With daylight stretching past bedtime, the snow is melting double time!
Nearly every day of March has seen temperatures above freezing, allowing the snow base to gradually disintegrate. There are spots in the driveway where we can even see the ground again! Fortunately, all the truckloads of rock and gravel we have had hauled in over the past few years are starting to add up, meaning “mud season” isn’t nearly as muddy as it had been the first couple years we were here. We used to have ruts in the mud so deep that we had to put full size tree trunks in to fill the deep ruts so our vehicles didn't get stuck.
Building up the driveway and improving the drainage around the property are projects that don’t really provide much in the way of instant gratification, but more like long term satisfaction. Similar to the saying “you don’t know what you don’t know”, we find it’s hard to appreciate the problems you don’t have. This whole homesteading adventure has helped us appreciate just how convenient our modern world is. We know it’s possible to just take out a large loan to buy a modern home connected to all the utilities and as long as the bills get paid every month, there’s no need to even consider where all the energy comes from, how it gets there, or how much is used. In fact, we’ve actually done that in the past. However, now that we’ve had the experience of hauling all of our own water and fuel and even generating our own electricity, we now have not only a detailed understanding of how much we consume, but how to be as efficient as possible with what we do consume. Ironically, the biggest inefficiency we’ve identified is actually having to haul the fuel ourselves, both with the time it takes and the limited capacity we have. Our goal is to be able to afford all the conveniences of the modern energy infrastructure while not having to spend endless hours commuting and working far away from what we are building. Generating a comfortable income from the property we are building feels like “the way”.
Thanks to the consistently beautiful weather this month, our hens have started regularly producing eggs again. A little late for “the great egg shortage” but hey, we’re even more grateful to have them now. In a couple more weeks we’ll probably do the biannual coop cleaning, where we’ll take all the straw bedding and manure they’ve produced over the winter and use it to start a new compost heap. Last season we kept our compost well fed, adding to it and turning the heap every couple of weeks. It’s amazing how much a big pile of biomass will condense as it’s broken down by the decaying nature of nature. This spring we’ll spread out the compost we made last year over the garden beds and start on a new batch.
Speaking of chickens, we also placed our order of meat birds and they’re set to arrive in the middle of June once we are well out of frost danger. We scaled back our order this year compared to last year, ordering only 30 instead of 50 again. This is due to all the problems we had last year with what we suspect was the bird flu. It’s hard to know what it will be like in a few months, but based on some headlines, it sounds like bird flu is supposed to be a problem again this year. In fact, due to the limited supply and high demand, we weren’t even able to order any more egg laying hens and the birds we were able to order are going to come in a week later than we usually receive them. We would like to raise lots of broiler chickens and offer them for sale as a farm product, but since we’re anticipating more problems with them this season, we’re going to hold off and focus our resources elsewhere. Hopefully all 30 birds make it to harvest and we end up with a few extra in case any neighbors would like them. We figure 20-25 birds is about a year supply of chicken for our small family, so we’d like to end up with at least that. This has so far been the only downside to raising the chickens in the pasture where they are on fresh grass every day, is that we aren’t able to really isolate them from things such as the bird flu.
Our new shop building has been getting lots of use. It’s been great being able to do our epoxy pours in a clean, undisturbed space and also running the CNC machine and our other tools in warmth and under bright lights. We’ve still got a few projects to do on the building, such as flattening out a couple of high spots in the concrete, finishing the bathroom, and getting the interior doors and trim installed, but compared to working in the old garage tent it feels like we’ve got ourselves a workshop palace now.
The warm sunny days have got us really excited to get all our seeds started for this growing season. However, since neither of our greenhouses are exactly air tight at the moment, we still don’t have a place for seedlings that is protected from the sub-freezing nighttime temperatures. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks Pete can get the lean-to rebuilt on our first greenhouse and that will let him get the roof sealed up so we can get some seed trays started in there. We learned so much about growing last year we’re excited to get going again and see what lessons this season has in store for us!
That’s about it for March. Thanks for reading, Everyone and take care!
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Hello, I am Melissa, owner of Wild North Design. Recently, my husband and I decided to pick up and move to Alaska. This dream has been a couple years in the making and we are enjoying the journey so far. We love to learn and make all kinds of things. From wood craft, to painting, to vehicles, landscaping, building, exploring...we love it all! We are finding out that Alaska is a great fit for our restless minds and bodies! Excited for what the future holds for our expanding family!
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