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.