A long, turbulent road to recovery has come with getting back to everyday things I used to do (and possibly even enjoy). So, with Spring finally in the air, I've been trying to get back to those seasonal traditions (and some new ones, too) in an effort to...well, continue being okay and to further promote my personal well-being and the well-being of my family. So, here we go!
Rumpel's [Early] Spring -- an IRL Blog
Snowfall and the Battle of the Seedlings
Until sometime around the mid-April, we had snow-covered lawns and frequent cold snaps in my area. Despite that, seedlings were sown indoors and prepped for the gardens. With four raised beds and four round beds (made from recycled tires), we had PLENTY of room for the seedlings and they were hot on track to be planted. However, Spring took a long time to come this year, with surprise snowfalls to boot.
Luckily, we managed to keep the majority of the seedlings alive (thanks to the help of heating pads and growing lamps and a double-transfer into larger containers), they managed to hang on. From what we planted, we managed to keep alive and transplant outdoors [some kind of] tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bush beans, green beans, zucchini, butternut squash, cucumbers, radishes, blood beets, sugar beets, turnips, potatoes, carrots, watermelon, broccoli, cauliflower, kale [dwarf blue], spinach, swiss chard, chives, basil, and celery [which will be planted in our aquaponics system since it is a marsh plant and requires a LOT of water].
What we lost was: all our lettuce [iceberg, ruby red, and black seeded simpson], red onions, all our peppers [bell, jalapeno, and banana], pumpkins, cabbage, strawberries, melon, and dill.
So, all-in-all, it wasn't a huge loss but we're sowing a late group of seedlings in hopes of getting some of what we lost back (especially my peppers). Now we've just got to keep them alive and pest-free.
On the flower-end of the spectrum, my annuals are coming back (all those tulips and daffodils in all their red and yellow glory). The lilies are making their way back up, we've dug up [most] of the dreaded inch plants, I'm getting some Black-Eyed Susans, and fighting against the silver willow saps that keep trying to dig into the foundation and the gosh-darn fiddleheads in my garden that just won't die.
Between moving, personal health issues, and moving back, we never planted our crops last year, which was absolutely heart-breaking come this past fall when I had no fresh veggies. The one positive of moving back to a house that I'm not overly fond of is those raised beds we put it and I intended to put them to good use this year.
However, due to lack of care, the beds were COMPLETELY overgrown with weeds. And not just any weeds (well, those too) but I was looking at an epic fight with some sort of invasive, deep-rooting vine and, even worse, stinging nettle. So, on top of those silver saps and fiddleheads, I dug up the beds and cleared out the weeds. Let's not talk about the flower beds, though. I still can't seem to kill the fiddleheads that are COMPLETELY taking over the beds. Someone help me.
My husband and I always talked about getting chickens [eventually]. My father raised them when I was a child, so I vaguely remember the care and time it took to take care of hens [you know, feeding the hens, sweeping the coop, cleaning the pens, collecting eggs, getting pecked by hens, the god-awful rooster that chased my father and step-brother around the yard for twenty minutes].
Apparently "someday" became this year when my husband and one of his buddies (who's helping) decided that it was time. I wasn't too worried about it, assuming that the pair wouldn't even buy the chicks until the coop was ready but I WAS SO WRONG. Happily, Mr. Rumpel's friend (we'll call him "Buddy" for the sake of this), had everything set up for chicks at his house. However, that doesn't stop the looming reality that now that they have chicks, we will be having some new poultry pets in a few short months.
And, instead of buying a chicken coop, Mr. Rumpel and Buddy decided that they wanted to take on the DIY project of transforming an old [decently-sized] shed into the chicken's housing. I don't know if any of you know what it takes to do something like this, so let me break it down for you if you don't know:
- weatherproofing -- this old wooden shed needs to be a happy and safe home for the chickens, even in the cold of Vermont in the wintertime and during the really rainy summer nights.
- raising the shed -- you'll see that, most commonly, the 'housed' part of the chicken coop is raised from the ground...this is done for a number of reasons including air-circulation, flood-prevention, and a deterrent for nesting rodents. It involves physically lifting the 'housed unit' onto "stilts" that have been secured in the ground with cement, to ensure that it's structurally sound.
- open-air run -- this is the "outside" area of the chicken pen that's encased in chicken wire (to deter predators). This involves building the structural frame (and driving wood into the ground and digging trenches to bury the chicken wire to protect against digging predators). We're extending this right into the middle of the lilac grove so that the chickens can have plenty of shade.
- outfitting the interior -- we'll need to hook these sweet hens up with a roosting bar, nest boxes, hanging watering and feeding devices, and lighting (to extend their laying season).
- adding additional access doors -- at least two more besides the door for egg collection and access to water/feed systems as well as cleaning acess
- replacing the roof -- the old wooden roof will be replaced with a new, coagulated tin roof to help keep out moisture
- creating a moveable playpen -- while we don't live directly in town, we still live on a main road, and can't allow chickens to be wandering around which means that they won't be 'free range'; having a moveable playpen is the closest we can get to this idea (and, plus, the neighbors probably wouldn't appreciate chickens wandering onto their property)
And that's pretty much the basics. Of course, this also doesn't include the composting ideas as well as the maggot bucket (don't even get me started on the maggot bucket ) to farm fresh grubs for the chickies. So, while all of this has been started, we still have a long way to go (and a lot of work to be done) before the chickens can come to their new home.
Around the Town
Of course, getting back into helping out around the town with the local charities and drives has come back into the picture since I really needed something to do that gets me and the little one out of the house. There are a couple churches we help out with their collection events [food pantries, clothing drives, foster children programs, etc.] as well as home-cooking meals for my local Dismas House [sort of like a halfway house; essentially it is meant to help people transition from jail/prison back into society while they get back on their feet], and some of the sporting/after-curricular drives/events for the local High School. Essentially, it all sounds very nice, but it's realistically me doing things I don't want to do, spending time with people I don't want to spend time with, all in an effort to "be a good person" and get out of the house.
Because I'm so compelled to get out of the house and do 'adult-y' things, I've still been looking for a small job outside the house that fits into my husband's crazy schedule so that we don't have to worry about daycare. My husband still isn't on board with this but I would really like to eventually have a life that isn't one-hundred percent circulated around my daughter. I've been blessed to have been able to stay home with her but I feel as if I need something 'for me' and, quite frankly, that thing is a job. Pre-child, I was working diligently towards a career (though I've never been sure that that's what I wanted to do) and a career has been set aside ever since becoming a mother. Again, it's a beautiful thing to have not been able to miss a moment but I don't think that 10-15 hours a week out of the house and at some sort of job will hurt anything.
The warm weather, of course, also means LOTS OF PLAYDATES! My daughter loves playing with the other kids and this winter has been a long one, so she's enjoying playing outside with them even more. It also means that I get to spend some more time with different members of my family while the kids play, which is always nice.
I've been seeing my nephew as much as possible, who is a loving and cuddly baby. My to-be SIL will be going back to work soon, so I'm hoping that means I'll get some extra babysitting time in with the little sweetie. The wedding [my brother and to-be SIL's wedding] is this October and she has been absolutely HOUNDING us bridesmaids about every little detail. There are at least two messages a day in the group chat asking about this, that, or the other. It's great that she's so excited and we're all hanging so that she can have her big day be just the way she wanted.
My husband and I are [for the most part] learning to live together again without being complete strangers [even if that means a few concession like him getting a maggot bucket (ick) and me getting out of the house sans child for a few hours a week].
So, it's been a busy [early] Spring. I have NO idea what's to come in the upcoming months but let's just hope it's good.