The snow is melting. The birds are coming back. The animals are getting tired of being cooped up.
Spring is coming to Washington, I’m so excited!
Spring is the busiest season around here, so it’s essential to be prepared. Otherwise, I’ll find myself buried under a growing to-do list while also trying to milk cows and keep track of broody hens.
Here’s 7 Ways We’re Going to Prepare for Spring on the Farm:
1. Clean the Chicken Coop
But, spring is the time to clean out all that bedding. The hay is getting constantly tracked outside by the birds, and just generally making a mess.
It’s time to really scrub the coop and lay down a new layer of old hay to begin building up the deep layer again.
We take all the old hay and chicken manure and pile it up out back. When it’s time to throw manure on the fields, we’ll fork it into the spreader along with the cow poo. By then, the chickens will have scratched through the piles a bit, and made it even better. Hopefully it’ll help increase our hay yield so we don’t have to buy as much!
A New Chicken Area this Year
This year, our chickens will be moving soon. We’re converting an old outbuilding back into a chicken coop and adding a fenced run for them. They’ve outgrown the coop we made, thanks to the banty blood that we introduced (great brooders!), so we’re giving this smaller coop to my sister and brother-in-law who moved out to the farm last year.
I’m excited for the fenced run–I love watching the chickens free range, but I’m tired of finding poop all over. It’s hard to have Owen or the younger kids out in the yard because I know they’ll find chicken poop and try to eat it!
We’ll also have running water in this new coop, which means I’ll be able to wash the eggs and fill waterers from right there. So neat!
2. Clean the Milk Parlor
Living on a dirt road means so much dust gets everywhere. After a winter of not being used and cleaned regularly, everything needs a bit of tidying up.
3. Buy Milking Supplies
I don’t know exactly when those baby cows will be born. Which means I don’t know when I’ll need to start milking. But, I need to be prepared.
That means I need to buy:
-Grain (for the mamas to eat while I milk)
-Gallon jars (most of mine broke after three years of use)
-New cloths for straining milk
-A new nipple for one of my baby cow bottles
–Fight Bac (the after milking teat solution I currently use. Making one from more natural ingredients is something I’d love to try this year!)
These items are on the budget, spread throughout the next month and a half. That way I have them on hand when I need them!
4. Clean Up the Garden/Till It
Part of preparing for spring on the farm means taking care of the garden. Since the snow’s gone now, I can get in there and take care of any weeds that sprouted since last fall.
I also need to borrow mom’s rototiller and give the ground a good once over.
Ellie is excited about a garden this year, so I’m hoping we’ll have a good one! I usually have good intentions, but not as good as results.
5. Pick Rocks out of the Field
I’m telling you, rocks are our cash crop! They sprout every year. Bryan’s planning on running the rake through the field soon. That’ll expose even more rocks.
We’ll get the kids out there, and pick them up again. It’s a fun family activity! And since Jayme’s getting close to driving age, she needs some tractor driving practice.
6. Release the Steers
The three baby bulls we welcomed to the farm last March are now nicely growing steers. They’ll be butchered this fall.
Until then, we’ll get some weight put on them. As soon as the grass is ready, we’ll move them from their penned area of the barn and bring them across the street to the fenced area at mom’s. That way they can eat and won’t be near the mama cows. I don’t want them to try suckling!
We wait to put cows on the pasture until the grass is growing well. That way they don’t overgraze the grass. I’m trying to build up our fields, not ruin them!
7. Fix the Fences
I love working in the field with the kids–especially in the far part of the field away from the road. Owen can crawl around all over and not escape, and I don’t need to worry about any animals because they’re still in the barn.
I’m planning on dividing the pasture even further this year. It’s currently in four sections, and I’m going to cut the biggest one in half. That way my rotational grazing will work a bit better. The picture above shows some of my sub-dividing from last year–I have to leave an alley way so the cows can always reach the barn no matter which section they’re in.
What do you do to prepare for spring where you are?