the new harvest. Toss anything that’s no longer safe to eat and move older items to the front so you can eat them up first. It’s also a good idea to take inventory of what you have and what you used the most of to help you plan out what you need to grow this year. Make sure your canning jars and equipment are in good repair, too.

Of course, every homestead is different. You may not need to do everything on this list, and there may be other things you need to add. The important thing is, don’t put your springtime chores off until things get busy. Now’s the time to start checking things off your to-do list.

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Oh, we are all about…




Take Care Of You

While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us. It is easy to neglect yourself when taking care of others. Sometimes we are so incredibly occupied taking care of other folks that we just ignore ourselves. Like everyone else, we have our own special needs, and we have to guarantee that these are addressed. Taking care of yourself or self-nurturing is an essential ingredient to self-respect and your own inner and outer beauty. It’s so easy sometimes to talk about these things, and difficult to implement them on a regular basis, and not let them fall by the wayside. As women, mothers, farmers, nurses, teachers, spouses, and a plethora of other professional care-giving titles…we’ve learned to be great caretakers…of others! Learning to care for oneself is an ongoing experience. It starts today and continues throughout our lives. Here are some ways you can get that much needed “me time”.

Body Care

Start with your body, make sure you eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Eating a balanced diet does not just mean high protein and less carbohydrates. It also means making the right choices and smarter decisions with the food you eat and drink. Exercise regularly. If you are not physically fit, then you may not have enough energy to build up reserves to deal with everyday life and be happy. Find a fitness program that fits you. That includes a daily walk around your property, in a park or around your neighborhood, going to a gym, swimming, biking, playing sports and so forth.

Skincare

Having healthy-looking skin is critical to feeling good about your appearance. Your skin is the largest organ on the body, so its beauty is not only important – but its health is too. If you have problems with your skin, then do whatever it takes to find resolve. And for some reason, skincare is usually overlooked by many women farmers who work under the sun everyday. You should change your routine to include a soak in that fragrant bubble bath you love so much every week, or mix up that sugar scrub recipe you’ve always wanted to try. Because when it comes right down to it, you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first.

Hair Care

A woman’s hair is her crowning glory. A change of hairstyle can spell a huge difference on how she looks and how she feels about herself. Like our skin, our hair is often a neglected part of our bodies that we either forget about, not even bothering to do anything with it. Your hair can be either a pleasant addition to your overall appearance or it can be a distraction from your overall appearance. By taking care of your hair (regular maintenance and styling) your hair will look healthier and shinier creating a simple yet flawless look. And by all means go ahead, take that much-deserved occasional trip to the salon.

Leisure Time

Spending some of your free time in such activities that help you relax and reset is one way to stay happy and feel better. In day-to-day life there is (and should be) room for fun stuff. So learn how to balance the work with restful/recreational activities. Spend time with your family, play with children, go for hangouts with friends, or you plan for a fantastic vacation. Find a time when you can get away and recharge. Take up a hobby that you abandoned a long time ago, but would still enjoy doing.

Yes, women who take care of other people have the best jobs – doing for others is an unselfish and truly rewarding way to live. But again, you cannot keep doing all the wonderful things you do for others if you fail to recognize the importance of taking care of you. Implement a little me time in your daily life, it’ll help you to reset and make your life more balanced.


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