Morning Homestead Chores: Chicks & Sprouts

morning homestead choresWe are in the fourth week of April by now, and winter is finally behind us. Our soil is warming, the cold-hardy seeds have been sown, and some of our efforts are already being rewarded with a nice crop of early lettuces. 

Wendie and I are getting back into the routine of doing a morning walk-about first thing, primarily to see if anything needs attention, but also to start the day by noticing what else has decided to sprout in the night.

Elizabeth would have already been up and checked on the chickens and the broiler chicks, but the rest is up to us. For now. Once summer hits and school is out, all the kids will have their morning homestead chores list expanded.

Nothing terrible- we're not a gulag after all, but a few more things to help out and continue as teaching opportunities. But for now, it's Wendie and I who are center stage the garden.

Our Morning Homestead Chores

morning homestead chores
I suppose the first thing we do is get dressed for the job. Late April is still chilly, so we both wear our barn jackets with good, deep pockets. Muck boots might not be a bad idea, but seeing as how my sneakers are close to retirement, I usually wear them and just keep them by the door in the boot tray when not being used. 

The walk-about usually happens before a shower, so a good baseball cap is a requirement for me so I don't scare the livestock with crazy hair.

Our path takes us around the garden, looking for animal sign and what seedlings have popped up. Today, we're happy to see the spinach and second batch of lettuce coming up. The crimson clover down by the bee yard and soon-to-be-postage stamp orchard has sprouted, and we have a nice carpet of 1/2" green thriving against the black compost-rich loam.

The parsnips have yet to germinate, but seeing as how they are infamous for a long germination time, sometimes up to three weeks in early spring, we're not worried. 

They'll be dedicated to one raised bed this year with a fall harvest, so slow and steady wins the race. The garlic is happy and green, with sprouts climbing nicely. The walla walla onions are strong and we still have plenty of beds for early may and rotation when the time comes.

Farm Dog

morning homestead chores
Though not really a working dog in the traditional sense, Bailey does her best with what she can. She's a love-bug, and can't imagine not coming along on any task we have at hand. 

Checking the coop, picking up sticks or joining us on a trip to the feed store are perhaps her favorite things in the world. Well, those and sleeping on the bed with Wendie and me at night.

Bailey does a good job at keeping other animals from being too comfortable on our property, from deer to raccoons to whatever else might enjoy a nice, homestead buffet. Sure, we have a six-foot fence around out coop and garden, but some neighbors still chuckle when we tell them we have confidence in our fence.

What We've Been Up To

morning homestead choresThe past week we've placed some orders for regional fruit trees for a dwarf, potage stamp orchard that will go in the bee yard on top of the clover. We ordered some ornamentals as well, but the majority were picked for their color and edible qualities. 

Aside from some lavender, a couple of dogwoods and some winterberry, we are expecting some Niagara grapes, black elderberry, rhubarb, asparagus, peach, apple, pear, cherry and nectarine trees, a couple of hardy paw-paw tress, sedum, peonies, juniper, butterfly shrubs and a few other treats.

morning homestead choresThe plan is to get all of these in the ground around the first or second week or May, as well as put up another high fence around the trees to deter our friendly-neighborhood grazers.

The first flowhive is set in place and leveled, with our Italians due in later this week. We are working on a terracing plan for the lakeside of the house, which will most likely be partial sun/partial shade so hosta and such will be next. 

The blueberries are budding, and most seem to be high bush, so little fruit but in mass quantities. We're going to have to do a better job of clearing out the deep freeze in preparation.

The Broilers

morning homestead chores
On Monday, Elizabeth and I went down to our feed store for some potato starters and onions, and of course to look over the spring chicks. Our egg flock is a good size at the moment, but we knew that our first order of broilers for the year would be coming up soon

I half wanted to wait a week or two, but when I texted a pic to Wendie of how cute they were, she told me to go on and get them. I asked thirty? And she said no.


Too much. How about 15?

Perfect, until I got home and half of the new flock was marked in two days as 'Do Not Harvest' because they were adopted by the kids, the neighbor kids and even Wendie to be added to the egg flock. We didn't need eggers, we needed broilers. So, there may be another trip in the near future to replace those that were saved.

From the Homestead Wood Shop

morning homestead choresLastly, and these are projects hopefully for today once I have finished up my client orders and put his post out for you all, the plan is to head for the wood shop. I'm a firm believer that every homestead should have one, as not a day goes by that some project begins or ends in my little personal space. 

Today, it's building a garden bench for the far end of the raised beds. Then, if I have time, begin working on the last beehive. It's for the Carniolans, which don't arrive until late May, but it would still be nice to have that off my to-do list.

We've done a little cleaning out there recently, mostly because we needed room to put the broiler brooder, but it still needs a little organization and sweeping to bring it back up to my standards. If the kids help, it could be done today as well.

We love sharing our homestead life with you all, and truly enjoy it when you join the conversation below. How are your morning homestead chores going so far this spring? And, don't forget to subscribe for more daily homestead goodness from our family to yours!


Lisa Lynn said…
Lol...broiler chicks for pets...looking forward to seeing how that works out for you. ;-)
WT Abernathy said…
Hi Lisa:)
This will be our second go at this- we culled about 10 from our late summer broiler flock, and they're doing alright. We kept back a rooster as well as hens, and well, nothing out of the ordinary yet. In fact, they're laying great, almost as well as our old ASA Browns. They are chubby and eat quite a bit, but the fence around our postage orchard goes up in a day or so, then they'll be out foraging and hopefully backing off a bit on the feed.
My mornings are all about feeding and checking the animals, separating ducks as I have 2 they don't get on, having a wander round the veg patch to see what will need doing and opening the polytunnel if it is warm enough. We've had a rather cold spring here in northern France but I am confident frosts have finally finished now so I also need to be moving tender plants outside each morning to harden off. And all this with at least one dog in tow (the other is more elderly and rather fond of her morning bed!). #GoingGreen
WT Abernathy said…
Sounds like we have similar morning chores:) It's cold here in spring as well- especially so this year. Though we don't have ducks (yet), I can imagine it's a bit different from raising hens.